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The Faery Tale

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Urnu, 103 - Before dawn, hr 2    
She found Elisa in the mine in a state somewhere between slumbering and being awake, lying on the ground next to Anisa. When she approached them, she still needed the crutch that Elisa had crafted her for every step, then sank down to the ground next to them in an awkward movement without putting weight onto her left leg. Placing her hand onto the other woman's shoulder, she shook it cautiously, whispering her name. "Elisa..." When Elisa didn't react at all, she repeated her name, more insistently this time and obviously with more success as Elisa sat bolt upright with a start and stared at her with sleepy eyes. "Trisa? What is it? How are you feeling?"

She couldn't believe that Elisa was acting as if nothing had happened, simply ignoring the fact that the Spirit had given her the love of her life back who was lying outside, still unconscious, bleeding and badly injured - but alive, finally. A frown that she couldn't prevent built up on her face when she tried to reply to Elisa's question, her voice now shivering in an instable way. "I... not could feel worse, but... why are you in here, Elisa?" The Aelleri averted her gaze with a sad sigh, concentrating on the unfinished structure of sandstone that had been supposed to become her home one day. "I thought that maybe if I worked a bit, it would get rid of the wraith bent on torturing me... I must have fallen asleep..."

Anisa's frown now mirrored her own and the young woman grimaced in the pain that the fresh wound on her side caused her. "Rani, there's no wraith... Quarr is back... He is alive, Rani..." Elisa seemed to ignore everything that had been said completely and it reminded her painfully of her own reaction to Tasir's death only such a short time ago when Elisa asked: "Anisa, what happened? Did you get into a fight? Come here, I have salves and bandages... they'll help."

She couldn't help but shake her head, at the same time disbelieving and understanding in a confusing mixture of feelings. Tasir's loss pained her so much that she didn't know how to bear it. A life without him seemed meaningless and empty and even though they had been arguing so much in the end, she would have given anything to get him back in the same manner that Elisa had gotten Quarr back.

But yet she feared that if the Great Spirit should really hear her pleas and send Tasir back, it wouldn't be him, wouldn't be the man she loved so deeply, but the mindless demon that had killed her brother in front of her. Elisa on the other hand had gotten everything she herself was wishing for so badly, but nevertheless didn't seem to be able to accept the gift, to let her heart be filled with new hope. She knew that it probably wouldn't help much, but she had to try to make Elisa understand that this time it was for real, that this time she could allow herself the hope without getting heart-broken again. "But... what are you talking about, Elisa? Why do you think he is a wraith?"

Elisa covered her forehead with her hands, hid behind them as she pronounced her words with a strong hopelessness that made her voice quiet and rough. "For so many days, I have been plagued and haunted by the image of him in his death, how he must have suffered.... what else could it be but another nightmare, sent to torment me and cause me more pain? Why should I think any differently? He was so cold, Trisa... I don't see how he could ever be warm again..."

The frown on Anisa's face deepened. "You have to come back outside... Quarr will need you... Go and touch him then, Rani... Go feel for yourself. He is not cold any more..." The whirlwind of feelings within her forced new tears into her already overstrained eyes, but she tried to endow Elisa with what little stability she could lend by squeezing the Aelleri's shoulder compassionately. "Elisa, you... know that I know your pain. I know how hard all of this is, but..." Her voice gradually gained intensity in the attempt to finally make Elisa embrace what she had been presented with. "You have just received the biggest gift the Great Spirit is able give. He is back, Elisa. I... I medicated his wounds, I felt the life beneath his skin. It is my brother, it is Quarr."

Anisa didn't seem to be able to bear the helplessness any longer and glanced at some rests of salve and bandages, quietly murmuring while already on her way back outside: "I don't need the rest of this... I'll... I'll go give it to Quarr..." But only seconds after her pained movements had brought her out of the cavern, she rushed back inside, nearly yelling before already running outside another time: "Trisa... Rani... He's awake... Quarr's awake... Come, he needs you..."

She froze for some seconds, not able to think of anything she could do to finally make Elisa believe and came to the conclusion that the only thing that would heal Elisa's inner wounds and let her heart feel hope and love again was time, with Quarr. And this was nothing she could do anything about, but Quarr should at least be in the company of his sister if his mate refused to believe in his return.

So she brought her crutch back onto the cold ground of the mine to stand up, quickly glancing at Elisa another time to whisper with shivering lips: "Please... come and see yourself." Her eyes remained on Elisa for some seconds, but the other woman's despondency was almost tangible and she knew her words wouldn't change anything. With a deep breath, she forced her eyes away from Elisa and towards the exit of the cavern, hurrying through the tunnels as fast as she was able to.

As soon as she had arrived outside, she heard a stifled sound of exertion and the voice sent a soft chill over her skin. Quarr was pushing himself up into a sitting position, leaned against a tree with his back. She barely heard Larkin speak to Quarr as her legs were already carrying her over to them with stumbling movements. When she had reached them, she instantly sank down to the ground next to them, her eyes filling with tears as they searched Quarr's and her lips shivering even more than before, unable to speak.

Larkin's voice revealed his own relief and he even allowed himself a quiet chuckle, something she hadn't heard for what seemed like an eternity. "Can anything kill you?" Larkin's hand found its way towards Quarr's shoulder and his voice started to become husky, despite his earlier chuckle. "I'm so glad you came back to us."

When Quarr's gaze met hers, the violet of his eyes that resembled Larkin's so much now filled with warmth and life again, she couldn't breathe for some seconds. Ignoring his obvious pain, Quarr even managed to smile at her, speaking with a thin whisper. "Sister... you... didn't think something like death would keep me from my..." He wasn't able to finish his sentence and inhaled sharply. "Gods spirits above I hurt!" His eyes still bore the shimmer of his smile when he finally continued his sentence. "...keep me from my family?"

This was the moment where she couldn't hold her new sobs back any longer and the only conscious reaction she was still able to was to be careful not to touch any of her brother's injuries as her head sank against his shoulder. Back. He was back. It was really him and he was back after she had seen him die twice, after she had wished to die herself because she hadn't been able to hinder it, because it had been her mate who had killed him the second time.

Her sobs made a worried look appear on Ruby's face and the girl ran over to her. "Trisa, don't be sad! Granddi back!" Weakly, she lifted her head from Quarr's shoulder to look at Ruby, nodding with a tear-covered, but encouraging smile. "I know... I know, my dear. Not all tears are bad, Ruby." Both of her arms reached out in the girl's direction, embracing her tightly. "Come here..."

Her tears of relief mixed with tears of grief when she heard Anisa quietly speak to Connor: "Connor I ... I told Tobar I wouldn't be gone long... I have to go back... I... I have to tell them about Tasir..." The mention of Tasir's name cast a dark shadow over her heart, driving the warmth away that Quarr's return had brought. Her chin rested on Ruby's head, the tears flowing over her face freely as she glanced over to Anisa.

While Larkin started to help Quarr into the mine, Anisa and Connor also retreated into its safety and she slowly let her arms sink from Ruby's small body, using the tree that Quarr had been leaning against as support to get to her feet. Under great struggles, she picked Tasir's and her own belongings up from the ground after they had been lying there unregarded since his death and followed the others into the mine.

Not taking notice of Larkin or Quarr in that moment, she approached the only other person near her whose happiness about Quarr's return was tainted by the grief about Tasir's death. Her body didn't seem to be able to remain upright much longer, so she had to lean her shoulder against the tunnel wall, closing her eyes for some seconds to collect enough strength for what she was about to do.

Her voice was still trembling no less than her hands as she placed Tasir's sword into his daughter's hands, feeling the need to leave her with at least something from him. "He... he loved you." Tasir had never used these words when speaking about Anisa, but she hoped nevertheless that this was the truth, given the fact how much hurt had spoken out of his eyes when he had told her that he thought none of his children would love him.

She wasn't able to look into Anisa's eyes, fearing that her own pain would only increase Anisa's, and so simply turned away without another word, stumbling back into the living area of the mine. When she was standing in front of the bed Quarr was now lying in, her feet refused to carry her any further and her body broke down next to the bed, shaken by heavy sobs.

The touch of Quarr's hand on her shoulder made the well-known feeling of guilt return. Her reactions had to make him believe she wouldn't be happy to have him back and this, together with the fact that Elisa still wasn't here, really shouldn't be something for him to experience on the day of his return from the halls.

Even though tears kept pouring down from her eyes, she forced the faintest of smiles onto her face, whispering to her brother: "Sorry, I..." Her voice cracked and she shook her head, softly touching Quarr's hand on her shoulder. "I am so glad and thankful to have you back, really, but yet I... have never felt worse in my life." Her whisper grew more quiet with every word, making her last sentence almost drown in the other sounds within the mine. "I am so tired..."

Quarr's hand exerted gentle, yet strong pressure onto her shoulder, reflecting his personality. "It is not your time, sister... as it was not mine. I am... sorry... about Tasir." Filled with disbelief about the fact that her brother had just apologized to her for the death of the man who had killed him, but whom she had loved more than her own life, she closed her eyes, hiding any of her emotions from her brother, and simply nodded. It took her some seconds to fight the violent quivering of her voice down enough to reply. "I... am sorry, too."

Of course she was sorry about the loss of her mate and felt like her heart was ripped out of her chest, but this wasn't the only thing she regretted. She had terribly misjudged just everything, had trusted a man whose later fate it had been to kill Quarr. There were no words to possibly tell this to her brother, so she simply added helplessly: "I just... I not can believe all of this happened."

In a sudden urge to embrace Quarr, she weakly pushed herself up on the bed's edge and leaned over it, wrapping both of her arms around Quarr's torso in a very cautious manner, not to inflict any more pain to him. Her whisper sounded stifled against his chest. "Oh Quarr, I... thought I would never hear your voice again." Grasped by another heavy trembling, her body lost all of its strength and her legs threatened to give out from under her.

Defying his injuries, Quarr caught her, a short wince the only trace of his pain. He pulled her onto the bed and the only thing she could think of as her body limply sank down next to Quarr's onto the mattress were more whispered excuses. "Sorry... so sorry." Sorry for her weakness. Sorry for her misjudgements. Sorry that she hadn't been able to save him. But these words remained unspoken as her weak body was quickly pulled into a deep sleep of complete exhaustion, the last of her tears dropping onto the fabric of the mattress while her breathing was already evening out.
Gurtha, 103 - Midday, hr 7    
The days and months passed by slowly, like an everlasting torment, and she hardly found any motivation to leave the bed at all. She barely ate and her body lost more of its strength with every minute, languishing on the soft feather mattress. Her constant companion was a faded lichen shirt that had once been Tasir's. It soaked up the new tears she cried every day in her mourning, not for the demon that Tasir had become before he had killed Quarr, but for the loving and caring man she had seen in him in the beginning.

It tore her apart to never see the love in his eyes, hear his soothing voice, feel the warmth of his body next to hers again and the relentless coldness of the shirt only increased her pain. There was no warmth left in her life. The borders between being awake and asleep were blurring, the images of the day of Tasir's death, of all the violence and killing, haunting her, no matter if her eyes were closed or open.

When she awoke from one of her usual nightmares with a loud yell, the lichen shirt had slipped out of her fingers in her dreams and was hanging down over the bed's edge. Faerlin tried to soothe her, the compassion obvious in her eyes. "Trisa, everything is fine. It was only a dream." Wishing that Faerlin's words were true, that all of this had never happened in reality, she rubbed over her forehead, her breathing still heavy. But she knew that nothing of this was only a dream. Yet, Faerlin merely wanted to help, so she forced her body to reply with a quick nod. "I... I know, I just... wish I not had to see it over and over again."

The coldness became unbearable again and so she hastily felt for the soft wool shirt that Larkin had used earlier to cover her with, but that had sunken down from her in the course of her fitful sleep. Faerlin sent another smile in her direction, the innocence in her eyes untouched by all the misery around her. "Perhaps in time it will pass. Healing time is what you need, rest and be comfortable."

Not being able to face the other woman any longer, carrying the absurd fear that her eyes could infect Faerlin's with several decades of tragedy, she stared down at the mattress beneath her and pulled the wool shirt tighter around her chest. "I can only hope you are right, but... right now it feels as if... something like this will never heal, no matter how much time will pass."

All of a sudden, Larkin who had been mesmerized by the flame of the kiln for a long time, stood up and it was obvious to her with every movement that he made that something had to be wrong, even more than normally. His fingers hastily started to tug on the straps of his armor and his voice supported her feeling that new sorrow was enlacing him. "I've got to get this off... I don't want it."

She didn't have the time to ask herself what his armor had to do with the distress etched onto his face when the removal of his breastplate revealed some large bruises and cuts all over his upper body. Instantly grasped by worry, she whispered: "Larkin... you are hurt."

His eyes seemed darker than normally when he looked up to meet her gaze. "Yea... You can just see it better with no armor in the way." Too surprised to react quickly enough when he also let the leggings follow the rest of his armor to the ground with some clanking sounds, leaving the lower part of his body uncovered, she locked her eyes onto his, avoiding to look further down.

For a short moment, something brighter flickered up in his eyes as they met hers again. Without really wanting it, she started to stammer, unable to form a proper sentence. "I..." Suppressing any further awkward words, she bit her lip for some time, the worry about all the darkened spots on Larkin's skin letting deep wrinkles appear on her forehead when she spoke again. "Did you get hurt when clearing the mine? Let me... make you some salves." Her shoulders rose helplessly while she glanced at the pile of calcium cream in some distance from the bed.

After quickly slipping into his leather leggings instead of the steel ones, Larkin grabbed some of the cream and brought it over to her, sitting down on the edge of the bed. Her hands started to work on the salve almost automatically without much thought about it and her eyes remained fixed on Larkin's face when he revealed to her where his new injuries stemmed from, that he again had had to take the life of a person whose mind had been clouded by darkness and bloodlust - like it had been with Kenna and Tasir.

In her first reflex to this revelation, she flinched and started to get out of the bed, but Larkin's hand kept her from it, directing her back towards the mattress with soft pressure onto her chest to which she eventually gave in. He kicked the box holding his armor in frustration before swinging his legs over the bed's edge and laying down next to her.

She turned around onto her side to watch him with a mixture of compassion and sadness, unable to find the right words, but feeling his inner pain as if it was her own. Cautiously, her hand moved towards his body next to hers until the tips of her fingers reached his upper arm. "I... am sorry you had to do it... again."

This was the moment when Amica walked into the cavern, but the underlying feeling of affection that she always had when speaking to one of Larkin's children vanished instantly at Amica's dark gaze that wandered over her and Larkin lying next to each other and then lingered on the lichen shirt on the bed's edge. The girl's lips puckered before she blurted out: "Faerlin my new Mou. I love you, Trisa, but please no take Didi from Mou and be mate. I can no lose another Mou..." Sudden tears formed in the girl's eyes. "I knows when someone dies they get a new mate and Didi loves you but I no sure if it like Auntie Faerlin. Just no take him... please? I sorry you lose Unca Tasir, and I love you so much... but no take Didi, please."

Intense disbelief about what she had just heard prevented her from speaking or moving for several seconds before she finally shook her head and swallowed heavily. These words refused to make any sense to her, even less after what Amica had said to her some days ago. I love you Trisa. You closest thing I had to Mou. "Wh-what are you talking about, Amica?" The girl avoided to look at her again, her voice now bearing a hint of impatience and frustration. "Just like I say, please no take Didi away from Faerlin. I no want lose another Mou."

Her disbelief only grew and made her shake her head another time. "But... how would I take him away? Amica, I have no idea why you say that." The girl now sounded even more frustrated than before and quickly wiped over her cheeks to get rid of her new tears. "I just mean take Didi as your mate. Dat what Grand-Di did when his die. Just no take Didi, I love you... but Faerlin my Mou."

Still utterly confused, her eyes searched Larkin's for a split-second, then fell back onto his daughter who was crying because of her, and she did the only thing she could think of in her desperation about the fact that she had brought sadness over the people around her again, even though she had never meant to. Flee. One of her hands grabbed Tasir's lichen shirt, the other one her crutch and she hurried out of the cavern into the darkness of the mine, shaking her head over and over again on her way. The sound of her crutch hitting the ground echoed through the tunnels in a fast and regular rhythm, her withered muscles barely able to hold the weight of her emaciated body.
Lasse, 103 - Before dawn, hr 3    
She had returned to Farcliffs only a short while ago, but already she yearned for the world around. Her children looked at her queerly, with only polite kindness as she gave them their gifts. They cared little for her. She had tried, but perhaps it was in the blood of her people..to never care for their young after they hatch. To abandon them. But, she had another goal now. From the mines she had gathered much granite. And on the far side of Farcliffs she begun a new construction, one that she had thoughts of since she was on her journey. A tower of holding. She was building a tower on this cliff that juts out over the see..the Conservitorium. It would take long to work she knew, but it was the only thing that mattered to her in her mind. She wished to store all these writings from the Witch and many of her lost people there. After that..she knew not what she would do..but the tower must be built.
Lasse, 103 - Afternoon, hr 8    
Nemo, he keeps watching me like a wolf on the prowl, eyes glowing. I know that look he gives; he gives it to Kis sometimes.

My body is changing in ways I do not wish it to. My hips swell as does my chest. I have no shame but this extra weight makes things difficult at times.

I will continue to give the little boy things and little girl thing blood and meat, to see if it makes them grow to be more clever than the last batch of little things.

I hope, I hope I can make them good, so Kis will love me more.
Vasa, 103 - Afternoon, hr 9    
The silence of the deserted cavern that surrounded her seemed to be almost impenetrable. After having spent most of her life in a mine, her eyes had gotten used to the darkness, still able to make out the shape of the rock formations in front of her. The touch of the cold stone wall behind her back made her feel even worse, chills running through her body. While her left leg remained outstretched on the ground, she pulled her right one close to her chest and leaned her chin onto it, burrowing her tearstained face into the lichen shirt she was carrying with her.

She had never wished to be dead more than in this very moment after everything in her life had been crushed into pieces and after she obviously continued to bring more sadness over everyone she cared about with every day that she lived. Larkin didn't deserve this, his children didn't deserve this after everything all of them had had to witness in their much too young age. If her legs had been able to carry her further, she would just have fled as far away as possible.

A sudden sound of footsteps startled her, but she didn't dare to pull the shirt away from her face to make an attempt at recognizing who it was. The warm sound of Larkin's voice made it unnecessary anyway. "Trisa. I found you... sorry it took so long." She heard him approach her, then sit down next to her with a small grunt. "I needed to talk to Faerlin."

Still faltering, it took her some seconds until she finally let the shirt sink and revealed the tears on her face to him. In the huge, empty cavern, her whisper sounded raspy and displaced. "Larkin, I... I am so sorry." Her head felt too heavy to hold it upright, so she brought her hands towards her temples to support it. "I not know why Amica said all of this. It... it seems wherever I am, I bring nothing but problems and sadness to the people around me." She pressed her eyes closed, new wetness sticking her eyelashes together. "Sorry, so sorry... I should never have come here."

Larkin's voice sounded soft in his reply. "I'm glad you did. If you hadn't, I would never have met someone as kind, caring and compassionate as you." The amiability of his words made her eyes flicker open and she noticed that he was now sitting closer to her, the faint smile on his lips barely silhouetted against the darkness. "There's no problems following you... It's nothing but horrible chance that you had to experience all of it."

His words were followed by his hand on her arm and she looked down towards it, covering it with her own in their shared pain about the past, but not interrupting him as he continued to speak in the same soft tone. "Ever since you arrived, you've showed me every day how beautiful a person you are, inside and out." In a sudden nervousness, he swallowed and pulled his hand back, hesitating to speak further. Her lips parted, preparing for her reply, but every word that she had planned to say remained stuck in her throat as he pronounced his next sentences, insecurity letting his eyes shimmer in the darkness. "What Amica said... it wasn't all wrong. I've fallen in love with you, Trisa."

She couldn't breathe, couldn't think, couldn't believe what her nephew had just told her and her hand sank down weakly, landing on the ground next to her with a quiet thud. Then the thoughts started racing in her mind, showing her images of the past in rapid succession, letting her hear his voice in her head, filled with warmth whenever he had spoken to her. Each single one of their numerous embraces with which they had given each other the strength to endure the cruelty of their lives showed up in front of her mind's eye. How he had been there for her whenever Tasir had managed to hurt her again, how he had soothed her, held her. You don't deserve it.

His tempestuous reaction when she had told him that Tasir was forcing her to leave. I'm not going to pretend I'm happy that you're leaving. I don't like that he's taking you away from us because he doesn't trust you! The tender touch of his thumb on her cheek to brush her tears of mourning away. I am here for you... I know how much it hurts. The solicitousness in each of his movements when he tried to drive the inner cold away from her by wrapping the wool around her. His incredulousness when she had told him that Tasir believed she was in love with Quarr. By that reasoning he should be more worried about me.

Suddenly, she saw every single one of these occurrences in a new light, everything had been bearing so much more meaning than she would ever have expected. About me... But he was her nephew. You're the one I remember helping me after I was nearly killed by bats. You're caring, loving and kind... Her nephew. I know how it hurts... but you'd only be hurting the people left here who love you. - Love you... Her nephew was in love with her.

Staring at Larkin with widened eyes, she hadn't noticed how one of her hands had burrowed into the lichen fabric of Tasir's shirt, her fingers cramping around it tightly. He closed his eyes, the blush on his cheeks noticeable even in the sparse light of the cavern. "I don't expect anything, but... please... just don't laugh."

How could he have fallen in love with her, with that miserable shadow that was left of her? How could she never have noticed anything when it should have been so obvious? How should she reply? How could she ever feel love again after Tasir had broken her heart? How could he ever think she would laugh at him in a situation like this? Tilting her head with more wetness glistening in her eyes, she opened her mouth, trying to say something, but failing completely and simply closing it again. After repeating this procedure several times, she managed a hoarse, single word. "How...?"

He looked back up into her eyes and made a shy attempt to touch her arm again, but changed his mind before his skin came into contact with hers. "I don't know... it wasn't even until this morning, when I saw you laying on the bed, looking weak and helpless that I even realized it." His gaze avoided hers, getting locked onto the ground instead. "I've never tried to control love... it happens when it happens without any care for timing or the people involved. It'd be so easy if you could just say 'I'm going to love that person.'" Reluctantly, he turned his body away from her, sitting side by side now. "I look at you and want to make you happy." With a deep sigh, he stared blankly at the wall on the far side of the cavern, admitting quietly: "I'm sorry... I should have never said anything."

"I..." A soft shiver ran over her skin at his obvious despondency and in the desperate longing to make him feel better again, she felt for his hand, releasing her tears when she blinked. So tender in his touch that it seemed he was afraid to break her hand, he enclosed it with his fingers and turned his head around to face her, his eyes fixed on her lips, watching each of their movements as she spoke. "I should not be anybody's mate, Larkin. I only brought sadness over Elek and Tasir." After a short look at Tasir's shirt in her other hand, she tightened her grip around his hand, her voice trembling vehemently. "It... it still hurts so much that I not know how to live with it." Turning her head sidewards, she let her eyes scan his face, her cheeks now wet with her tears. "Look at what is left of me, how... could I possibly make you happy? There... is no happiness left in me. And Amica... Faerlin..." She swallowed heavily before pronouncing the next name. "Quarr."

Some seconds after her voice had fallen silent, he replied warmly: "I see you." He reached across his body with his other hand and gently brushed the tears off her cheek with the backs of his fingertips. "And that alone makes me happy." His reaction to her list of names was a simple shake of his head. "I will make Quarr understand if he doesn't... but I think he will. Amica... she's just in trouble." Slowly, he turned his body back towards hers and moved their interlocked hands to his lap. His face still gave away his insecurity, mixed with a very faint shimmer of hope as he took a deep breath. "I've spoken to Faerlin... she will be my mate. I..." He squeezed her hand gently. "I want a family with you, too, Stoneshapers... I want you and Faerlin to be my mates."

Again, she didn't know what to reply, was too stunned by so many conflicting emotions and thoughts within her to think properly. But she wanted to show him that she was certainly far from laughing at him and so leaned her cheek against his fingers and returned the pressure of his other hand cautiously with her own in the seconds that she needed to form coherent sentences in her head. "Larkin, I... I had no idea you would ever see me like this. This is so confusing, my heart is still so overwhelmed with sadness that I not know how to feel. And I not want you to get into any conflicts with Amica or Faerlin." A quiet sigh escaped her lips. "We have all had too much conflict already."

"There's no conflict. Faerlin knows already that I would have you as my mate, too... and Amica just didn't want me to leave Faerlin. I won't." Bringing their clasped hands up to his breast, he held them close to his chest. "Nothing but time will make the sadness go away entirely, but if you had to choose to feel even a little happiness or nothing but sadness..." He leaned in closer to her so that only inches separated their faces, the hopeful glow in his eyes intensifying as he finished his question very quietly: "...which would you choose?"

After having been captured in desperation for far too long, her heart longed to accept that small ray of hope he was offering her, that wouldn't let her wake up alone, cold and lost in her unbearable pain any longer. She couldn't resist the expectant expression in his eyes, feeling the need to fulfill his hopes, even though she still couldn't understand why it was her whom he had brought into the position to bring bliss or more sadness over him with whatever would be the next sentence she would choose to speak. Her tears had ceased, but her old ones still gave her eyes a wet gleam as she whispered so close to his face that her breath stroked over his skin with every word. "I had not dared to hope to feel happiness ever again."

With his hand still cupping her cheek, his lips slowly closed what little distance remained between them. "I love you, Trisa." His eyes remained locked with hers until their lips lightly brushed, then he closed them. Almost simultaneously with his, her own eyelids sank down and a soft breath of air escaped her lips when they touched his for the first time. The icy wall that had surrounded her heart slowly melted away, releasing her out of the constant coldness. She saw Elek. Her lips parted a bit in the remembrance. She saw Tasir. Another shivery breath passed off her mouth. Then the faces of the past left her and it was only him she saw. Repeating his gentle caress, she let her lips glide over his once more, whispering against them: "I... love you, too."

She was more than sure that this was no lie, she merely wasn't sure where between the love she felt for all of her family and the love she had felt for Tasir and Elek this one belonged. Their lips were pressed against each other in a tender kiss and with a cautious and slow movement, she lifted one of her hands and placed it in his neck while he let his hand slide behind her with his fingers running through her hair.

When Larkin's lips refused to cooperate and curled into an unbidden smile, he pulled them back a little. "Look how happy you've made me already." He reached out and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer. Keeping her eyes shut, she leaned her head against his shoulder, the tip of her nose touching his neck. As her own lips very hesitantly formed a smile, they brushed over his skin on the spot where his neck and shoulder met. The lichen shirt that had been clasped by one of her hands all the time slowly glided to the ground next to them when she lifted her arms and placed both of her hands on his back to gently press his body against hers.

And then, in the warmth and safety of his embrace, she knew that this was simply a new kind of love.
Ringwe, 103 - Afternoon, hr 9    
This was my only chance. My father was right there, in front of me, badly injured from some other fighting he'd done. It was as if Aten had brought him to me, so I could have the glory of killing him. After a brief moment of consideration, I raised my sword and charged at the daemon.

I underestimated him. With a few hacks of his claymore, my life came to a quick, abrupt end.
Losse, 104 - Before dawn, hr 2    
Her name was Nivia.

She was their pride and joy. He had chosen her name one evening as they thought about the future.

How long they had worried they were not fit for pups or that she was ill and unable to bear them, how hard they had tried to bring life to the world; and, finally, they had been blessed with a solitary, beautiful little girl.

Though her sister and Sul-Rani typically had two or more pups at a time, one was special to them - their first - and, she was happy for this life, to finally hold the tiny form in her wings, to rock her gently as she sang quiet lullabies.

As Cesia turned to travel down the mountain, a heavy granite box under wing to collect wood for the small boxes to come, she looked up to the mountain peak, her face an emotionless slate.

Her name was Nivia...

She would have been one cycle old today...
Kuile, 104 - Evening, hr 11    
Larkin had brought her into the safety of the limestone house to spare her more of Amica's hurting words after the girl had seen him feed berries to her. Trisa ugly! He must have known that she wasn't in the condition to bear any more of this. Trisa not very good at being Mou, she no care 'bout us. Each single one of Amica's sentences seemed to be able to hurt her deeper than the one before. If it had only been about her appearance, she could have accepted it, but that Amica told her she was a bad mother, even more after she had stated the exact opposite some days ago, was just too much to stand and made the remembrance of Ennea sting into her heart. No pretend you love us... You just a trouble-maker.

She had wanted to leave, to not disturb the happy and peaceful life that Larkin and his children could have with Faerlin and without her. But Faerlin's tears had stopped her, leaving her in shock about having made yet another person cry. Trisa no! Don't do this to him. Please, I beg you. He wants to be with you. He told me. They will come around, you'll see. Don't leave Larkin, please.

It seemed there was no way out - no matter what she did, she would make someone sad. And the warmth in Larkin's voice, the love in his eyes as he set her down onto the soft feather bedding in the house, convinced her that staying was still the better one of the two alternatives. "You can't make everyone happy all the time. But you've made me happy... and I'm sure the rest of the children don't believe as Amica does." His eyes attracted hers, keeping hold of them. "I do love you... you can't ever get rid of that by leaving."

As he sat down next to her, her body almost automatically searched his closeness, the strength he conveyed, and the desperation in her own eyes slowly mixed with the same affection that his were radiating. Her hand shyly felt for his, covering it, and she remained silent for several seconds before speaking softly. "I not want to get rid of your feelings, Larkin. You are the only one who keeps me alive, you... you were there when nobody else was, you are the most caring person I know and when you touch me, it feels as if a little bit of the warmth I have lost would be returned to my body."

She felt his arm around her shoulders, gently pulling her backwards with him as he leaned against the wall of the building. While he spoke, he reached across his body with his other hand to lightly touch her arm. "Everyone's life here is just a little brighter with you in it, mine especially."

Faerlin entered the house and settled down on the feathers next to them, reaching out with both of her hands to place one on Larkin's cheek, one on hers. "Trisa, you make Larkin happy and that makes me happy, I hope in time you see this and know I wish you nothing but happiness." The Moonkin's kind behavior still surprised her slightly and let the curiosity reappear that she had already felt when Faerlin had kissed her head earlier in the cavern where Larkin had confessed his love to her. She had feared that Faerlin wouldn't like it at all that Larkin wanted her as his mate, too, but the exact opposite seemed to be the case. It's ok, Trisa, really. Everything is going to be just fine, you'll see.

Bringing one of her hands towards Faerlin to let it rest on the other woman's shoulder, she managed a still rather sad smile. "Thank you for being so amiable to me, even though you barely know me." Her astonishment increased when Faerlin bent forwards to kiss her hand while at the same time Larkin's hand started to rub over her back soothingly, his voice quiet, but soft. "I want the sadness to be over with too... a fresh start at being happy." Her free hand idly circled his collarbone until it reached one of his still untended scratches and without another word, she started to cover all of his small injuries with the salve she always carried with her, moving her fingers over his skin so gingerly that they almost didn't come into contact with it at all.

He closed his eyes under her touch and in the moment he opened them again, their faces seemed to be drawn to each other to let their lips meet in another tender kiss. When she afterwards lowered her head to blow a soft kiss onto his neck, a shiver ran up his back in response and her body reacted in the same way to his fingertips running along her arm. All of her doubts got dispelled by Larkin's and Faerlin's loving words and before she could even realize what was happening, she was surrounded by a cloud of warmth and affection that shut the rest of the world and all of its sadness and cruelty out.

Suddenly, she felt both Larkin's and Faerlin's touch all over her body, the mutual caresses of all three of them only interrupted by quiet oaths of love with unclear recipients. I love you, I really do. - I want you both next to me. The night passed by with lips pressed onto lips and skin touching skin, three bodies entwined with each other until she could feel that not only her heart was filled with new life, but that new life had also started to grow within her stomach, just like in Faerlin's.
Kuile, 104 - Evening, hr 12    

As the older boy presses his body against hers, she becomes aware of everything surrounding her. She remains dizzy from his touch, but as he bites down on her lower lip, she loses control; of balance and herself. Falling out of his arms, everything slowed down. The girl slowly touched the dirt, then felt pain rush up her lower back, all the way to where he was placing his hand under her chin. I...wouldn't mind continuing, her whispered softly.

So they did.

That was the start of love.
Rosa, 104 - Midday, hr 6    
The feeling of the new life growing within her after all those years of hopelessness that had nearly erased her wish for more children filled her with more joy than she had ever hoped to feel again. Larkin's smile, the loving expression in his and Faerlin's eyes sent waves of warmth through her whenever she looked at them. They had managed to bring not only her body, but also her soul back to life. And suddenly, after the long period of eating much too little, she felt her intense hunger again, increased by her pregnancy.

The glow in Larkin's eyes and the smile on his lips showed how relieved he was to finally hear this from her. He brought her strawberries covered in sweet drops of honey, but then noticed how her formerly auspicious gaze darkened as it met the door leading out of the limestone house into the main cavern. Obviously knowing exactly what she was thinking, he slid closer to her on the bed and kissed her cheek, murmuring in a calming tone: "Everything's going to be alright."

In the urge to return into the warmth of his embrace, she wrapped both of her arms around him and leaned against him, nodding against his chest with a quiet sigh. A sudden touch of irony made her chuckle and she lifted her head to re-engage their eye-contact, the lively sparkle now returned into her eyes. "I... I want a baked cave fish. With honey." Before continuing to speak, she bit her lip, ashamed of her sudden ravenous appetite. "AND the berries..." The sound of her chuckling made him join in at once as he laid back down on the bed. "I will get you anything in my power to get." His eyes sent an amused shimmer in her direction. "As soon as I catch my breath."

After another short moment of closeness, he backed away and while she watched him get dressed, she realized that every single one of his touches and smiles had dispelled more and more of the insecurity she had felt in the beginning until none of it had been left. He had rescued her in every way possible and she truly loved him, in a much more intense manner than she would ever have considered possible.

Even though a part of her would have wanted to stay in that house forever with Larkin and Faerlin, it was time to face the reality outside again and prepare everything for the oncoming births. All three of them left the building in the same moment to stand whatever might happen together. But her worst fears got excelled when it wasn't Amica who ran out of the mine as soon as she spotted the obvious signs of her advancing pregnancy, but Faerlin's oldest daughter Nina, and she wished they would never have stepped through that door. With the diminished speed of a woman encumbered by pregnancy, Faerlin followed her daughter. Amica's eyes met hers with an expression of silent triumph and pleasure for a short moment, a malicious smile curling her lips.

Then Quarr sent a gaze as cold as ice in her direction and his voice didn't bear any affection any longer when he murmured: "Didn't take long." Without another word, he simply stepped out of the mine and left her with the piercing coldness he had brought. In the remembrance of Larkin's words, she tried to remain strong and lifted her chin to encounter whatever other cruelties her surroundings would come up with, but she wasn't prepared to hear that Faerlin's oldest daughter had left her parents and her home forever, because of her. She had wanted to believe Larkin when he had said the other children wouldn't share Amica's opinion, but obviously he had been wrong.

Faerlin's face was tearstained when she returned and never before had she heard such anger in the Moonkin's voice as in the moment she shouted at Amica for convincing Nina to leave. Faerlin did what she herself had longed to do all the time and ran back into the house, so she finally gave up and just followed the other woman back into the safety of the building, her eyes widened in the shock about what she had just heard.

It was her fault that the woman who had told her that she loved her now had to go through the same pain of losing her daughter that she herself knew too well. "She thinks I picked you over her. I love her so much, why, why would she leave me?" Despite Faerlin's obvious emotional pain, the Moonkin surprised her again by not blaming her at all and instead motioning for her to lie down on the bed next to her. "I love you, don't leave me. Surely Larkin can handle this. Come and lay with me."

Unable to speak, she did what Faerlin had told her and hesitantly stumbled over to the bed, more falling than sitting down on it. She should have been the one to comfort Faerlin, but instead it was Faerlin who stroked through her hair, whispering: "Shhh, let's not worry anymore until Larkin comes. We need to be careful of the new babies and he will deal with Nina." All she could do was letting a silent tear drip down onto the mattress before both of them fell asleep, their rounded stomachs next to each other.
Rosa, 104 - Afternoon, hr 9    
It was the touching I craved most of all.

The tumbling, the smell of the sweat, his skin so close to mine. The touch of his tongue to my jaw and the way his teeth sank into the flesh of my arched throat.

I would lose a hundred spars to simply have him on top of me, to struggle against him.
Lote, 104 - Evening, hr 11    
Larkin brought her the fish covered in sweet syrup that her body had longed for earlier in her pregnancy, but after the recent events all of her hunger had left her again. She didn't dare to tell him this after he had caught the fish only for her, so all she could do was stare at it when he placed it into her hands. With deep sadness in her eyes, she forced them to look into Larkin's while she whispered a hoarse "Thank you".

In her amazing ability to just shrug off emotional distress in nearly no time, the sight of the unusual food combination made Faerlin burst out into loud giggling. Completely confused about this reaction, she watched Faerlin with widened eyes until the other woman's continous laughing let a helpless sound somewhere between a chuckle and a sob emerge in her own throat, stifled by a loud cry as soon as the first wave of labor-pain ran through her body.

For Faerlin, it seemed to start almost in the same moment and Larkin's confusion about the sudden outburst of laughing quickly got replaced by worry as he knelt down in front of the bed. "Is it time? So soon?" All she could reply was a silent nod and she pressed her free hand onto her stomach in her pain, flashing a helpless glance at the fish in her other one. Larkin reached out and freed her hand from it, placing the fish in a food crate instead before taking Faerlin's and her hand into both of his. "Is there anything? Water?"

Barely able to speak in her heavy and pained breathing, she pressed out a single sentence. "Just... not... not go away, please." Faerlin seemed to be in a better condition and even managed to smile at Larkin. "Next time you could do this part."

She pressed Larkin's hand a little too tightly and he winced, but more in sympathy than in pain, when her new cry echoed through the room as the next contractions started. "If I could..." Her body reared up under another loud scream of pain and her breathing came in heavy blows as she clenched Larkin's hand so tightly that her knuckles appeared in a shimmer of white. And suddenly, it was over as quickly as it had begun and in the middle of all the chaos surrounding them, two boys born by her and one girl born by Faerlin took their first breaths.

After getting over the first moment of exhaustion of giving birth, her body still worn out by her prolonged absence of appetite, she was able to sit up and Larkin placed the firstborn of their sons into her arms. The feeling of the tiny body against her chest, the sight of the life she and Larkin had created together was able to drive all of her sadness away for some blissful moments of proudness about their beautiful children. Finally, she had living and breathing sons after the souls of both sons she had had with Elek had been taken away by the Great Spirit to send them into eternal sleep.

But these ones were different, so filled with life. Her wish had come true, she was a mother again after all those years and the small, vulnerable being that she cautiously fed in her arms was her own child. When her eyes met Larkin's, her lips formed a smile of an intensity she hadn't experienced for a long time before she glanced back down to the baby she was holding.

Ruby and Tenalla came to see the new babies and none of the antipathy that had been etched onto Amica's and Nina's faces could be seen on theirs. The relief she felt about this fact was overwhelming and that together with the clutter of hormones in her body brought new tears into her eyes. They're all so pretty... just like their Mou-Mou! Trisa, Amica and Nina don't know what they're talking 'bout... She couldn't help but sob as she returned Ruby's embrace with one arm while holding her son in the other. But this time, it was no sob of sadness.

Larkin's hand gently rubbed over her back and for a moment, the whole world was like it was supposed to be. Very excited about her new siblings, Ruby was eager to help naming the girl and the firstborn of the boys while the name for the secondborn was her own suggestion. And Larkin came up with a last name for all children they would have together. For us... who have survived the chaos that brought us together.

Davin Stoutheart. Leiard Stoutheart. Cala Rose.
Urnu, 104 - Before dawn, hr 2    
Tyra shifted in the tunnel, trying to roll into a sitting position. Groaning with the effort she decided to lie still for a while longer, hoping her pain would subside.

She stopped and sniffed the air. It's all gone? She couldn't tell if she was free of the creature that just hours before had nearly succeeded in squeezing the life out of her. 

"Owww," she mumbled, then groaned again.  Hurts. It hurt to speak, hurt to move or even think about moving. But she had to crawl to get away. Slowly, she forced herself to keep going.

Then came the familiar sound of the waves crashing against the cliffs below. She was outside. Why's it still dark? She tried to open her eyes but something was wrong. If she had been able to see her reflection in the fjord, she would have seen the truth. Her body was a bloody, massive bruise. Her once bright yellow eyes were scratched shut, seemingly beyond repair. 

Latem...? Where's Latem? Or the hatchlings? She felt along with her arms outstretched, finding no one. Hearing nothing but the sounds of the mountain.

She hadn't brought anything to eat with her into the mine. She was only supposed to be in there long enough to gather materials for another oven. Why'd the hatchlings take it anyway? Pain, hunger and fatigue were beginning to take their toll. She was afraid, her movements desperate.  

Tyra felt along with her hands until she reached the kitchen area. Then, the feeling of marble. The oven...? How? Did the hatchlings come in? They bring it back? Then why's it so quiet? She tried to find food but the pain was suddenly too intense. 

Latem! Saga! Ekho! Sheer panic moved her further away from the kitchen, past the others and closer to the cliff's edge. She should have known to be careful but it was too late. Tyra fell, tumbled through the air and hit the water with a sickening thud. 
Urnu, 104 - Afternoon, hr 8    
Kadin is dead.

I saw his body. Beaten and bloody as it was, you could barely tell that it was Kadin. I don't know how his mate could stand to carry his body the way she did.. I don't think I would have been able to. But she was right. He deserved to be buried in our home city.

I'm glad his daughters were asleep when his mate showed me his body.. they should remember him as he was in life, not as the bloated corpse that I saw. I'm unable to get that face out of my dreams.. his mouth open as if he were screaming, his eyes wide but unseeing, his ears perked as if he were still listening for his killer. I wish his daughters didn't look so much like him.. there are times when I am with them, and suddenly their features seem to melt.. and all of a sudden, I'm staring at Kadin's face again. I'm hoping that with time that will fade.. but for now, it is horrific.

I try my best to make the others happy. I want them to smile.. I want her to smile. But there is always that shadow looming over us.. that knowledge that one of us may be next. I don't think any of us is safe. Aten forgive me, but I don't think even He can do anything now. There is a daemon in the desert, and we may all be doomed.
Elen, 104 - Evening, hr 11    
Here you go…With a slight smile and a nod, the aelleri woman handed him a scroll. Her voice was smooth, and calm, but her posture and movements betrayed other feelings.

It really was his own fault, for letting it go on so long without saying anything. For years she had always asked things of him, and for years he had done it, for her, for their Anisa. Leave the mountain to go find Kavo. Keep travelling. Leave the Stoneshaper mountain. Sit around while she is off, while they are off without him. Watch the pups while they travelled more. Leave the pups to go find him. Watch the pup while she goes. Sit and watch while she nearly killed herself.

He didn't really mind it when it was happening, that was the problem. He loved Anisa, he loved Connor, and he had put their happiness above his own. But the only thing that had run through his mind when she said she didn't want to stay in this place, their home, was the word NO. No, I will not go with you, No I will not uproot myself, and my happiness, the pups. I can't do it, He had thought. And he wrote it all down, every mean word that had been boiling away inside of him for years. And he pushed that scroll hard into her hands, eager for her to see what she was doing to them. The regret was instant.

If there was ever one thing that broke him, it was her tears. The look in her eyes, as she ran from him, was enough to send him into a blind rage. Fist after fist he pounded into the wall, until he bled from the force of it all, and his hand felt like mashed yams. Was he no better than all the others, who hurt her every day? Did he not promise to protect her from hurt?

He wanted to tell her that he would go now, that he believed too that Elisa had changed, but it would be a lie, and he wouldn’t dare. If the woman cared, she would have shown it. If she had changed, then things would be different, and they weren’t. If she wanted them in her life so bad, why had she not come to see them, or the pups? His mind knew the truth, but she believed the mirage with such hope that it tore him yet again. With the same hope in which he’d believed in Tasir, even after his death, until she told him that he hadn’t changed for her, just him.

As he had knelt beside her on a dirt mound on the city street, his mind had buzzed through hundreds of things to do, to say, and ways to stop hurting her. His eyes had wandered around him, settling on a carving in one of his boxes. His mind had wandered alongside his eyes, back to that easier time. The time of six teenagers in a Forest, away from the world. The simpler, happier time.

With a shake of his head, he brought himself back to reality, to the street, to her. He wrote, again and again, in his desperate attempt to fix something, to fix anything.
Lasse, 104 - Midnight, hr 1    
    A bright light came from above. It was soothing and warm, and a little boy bathed in the light. He heard voices and songs all around him, and while he couldn't understand what's going on, he enjoyed it with his whole heart. Suddenly the sky became darker and a bright orange circle which was radiating the warm light disappeared. A cold drop hit the boy's nose. It was a strange feeling, a bit uncomfortable but new. Then a loud sound came from the sky.

    He woke up. The little boy couldn't remember his dream, but he remembered that it was strange and there were things which he has never seen. It was warm and wet in his house, as usual. This house was everything he has ever known in his life. As far as he remembered, he always was here, in this warm and comfortable place. Sometimes he heard some strange muted sounds from outside and warm touches which made him giggle, letting out small bubbles of air.

    He tried to remember the dream but something strange began to happen. He felt how the walls of his house started to tighten and push him somewhere downwards. A sense of terror appeared in his mind and started to grow. What happens to his house? What pulls him down? What happens?!

    A bright light blinded him. Somethink sharp has cut his navel-cord. The pain was a new feeling. He has never felt something such acute before... But it quickly passed away. He opened his eye and a strem of bright colors filled his mind. There was a huge world around him, much bigger than his own house which he hasn't left ever.

    Then he felt some strange feeling inside. It felt like he's missing something. He tried to understand what's going on when a warm hand slapped his backside. Warm salt water filled his eyes and against his own will he made it... He cried, loud and sincere. Suddenly a rush of clean air made his head spin and feel funny. He couldn't stop his cry but he didn't want to. He totally gave himself to the new feeling of freedom. The feeling of life...

"I think I shall call you Nesden", - said a kind and beautiful voice.
Ringwe, 104 - Midday, hr 6    
Sichar rested on a knee as he watched the clearing ahead of him. By his side Rown was restless, but obeyed his father's call for silence.

Reaching for an arrow and pulling it from the soft earth beside him, he speaks softly "Now watch my hands as I nock the arrow". Rown nods, his eyes wide as he watches.

Lifting the arrow, Sichar nocks the arrow and then at that moment a boar comes shambling out of the brush ahead in the clearing. He stands and pulls the bowstring back to his check and lets the arrow loose into the beasts side. With a roar of anger the beast ran forward towards him, only to meet another arrow to the face as it went down.

With an excited 'woop' from Rown, Sichar rose slowly and glanced to the boy. Now comes your job, you get to skin it. He says with a flicker of a smile as he pulls out a bone knife and hands it to the boy hilt first. With an eager grin, the boy ran forward. Calling after the boy "We have plenty of food back in Moonglade, so don't worry if you ruin the hide or meat."

Sichar watched on as his thoughts ran. He was a rambunctious boy, always getting in scuffles with his brother Dios and messing around with his younger siblings. That could be taught out of him over time, but he hoped that this spark of life stayed in the child, unlike many of the other children of Snowe and himself. He also hoped that they could keep these young ones interested in their own lands and people, instead of heading off to the wide and dangerous world full of Otherkin, like Cita's children had done.

Coming back to reality he grunted as he watched Rown jabbing his knife into the boar, having great fun, but going nowhere with skinning it. Shaking his head he says to the boy as he sits down behind him "I said don't worry if you mess up, not go crazy on it." he says lightly as he takes the boys hand in his own and slowly guides him in skinning and butchering the beast.
Ringwe, 104 - Midday, hr 6    
Sichar rested on a knee as he watched the clearing ahead of him. By his side Rown was restless, but obeyed his father's call for silence.

Reaching for an arrow and pulling it from the soft earth beside him, he speaks softly "Now watch my hands as I nock the arrow". Rown nods, his eyes wide as he watches.

Lifting the arrow, Sichar nocks the arrow and then at that moment a boar comes shambling out of the brush ahead in the clearing. He stands and pulls the bowstring back to his check and lets the arrow loose into the beasts side. With a roar of anger the beast ran forward towards him, only to meet another arrow to the face as it went down.

With an excited 'woop' from Rown, Sichar rose slowly and glanced to the boy. Now comes your job, you get to skin it. He says with a flicker of a smile as he pulls out a bone knife and hands it to the boy hilt first. With an eager grin, the boy ran forward. Calling after the boy "We have plenty of food back in Moonglade, so don't worry if you ruin the hide or meat."

Sichar watched on as his thoughts ran. He was a rambunctious boy, always getting in scuffles with his brother Dios and messing around with his younger siblings. That could be taught out of him over time, but he hoped that this spark of life stayed in the child, unlike many of the other children of Snowe and himself. He also hoped that they could keep these young ones interested in their own lands and people, instead of heading off to the wide and dangerous world full of Otherkin, like Cita's children had done.

Coming back to reality he grunted as he watched Rown jabbing his knife into the boar, having great fun, but going nowhere with skinning it. Shaking his head he says to the boy as he sits down behind him "I said don't worry if you mess up, not go crazy on it." he says lightly as he takes the boys hand in his own and slowly guides him in skinning and butchering the beast.
Losse, 105 - Before dawn, hr 3    
Zinnia had appeared, with the strange ability that Mama, Myran, and so many others had. Things were perfectly fine until Eli asked her about Anisa. Emerald couldn't even listen to the rest of the conversation. Her mind became tangled in chaos.

Daisy had said many things, had given many suggestions. Eli and Emerald. Eli and Emerald. Eli and Emerald. Together? How could that work out? Didn't he love Anisa? Yes, he surely loved her once, before her senses had become broken. Before she had said or done something that made Eli sad, that had made him leave Serenity Canyon. But did he still feel that way? Did he still prefer Anisa to Emerald, even though Emerald had been close to Eli since before she could even remember? Even though Anisa had done terrible things? Emerald felt a flash of anger. How could anybody love somebody so cruel and strange over somebody so... so good? Even if Emerald couldn't act her age, even if she was blunt and ignorant, she always did her best to please. Right?

Emerald finally realized. She desperately wanted him. She wanted to be able to take him for granted, to be able to see him every day, to always be by his side. She wanted babies, too, and she wanted to have babies with him. But how could she ever ask for such a thing from such a boy?
Rosa, 105 - Before dawn, hr 2    

She was always starting fights. Unwise fights, fights she could never, ever win. She ought not to have done many of the things she did, for they were lapses in her judgment that ultimately lead to her death.

The snow was biting and Tale thought it wise to tie Nemo up. It was like poking a wolf with a stick when you are much smaller, much less wise than it is -- completely stupid. You engage only if you have a possibility of winning, or if it is for practice. Never to mean it. Never with pure hatred.

I suppose she did this because she wanted to win against Nemo, but there are other ways. There are more clever things you can do, to show your worth. It was because she made the things she did that I gave her her name and Kis approved. It does not always need to be about fighting, but also about wits, which Tale obviously lacked.

Now, it would seem, I am the eldest and only surviving child of Kis and Nemo's older packs of little girl and boy things. It is because I am clever and because I choose my fights wisely.
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