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Visitations

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Visitations

Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Dec 18, 2013 1:06 am

Kazimir sat slumped in the only chair furnished by the small castle room that belonged to Novastasia's ambassador. Elbows pushed into the arms of the chair from the weight of the man's drooping head, which he propped up by thumbs driven through the beard and under the chin, his fingers clamming together to encase his mouth and nose. Weary eyes gazed at the woman lying still on the bed before him--still, save for the subtle rise and fall of her chest that indicated life yet lingered there. Though ever alert for any hint that she might come out of the coma induced by grievous wounds suffered atop the wall in the recent battle for Akiros, waves of exhaustion and self-inflicted thoughts of failure haunted his waking hours . . . and all of his hours had been wakeful ones since the breaking of the siege.

King Thaddeus had visited the chamber once three days ago before setting out with the magister, the first knight of the realm, and his sister on a mission to the west. Kaz hadn't trusted himself enough to speak in the royal presence. He blamed the king for Wynn's current condition--more to the point, he blamed the king's nonsensical judgment in putting a blind woman at the head of an army atop a high wall in the midst of heavy fighting! The wound remained too fresh, too deep, and any words he might have spoken to the king would not have been courteous or kind. Who was he kidding? He would have called the man a damned, self-righteous fool not worthy of leading a horse to water with a pond twenty paces away! No doubt that would have gone over poorly with his majesty! The stern warning glare King Thaddeus had given him on the field that day when he had exploded at the ass did nothing to endear the monarch to Kaz, but it made him think long and hard about being openly defiant again so soon.

But doesn't a man have t' know his subjects better to lead them? he silently berated the king as the ire rose up in him once more. Wynn was a leader; she held all the qualities necessary to gain people's trust. They would follow her, would die for her, and had done just that! But she was no military commander. Such was never a role she should have been forced into, even asked to participate in, and it infuriated Kaz that a great leader of men hadn't the brainpower to understand so crucial a judgment. Kings need t' know better!

Tears rimmed the ranger's eyes as he refocused outwardly on the woman he had fully accepted as his charge . . . .

The aging man leaped from his chair at the sudden realization that someone else stood before her bedside blocking his view! "The hells?!" he exclaimed, blades instantly bared in each hand.

"She seems quite at peace," the newcomer spoke softly, his lustrous, silver-blond hair cascading down like a shower of moonlight to a couple inches below his collar.

"Who the--How the hells?!" Kaz's thoughts whirred as he stepped toward the stranger . . . the immaculately dressed stranger, for the intruder wore a doublet of silver with runelike blue embroidery about its edges worth a hundred times more than all the ranger's possessions combined!

"Never draw blades without intent to use them," the stranger admonished quietly without bothering to turn around. "Have you intent to use them, Kazimir? Do you believe such intent wise?"

Kaz paused at the mention of his name and scanned the intruder up and down. Aside from an outfit befitting royalty--unless that royalty were King Thaddeus, whose outfits failed to hold a candle next to this man's, the ranger's eyes held fast a long while on the diamond-studded rapier's pommel--formed completely from jagged ice-- which dangled from the man's hip. Wynn had described such a weapon to him before, had described a certain half-elf's appearance that perfectly resembled what he saw before him now, in fact . . .

"When reason withstands the onslaught of emotion, everyone wins," the intruder said confidently, then added, "Though your outburst has stirred up Glas, Kazimir. You would do well to calm him."

Glas. So lost in his own morbid thoughts, the ranger had forgotten the space lion's presence at the side of his chair. He cast a quick glance in his companion's direction to see it crouched there, tentacles low and writhing menacingly, those alien, prismatic eyes flickering. Glas' mouth remained tightly clenched, making it appear as though the space lion had no mouth at all. Though a disconcerting thing, surely, the akata's bite could spread a devastating undead plague throughout the kingdom, and so Wynn had taught the creature never to do so. Even still, those tentacles packed a mighty hard punch when necessary!

A simple gesture from his left hand stayed the space lion, prompting it to come out of its pouncing position.

"Where did ye come from?" Kaz inquired fiercely, scowling.

"Silverhall."

"How'd ye get in here without me seein'?"

"It would be best if you sheathed your blades, Kazimir. We have established your intentions, so you have no more need of them, and Glas will only be truly placated through nonaggressive acts."

Kaz's eyes narrowed. "Ye gonna answer my question?"

"I am not accustomed to doing so," the stranger replied congenially.

"Then I'll do no such thing," the ranger spat sourly. "Not 'til I've come to a full understanding of yer intentions."

That spurred the figure to slowly turn at the waist just enough so he could peer at the old man with both platinum-steel eyes, which simmered with the beginnings of anger. "Truly," he whispered, and the word carried no malice or even any hint of the anger that shone in his eyes . . . only promise.

The promise of what exactly felt very much open to interpretation at that moment. Kaz had to force his hands to remain still with all his willpower. This man was no king, the ranger knew; this man was something greater. His throat grew taut and instantly dry. He needed to swallow, but pride wouldn't allow it for appearances sake alone. "Yer Rasven Winter," he stated finally, requiring an end to the silence that permitted far too many thoughts to go awry.

The intensity of the man's stare answered him aptly enough.

"I can't fail 'er again," Kaz cracked under that glare, seeking some respite from its penetrating influence.

The admission worked. Rasven's glare softened; his features grew less stern. "The missive I received mentioned no failure on your part."

"I should've been at her side," the old man proclaimed, his voice fluctuating with the weight of those words. "I never should've allowed her t' leave me behind."

"Her army lay broken upon the field," Rasven stated. "Most dead or dying. Would your presence there have changed any of that?"

An ill-timed tear tumbled down the ranger's face, its cleansing drop clearing a thin line of dirt from his unwashed face. "My life fer hers," he breathed, practically choking on the words. "It should've been my life taken . . . Not hers."

Rasven Winter turned the rest of the way and approached the ranger with footfalls of absolute silence. With solemn comradery only possible between two brothers-in-arms, the stranger placed a strong hand upon Kaz's shoulder. "Her heart still beats. Her lungs yet draw breath. Her soul stays firmly affixed within her bosom, Kazimir. No gain would have come from your own lifeless corpse lying amidst the dead piled about her that day. Nay, but a genuine loss, for who would have seen to her every need these last days? Who would have faithfully watched over her with the same care as one that loves her as you do? How would the news of her dear friend's death afflict her heart upon waking from this slumber? Do not sell her strength short, and do not lessen the worth of a man I know she regards fondly. Both act as a disservice to her."

Kaz nodded, heartened by the words of the stranger, and regained his composure quickly. He peered over Rasven's shoulder to the woman that had become so much a surrogate daughter to him and reassumed his customary scowl. "She wouldn't be layin' there anyhow if our king weren't so damned foolish as t' put her on the wall in the first place."

"Speak no ill of your king," Rasven reprimanded as he pivoted back toward Wynnsaren. "Such is not your place."

"He sent 'er t' die," the ranger growled back. "She knew it! That's why she refused t' allow me there beside her!"

Rasven tipped his head in acknowledgement of the point as he walked back to stand beside Wynnsaren. "Yet to the wall she went despite that knowledge, Kazimir, because of her duty to the realm . . . and the king is the realm. If the king demands your life, give it freely without complaint. Should the day arrive when death becomes too lofty a price for fealty, leave . . . or crown a new king worthy of your fealty.

"There remains a third option, of course," Rasven explained, kneeling down beside the bed. "Reassess your priorities. King Thaddeus labors well outside the boundaries of perfection, but he exhibits promise through a courageous heart and honest intent. If these qualities fall short of your expectation, meditate as to why this phenomenal woman believes in him and seek your answers there."

"It doesn't bother ye t' see her like this?" Kaz inquired, sounding very much spent now. The blades still in his hands drooped with their points toward the floor.

"It devastates me," Rasven answered softly. Honestly. "Do you see the bottle atop the mantle that appears as bark, Kazimir?"

"The one with the funny scribbles beside it, aye."

The merchant prince nodded once. "You will want to administer a single spoonful to her every day so long as this condition persists. It will strengthen her."

Kaz finally sheathed his blades as he went to examine the strange bottle carved to resemble tree bark. Glas settled back down beside the chair and kept silent watch over the stranger in the room. "Yer sure it won't hurt 'er?" he asked, taking the bottle in hand and rolling it around a bit.

"I would sooner extinguish all the stars in the night sky than diminish her in any way, Kazimir," Rasven promised. He tenderly brushed her near cheek with the backs of his fingers and gazed at the serenity upon her face.

Kaz quietly looked on for a long while, oddly appreciating the gentle way in which Rasven Winter doted upon the girl. "Yeah, well," he said at length and cleared his throat. "Guess I'll go get that spoon, eh?"

"That would be glorious," the visitor agreed.

The old man squinted at the reply, glaring at the newcomer with a touch of wariness. The man's sincerity toward Wynn struck him as genuine, but the thought of leaving the two of them in the room together--alone--refused to sit well with him. He peeked down at the space lion, then back to Winter. "Glas'll stay behind and keep watch over things here," he warned all fatherly-like.

"Of course," Rasven accepted graciously, though his heart wasn't in the response.

Kaz merely nodded--though his squint remained!--and departed from the small chamber on his errand without bothering to issue any commands to Glas. He had every confidence the space lion would know what to do in case of emergency. It simply made him feel more at ease knowing his companion would be there to deter the man from . . . well, whatever. In fact, he felt so at ease now, it might not hurt for him to get a little shut-eye after taking back that spoon.

Or maybe he could get someone else to deliver it . . .

*******************************

Rasven knelt beside the bed harboring the unconscious woman, a position well beneath his station and dignity, but also well beyond his caring currently. He lovingly caressed her petal-soft, porcelain cheek or brushed her silken, sable hair back from her brow. The warmth of her skin helped push back the dark thoughts of her passing that fought hard to wedge themselves into his mind. The gentle rise and fall of her chest comforted him even more so.

"You are not alone, Wynnsaren," he whispered to her peaceful countenance, "nor will you ever be. Remember. No place exists any longer that I cannot locate you should there be a need. If death reaches out its hand, and you find yourself incapable of resisting its call, do not stand before Pharasma before I come to you. Go to the end of the longest line and await me there.

"I will wrench open the gates of the Boneyard if I must to gain entrance there. The Great Beyond has no realm outside my influence. I will come for you. I--" Rasven cut the statement short as he gazed longingly at her. That next breath would break him, he knew. To speak those words aloud would force him to leave this place, and he yearned to stay by her side a while longer yet.

Thus, Rasven stayed silent, and for those next hours he simply basked in the grace of her presence. A servant delivered a spoon, and he carefully tended to her first bit of osiowet, nursing the smooth crimson liquid down her throat with the utmost care. He left her side only to keep the fire stoked in the quaint little room. All the while, Glas peered on at the pair, his head resting comfortably on his front paws.

Finally, the hour arrived, and the half-elf knew he must go. Slowly, he lifted himself from the floor, not allowing himself to disturb the bed upon which Wynn rested. "I will return as soon as I am able. I trust Kazimir and Glas will provide for you in the meantime." Rasven leaned over and kissed her forehead softly, then ran fingertips down the side of her face as he admired her for a moment longer. "I love you, Wynnsaren. By all the stars and moons and suns in the skies of all the planets, and in all the planes, that our eternity holds. I love you." He kissed her brow once more and stepped away from the bed.

He glanced over toward Glas and smiled. "I trust everything said in this room will remain strictly between us."

The space lion lifted his head with the eye contact, tentacles fidgeting ever-so-slightly at the disturbance.

However, by the time Glas' head reached its apex, Rasven Winter had already departed.

_________________
This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

The Sub-Creator

Posts : 508
Join date : 2009-09-19

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