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8th of Uktar - Gwilly & Ashara - Ship to Zazesspur

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8th of Uktar - Gwilly & Ashara - Ship to Zazesspur

Post  Penelope on Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:39 pm

It was very late in the evening of the 8th of Uktar, when Ashara stood alone near the bow of the ship. After being beneath the mountain for over a week, the last thing she wanted to do was to spend any of her waking moments in that cramped cabin.

A bitter wind blew across the deck, whipping her braids behind her and sending rivulets of tears streaming along the sides of her face. The weather had turned. Winter is coming... On a night much like this one, nearly a year ago, she had been standing at almost this exact spot on a ship sailing across the Lake of Steam, when Cadderly, Elric and Therogeon had come to capture her. The priestess pulled her cloak tightly around herself as much from the memory as from the chilling wind. So much had changed in a year! So much had changed in just this past week...

From over her right shoulder she heard a tiny...cough? It was nearly impossible to hear the pixie, unless she wished to be heard. Since Ashara found out Kaber had been told about her then-yet-unrevealed feelings for Elric, Gwilly had been avoiding her.

"Gwilly?" Ashara turned toward the sound and was able to make out the barely audible whisper of moth-like wings. "I hope you know that I'm not upset with you about having your conversation with Kaber." She smiled reassuringly at her tiny friend. "I have no secrets from any of you! I was only concerned about what he said to Elric. When I asked him about it, he went ghost-white and changed the subject."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Gwilly let the thrill of being in the open air once again fill her tiny body. It felt so wonderful to no longer be underground. The salt sea air seemed to wash all the frustrations and anxieties from the previous weeks away. It felt good to be out of doors again.
And it felt good to be alive!

Gwilly watched Ashara standing at the bow of the boat. She smiled at the thought of the impending wedding between two of her favorite people-Ashara being one and Elric being the other. How clearly she remembered the night when the two of them confessed their love to each other. What sweet joy it had been!

But wait, surely those weren't tears Gwilly spied, streaming from the priestesses eyes! What could be wrong with one whose heart was so full of love? Gwilly gave a little cough, to make her presence known.

"I hope you know that I'm not upset with you about having your conversation with Kaber. I have no secrets from any of you! I was only concerned about what he said to Elric. When I asked him about it, he went ghost-white and changed the subject."

Oh dear, thought Gwilly, what did that thickheaded beast do now...?

"I'm so glad you're not angry with me, Ashara, I just couldn't contain my excitement! Then I told Kaber and he didn't understand (I mean, he really, really, didn't understand)! I didn't know what else to say to him so I gave up. I didn't think he would say anything to anyone else. He's not the talking type, you know? He really had some crazy ideas about relationships, or "mating" as he called it. It was crazy, I tell you! The way he thinks about things..., its like he never lived with humans or something!

"I sure hope Kaber didn't say anything stupid to Elric. If he did, I'll have to wring his little neck! You know, I wonder if Elric would tell me what Kaber said? I might be able to get it out of him for you, if you want me to, Ashara. What do you say? "

--------------------------------------------------------

"I might be able to get it out of him for you, if you want me to, Ashara. What do you say?"

"No, no, it's fine," she responded quickly, "I'm sure when he's ready to tell me, he will. If it were important he would have already said something. I just can't imagine what Kaber would have told him! Like you said, he sees things differently than most people, so I'm just glad that I had a chance to tell Elric how I felt before our minotaur revealed it to him."

The frigid wind was picking up a bit now, tossing Ashara's braids about her body at increasingly dangerous velocity.

"Would you mind coming to my cabin with me? As much as I'd like to be out under the stars again, tonight doesn't seem the night for it."


Hoping the pixie was following, the priestess headed down the stairs to her cabin. As she stepped softly past Elric's room, her heart fluttered in her chest, and she prayed that the wards she put up earlier in the day wouldn't be needed.

Ashara opened the door, waiting for her unseen companion to fly past her before shutting it, and then unveiling Dawnspeaker from beneath her cloak, the room filled with light. Her newly forged plate mail lay neatly in the corner along with her pack and various pouches. It felt strange, but freeing, wearing only her simple scarlet cassock again, though it hung loosely on her now. The stress of the past few weeks had taken a toll on her physically as well as mentally. She would need to take better care of herself in the coming days.


Smiling softly the priestess curled up on one end of the hammock that had been strung up in the corner of the room, and cradled Dawnspeaker against her chest.

"I can't believe we made it through that last battle, Gwilly! When I carried you out of that globe of shadow, only to have you die in my arms..."

Ashara hesitated a moment as her eyes closed and brow furrowed, remembering the overwhelming emotion of that fight.

"As a priestess I feel I have to try and be prepared for friends and family to die. It's the nature of things. In some cases I'm able to return to life those who have died unnaturally, but I have to have the presence of mind to hold it together when the worst happens. When I felt you lying limp in my arms and heard the breath leave your body... I almost lost it then, I'm ashamed to say. You are so dear to me, Gwilly. You are a creature of life and joy, and you've helped pull me through some of the darkest points of my life. My world would be that much more dim without you in it. Thank Lathander for his grace and love to bring you and Kaber back to us!"

Ashara's almond-shaped eyes drifted around the room looking for her invisible friend.

"Would you mind showing yourself to me? It feels a bit silly talking in the direction I THINK you're in."

------------------------------------------------------------------

"Yes, I'll let you look at me, Ashara!"

The tiny pixie came into view. She was a slender, youthful looking thing barely over 2 feet tall with short tousled black hair looked like it couldn't decide whether or not to be curly. Her bright green eyes were open and honest with just a hint of mischief around the edges. She wore a plain frock the color of a robin's egg and underneath a simple yellow skirt cut in the pixie fashion (think Tink only longer). Her most stunning feature, though, were her wings. They were greener than her eyes and they looked like they should belong on a swallow-tailed moth. They were beautiful indeed.

The tiny figure floated over to the hammock and sat across from Ashara. She reached out her little hand to gently caress the priestess’s knee.

"You shouldn't trouble yourself so much over what was, Ashara," Gwilly spoke comfortingly. "We are all here now, and all very much alive and that is enough cause for a thankful and joyous heart, don't you think? Sure, it was scary down in that hole but I never doubted that we would make it out alive. We are all much to stubborn to die in a place like Dagadar! We are free now!"

The pixie paused in thought for a moment.

"Do you know what I think, Ashara?" she asked, "I think you worry to much!" Gwilly let out a little giggle. "Especially for one who is supposed to be in love!"

--------------------------------------------------------------------

It was always a bit of a shock when the pixie revealed herself on those rare occasions. It was easy to forget how beautiful she was when she seemed no more than a disembodied voice.

"Do you know what I think, Ashara?" she asked, "I think you worry to much!" Gwilly let out a little giggle. "Especially for one who is supposed to be in love!"

The priestess flushed a crimson that rivaled the color of her vestments. "Supposed to be? My friend, if this isn't love, than I don't know what is...though the word itself seems inadequate to describe the intensity of how I feel for him." Ashara's gaze gravitated to the cabin door, as she pulled gently on a braid that had somehow twisted itself around her right hand. "It's as if my heart is walking around outside of my body."

She laughed aloud then, grinning widely. "I can't believe how ridiculous it all sounds coming out of my mouth! My mother was always trying to 'introduce' me to boys, you see. She seemed very concerned that I didn't show the slightest interest in them, and had instead focused my attention on my clerical studies. She thought it was 'unhealthy'."


Ashara chuckled as she dusted off the ancient memories. "You should have seen her face when I brought Elric home with me after he had returned to Impresk! He wasn't even eight years old when he left town, an undersized and lanky little boy, and when he returned twelve years later... Well,” she blushed again, "as you can see he's neither undersized nor lanky any longer. My mother looked him up and down like a piece of meat until I managed to tell her who he was!"


The priestess's laughter started to shake the whole hammock and she clutched her sides as she remembered the encounter. "He endured two nights with my parents and I before he decided to move into his old house that Therogeon had bought. I'm quite certain that it was my mother who drove him off with all her winks and nudges in my direction! My poor Elric..." Ashara sniffled and brushed the tears of laughter from her eyes.


"I actually had to sit her down and explain to her that he and I were just good friends, as we always had been and always would be, and that she needed to back off before she ran him out of Impresk again! By Lathander what a blind, idiot I am!"


After taking a moment to collect herself, she sighed contentedly. "You're right though, Gwilly. I do worry too much, and these last few weeks have had me wound tighter than a gnomish ballista! Maybe once we get back to the mainland...maybe if we had some time..."

Ashara pursed her lips and turned her eyes once again on her pixie companion.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Therogeon still owes you a party..."

----------------------------------------------------------------------

“88 days. It's been 88 days since that poor excuse for a mortal promised me a party! I've never been overly fond of that mage in the first place but when he went and promised me a party after we defeated the "lich", or whatever it was, I really thought he had changed! I thought that maybe, just maybe he had seen the error of his ways! But no, in all of 88 days he couldn't, wouldn't find time to put together a simple party. Well now he should owe me a festival but Mielikki knows that won't happen. I'll be lucky if he even remembers about the party when we get back to Impresk..." Gwilly's rant was losing its steam. Try as she might she couldn't keep the silent tear from slipping down her face.

"...I have...half a mind to do...something to make him remember...!" The tears started to flow faster now as her bottom lip trembled uncontrollably. "I could do...*sniff*...any...number of things...to get...*sniff*...him back for this...*sniff*. He's...*sniff*...had it coming *sniff, sniff*, he...really has! *snort* He's so...mean...and arrogant....and...*sniff, sniff, sob*...so....so...so...*sob*...stiff!"

The poor pixie's body was trembling now. She hadn't cried this hard in a long time. Usually she wouldn't let something get to her like this and yet her on going strain with Therogeon had struck a deep chord in her heart. Once plucked, that chord had built up in resonance until is waves where flowing like a wild tide-it was begging to be heard.

"Why does he have to be so stiff, Ashara?!" Gwilly burst out, "Why does he...he...have to be so...so...tight all the time? Can't...can't he ever....re...relax? *sniff, sob, sniff* I wish he wo...would relax...just...just a little. I...I wish he would have...some...some fun! I wish...*sniff* I wish... I...I wish he would be...be...be my...my...f...f...friend!"

The floodgates were open, there was no stopping it now.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The priestess had no idea that such a torrent of emotion would be let loose from such an innocent question! It wasn't Gwilly's death and resurrection that brought the pixie to tears, but the thought that Therogeon didn't want to be her friend.

Ashara scooped up her tiny companion, being careful of her delicate wings, and hugged her against her chest.

"Oh Gwilly, you can't take his attitude personally! He treats us all that way at times." She brushed a few strands of tear-soaked hair from the pixie's face. "Therogeon has many secrets that he keeps, whether from necessity or desire, I don't know, but such a person often tries to keep others at arms length so there will be less chance of his secrets being revealed."

Hot tears saturated Ashara's vestments as the pixie continued to sob.


"I hope that Therogeon would be willing to take a day off to relax a bit, but since the Crown of Silver Flame imbued him with some of its power he's been even more aloof than usual. It's got to be difficult for him to process what has happened. Even King Thenden said that he will have to be careful to control his new power or it could destroy him."

"We WILL have a party as soon as we have an opportunity, Gwilly! We need to celebrate being alive and emerging victorious over the darkness in Dagadar! If you would like me to speak with Therogeon about it, I would be more than happy to!"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Therogeon silently pondered the sea. Sleeping has become difficult lately, with the power of the Silver Flame coursing through his body and he had thought maybe some sea air would help. When he came up on deck silently as he could manage, he noticed Ashara and Gwilly having what appeared to be a serious and private conversation. He did not mean to eavesdrop, and truly for most of the conversation he did not. When Gwilly started to cry however, his keen half elven ears couldn't help but hear.

Oh Gwilly, it's not that he doesn't want to be friends. His life, by necessity, has to be always regimented, always ordered. The spells he carries with him affect the very fabric of magic. They don't just bend the Weave to the caster's will, they change the nature of the Weave itself. How can he explain it to her. How can he explain the temptation of power. The lure of becoming everything he fights against.

No, he was thinking about himself again. Therogeon quietly went below decks. No, there would be no sleeping tonight. He had to see the captain, hopefully the man had a map of...of....damnation, where were they headed again. No matter, wherever it was, the captain would have a map, and a map was all he needed to get a good enough picture for a teleportation or two.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The pixie continued to cry for quite some time. All the frustrations and anxieties that had built up inside her were all coming out now. How grateful she was to Ashara for her tender shoulder to cry on. Soon the sobbing subsided as the warm comfort spread to Gwilly's heart. Her tears still fell thick and fast, albeit, silently.

Realizing that she was still visible and what a sight she must be with her face all red and splotchy, Gwilly quickly started to rub her face dry with sleeves that were already soaking wet. Finding her attempts to be in vain, the pixie started to giggle. She looked up at the priestess and said, "I must be an awful sight, mustn't I? I'm sure I look pretty funny! Goodness knows, I wouldn't want anyone else to see me this way!! That’s why I stay invisible most of the time, so that everyone will think that I am always the most beautiful creature and never see me messed up in any way."

Gwilly straightened herself up as much as she could. Her frock was soaked and so was much of her skirt. She could cast an illusion on herself to make it all look dry but in the end she knew she would still feel waterlogged.

"If anyone else sees me like this, we'll just have to tell them I took a late night swim, ok?" she whispered to Ashara. The twinkle was back in her eyes again!

The pixie repositioned herself on Ashara's lap, resting her head on one of the priestess’s arms. She was growing to love this lady more and more despite her tendency to worry too much and take things too seriously. It was like Gwilly was finding in Ashara the older sister she never had. Growing up with 6 older brothers was always fun but she never knew what it was like to have an older sister. Gwilly was the "older sister" in her family and she loved helping to take care of her two younger brothers and 3 younger sisters. But now that she was far away from home she was given a very special gift, her very first "older sister" ever! It was a wonderful feeling and Gwilly knew she must enjoy every minute of it.

Gwilly sighed. "It will be nice to have a party again! And it will be a good one, that’s for sure! I think everyone needs to dance a good dance or two, even Therogeon!

"I suppose you could talk to him about it, if you want to, Ashara. He might listen to you! Just, don't tell him that I cried, ok?"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ashara gently ran her fingers through the pixie's hair as she sobbed against her shoulder.

Though they hadn't manifested nearly as intensely, Therogeon had once brought about similar emotions in the priestess. When Cyric's hold over her mind had finally been broken, the first memory of her friend was the look of disappointment in his eyes when he realized that she was back in her right mind. In that moment she saw that Therogeon would rather have had his test subject back than his companion. It was a wound that had never fully healed.

"That’s why I stay invisible most of the time, so that everyone will think that I am always the most beautiful creature and never see me messed up in any way."

Ashara smiled warmly as the pixie's tears subsided and she adjusted herself. Maybe before they reached Zazesspur, she would show Gwilly her drawings. There were a few sketches that she had done that at least partially captured the beauty she saw in her friend. The tears and splotched, red face only betrayed the loving heart that, in the priestess' mind, took her from being merely beautiful to being exquisite.

------------------------------------------------------------

"It will be nice to have a party again! And it will be a good one, that’s for sure! I think everyone needs to dance a good dance or two, even Therogeon!

"I suppose you could talk to him about it, if you want to, Ashara. He might listen to you! Just, don't tell him that I cried, ok?"

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Her eyelids were growing heavier by the moment, and though she hated to end her evening with the pixie, she knew that she hadn't yet recovered from the trials of Dagadar and she needed the rest.

"I promise I won't tell him, if you'll agree to teach me a few dances!" Ashara grinned mischievously at Gwilly. "I've never learned how...and now that I think about it, I don't think I've ever even tried... I do love to watch though! Would you show me, maybe tomorrow sometime?!"

The priestess stifled a large yawn and snuggled more deeply into the hammock. "I'm sorry I can't stay up all night with you, Gwilly... Maybe you could stay with me until I fall asleep? It feels strange being in here all alone, after spending so many nights sleeping so closely to all of you."

The pixie happily agreed to the dance lessons, and she curled up against Ashara, who fell promptly, and soundly asleep.

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Penelope

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