“So that's the plan. We'll split into two teams – two of us will remain at the ruins of Girard's gate and the other two will scout ahead and try to find a safe path to Kraggor's gate.” said Roy. “Who should remain here?”
“Aye cannae move so fast as tha rest o' ye, so I'll stay here,” replied Durkon, settling down next to the fire. He leaned over to Roy, “Given recent…uh…events, it may be best if tha rogue and tha bard be spendin' some time apart…”
“Agreed. Last thing we need is a blazing argument near ten thousand heavily armed hobgoblins. In that case, Haley will join me in the scouting group. Her sneaking skills might come in handy.”
Durkon's eyes narrowed slightly. Although he had not been around humans for long, there was something about Roy's tone of voice that was suprisingly keen. “If yer sure, lad. Just think afore ye doin' anythin' rash.”
They set off later that day and by evening they had come upon the outskirts of Xykon's horde. Tents and campfires filled the valley before them. As the light began to fade, Roy finished sketching a rough layout of the area and crept back into the forest where he and Haley had made camp.
Haley was sat on her bedroll, looking up at the sky. Her eyes seemed distant, her expression one of wistful regret.
“Penny for your thoughts?” said Roy, sitting down next to her.
“I was thinking back to the last time I saw the sky like this. We had left the Azurites on their island and were sailing towards the Western Continent. We didn't know what we were heading into but since you returned, we felt like we could conquer the world. Elan and I were holding each other saying that nothing would ever come between us…” Haley's face looked pained, “…but it did.”
“Yes,” she replied, her eyes beginning to fill with tears. Roy slipped an arm around her shoulders and drew her close to himself. “Why did he have to do it, Roy? There must have been another way, if we'd just had more time V might still be alive!”
“I'm sorry, Haley.”
“Don't be, you have nothing to be sorry for,” she sniffed. “I still don't understand why Resurrection spell didn't work. Durkon tried for hours but…nothing.”
Roy kept quiet, knowing that Haley had been keeping this to herself for weeks. The last thing the comic needed was another series of cryptograms. “After that, Elan had become an entirely different person to me. That boyish charm of his began to irritate me and his moods swung between manically cheerful to cold and desolate. I've lost so much over the past few years but there was one thing I could always count on. One thing that kept me going when everything was going wrong.” She turned to him and a smile began to form on her lips. “It was you, Roy.”
He found himself beginning to smile and slowly, they began to kiss. Gently at first, then harder. Roy's body began to feel like it was on fire, his head spinning. Haley drew back for a moment. “I knew it was you watching me at the pool and I know you've wanted me for a long time.” Before he could reply, they began to kiss once more and all thoughts of Ceila, Elan or anything else were obliterated by the beautiful girl in his arms….
He slowly opened his eyes, the first rays of dawn glowing on the distant horizon. Haley was lying naked in his arms, her hair almost seeming to glow in the early morning light. They had made love many times through the night and it was as if the world had closed around them; granting them a moment's peace from the hardships they had faced and were still to come.
Soon, the doubts and guilt would return. Soon, there would be repercussions to what they had done. For now, soothed by the gentle snores of Haley and the warm summer morning, Roy closed his eyes and slept once more.