“My foes dote on me more than my allies.”
Vaarsuvius leaned against a tree trunk, staring up at the perpetually dark sky, half-eaten meal placed neatly on the ground. Blackwing, glad to be visible for once, was pecking at the forest floor, picking off little insects to eat. Tsukiko seemed fascinated by the raven, staring so hard that Blackwing actually flew to Vaarsuvius’s lap to hide.
“Hey, just eat the whole thing. Anyone with the glow should have a bunch of healthy food.”
Vaarsuvius’s head shook a little, irritated, pale fingers absently running through Blackwing’s feathers. “What is this ‘glow’ you keep speaking about?”
“The glow.” Tsukiko grinned, glancing at Redcloak. “My mom worked with the glow a lot, and my sister had it all the time. I know when a girl has the glow.”
Redcloak shook his head, adding a few sticks to the fire they sat around. “I suggest just eating it, Vaarsuvius. She’s crazy, but she’s stubborn. And she’ll probably be talking about ‘the glow’ all night.”
Vaarsuvius sighed irritably, leaning forward and taking the plate, quietly finishing the meal. “Are my nursemaids happy?”
Tsukiko shrugged, smirking and mismatched eyes flashing out of sync. “Hey, it’s not because I like you. Mom always said to take care of women with the glow.”
“I am not glowing.”
“Yes you are.” Tsukiko stood up, dusting herself off and stretching. “You both are boring. I’m going to go get some more firewood.” She winked. “Don’t let me catch you naked again. If I do, you’d better let me watch.”
Redcloak and Vaarsuvius both glared at her fiercely, provoking a cackle as the Theurge walked into the forest. Blackwing looked between the elf and the goblin, squawked disapprovingly, and flew up into the great branches.
“I believe that he takes a dim view of our relationship,” Vaarsuvius said, glancing up after the bird.
“Wisely.” Redcloak sidled up closer to the elf, leaving a safe gap between them so Vaarsuvius could close it or leave it as wished. Vaarsuvius chose to close it.
The elf leaned on the goblin, lightly touching his hand and stroking it. Redcloak wrapped an arm around his lover’s waist, smiling and a cross between a purr and a growl gently emanating from his chest. “You’re not usually this affectionate.”
“I find that there is greater need for warmth in this dungeon.” Vaarsuvius grasped the goblin’s hand tightly. “Thank you for yesterday. I am not sure what I would have done if you were not there to ground me.”
“Likewise.” Redcloak brushed their lips together. “I’m glad you’re here.”
A flicker of pain went through the elf’s abdomen and chest. Vaarsuvius gently slipped delicate arms around Redcloak’s neck, resting a tired head against his shoulder. “As am I. It is unwise, but I am happy that we are together.”
The goblin stroked the elf’s back gently, completely content with their position, but he knew well enough that it wouldn’t last forever. “Vaarsuvius? Are you okay?”
Vaarsuvius looked up, eyebrow arched. “Why do you ask?”
“I’m a cleric.” Redcloak kept stroking the elf’s back. “You were dizzy today. You needed to stop walking a lot. This isn’t the first time that’s happened—you’ve been doing that since we met up, and I’d guess you were doing it beforehand as well.” He kissed Vaarsuvius’s forehead, subtly feeling for a fever. “I can help you if you tell me what’s wrong. Are you sick?”
“No, Redcloak. I am simply light-headed. This dungeon has not been good for me.” The elf shifted, eyelashes lightly brushing against the goblin’s scales. “I would prefer to not speak of it.”
The goblin sighed, kissing the elf’s forehead again. “Alright, then. As long as you’re safe.”
“Why would you care about my safety?”
Redcloak arched an eye ridge, looking down at the elf. “Aren’t we past that?” He kissed Vaarsuvius, careful about putting too much emotion into it. He knew well enough that the elf barely permitted affection and caring. Vaarsuvius would never allow love. “I care about you. I want you to be safe. Whether or not that’s realistic is up for debate.”
“I care about you as well, but I fear the wisdom of admitting to it.” Vaarsuvius kissed back gently. “We cannot forget that we are enemies.”
“We haven’t.” Redcloak ran his hands along the elf’s shoulder blades soothingly, parting their lips. “It doesn’t mean that we have to focus on it for now. Leave it for when we have to fight.”
“We are setting ourselves up for pain.”
“I know.” Redcloak pressed their lips together again. “I’ve done it before. It’ll be okay.”
“I do not wish to be apart again. Not after yesterday.”
“Neither do I.” Redcloak securely wrapped his arms around the elf, bringing Vaarsuvius on his lap and kissing the mage tenderly. “We’ll be okay. I promise.”
As the lovers started kissing more and more deeply, a certain Theurge clasped her hands and looked down at her feet from the tree she was eavesdropping behind, barely containing her titters. By the gods. The idiot had actually gone and fallen in love with the elf. It was so obvious that she was stringing him along, too!
She used to think that Reddy was savvy, but she guessed that he’d gone so long without a lay that he was willing to believe whatever the hell the whore told him. The slut was using him to keep safe—a tactic that was smart, but underhanded. And perfectly hilarious for Tsukiko to watch.
And the glow. The glow. The whore probably didn’t know that she was preggers yet. Well, that was what sluts got when they didn’t cross their friggin’ legs. And Reddy was going to be the daddy of the bastard. How cute.
She wondered if she should tell them, but oh! It was so hilarious to see Reddy all confused and worried about the whore’s dizzy spells. Tsukiko would keep them in the dark for a little longer, if only to watch them squirm.
Stupid goblin. Falling in love? Getting the whore knocked up? The enemy?! They both totally deserved whatever hilarious misfortune they brought on themselves.
And she wasn’t averse to helping said misfortune come along.
With that, she left to find some wood.
Belkar crouched, glaring, his daggers poised. “What are you?”
The creature sauntered forward slowly.
“Hey! Stay where you are!”
Mr. Scruffy mewled loudly, fearfully hiding behind Belkar’s leg. The creature started going faster, a simple silver chain with a heart, looped for strangulation, appearing in its hand.
The creature smirked darkly.
Belkar would never be able to strike it.
Belkar recoiled, darkness coming on with only a desperate meow from his cat.
“Who are you?”
Aarindarius looked up from his seat on a blue chair, closing his spell book and tucking it away in his robes, eyes settling patiently on the confused young man in the doorway.
The man was clad in blue armor and couldn’t have been past his mid-twenties. One hand was resting on the hilt of his katana, his stance guarded but not openly hostile.
The wizard smiled, having the grace to look sheepish, and stood up. “My apologies for making myself at home in your living room. I attempted to enter through your guards, but I found that rather difficult so I resorted to teleportation.” He came forward, keeping a safe enough distance so there wasn’t any need for the man to jump back in defense. “My name is Aarindarius. If I have intruded on the correct household, you are Lord Hinjo of Azure City?”
“Yes. I am.” Hinjo warily edged towards the fire. “May I ask why you are here?”
Aarindarius smiled again. “I am a friend of Vaarsuvius.”
Hinjo immediately relaxed, his hand dropping from the hilt of his katana, but he obviously hadn’t completely let his guard down. Aarindarius understood. He wouldn’t instantaneously trust a stranger who had teleported into his home either. “Vaarsuvius! Well, welcome, Aarindarius. Vaarsuvius helped the Azurites more than I can say.” The paladin gestured for the wizard to sit down. “Make yourself comfortable.”
They both sat down across from each other, Aarindarius crossing his legs and keeping his gaze impassive. “I came to ask after Vaarsuvius, actually. She has been away from our village for many years, and the news we have received regarding her has been fragmented and outlandish. I wished to make sure that she was still alive, as well as see her and see if she if she is recognizable as the elf that left us.” He allowed another sheepish smile to cross his lips. “I fear that I watch too much after those that are close to me. I am sure that my concerns are unfounded.”
Hinjo’s eyes sharpened slightly, obviously picking up on the fact that Aarindarius wasn’t sharing something, but he let it go. “Well, Vaarsuvius was alive last I saw. That was roughly a month and a half ago. We traveled together for quite some time, but I can’t tell you much about him.”
Aarindarius spent less than a second wondering about the error in pronouns—he had found that non-Ivyleaf natives did that a lot. He arched an eyebrow, clasping his hands on his knee and keeping his knuckle away from his teeth. “Oh?”
“He spent a lot of his time working on spells to find a part of his adventuring party that we separated from in Azure city.”
Aarindarius cocked his head curiously.
“He’s become part of an adventuring party since you last saw him. They are a good group—heroes of Azure City.” Hinjo put his hand on his knee, smiling with a hint of wariness in his eyes. “If I may ask, how do you know Vaarsuvius? Are you his spouse?”
Aarindarius covered his mouth, stifling a laugh. “No, I am not.” His eyes on the surface were merry, but if Hinjo looked deep enough, he could see a core of worry and seriousness. “But Vaarsuvius and I are rather close. Do you know where I could find her?”
Hinjo hesitated, shifting suspiciously, trying to weigh the elf before him. Did he trust it or not? “…Last time I saw him, he was leaving to go to Sandsedge. I can’t tell you much about where he may have gone beyond there.” Can’t, won’t, it was all the same. He had told the stranger enough.
Aarindarius dipped his head, noting that the paladin was hiding something but unwilling to press him for anymore information due to the circumstances. “Thank you kindly.” He smiled and stood up. “I shall see myself out.”