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Portent Alliance • View topic - Eye of the Storm

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 Post subject: Eye of the Storm
PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2005 7:46 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2004 4:42 am
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Note: This story takes place after Reavyn leaves the Tavern.

********

“I had a feeling I’d find you here. It was dangerous for me to follow you, but I couldn’t let you leave in that state.” Ailinea solemnly sat down next to her friend and stared out over the water. “You had once mentioned how you feel so trapped here. That Faydwer, once we can get there, would be your refuge. I figured Taylia’s comments would be enough to make you want to get as close to home as you possibly could.”

Reavyn said nothing. The only evidence revealing some inner reaction was the moonlight emphasizing the reflective twitch of a muscle in his cheek as he clenched his jaw. He, too, stared straight across the water.

“Faydwer,” murmured Ailinea, hoping that diverting the subject away from what happened at the Tavern would get Reavyn to talk. “If only we had a boat right now. We could go see what…what is left.”

“We can’t go back,” Reavyn growled. “Not yet.”

“What do you mean? Tunare willing….”

“Tunare hasn’t given the sign yet!” Reavyn snapped, interrupting the sorceress. Seeing the shocked look on Ailinea’s face, he quickly softened. “She will be with us when it is time. To go now would be…” he choked “suicide.”

“How so? How else will people explore the continent? Who will be the first?”

“Oh, there will be plenty. And they will die.”

Ailinea sighed. All her life, she too believed Tunare, Mother of All, would be there. But now? Her thoughts were considered blasphemous to other High Elves, but her hope was waning. Even though she and Reavyn had been open to each other about everything, this is one topic she dared not mention again. Not after the last time she spoke of her doubts to him.

They sat in silence for a while, watching the moon continue to rise before Ailinea spoke again, braving instead to bring up another subject on her mind that she knew Reavyn did not want to hear.

“Taylia was right, you know.”

Reavyn turned towards Ailinea, mouth agape. Ailinea refused to meet his gaze. She knew that the fire that was probably burning in his eyes at that moment rivaled only that of the flaming epic sword he once wielded 500 years ago.

“She…what does SHE know? She’s JUST A KID!” Reavyn sputtered angrily.

“She was right about Amaya. Are you really going to push her away, too? More than you already have?”

“Since she lost the rest of her family, Amaya’s been a loner. She won’t have anything to do with me, even if I tried.”

“I don’t believe that. I think you’re protecting yourself again.”

“THAT’S NOT TRUE! I’m protecting HER!”

Ailinea shook her head in frustration at her friend’s stubbornness. They’ve discussed this issue countless times, always coming to a stalemate.

“It always happens,” Reavyn muttered miserably. “All those I cared about. All those I loved. They all became targets. They’re all dead.”

“I know. I overheard what Amaya told Taylia. But you haven’t lost…us all…” Ailinea whispered.

“Aili,” Reavyn said, turning, “you…you know how I feel. I thought I lost you once before. I can’t lose you again. I can’t be responsible for that!”

“Reavyn, tell me this…do you honestly think they don’t know?”

“What do you mean?”

“What Amaya said…they knew where you lived. They knew about Stasia. They knew to pick her out from Amaya and Kumori. They knew every way to get at you. So tell me…it’s no secret that we’ve always been close. Do you honestly…*honestly*…think they don’t know about me?”

Reavyn stared incredulously, unable to speak. Ailinea shifted closer to him and rested her head on his shoulder.

“We’ve been friends since we were young. You were the first, and for a long time the only, High Elf Paladin I trusted. You helped turn my opinions of your guild around. Remember the hell we used to raise in the Faydark? How we laughed when an orc centurion would follow us to the dungeons out there and think we were easy prey, just before we showed them what we thought of their threat? Remember when you and Lamorak both wanted to impress me and tried to one-up each other by claiming you could tame the Pained Unicorn to be my personal steed? And all that competition to find out he was my brother! Remember when you brought me breakfast in bed in Shar Vahl after Cannabwy and I drank too much while swimming in the scrying pool on top of the palace?” Ailinea giggled at the thought, and then sobered again. “Remember sitting in the Plane of Tranquility by the sea, when I first discussed my concerns with becoming an officer in the Portent Alliance, and said that with you there, I wouldn’t be so nervous?”

“But that was all in the past. They weren’t….”

“But that history is there, Reavyn. And you haven’t changed. I know your feelings for me. I’ve known even before you actually said it. I just didn’t want to admit it, just like you. Because if I actually heard those words and knew for certain your feelings…I…I would no longer be able to deny my own,” Ailinea finished in a whisper.

“But…Taylia’s father.” Reavyn could not bring himself to say his name.

“I loved Xendayr. I always have since the moment I met him. But…how can I remain optimistic after all this time? I have to be realistic, and I made my decision a while ago but never told you. He shall always be in my heart, and I hope one day to find where he was buried. But it’s like I said to you…I, too, have to move on to heal. Holding onto those memories…it’s just too painful….” Ailinea sniffled softly, trying to brave the tears that wanted to fall.

Reavyn put his arm around Ailinea and held her close for a moment as he tried to think of a response, but a sudden noise behind them made him jump up. He grasped for his mace, but it was not in its holder on his belt. He had left it at the Tavern.

He felt a tap on his shoulder. Ailinea pulled Reavyn’s mace out from a bag and handed it to him. It burst into its magical flames as he prepared to face whatever stalked the two elves.

The bushes behind him continued to rustle fiercely, and suddenly a deer stepped out from the foliage. With sighs of relief, Reavyn and Ailinea watched as the deer bounded off, frightened.

“I’m sorry Aili, but this is why I cannot allow anyone to get close to me. If you hadn’t brought my weapon, and if that was something more sinister, I wouldn’t have been able to protect you, just like….”

Just then, the bushes rustled more violently, and Reavyn and Ailinea realized that it was not their presence that scared off the deer, but a group of orcs that suddenly rushed into attack.

“REAVYN!” Ailinea shrieked as her companion dashed toward their attackers to engage them in combat. A second group of orcs emerged and flanked the cleric.

“STAY BACK!” Reavyn shouted as he fought desperately. But the orcs were alerted to Ailinea’s presence and two broke off from combat with Reavyn and approached Ailinea menacingly.

Unfazed, Ailinea rooted the two beasts and began calling upon the elements to blast the creatures to death. She then joined Reavyn in his fight as a third and fourth group of orcs attacked him. Together they were able to defeat the orcs and scouted the area to ensure there were no others nearby.

“You need to go home,” Reavyn told Ailinea immediately. The urgency in his voice was obvious. “Gate back to Qeynos while you can….”

“You have to come with me.”

“No! They saw you here. They probably heard us. If you are right, they know about you. If you go home, maybe I can fool them into believing that you aren’t a viable target to get at me. Maybe I can….”

“You don’t understand. You *have* to come with me,” Ailinea insisted. “When I first followed you out of the Tavern, I got out to Antonica and remembered you left your mace. I called back to retrieve it. I can’t use the call again for a while yet.”

Reavyn grumbled, “And I didn’t expect to be followed so I didn’t bring any Odyssey stones.”

Ailinea nodded. “Following you out here was dangerous for me, but I was able to do it because I wasn’t too far behind you and you left a trail of corpses of any beasts that got in your way. You thinned out the population of those creatures that would have attacked me. But going back? If you really wish for no harm to happen to me, I need your help.” She gave him a pointed look and continued, “Unless, of course, you don’t *really* care.”

Reavyn looked at her and said, “Honestly? I think you probably used your Call of Qeynos on purpose so I’d have to come home with you.”

He grumbled again, but the two began following the coastline south towards Qeynos.

Ailinea gave Reavyn a sly smile and said demurely, “Well, I thought I’d only need your escort back to Qeynos, but if you *really* want to come home with me, we might need permission from Amaya and Taylia.”

“That’s…that’s not what I meant!” he stammered as he watched Ailinea’s enigmatic smile broaden in the moonlight. It became a grin, and Ailinea giggled.

“I know it’s not! But it was worth saying, just to see your face!”

She stopped in her tracks suddenly and looked back towards where they had been a few minutes ago. Reavyn paused as well, and they both looked once more over the water toward the continent they both knew was there, but was hidden by the moonlit seaspray and fog on the horizon. “Faydwer…we shall get back to Felwithe some day. And we shall restore it,” Ailinea said longingly.

“Yes we will,” Reavyn agreed. “We’ll show everyone the beauty of our home again. We’ll get there some day…together.”

Reavyn and Ailinea would forever deny who first leaned in to kiss the other. And while neither would claim to have been the one to initiate that kiss, they also would neither claim to be the one who broke it off after a few long, lingering moments. What they *would* admit, however, was that they were both left blushing fiercely after they realized what had just happened.

“Aili…I…I’m sorry….”

“No, I am. You don’t want to….”

“But I do want to….”

“But you can’t…you won’t… I know and I shouldn’t have….”

“Aili, I….”

“I know…it was between friends. Right? I will remember and respect that from now on.” She turned away and began walking determinedly back towards Qeynos again. She missed it as Reavyn’s face fell, showing his disappointment.

“Yeah…just between friends,” he muttered as he ran to catch up to her. He missed the quick flick of Ailinea’s hand as she brushed away a few tears before he reached her side.

Ailinea smiled up at Reavyn once, but said nothing as they walked side by side. Their hands brushed a few times as they walked, and soon they were timidly holding hands, telling themselves again that it was still just between friends.

Reavyn escorted Ailinea all the way back to Castleview Hamlet. She paused by the mailbox, as per her habit, but took no time to look at her mail. Her attention was on the presence of the elf at her side. They walked up to her room, making small talk, but conspicuously avoiding mentioning what happened on the shoreline of Antonica even while still holding hands. They did not want the night to end, and sat on Ailinea’s couch chatting until they noticed the light coming through the windows and the sky turning brilliant shades of rose and coral.

“I should get going,” Reavyn finally said as he reluctantly stood up to go.

“I…I know.”

“Aili?”

“Yes?”

“About earlier. I…” he paused and tried to collect his thoughts. “I…I don’t….”

“Reavyn, I know…you don’t want me to get hurt, right?”

“Yes.”

“It’s okay. I’ll be okay. It won’t change our friendship. That comes first.”

“That’s…” he paused again and changed his mind about what he was going to say. “Yeah, that’s right. I just wanted to make sure.”

Ailinea embraced Reavyn and kissed him on the cheek. They stood there for several minutes enjoying each others company. Finally, Reavyn pulled away and opened the door.

“You mean the world to me, Aili. Just know that.”

“I do. And you know you mean the same to me, too. Thank you, Reavyn.”

“For what?”

“For being you. For being so special. Now…go get some sleep.”

Reavyn nodded. “Goodnight…or morning. I’ll see you later today.”

Ailinea smiled. “See you later, Reavyn.”

Reavyn turned as Ailinea closed her door and began walking down the stairs, lost in thought and confused as to what he really wanted to and should have said. But his thoughts were interrupted almost immediately when he heard Ailinea’s voice cry out and a crash coming from the direction of the room he just left. He leapt back up the stairs, taking them two at a time, and burst back into Ailinea’s home.

Ailinea was unconscious on the floor near the entrance, the table by the doorway turned over, and the books and mail that had been on top of it were now scattered across the floor.

“Aili!” Reavyn raced over and gathered Ailinea in his arms. “Aili! Wake up! Talk to me!”

Ailinea’s eyes fluttered open and went wide as she saw Reavyn. She scrambled to her feet and backed away from him. Her hands flew to her mouth in shock, and tears filled her eyes, but she did not speak.

“Aili…what’s wrong? What happened?”

“Reavyn…” she whispered.

“What is it?”

Ailinea only pointed with one hand to a crumpled and yellowed piece of parchment on the floor. Her other hand stayed at her mouth and tears began flowing freely.

Reavyn stooped to pick up the paper and slowly deciphered the scrawled handwriting written in a rusty brown ink. “My dearest Ailinea…” he slowly read aloud. “The thought of you and Taylia has helped me endure the torture….” Reavyn looked up at Ailinea as the understanding set in.

“Xendayr…” Ailinea whispered, still in shock. “He’s alive. And he’s coming…home.”

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