How Do You Sleep?

(8 Ivastaen 5116, Ta’Illistim)

“Let’s go someplace quiet, there’s been a rather unsettling development out west,” Aetheri led the bardess off to a quieter place.

She sighed inwardly. There was always trouble out west.

Once at the Abbey, they found a secluded table with a translucent glaes orb suspended from a thin silvery chain emanating soft light, much like a miniature moon over the polished ebonwood table.  They sat down; she scooted over to sit next to him and gave him all her attention.

“So… Crux gave my blood to Grishom Stone,” he told her with an even voice, “Who used it in some ritual.”

Her mouth opened, but she could not find the right words quite yet as the shock registered. There was a dreadful feeling that sunk to the very pit of her stomach. The memory flooded her mind – her friend, the syringe, the vial, the promise.

She should not have been blind-sided, it was foreshadowed. But she always thinks the best of people. Surely that is not a fault, is it?

“But he said he was not…” her voice trailed off, looking into the eyes of her beloved. She was lost as the sting washed across her soul, a feeling she had hoped to never feel again. This betrayal seemed deeper, though, because it was against Aetheri. The sting found her eyes, she blinked back welling tears and bit her lips.

“That’s right… he did,” Aetheri’s voice was measured.

“What kind of ritual, Aetheri?”

“To be honest, I don’t know… The only information I have is second-hand,” he explained to the bardess. “All I know is that my Ashrim blood had unexpected results, and didn’t react the way it was supposed to.”

“Oh, unexpectedly bad?” she shifted against him, still nervously taking in what had happened.

“I don’t know,” he told her.

“I know so little. But Stone is not a nice man,” she was alarmed. Any small thing she had ever heard about Grishom Stone seemed to pass by her mind’s eye, none of them good, many of them catastrophic.

“What will you do, Sweetheart? What will we do?”

There was a flash of light from the archmage’s eyes as he clenched his fist, “I was considering murder…”

She could see why. Her thoughts were a whirling race of rattled confusion.

“But… this could be what he wants,” Aetheri continued, “A bloodbath; I think he’s twisted enough to enjoy any sort of beating I could give him.”

She nodded, her thoughts had gone there the moment she saw the anger in his eyes.

“Unless there’s further direct movement against me, it would probably be best to wait and see,” he turned to her, “What do you think?”

She forced herself to try to think. Her eyes were about to give her up, and she knew the small battle with her trembling lips was all but lost.

“Can Mister Crux be made to understand what a dreadful thing he did without resorting to bloodshed?”

“No… This was his plan all along,” his answer was quick.

Everything began to spill out of the bardess.

“I feel like this is all my fault,” she hung her head, tears spilling down her face.

“Why?” he gathered her into his arms, giving her shoulders an affectionate squeeze, “How could it possibly be your fault?”

“Because I counted Mister Crux as my friend. And he … he,” the words were not easy to say, “He came, let me introduce you to him, and all of this came of it. Ohmygosh, I am so sorry, Sweetheart!”

A shadow of a dark wing with blood-red veins crossed her thoughts. She closed her eyes; her head was still reeling with worry for the elf who held her tightly. His words assured her he did not hold her responsible in the least. Now all she had to do was believe that in her heart.

“This is not just my brave face, this is my,” with a purposeful breath, she drew herself up straight and brushed her eyes dry,”… Not Going To Get To My Soft Spots … face for those who want to harm you.”

She steeled her heart from any self-doubt and took her cues from his calm matter-of-fact approach. They would see this through, together. And while Cruxophim’s actions felt like a horrible betrayal to her, she would not be overcome or ruled by that hurt. She could not understand it at all, but she would not linger over the sting, never again. A girl cannot lose something she clearly never had in the first place.

“Well, my dear, what will we do this evening?” In one quick turn, she smiled sweetly at Aetheri, shaking off all of the things that were trying to drag her down, away. The rest of the evening was theirs.

Author: GSBardess

A young bardess named Luxelle is currently learning her trade and hoping to one day make a name for her songs in GemStone IV. Follow along with her adventures in life and song.

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