I was cold, and shivered lightly which is what woke me. I could feel the thick comforters and furs that I lay beneath trying their best to reflect my body’s heat back onto me but it just wasn’t enough. The bed was soft and comfortable and I opened my eyes sitting up swiftly. Elethor had to know, they had to be warned. As my eyes focused I was startled to see I was indeed in my beloved’s chambers as I had been before but I was also frightened to see he was not there. Instead the Gladiator from my arrival stood beside the bed and I shrieked and tried my best to back away from him dragging the sheet with me to cover me. He advanced a step, hands out and I shouted at him, backing myself off the other side of the bed and landing on the floor in a tangle of sheets and blankets. The door to the chamber burst open and Elethor stepped in, setting a tray on a side table and came round the bed to kneel beside me, pulling me into his arms.
“It’s all right keairrah, I’m here. Shhh, Dark is a friend, he won’t hurt you.” He tucked my head beneath his chin and cradled me against his chest sitting on the floor with me. I closed my eyes and listened to his heart and relaxed into his gentle embrace as he rocked me. He looked at the big Gladiator and said something to him in Asmodian. The big man crossed his arms over his chest and nodded, turning his back on us. Elethor picked me up and settled me back into the soft mattress and returned my dignity to me by tucking me in. Curling up beside me on top of the covers and holding me to him. He said something again and the Gladiator, Dark, turned and seemed much more relaxed now that I was calm. A short exchange between him and Elethor and he brought the tray to the bedside table handing my lover a steaming bowl of soup.
“Sorry,” he said as he turned a spoon over to Elethor. “I didn’t mean to scare you. Ele asked me to watch you sleep while he went down to get you something to eat. We didn’t expect you to wake up with him gone.” I stared eyes wide with shock.
“You speak Elysean.” I said and could not hide my surprise. “How did you…?” Elethor smiled at us both and held a spoon full of soup up which I ate obediently, suddenly ravenous. It was salty and tasted so good, the golden broth and fine noodles soothing the small pieces of fowl cooked to perfection.
“Spent some time in your sun-drenched lands.” He said. “I learned a few things of the language while I was there.” He smiled but it was not a happy one, in fact it was very bitter and made him look harsh and unforgiving. I swallowed another bite of soup and smiled at Elethor. I was grateful for his help, I doubted I could hold the bowl and spoon steady my hands trembled so badly, blood loss was a tricky thing, and besides that I had all ready been graceless and an embarrassment to myself enough. I needed to be heard and they needed as much time as they could so without further pleasantries I told them why I was there, patiently telling them twice, once in Elysian for Dark and again in Olde Daevic for Elethor.
I looked at my beloved as I finished and said “… I do not wish to be a traitor to my people, but this isn’t a military movement. This is murder they are planning and they must be stopped. Not only for the souls they wish to destroy but also for their own.” Elethor handed the bowl of nearly finished soup back to Dark and drew me to him wrapping me in his arms and though I wished not to I cried. I hated that I bore them horrible news, I hated even more that my people were capable of such ruthless behavior. This was to be expected from the Balaur, not from the Daeva sworn to protect the humans of Atreia, whether it was sundered in two or not.
The three of us sat quietly for a moment absorbed in our own thoughts and the gravity of the situation. Finally Dark rose to his feet and collected his great sword where it leaned against the wall. Elethor gently moved me, slipping out from beneath me where he had been cradling me against his chest and made to get up. Dark asked him a question and Elethor stilled mid motion finally nodding a slight smile gracing his lips and settled back beside me.
“I’m off to spread the word and make the preparations for their coming. You two have been apart enough and this is something I can do without him.” He jutted his chin at Elethor and his jaw tightened. “Enjoy each other; time spent with the one you love isn’t to be taken for granted.” And he sounded like he knew. He slipped through the door and shut it firmly but noiselessly behind him and I thought it was odd that a man of his size could be so graceful in his movements. I laid my head against Elethor’s shoulder and closed my eyes.
“What did he say to you?” he asked, and I told him. He kissed my forehead and tucked the blankets around me more firmly holding me against his chest with such a docile strength and I admit it, I melted into the embrace and wished I could stay like this forever.
“You have to stop coming to me like this keairrah, I cannot bear seeing you broken and bleeding.” He tipped my chin to look me in the eyes and I saw such pain in his own that my heart seized in my chest for a moment. I kissed him softly then, a light and chaste brush of lips that made me close my eyes so that I may enjoy the feeling all the more. He deepened the kiss slowly, and languorously taking his time with it and I let him, allowing us the illusion that I would not have to go soon that we had all the time we could ever want with each other.
“How did you come to me?” he finally mused. I cuddled close to him shivering lightly with the cold of the room and relished in the heat he put off. He was so warm to the touch, almost feverish had he been human or Elysian but I suspected that a rise in body temperature was yet another adaptation to the Asmodian environ.
“I think I am soul bound to you.” I said finally. “I could feel my bind so far away in Sanctum, and when it was up, I could feel my kisk but as I lay there dying I felt something closer than Elysea and I took a chance and followed that thread of my soul and I found you.”
His look became thoughtful and he rocked me gently as he considered the implications. Finally he bent and kissed me softly once more before speaking. “You must promise me Sirona, that if this is true to use it to your advantage should one of our lands finally fall to the other. If Asmodae is victorious I need you by my side so that I may protect you, if it falls, then I would see your face one last time before your people end me.” I wanted to protest the last, but he put a finger to my lips and closed his eyes to hide the pain that such a thought would bring him and in a tone that bordered on pleading said “Please keairrah, please promise me.”
I did the only thing I could I looked my lover in the eyes and said “I promise you Elethor. My lips to Aion’s ear I swear to you, I will do as you ask.” He nodded and kissed my forehead and I tucked my ear to his chest and listened to his heart and basked in his warmth and affection. I felt safe, and loved and so calm with him and it was like nothing I had ever felt before.
“What is that word you keep calling me?” I asked to keep myself from falling asleep again.
Elethor chuckled, “Keairrah?” he asked me, and I nodded against his chest. “It is an Asmodian term of endearment. It means ‘little dark one’, do you not like it?” he asked.
“I love that you have a name for me.” I said. “Keairrah," I said, tasting the word. "it’s pretty.” I tried valiantly to stay awake but I could feel sleep sucking at the edges of my consciousness.
“Sleep my keairrah,” he said as if he’d read my mind, “I promise to stay right here. I won’t go anywhere.” He wrapped me more securely in his arms and made sure the blankets and furs were close and snug and settled back into the pillows himself, arranging me so that I lay comfortably on his shoulder and chest. I lay my free arm that wasn’t trapped between us across his hips and hugged closer to him and though I’d like to say I listened to his breathing, and enjoyed the feel of him near me, I can remember no more than that last movement because I was fast asleep.