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Old January 5, 2018, 11:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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[PA] I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends [Kailin]

TS: Mid Winter, Early Era XXV

The last few cycles had been anything but ordinary. If she was honest, Niven really didn't recognize her life. One minute she was happily married and expecting with her new husband and the next her world had imploded. Now she was estranged from her husband and family she'd come to think of as her own, homeless, and pregnant.

Her home had been with the Asunder's for eight years, so to have nowhere to go felt foreign. But after the blowout, there was no way that Niven would ever be able to set foot in her house again. Having no other family of her own, Niven could only think of one place to go.

So here she was, doing her best to weave her way through the busy streets of Port Alyxandrya from the Inn where she'd lodged her horse, Trigg, and had temporarily found a home for her Treant, Illianthe. Her dog, Juno, trotted by her side, always protective, but he'd become even more so since she'd become pregnant. The Sylrosian was headed to the only person with whom she felt close enough to share her predicament and possibly get any help.

A breeze blew through her cloak, ruffling underneath her green split front dress with sheer under dress that left room for her bulging stomach. Gooseflesh peppered her skin and a chill momentarily swept through her. It wasn't exactly cold here, but the city was on the water and there was a dampness to the air that seemed to seep into your bones. The elfess wrapped her cloak around her best she could considering it wasn't as roomy as it once was. In doing so, she almost dropped the slip of paper she held. Niven's green eyes fell on the paper once again as she double checked her directions to the home of her friend, Kailin Alyxanda.

Walking through the city, Niven was awestruck by the affluence of the area. She'd not really spent much time in the city itself before, or at least hadn't strayed too too far from the docks. Ok, well maybe that wasn't true. She had spent a darkening in the woods nearby. A darkening, she had come to realize, that wasn't the dream she'd originally thought it was. Which was one of the main reasons she was here now.

Reaching the location of the home that housed Kailin and her family, Niven took a deep breath. Gathering her courage, she stepped up to the large door and used the heavy knocker, hoping desperately that her friend was home.
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Old January 9, 2018, 04:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Niven's walk from the Inn she'd found was not a short one, and it took her through the winding circular streets, occasionally turning up a spoke that would take her further out of the heart of the city. Pregnant as she was, she was likely wishing for a carriage before too long, though her path was a pleasant one, what with the white stone of the surrounding buildings reflecting the wan light of the winter suns.

Eventually her directions led her to a bridge spanning the river Candace, which served as a boundary to one entire side of the city, and there was a noticeable presence of the city Constabulary watching those whose paths took them across it. Decadent was the word that could apply to the 'neighborhood' that Niven stepped into.

Everything was quieter here, the estates that she passed boasting circular drives and manicured gardens that would no doubt be a riot of color come spring, their sprawling grounds bordered by elegantly (and occasionally fancifully) trimmed hedges. The dog at Niven's side garnered some interest from those few she passed, but inevitably their gazes skated down to her generously displayed midsection, before a polite nod was offered.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference to Niven's eye - even surrounded by such opulence - was the familiar graceful lines of elven architecture that were evident as she followed the directions she'd been given. Not every manor boasted the smooth flowing lines, though, and the one that eventually beckoned her in and up to its front door was one such. Still a rather grand manor, it was undeniably modest in comparison to its close neighbors.

The knocker gave a dull boom as she put it to use, and Niven had time to take in a single deep breath before the door was pulled open by a tidy-looking woman of middling years. Cool grey eyes swept over the unknown visitor once, and instead of asking after Niven's business while the clearly pregnant elf was forced to remain out the cold, she stepped immediately back and encouraged the guest to enter into the relative warmth of the house.

"Vedui', arwen en amin," she said as she closed the door behind Niven, and before the elf could misunderstand her fluency in the other's language, gave a partial, stiff smile as she switched back to the common tongue, "how may we be of service?"

Moving to one side of the door, then, she gave a single tug on a blue colored cord set into a cubby in the wall, then waited to hear what business the elf had with the Alyxanda family.
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Old January 12, 2018, 08:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The abundance of Elvish architecture was not missed by the young elfess. In fact, it made her a little homesick. The graceful arches and lines reminded her of the grand city of Silrosia. Or at least what it had once looked like. Knowing that there was only the slimmest of chances that any of it remained, especially as no less than half of the city had been within the strong boughs of the strong oak and sequoia trees that had made up the forest, made her melancholy. She fought her tears, pushing the thoughts from her mind. There had been no opportunity to go and fulfil her commission by Governor Sliucha once her pregnancy had been discovered. Dante would have none of it. Perhaps it had been for the best as well as her hormones had surged like nothing she'd ever experienced before and there was no telling how she would have responded and if she could have handled whatever she found there.

This pregnancy had brought more than it’s fair share of new experiences for Niven. While there were many perks and even with the general fallout that had occurred to bring her here, the Sylrosian had generally enjoyed the experience. Watching the amazing nightly spectacle of the babies (the plurality of which was a BIG surprise) moving around in her belly, baby hiccups, the rosy glow that her skin had taken on, the extra help and smiles that came from complete strangers, the sheen and thickness of her hair, the fact that no matter what she was she wasn't ever alone.... The last one was especially helpful in her current predicament. But the fatigue that came with growing new life, however, was one of the major drawbacks and there was no hiding it from her face as the door opened to reveal a well-dressed woman.

"Vedui," the elfess returned the greeting in her mother tongue, stepping into the house when invited, her expression one of gratitude. Juno kept close to her heels and his nails made a soft clicking sound that stopped as he sat nicely at her feet when his mistress moved no further into the house, leaving only enough room for the door to be closed behind her.

She smiled as the woman switched to common. Kailin was one of the rare few humans that took the time to learn the complex elvish language and while there was clearly an abundance of elves in the port city, it was unlikely that many humans would bother to learn a language that they would have really no need for. Niven had been surprised that Kailin had bothered when she had first met her, but as she'd gotten to know her friend had seen that it was in line with the young woman's character to do so.

"I am here to see Lady Kailin. Is she at home?" Niven asked, putting as pleasant of a smile as she possibly could muster considering how tired she was. She had greatly underestimated how far the house was from her current lodgings and on top of being exhausted her feet and back were killing her. With any luck, Kailin would be home and would be pleased, though likely surprised, to see her.
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Old January 15, 2018, 05:15 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Even as Niven was answering the butler, asking after Kailin, there came the sound of soft footfalls approaching from a side corridor, likely the kitchens if the savory smells that arrived with the young woman in maid's uniform were anything to go by. She paused at the butler's elbow, her gaze taking in both Niven and the hound at her side with an easy smile.

"Maya..." the butler seemed to hesitate for a moment, sharing a glance with the young woman, "would you see..." her gaze returned to Niven as she paused expectantly, giving the elfess a moment to supply her name, "Ms Soleil to the drawing room?"

"I will see about finding the elder Ms Alyxanda," there was a definite note of resignation coloring the way the woman said it, and a softly pitying glance from the young maid before she glanced back to Niven and inclined her head for her to follow.

"This way, please," and the maid led the pair at a gentle pace through the large manor, up a staircase and down a wide hallway to a pair of double doors that opened up to a comfortably apportioned room beyond. Centered in the somewhat expansive space, a fire was crackling away in a large fireplace, throwing warmth onto the rug that seemed to have been placed just where Juno might like to lay out at his mistress' feet. To either side of the fireplace, and facing each other across it, were two identical couches for her to choose from, as well as a set of chairs facing the fire directly.

It was one of three separate seating areas - though the other two had only one couch each - which might make sense given what Niven knew of the size of Kailin's family. And in one corner stood a piano, the lid lowered now, but gleaming in the late afternoon light. There was a small writing desk, too, on the opposite side of the room and set looking out over the view of the grounds beyond the windows. And covering the walls around the many bookshelves were a mixture of family portraits - many of which were too old to have been done by Niven's friend - and paintings. Ships and seascapes seemed to figure large in many of the latter, perhaps just portraits of another sort, given the family business.

"Please, be at your ease. I'll be right back with tea, and am sure Ms Alyxanda will be right here," and with a small curtsy and an unconscious glance to Niven's belly, she was gone.

The Sylrosian was given a few minutes to relax, then, and even to put her feet up on one of the ottomans that dotted the space between the couches, if she so desired. The warmth was soothing, the seating comfortable, and she would have been forgiven - in her condition - for taking a short nap.

However she passed the time, she had some warning that Kailin was incoming when she heard a snippet of conversation from outside the door, "You're sure she gave the name Soleil? Not Asunder." Her friend's voice, confusion obvious.

"I'm quite certain," clipped tones, those of the butler who'd first greeted her, "not like I know her from Nancy in any case."

"No, I know... it's just... never mind. Thank you Jean," and with that, the door swung the rest of the way open and Kailin entered, her eyes - already wrinkled at the corners with concern - immediately seeking out the blond elf.

"Niven?" Her steps were brisk, voice almost cautious as she spoke her name, though the words all but tumbled out of her once she'd laid eyes on the familiar face, gaze dancing down to gauge exactly how far along the elf must be by now before seeking out those vivid green eyes again, "Good gods, it is you. What are you doing here? Is everything alright?"
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Old January 21, 2018, 03:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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"Oh, I'm sorry!" Niven exclaimed when the woman paused, expecting her name. " Niven. Niven Soleil."

Wow. That had come out easier than she'd thought. Granted, she'd been Niven Asunder for only a matter of months, so she'd not had time to get used to the change, even though the small city of Demios had easily made the switch. It was one of the reasons she'd found it easier for her to leave once everything had fallen apart. Saved her from having to explain over and over again and the dirty judgement filled looks she'd receive once it made it through the grapevine. She gave the woman a forced warm smile, though there were certainly hints of the elfess' current state of fatigue in it.

The pity in the woman's look was unmistakable and it made Niven wonder if this had been such a good idea. She was in a predicament to be sure, but she wasn't looking for pity. Niven straightened as best as she could with her center of gravity off. She had far too much pride to be comfortable with pity. But then perhaps she was reading too much into the look. She was, clearly, very pregnant and much larger than she supposed the average woman carrying only one might be, and Niven wasn't a large woman to begin with. Perhaps the look was meant more as sympathy. There was no way for this woman to know all the details of her personal life. Though the idea that if the facts were known that the woman would still look upon her with pity left a bad taste in the Sylrosian's mouth.

Clicking her tongue so Juno would follow, Niven set off a step or two behind the maid as she led the pair through the expansive manor to a luxuriously furnished sitting room. It put her in mind of the library at the home she could no longer call her own and as the maid took her leave, the elf gave her a smile and a "Thank you," before looking back at the room with a look of melancholy as she removed her cloak.

Moving towards the couch on the right side of the fire so that she could still see the door (which the Sylrosian noticed stood slightly ajar) Niven laid her cloak over the back and arranged the scatter pillows strategically before she sat with effort, sinking into the plush cushions. The ottoman was close and the elfess was grateful for the ability to put up her swollen feet. She chuckled as she looked at them, marvelling that it was only times like this that she could see them. Her feet had been hidden from view for more than a few months now and she hadn't been able to reach them for cycles. Now that she was on her own, there was no one to help her with her usual boots, which didn't really fit now anyway, and she'd been reduced to wearing her elvish slippers. Juno, feeling at ease that his mistress was safely seated, laid close by, but still close to the warmth of the fire.

As she waited for Kailin, anxiety started to set in and she felt cold even though the fire was quite toasty. As much as this was her predicament and she was here for assistance, her friend was going to very unceremoniously find herself in the middle of it as well. This was a long shot. There was no way to expect how Kailin would react to the news that the dream that she'd shared with her beau was, in actuality, not a dream and she had not only slept with her closest friend's man, but she had conceived his children and the revelation of all of this had culminated in tdestructione and utter distrution of her marriage. There was a good chance that Kailin would now want very very little to do with her. But Niven had no where else to turn and Kailin was the only person she felt comfortable enough sharing with.

Niven stiffened unconsciously as she heard her friend's voice outside the door. Her feet dropped to the floor and she scrambled as quickly as she could to stand, which if anyone had seen her was a rather amusing scene. She shook off a chill as the door swung farther open and her friend came into view.

The smile came easily to her face at the sight of her friend. They had known each other only for an era, but had built a bond swiftly that Niven was filled with gratitude for. Juno too got to his feet and his tail started to wag as he saw the familiar face. As Kailin came briskly towards her, Niven opened her arms and embraced her. "Yes, it is most certainly me," she said her eyes filling with tears as she hugged her friend close.

As she released her, Niven's smile faded quickly and her tears turned from happy to sad as the spilled over and down her pale cheeks. "Oh Kailin," she said, choaking on a sob. "I.... I didn't know what to do. I had no where else to go-o-o-o-o," she said, her ability to speak dissolving as her whole body wracked with sobs.
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Old January 27, 2018, 02:21 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Kailin had not noticed the dog when she'd first entered, laying as if part of the rug next to his mistress, but Juno's presence here was yet one more thing that made the human wonder what could be happening that the her friend was so far from home at this stage of her pregnancy. And yet the smile that she saw on Niven's face was genuine.

Stepping in to embrace her, Kailin was trying to unwind a flurry of confused emotions. Joy to see the Sylrosian again, and so much sooner than anticipated. Worry and concern as to what had brought her, and led her to use her maiden name.

And as it turned out, she did not have to wait long for Niven to settle the matter. Because as they finally released one another enough to pull back, Kailin's smile having gentled in the embrace, she watched the elf crumple into herself.

Her arms wrapped around Niven again, and before Niven could crumple too far on her own, Kailin lowered them both back to the couch the blond had been sitting on before. The movements were automatic, as was the slight rocking motion as she held on tightly, as if she could keep what suddenly seemed so fragile from breaking any further.

For a long time, she did not say anything, but merely ran a hand over and over down Niven's back, allowing the female to cry herself out. The only break in her attentiveness was the shift of her eyes upward as Maya entered. Their gazes met and the maid paused, left the tray of refreshments on a table near the door, and exited as quickly as she'd come, making sure to pull the door shut tight behind her.

Then Kailin shut her own eyes, which had filled with tears that she had no true explanation for. Only the obvious fact that something was very wrong with her friend, which - when paired with the knowledge that Niven had used her maiden name at the front door, and the lost echo in the last words she'd spoken - threatened to break Kailin's heart.

What could possibly have happened?

Eventually, Kailin ran a hand down the back of Niven's head, less aware of the silky smooth texture of the elf's hair than she was the wetness that had her blouse clinging to her shoulder. "Niven... Nyara amin mani marte. Manioio ta naa, lle naa sinome sii', ar' varna.Tell me what's happened. Whatever it is, you're here now, and safe."

She pulled back a bit, looking down at Niven and letting her hands follow the lines of the slender, strong arms until she found the elf's hands, which Kailin clasped tightly, trying to catch and hold the vivid green gaze hiding under long wet lashes, "mellonaminmy friend, let me help."

It was unlike her, to hold back the question at the tip of her tongue. But she could not bring herself to ask whether something had happened to Dante. It was the only explanation she could think of, and even thinking of it left her slightly breathless with sorrow on her friend's behalf.
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Old February 9, 2018, 12:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Allowing Kailin to help her sit back on the couch, Niven found great comfort in her friend's arms. Everything she'd not had the chance to release since it had all happened came pouring out of the elf now and onto the shoulder of the woman who was keeping her from completely falling apart.

Niven didn't hear the maid return or set down the tea or the soft sound of the door shutting behind her. She was too lost in her own misery, her mind racing as she tried to figure out how she was going to explain to someone else how her entire life had fallen apart.

The truth would have come out sooner or later, and perhaps it was for the best that it happened before the babies were born rather than immediately afterwards. Babies. That was another thing. How on telath was she so fertile that she not only got pregnant after her first time but with more than one baby? It would seem Carmelya was playing a cruel trick. Or perhaps there was more at play here than met the eye. The goddess had intervened in her life before, why not again? But what made her so damn special?

At length, Niven's sobs abated and her tears stopped flowing as freely. She accepted the comfort that the slight rocking motion, as well as the soothing rubbing of her back brought as her breath became more even, though littered with the odd hiccough. Her eyes squeezed tightly as the elvish words washed over her, though she was grateful for them. Yes, here she was safe. At least for now.

Sitting up a little, Niven felt Kailins hands caress her arms and take her delicate hands in her warm ones as she begged her to explain what in Aeternia she was doing here. Slowly Niven brought her head up and her green eyes met her friend's.

"Kailin,"
she started, the words coming and then failing her. The elfess took a deep breath and started over again. "It's over," she whispered. "The life I knew and have happily lived the past eight eras is over."

Her eyes swam with tears again and they trickled down her cheeks, but Niven did not succumb to sobs again. No, now she sat upright, though her shoulders slumped, as she steeled herself for the questions that were going to come.
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Old February 13, 2018, 01:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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"Oh, Niven..." there was a depth of sorrow in Kailin's voice that might have been surprising, if not for the fact that Niven had learned enough of Kailin's own losses to know that she would be able sympathize with her friend's situation now. Whether something had happened to Dante, or whether something had happened between the couple, it was sadly unlikely to be beyond the scope of the human's understanding.

So her hands clasped Niven's more tightly, and she reigned in her own tears as best she could as she waited for a long moment for the elf to go on. When it seemed that she would have to prompt the female to explain further, Kailin found her mind a blank.

A blank into which the name Soleil dropped like a stone through glass. For she knew how many eras it had taken her to change her name back to Alyxanda, after her own marriage ended. And yet here was her friend, so newly wedded, heavily pregnant with his child, and no longer using Dante's family name. It was more than surprising, and Kailin's mind supplied her with only one reasonable explanation for what had driven Niven - far too close to the end of her pregnancy - across the empire and into her own arms.

Another squeeze of her hands around Nivens preceded the almost hesitant question that had finally formed at the forefront of her thoughts, "did Dante... Did he do something, Niven? Did you find him... with someone else?" Apology was thick in her tone and heavy in her eyes as she asked it, for it was not a question anyone would ever want to have to answer.
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Old February 14, 2018, 10:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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There was a long pregnant pause as Niven couldn't bring herself to relay any more information about what was going on without any prompting. She found comfort as her friend squeezed her hands, trying to pass strength to her. Strength she needed to be having this conversation. One of many times she would have to have this conversation.

She knew, knowing about Kailin's past, that her friend completely understood the depth of her sorrow. So many times had life cruelly robbed the human women of her happiness and turned her life into Aetheria. "Now it's my turn," she thought miserably

Eventually, Kailin broke the silence and asked if she'd caught Dante cheating. A laugh escaped the elf though her tears at the irony of the question.

"No," she said, sighing and shaking her head causing her wheat-coloured blonde hair to fall forward over her shoulders. "Dante would never do that." Niven knew that without a doubt. And she never considered for a moment that she would. And she had been certain she hadn't.

Until that brightening.

Scenes from the brightening everything had crumbled came to the forefront of her mind. Her being greatly uncomfortable and concerned about the baby as she sank down onto the chaise longue in the library, Dante coming to her, concerned something was wrong. Him casting his diagnostic spell, his eyes widening and a smile spreading across his face as he detected two babies.
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"Carmelya be praised! Niven, we're having twins!" he exclaims, leaning in and giving her a kiss. So many things about her pregnancy now making sense, she smiles and kisses him back. One baby was a blessing. Two babies was a miracle.

The smile quickly faded as his brows furrow in confusion as he looked at her. His handsome human seeming's facial features morphed from confusion to betrayal and disbelief. Him pushing away from her, now angry. It all happening so fast that she didn't have time to respond to each expression.

"Dante?" she asks, confused, trying desperately to make sense of what has happened. He was so happy a moment ago.

Dante storms out of the room and she tries to get up off the little couch. She's only managed to sit up before he came back, his face red and his blue eyes cold as steel. "Dante, wha-," she starts, before he cuts her off.

"How could you?" he rages at her. "How could you?"

All she can remember is feeling completely bewildered. "I don't know what you are talking about. Dante what is going on?" she asks her tone pleading with him to explain what he suddenly knows that she doesn't.

"As if you don't know they aren't mine!"
he snaps at her, his face turning red.

She lets out a humourless scoff as she tried to process the accusation being levelled at her. "That's not even funny," she says, rocking so she can get up off the chaise. She does, but only barely keeps her balance.

"Does it look like I'm laughing?"


His tone stops her short. She turns on him, her own temper flaring. "Of course they are yours, you fool! Who elses would they be?!"

"You tell me! There isn't an ounce of Dracon blood in either of them, so they aren't mine!"

She freezes. Her eyes widen and her blood runs cold. "W-what?" she asks, her voice coming out just above a whisper. She looks him right in the eye. There is a flurry of fear, rage, and pain in his eyes. He's not joking. Her mind reels.

This is why there had been no blood poisoning symptoms. There had never been any danger. The closeness Dante had watched her with had been completely unnecessary. But if they weren't his....

The truth lands upon them both simultaneously.

"Dante," she starts, reaching for him, but he pulls away. His eyes start to fill with tears and his hands ball into fists. Her heart starts to beat faster in her chest. "Dante," she repeats, her voice filled with fear and sorrow, but he turns his back on her.

"I....I can't. I can't even look at you."
And he walked out of the library.
Everything had fallen apart from there. Niven closed her eyes and two more tears spilt over and trailed down her cheeks and hit her white dress.

Niven let out a heavy sigh before she opened her eyes again and wiped her tears from her face, pulling herself together. The elf's belly visibly moved and she put a hand to it, feeling the life she carried within her, the constant reminder of the reality of her situation. But she had to explain.

"You remember that dream we had that we shared? Well I had another sort of like it. A crazy dream that was so vivid it felt real. In this dream I was intimate with someone other then Dante. And it was weird and crazy and I just chalked it up to another strange dream. However.....well, this dream was actually real. And I got pregnant." She paused. "Before our wedding."
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Old February 20, 2018, 01:52 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Kailin wanted to feel relief when Niven answered her question with the assurance that Dante had not done what the human had very much feared. And surely some part of her was relieved, but if that wasn't the case, then why else would Niven show up bearing only her maiden name? Kailin had few answers, and none that she liked.

So concerned was she, that even as she watched the elf's gaze sink inward, even as she clearly saw her calling up the memories, Kailin did not even think that she might need to protect them both. Indeed, she leaned in, letting go of Niven's hand for a moment to brush a spill of golden hair back over the female's tightly held upright posture, wishing she could so easily brush away whatever was hurting her so terribly.

Then her hand fell back to grip her friend's, and she could feel her own heart beating hard in her chest as she watched Niven's expression shift. Watched her come back out of whatever she'd been remembering. And though she wanted to, she did not reach up to brush away the tears that fell again, nor did she need to as Niven pulled her own hands back to accomplish the task.

Unsure or what to do with her own, Kailin folded them in her lap until Niven moved to touch her belly, and she unconsciously mimicked the gesture, remembering so viscerally the feeling of Lilia moving inside her. She was looking at her friend with a soft, warm smile, then, when the elf started to speak.

Her nod was automatic as she was asked whether she remembered their shared dream. But as Niven went on, Kailin's smile faded and she suddenly found the warmth from the nearby fire too much as heat spread up from her core, polishing the back of her neck and her upper lip with a thin sheen of sweat.

'I only remembered because the setting is the same..."

"
The forest..." Kailin wasn't even aware of speaking the words aloud.

How clearly she recalled the darkening of Niven's wedding, and her adventures, and misadventures, in the forest with her love. He'd told her of a dream he'd had of Niven, then, and as she'd been firmly aglow in the aftermath of their lovemaking, it wasn't a disclosure she'd been likely to forget.

"Calanon." It wasn't a question, and Kailin swallowed convulsively as the full import of what Niven had just told her seemed to crash over her in wave after wave. Pale green eyes dropped to Niven's belly, then lifted to her... to her friends' face, before falling again to the great swell behind which rested...

"Oh gods..." the words were more a moan than anything intelligible, and Kailin's face lost most of its color as her gaze lifted to the elf's jewel-green eyes and it occurred to her to wonder just how vivid a shade the baby's eyes would be, given it's apparent parentage.

"Oh gods, Niven," she said, suddenly on her feet and backing a couple steps away, one hand finally fluttering up to wrap over her mouth as the other curled across her own belly protectively. Kailin had to swallow again before she could uncover her face enough to ask, "you're certain?"

But of course she was. She would hardly be here if--

The thought trailed off as she realized, finally, what had happened with Dante. The couch shook slightly as she slumped back onto it, slightly farther away from Niven now, and turned an almost hollow expression toward her friend, filled with too many emotions to know exactly how she felt, other than slightly sick.

"Dante found out..." surprised by the urge to reach for Niven again, Kailin stifled it, her voice almost monotone as she continued, "he's angry?" She knew how much Niven loved him, so what else would drive her from his side, or - far more telling - make her retake her maiden name? Anger stirred sluggishly beneath her shock, as Kailin wondered whether the dracon had been fool enough to toss his very pregnant bride out for something that both Niven and Calanon had so clearly thought was a dream.

A dream.

"How, Niven?" How had this happened?
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Old February 22, 2018, 12:14 PM   #11 (permalink)
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"The forest...."

Niven's eyes narrowed momentarily as her friend spoke of the setting of her dream. Did she know? Could Cal have done what she had and told his mate of the encounter? A memory of the darkening Calanon and Kailin had come to dine with her and Dante surfaced. Kailin had been teasing Calanon about a dream. "He must have told her," the elfess realized. Which meant.....

The Sylrosian froze as she realized that Kailin, too, was making quick work of figuring out the entire situation. She watched as Kailin's eyes dropped from her face to her swollen belly after saying the name of her lover. Niven opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She desperately wanted to say something to comfort her friend, but there was nothing that could be said. Her lips met again as she took a slow and even breath.

Juno, who had laid down once more when Kailin had sat with his distressed mistress was on his feet at the first moan, moving swiftly to stand next to Niven, but his concerned gaze never leaving Kailin. The entire mood in the room had shifted and it didn't sit well with the animal. He whined and looked at Niven before taking a step towards Kailin. The dog ended up thinking the better of it and stepped back and sat next to Niven, carefully keeping a watchful eye on how the situation would progress. The elfess put a hand on the dog's head, giving him a reassuring pat before returning her hands to her lap and slowly raising her eyes to her friend once more.

The colour drained from Kailin's face and Niven felt the urge to reach for her, but resisted. No, likely her touch would be most unwelcome at this moment, though Niven could have used it. But just as she and Dante had needed time to process the reality of the situation, so did Kailin. The opportunity passed quickly anyway as Kailin got to her feet and backed away from where she was sitting. Niven simply bowed her head and stared at her hands clasped on what remained of her lap.

Her eyes lifted to meet Kailin's at her question. The truth of the matter was conveyed in her look rather than in her words. Yes, she was certain. If Dante had found no dracon blood in the fetuses then there was no other option. Sorrow filled her for her friend and tears pricked at her eyes again. She blinked them back as she fought her own emotions and to keep her composure, giving room for her friend to have her emotions.

As Kailin dropped back onto the couch beside her, Niven took a deep breath, bracing herself for whatever was going to come next. Her own emotions had been difficult to sort out when it had all come down on her. Niven could only imagine that Kailin was desperately trying to sort out hers.

"Yes," came the whispered reply to the question of Dante's feelings on the entire matter, Niven's head falling again as the tears she'd been keeping at bay successfully so far would not be restrained any further and they slipped out beneath her long dark lashes and trailed down her face. Grief for her own marriage could not be suppressed. With her raging hormones, Niven was surprised she'd had the ability to keep herself together as well as she had thus far.

A soft snort left the elfess as the question of how this had all come about was raised. "A cruel trick of the gods, I imagine," she said flatly, wiping her tears as anger started to rise within her. She tempered her emotions and reached for her bag that she had dropped next to the sofa as she'd originally come in.

Reaching inside, her fingers searched the contents before falling upon a smooth cool surface she recognized as what she'd been looking for. Curling her hand around it, she removed the item and set the leather bag down again. Turning back towards Kailin, she extended her hand and slowly uncurled her fingers to reveal a small heart shaped bottle with a cracked cork stopper.

"I found this among my things when I was packing to leave,"
she said, looking into her friend's face. "I didn't even know I had it, but recognized it immediately from the 'dream', which was only further proof of it's reality." The memory of the mesmerising shimmering liquid the bottle had once contained surfaced in her minds eye. "I remember it housed some kind of potion that got on both myself and Calanon after rescuing it from the tiny claws of a Nimrban. I cannot be truly certain, but I can only expect that it was some kind of love potion," she continued, knowing that the very claim sounded ludicrous. But there was nothing else she had for proof to show Kailin. At least not until she talked to Calanon.

"I'm so sorry, Kailin. This was never my intention."
Tears started to flow anew down the Sylrosian's face. "It's still so surreal to me," she said, sniffling and shaking her head. "I only came because...... Because I didn't know what else to do. I didn't know where else to turn. You're my only friend." At that point Niven lost her internal battle to keep herself composed and completely dissolved into tears again.
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Old March 4, 2018, 04:40 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Kailin felt that slow to shift anger uncoil further as Niven's head fell, tears pricking at her own eyes again - all against the current tide of her emotions - as she watched wetness draw further tracks down the elf's cheeks. Dante had not struck her as the cruel sort, but she had no other word for someone who would drive their beloved out of their home in the midst of winter, pregnant and alone. It set her teeth on edge, even amidst the prick of betrayal that opened a window to provide a glimpse of insight into what Dante might have felt.

Watching as Niven reached for her bag, Kailin stifled the urge to assist her again, unable - for the moment - to move any closer. Her thoughts played over the elf's words, unavoidable bitterness creeping in as she wondered what other kind of trick there was, when it came to the gods.

But her thoughts were slowed as Niven extended the tiny bottle to her, and Kailin reached to lift it from the elf's palm. The cracked cork on the top was immediately noticeable, and she unstoppered it to lift the small bottle to her face for a delicate sniff, pale green eyes shifting upward to watch Niven as she did so, brows pulled together and drawing a deep line into her forehead.

Her only reaction, as Niven explained what she could of what had led to her apparent coupling with Calanon (the thought made Kailin swallow back nausea again), was to recork the bottle and set it on the couch between them. For the elf's words had made her wary, and she did not wish to get any of it on herself, if there was any residual left inside.

"Love potion..." she muttered, wiping her fingers on her skirts absently, eyes cast down to the bottle. It was hard to blame a small heart shaped bottle for the gut-wrenching, life-altering news that Niven had just brought to her door. Much harder than it was to direct her hurt and anger to the pregnant elf beside her.

And while some part of her wished nothing more than to lash out at her friend, enough that she could feel the words rising like a poison to her tongue, Niven's words of apology made it impossible to release them. Niven's words, and the fact that Kailin knew without any doubt just how truly the elf had loved her husband. It was hard to ignore that knowledge now, or the fact that - however shaken Kailin was by this news - Niven herself must have been destroyed by it.

And indeed, when her gaze finally broke from the stare she'd been directing at the little bottle, it was to see her friend crumbling before her again. Heart breaking all over again, though it was worse this time as Kailin knew - or could at least guess - that her life with Calanon had just been irrevocably changed. Trying not to think of the house that was sitting ready for them to move into, nor of all the details that they would never get to enjoy and discover together, the most Kailin could manage was to lean forward and set a warm hand on Niven's knee.

She was crying, too, and could feel her tears threatening to deepen into sobs. So she swallowed hard, grit her teeth, and forced herself to shift closer to the elf. It hadn't escaped her that Niven had not mentioned Calanon as part of what had brought her here to Kailin's doorstep, though surely he must be part of it? If he was truly the father of her child?

"It's..." what could she say? It wasn't alright. None of it was alright. Not for any of them. Her hand tightened around Niven's knee, and she shifted closer, trapping the bottle between their skirts as she pulled the elf into a more careful embrace. She could kill Dante for this. He should be the one holding Niven, comforting her, assuring her that it would all work out.

How could he?!

The thought was a shout in Kailin's head, and only as the last syllable fell from her lips did she realize that she'd given voice to the question in a harsh, angry tone. Her arms tightened around Niven, and she smoothed a hand down her back once.

"I'm sorry, too, Niven. So sorry." For even she, in the midst of her tangled thoughts and conflicting emotions, could see that Niven had not deserved exile from her home. Not for this... whatever it was. "We will figure it out..."

Somehow...

Dark head bowed to settle against light as both elf and human gave in to their respective griefs, and the magnitude of the situation revealed itself like successive falls of a whip against already broken skin.
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Old March 15, 2018, 04:25 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Niven could only watch as Kailin took the bottle and inspected it, mulling over her explanation. She tucked her lips as she fought her emotions that were dangerously bubbling just below the surface, something she'd found harder and harder to do as her pregnancy wore on. Her whole body visibly tensed as Kailin lifted the bottle to her dainty nose to try and catch the scent of whatever remnants of the potion were inside. The Sylrosian couldn't remember any particular scent but the gods forbid her friend get any on herself.

As he grief around the entire situation overwhelmed her, Kailin's warm hand on her knee was a welcome surprise and the elfess found great comfort in the first physical contact she'd received from her friend since she'd revealed the reason for her visit. The Sylrosian cried for everything. She cried for the loss of the only family she had now, for the demise of her marriage, for the shame of having cheated on her finance, for the fact that she was now beholden to friends as there would be no way she had enough saved to support herself and her two children, and for the fact that there was a very real possibility that her children would end up just how she had, without a father, if Calanon chose not to want anything to do with her.

Calanon. Feth!

As the "How could he?" left Kailin's lips, Niven's face scrunched further for a second. She'd momentarily forgotten that Calanon must still be told and perhaps she should have inquired as to his whereabouts before divulging the situation to Kailin. It was likely only reasonable that she tell him that what had happened, if he even remembered it as she had, was real and had had very real consequences. Would he want anything to do with them? Or would he leave her to raise their children on her own? Sadly, she didn't know him well enough to even venture a guess.

Kailin stroked her back and put her head against the elf's and Niven's feelings of security increased tenfold. Even with all the ramifications this news brought for Kailin, she could still find it in her heart to be there for her friend and Niven was overwhelmed with gratitude and amidst all the storm, felt a peace, like everything was, indeed going to be figured out. "Thank you."
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Old March 27, 2018, 04:24 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Kailin's emotions had nowhere near settled, though her tears had stopped falling when she finally pulled back from the elf, hands lifting from her friend to wipe at her reddened, puffy eyes. She wanted to retreat, to curl up in her mother's lap and ask her what she was supposed to do now. But she was no child, and as hard and shocking as this news was, it was far from the worst she had endured.

In addition to which, however impossible the situation was for her, Kailin could neither deny nor ignore the fact that the female before her deserved none of what had brought her here, and was just as much a victim in all of this as anyone else. And the baby... good gods that poor child deserved none of the stress that the adults had forced on it. That Dante hadn't managed to see as much was horrifying, and it was the anger built from that reality - that the dracon had essentially forced his pregnant wife onto the streets for... what? The sake of his pride? - that Kailin grasped onto for strength.

Leaning back, she reached to pull the little bottle from where it had come to rest between their skirts, "Calanon--" Kailin's flushed cheeks lost about half of their color in the instant in which she said his name and realized what all of this would mean for her love. Pale green eyes flew up from the little trinket to land on Niven's, pupils wide with the renewed shock, though she pushed through it to finish what she'd intended to say, voice only a little shaky, and only at the start, "h-he thought it was a dream, too. Told me of it, the darkening of your wedding."

She extended the trinket for Niven to take back, "you'll need to show him this, I think. And I will be there with you, Niven, if you want it, to help him understand."

Kailin wondered briefly whether she should be fighting or questioning what Niven had told her, as she was sure Calanon would do. But as she looked at the very pregnant female next to her, and remembered the trouble of simply moving from one room to another in her own pregnancy, there was little room for doubt in the face of the reality that Niven was here. Here where her own love was not, where her family was not, far from home and the comforts it would bring her. Should have brought her.

"Come, mellonaminmy friend, you must be exhausted. Let's get you settled, give you some time to rest," Kailin pushed to her feet as she said it, turning back with a soft smile to offer Niven both of her hands for assistance in doing the same.

"We can speak more once you've slept and had some food," she paused, smile widening just a touch, as if her features themselves were hesitant to move too swiftly past the heavy emotions that had held them for the past while, "or perhaps we ought to do food, then rest, then food again, if memory serves."

Once they'd gotten her to her feet, Kailin released only one of the elf's hands, tucking the other tightly around her elbow for support, the human's hand wrapping over the top of the slender, more delicate fingers. "Either way, I will have a tray delivered to your room, and I want no foolish arguments about whether or not you will stay here." Kailin turned to make sure that Juno was following, then paused near the door to pull one of a few cords set into the wall before exiting.

"We have the room, and are well versed in both pregnancy and little ones, here. You will have more helping hands than you could wish for, when the babe arrives." A gentle squeeze on Niven's hand where it was pressed against her side, the stays of Kailin's gown hard beneath the smooth fabric. "But again, we can discuss all of that later. Where shall I send Jax to collect your things?" Jax (or Jaxon), Niven might remember, was Kailin's youngest brother.

There was a bit of silence as they paced steadily down the hallway - Kailin making sure to match her longer stride to whatever seemed comfortable for her friend - before the human cleared her throat, trying to keep the tension that had been riding her for over a cycle from bleeding into her voice now, "you should know... Calanon is away at the moment. I'm sure he will be back soon, though," she affirmed with far more confidence than she actually felt. Kailin had no idea where Calanon was, and Moss with him, nor any idea if he were ever coming back. He might well be laying dead in a ditch somewhere, and her friend with him. But Niven needed fewer worries, not more, and Kailin could keep this fear from her, for now.

As they approached the staircase that led back to the foyer, Niven saw the retreating form of the young maid from earlier dashing down a hallway in the opposite direction. Closer at hand, the butler waited patiently, her features a polite mask and her hands folded before her.

"I thought to give Ms Soleil Miss Lydia's rooms," Jean said placidly, as there was the small issue of Moss' current habitation of the guest suite. Kailin nodded immediately, though, somehow pleased at the idea that Niven would be staying in one of her sister's rooms. It wasn't as if Lydia used the rooms much anymore, aside from putting the children down for naps, and that could be done in any number of rooms.

"Perfect, thank you Jean," and Kailin led Niven further down the hallway Maya had disappeared down, until they came to an open door from which came the scent of lavender and the light, lingering smoke of a just-set fire.

"Maya will see you settled with food, a hot bath if you so desire, and whatever else you might need," rather suspecting that her friend would only manage to get so far as the bed, she unwrapped Niven's hand from around her arm and leaned down to give the elf a hug, dropping a quick kiss on her cheek as she pulled back. "It's good that you came here, Niven. You're not alone in this, not anymore.

Come find me when you've rested, okay?
There will be a few people eager to meet you, when you're ready."
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Old March 29, 2018, 06:41 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Truth be told, Niven was extremely impressed with how well Kailin was taking everything. Dante had clearly not reacted well to the news. Granted, they had also gone 7 months with Dante certain that she was carrying his child. One of the babies moved and Niven started to cry as she remembered how they used to respond to Dante's voice. Even in utero, the babies adored him and were always happy to hear his voice. Now they would never hear it again. And likely neither would she.

She sniffled as Kailin sat back and said Calanon's name, giving her friend her undivided attention. The realization of what this would mean for Calanon seemed to really have set in now as she watched Kailin's facial features shift at the gravity of it all as she continued. Her advice was wise too. The tiny bottle would be what would prove her story until the babies were born. Calanon would surely recognize it. She nodded and wiped her tears away with the back of her hand. "I would like you there if you are ok being so. I'll need you for support." The elfess knew this without a doubt. Calanon was a wild card. There was no way to know how he would respond. Gently, she took the small bottle from Kailin's outstretched hand and slipped it back into her bag.

Taking a deep breath, she spoke again. "I told Dante too. On our honeymoon. It's actually why everything fell apart as it did. There was only one possible explanation of whose the babies could be. It really was the only time we'd been apart since I'd returned from Sancta Nova. Apparently, that's all it took. And he just lost it. He'd never looked at me like that before. The infidelity was all he could see. And I.... I didn't mean it! I didn't even realize it was a thing that actually happened! And I would never have done anything like it without the influence of the love potion! I mean, it was more intoxicating than any drink! And I love Dante!"

This had Niven sobbing all over again she allowed herself to feel the grief for the life she'd once had. Everything felt impossible now. She'd just barely gotten over losing her family in the fog, something she knew she'd never have been able to do without Dante. He was her anchor, her port in a storm. And now he was gone and she'd never felt so alone in her entire life.

When her crying abated to shuddering breaths, Kailin spoke again and Niven looked up as she rose from the couch. Her words rang true though. Crying often exhausted Niven to the point that she could sleep for candlemarks afterwards and that was regularly. Add advanced pregnancy on top of that? Niven could sleep for brightening's if the babies didn't need to eat. "Diola lle, mellonamin. Thank you, my friend I could use the rest."

She smiled at Kailin's recollection of what a pregnant woman needed and nodded. "The latter, I think," she said, letting out a chuckle. "I am quite tired, though, so maybe nothing big?"

As she wiped away this last set of tears, Niven wiped her hand dry on her dress before looping one of the straps of her bag over her wrist and placing her hands in Kailin's outstretched ones. With effort, she managed to have her friend pull her to her feet. "You are too kind, but only if you are sure," Niven said as she gave Kailin a grateful look and her hand a light squeeze. It was lonely at the Inn, even with Ilianthe to talk to, and she would so much appreciate having Kailin close by.

When Kailin let go of her one hand, Niven reached down and grabbed her cloak off the back of the couch, using the one hand to drape it over her arm. As they started to move out of the room Juno got to his feet too and followed at Niven's heels.

Babe. The word set off alarm bells in her head. She hadn't told her friend the other little detail pertaining to her pregnancy. "Um... about that..." Niven put a hand on her belly. "There isn't just one baby. There are two. Twins. Dante found out just before he discovered their blood was pure elvish." She paused letting Kailin digest this new piece of information. "Any extra assistance once they arrive will be most appreciated," she continued giving Kailin a weak smile.

Thinking hard, Niven tried to remember the name of the Inn she was staying at, but her pregnancy brain made it impossible. "I don't remember the name, but it's the Inn nearest to the harbour. He'll have to get Trigg from the stables. Does anyone in your family ride? I'm sure he would be grateful for some exercise if so. Oh. And I also have a treant, Ilianthe, who came with me as well. Could she find a place in your garden to stay? She will go with him willingly if he tells her that I sent him for her."

As they walked in silence, Niven allowed her eyes to wander and take in the different art and expensive things around the home. It was much like her house had been before the eclipse and they'd practically lost everything when they could no longer tend the restaurant or the fishing business. It hadn't mattered to Niven though. It wasn't the things that made the home, it was the people in it.

The news of Calanon's whereabouts broke into her thoughts and Niven turned to look at Kailin as she spoke. "Yes, I meant to ask." Niven held her friend's gaze and noticed that the worry in her eyes did not match the words on her lips. She hoped all was well between the two and that wherever Calanon was he came home safely soon. And not just for Kailin's sake. For her's and the babies as well.

Niven allowed Kailin to make the arrangements needed with her house staff and didn't say much until they were out of earshot of Jean. "I'm not displacing anyone, am I? Will Lydia not want her room?" she asked, immediately concerned she was going to be a bother and she wouldn't have that no matter what.

When they stopped at the open door, Niven looked in and found a large comfortable bed she knew she would enjoy and the pleasing scent of lavender wafted out mixed with the equally pleasing smell of a freshly lit fire. Considering her sensitive nose, she didn't find the scents too overpowering, rather just the right soothing amount that she would need to sleep soundly.

"Thank you so much Kailin," she said, tearing up again. By this point, Niven was amazed she wasn't completely dehydrated considering all the crying she'd done this brightening already. "I don't know if I can ever truly express the extent of my gratitude. If there is anything I can ever do for you, please don't hesitate to ask. And I'm so sorry for everything. I don't.... I never...." The druidess trailed off. There were really no words.

Juno pushed past her into the room and Niven remembered that her pet would need a place to sleep as well. “Oh, um, are there any old blankets around? I just need something for Juno to curl up into at darkening. It’s a bit too cold outside to have him sleep out of doors. No one will mind, will they? That he’s here?"

She smiled as she was invited to find Kailin later on. "Yes, I will. Hopefully, someone will direct me. And I look forward to meeting the family you have spoken so fondly of.” And with that, Niven slipped through the door and waved as she shut it behind her, ensuring Juno was in first.

The door now shut behind her, Niven moved father into the room that was her new home for the time being. The fire popped and cracked as Niven removed her cloak from her arm and hung it in the wardrobe and put her bag on the chair beside it before she moved slowly to the bed and lowered herself onto it. The mattress was a perfect balance of softness and firmness. She lightly ran her hand over the soft quilt and took a deep breath as she looked around.

The room was comfortable, but definitely showed signs of luxury. She didn’t doubt for a moment that the wash basin and pitcher were porcelain, a far cry from the metal one she’d been using since she left the Asunder property in Demios. Even the towel that hung beside looked luxuriously soft. The wardrobe and dresser were beautiful hand carved mahogany, as was the four-poster bed. Niven slipped off her elvish slippers and dug her toes into the soft rug beneath her feet, relishing at the feeling of it. She looked out the window where the suns light streamed in illuminating the rug on which her feet rested.

Oh, but the bed. The bed was wonderful. So soft. So welcoming. Niven smiled as she leaned back and lifted her feet from the floor and up onto the bed. She scootched back onto the bed until she was fully on and reasonably comfortable. At least as comfortable as she was going to get with two babies squirming inside her. Exhaustion took over as her blonde head hit the down-filled pillow and she drifted into a dreamless sleep.


~*~*~*~*~


The room was covered in a soft rose hue when the Sylrosian opened her eyes again a few candlemarks later. Someone inside had kicked her hard enough to pull her out of her reverie. Why was it whenever she was happy to sleep, they were ready to play?

“Hey in there!” Niven said to her stomach, pressing gently, but firmly against where she could feel one of the babies. “Mummy was trying to sleep.” She smiled, amused. “Perhaps it’s time to wake up though, hm? I can imagine you are hungry. I am too,” she said, swinging her legs off the bed again and pushing herself up into a seated position. Her feet bumped Juno, who had been sleeping beside her on the floor and the dog quickly scrambled to get up and out of her way. “Sorry, my friend,” Niven apologized to the animal.

Catching her reflection in the looking glass, Niven laughed. Her hair was all sticking up on one side. Letting out a chuckle, she rocked her body so that she could get up off the bed and reached for her bag. Inside she found her brush and she quickly ran it through her hair a few times, loosening the tangles and giving her a much less rumpled appearance. “Much better,” she said, smiling at her reflection. “Let’s go find Kailin, hm?” she said, looking at the dog. Juno merely wagged his tail in agreement.

Opening the door, Niven looked to the left and right down the hallway before emerging completely. After the dog was out, she shut the door behind her. As she moved off towards where she thought she and Kailin had come from earlier, Niven wondered to herself how she was ever going to find her way back to her room without assistance.
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Last edited by Niven; March 29, 2018 at 11:00 PM.
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