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Old March 27, 2018, 09:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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[PA] I don't know what I want, so don't ask me [Calanon]

TS: Winter, Era XXV PF


Carriage wheels bumped over wet cobblestone roads as the Alyxanda carriage made its way to a local tavern in the nicer part of the city. However, it wasn't a member of the prominent family that was safely tucked away inside. No, indeed, it was a petite and very pregnant young Sylrosian elf.

When she had gotten Calanon's note, Niven had started to chew on the inside of her cheek, unsure how she felt about a meeting just the two of them. He hadn't exactly taken the news of her pregnancy with his children well. She also wasn't sure how she felt about leaving the comfort of the house. But she considered that if he was sending her a note and wanted to meet, perhaps he had come around. There were many things for them to discuss. Whether they liked it or not, their lives would now forever be linked through their children. And there were decisions that were going to need to be made in preparation for them and for after.

As she sat in the carriage now, her gauzy white dress loosely sitting around her while her green overdress split just under her bustline, exposing her protruding belly and highlighting the dainty embroidered flowers on the white dress, she stared at the window at the landscape around her, noticing that the weather seemed to have warmed up, melting some of the snow and colouring that which lined the roads a deep brown. She needed to focus on the mundane facts of the world around her, lest her anxiety over the meeting overwhelm her. It was not that she was afraid of Calanon or what he would say, though she was certainly interested in what he might have to say, more that she was nervous about the impending change in her life that was before her.

In a matter of cycles, she was going to have the babies of a man who was not her husband, something she still had a little trouble wrapping her mind around. When she'd thought about these brightenings before, never in a thousand eras would she have thought that they would look like this. She'd envisioned a baby with Dante, her husband, and she would lounge in their home in Demios while they and their other children would all chat with eager anticipation of the newest Asunder family member. Now there was no Dante, no children, and she was nowhere near the place she'd called home for so many eras. Instead, she was living at the pleasure of the family of her friend Kailin, having Kailin's beau's babies, in Port Alyxandra, a few kilometres from where the conception of the babies had taken place under the influence of a love potion. Letting out a sigh, Niven shook the thoughts from her head and focused on what mattered right now: The future of her children.

Upon reaching the agreed upon destination, Niven allowed herself to be helped out of the carriage. She pulled her wool cloak around her as tightly as she could considering it no longer covered her like it once did and looked up at the sign of the tavern. The wind tossed her hair about and loosened little wisps around her face. She'd braided part of her hair back, but most of it still hung in loose tousled waves about her shoulders. As quickly as she could manage, she slipped her hood up over her head and made her way into the tavern before she started to look too windswept. Niven was less concerned about what Calanon would think of her than the other people in the tavern. If she was going to go somewhere more upper class, she would need to dress the part as best she could. Just before she could enter, the driver told her he would wait for her to return.

Once safely inside, Niven pushed back her hood and her vivid green eyes scanned the area for Calanon, wondering if she'd beat him here or if he was already waiting for her.
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Old March 28, 2018, 11:18 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Calanon had made his way through rain slicked streets, hood pulled up against the steady fall of miserable winter rain, though it began to soak through the woollen cloak he wore and he could feel it damp on his neck. The warmth of the tavern then was a welcome respite, but even the crackling fire burning brightly in the great fireplace that dominated the centre of the room did not do much to put him at ease. He started every time he heard the door open, the steaming mug of tea that he nursed not offering a means to relax like a whiskey might, but still the thought made his stomach roll.

He felt bad in some part for even asking Niven to come out in this foul weather, but he couldn’t face the idea of going back to Kailin’s family home and having them play host to this conversation. It was almost beyond his tolerance that they knew as much as they did. So he had sent a letter requesting her presence, and now he waited anxiously unsure if she would even come. He hoped she would, though it would not surprise him if she decided not to. Their last conversation had not been entirely pleasant, after all.

There was a hot rush of embarrassment and guilt as he recounted some of the things he had said, his only excuse, if indeed there was one, the shock of it. The seeming implausibility of the situation he now found himself in. They he corrected.They found themselves in. Long fingers twisted together where his hands rested on the table before him, until once again the sound of the door opening had him turn. This time Calanon got quickly to his feet, a hand half lifted in a greeting that he wasn’t sure would be returned.

Even though he knew to expect it,the sight of Niven so heavy with child still took him aback for a moment, perhaps because this time it held so much more significance for the male elf. He didn’t know whether to go to her or not, and so held his ground until she drew near before he addressed her, his nervousness apparent in the hesitant manner of his speaking “ Vedui, Niven. Amin valina lle tul e” Greetings, Niven. I am glad you came. A gesture for her to take a seat on one of the benches that surrounded the table and Cal suddenly realised he should have chosen a chair with a back, for how could she be comfortable? “ We can sit elsewhere” he said quickly, “wherever you like..” There were other tables, other seats. Leaving it to the elfess to decide if she wished to move, Cal moved into territory that was not so rife with pitfalls. “ Can I get you something to drink?” Only, perhaps she was not drinking? Gods “I am having tea…” he added stupidly, as if what he had ordered would have any bearing on what she decided.

He was cursing himself as he walked to the bar, already fumbling through this meeting and she had barely sat down. Nerves made him awkward and he tried to find some calm as he handed over the coin for her drink, a little more composed by the time he returned to her and set it down. Taking the seat opposite and lifting his gaze to find hers, there was regret written all over his face, and Calanon swallowed before the words themselves were offered.

“First, I owe you an apology Niven. I said some..unworthy things to you the other brightening, and they are only more ugly as I look back on them now. I’m sorry. It just..” He cut himself off, for he had sworn he wasn’t going to try and excuse himself. “ It was unfair in the utmost, and I only hope you can forgive me”. She would need to, if everyone was honest, because there were pressing things to be addressed betwixt the two elves, that had repercussions for others too.
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Old March 28, 2018, 08:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It was hard to miss Calanon as he stood as she entered, his tall lean frame easy to spot among those seated. The tavern wasn't overly busy, which was a blessing for the young druidess as she manoeuvred her large belly through the room towards the one she was here to see. Each step brought a little anxiety as the memory of the half cycle earlier was still fresh in her mind. Surely he wouldn't have asked her here only to give a repeat performance. Taking a deep breath as she approached him, she put on the friendliest smile she could manage. If there was a scene to be made, it wouldn't be by her.

"Vedui, Calanon. Amin estela lle naa eithel."Greetings Calanon. I hope you are well. Niven silently chided herself for her choice of words the moment they had left her lips. Of course he was not "well". Nobody in this situation was "well." Not her, not Calanon, not Kailin and not Dante. The thought of her estranged husband brought tears to her eyes that she tried to fight, but they pooled in her emerald eyes and threatened to spill over. Taking another deep breath she wiped them away and simply looked at where he gestured they were sitting to distract herself.

Benches. That wasn't going to work. Calanon must have realized it at the same time as he quickly suggested they move. Niven gave him a small grateful smile before she scanned the room. Near the fire there were a couple of armchairs. "I think over there would be better," she said pointing to them.

The offer of a drink was a welcome one. "Actually, a tea sounds lovely, thank you." She let him move towards the bar before moving towards the chairs labourously. The babies were heavy and her back was almost constantly sore from the shift in her centre of balance. At length she made her way to the chair and lowered herself gently into it, gripping the arm of it behind her with one hand and had the other one on her stomach. Once she was in, she wiggled herself until she was as comfortable as she was going to get in her current condition.

When Cal returned with her tea, she smiled gratefully as she took it with two hands from him. "Thank you. The babies seem to like tea a lot," she said as she wrapped her hands around the warm cup and rested it on her belly. She wondered if she should have shared the last comment. Would he care? 'He might,' she reasoned. 'He is the father. He might want to know about his children.' She watched as her kinsman sat across from her.

When his eyes met hers, Niven recognized the emotion in them immediately. She'd seen it in enough eyes, including her own to know regret when she saw it. An eyebrow arched, but she said nothing, waiting for him to speak whatever was on his mind while she blew on her tea before taking a small sip. It was still too hot and the liquid burnt her tongue, so she swallowed and rested it on her stomach again. Once he did, her expression softened and she gave him a soft smile. "Calanon...." she paused and took a deep breath. "I've had some time to think about that brightening. In your defence think you did the best you could in the situation you were given. It's a lot to take in, believe me, I know. It was hard for me to wrap my head around myself when it all first came to light. When Dante learned there was no dracon blood in the babies....."

Niven trailed off and shut her eyes as two tears slipped from beneath her closed lids. The brightening it all fell apart for her and Dante was still a painful memory and with the pregnancy hormones, Niven had found she had a lot less control over her emotions than she used to. Her ability to suppress things like tears had been greatly compromised and she seemed to feel every emotion more deeply than she had previously. She hoped this was something that would go away postpartum.

Shaking her head, Niven did her best to brush away the strong emotional pain and continue. Or manage it as brushing it away was basically impossible. She took a deep calming breath to regain some control and then forced herself to look at Calanon. "My point is, I've had cycles to process this. Kailin has had time to process this. You just had the same bomb dropped on you and while you didn't handle it well, I don't know that any of us did when we first found out." 'Dante certainly didn't. I wouldn't be here if he had.'

She pressed on not giving herself a chance to think about Dante again. "In that light, I do forgive you. This is hard and it's not going to get any easier any time soon. Somehow we need to find a way to work together. You guys...." Niven started to choke up. "You guys are all I have now," she said her voice breaking and tears starting to flow again as she couldn't hold the pain of all she'd lost any longer.

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to cry like this on you, I just can't help it," she apologized through her tears. "Everything has just been so overwhelming and I'm struggling to try to make sense of all of this." A few more silent tears fell down her face before she was able to take a few deep breaths to calm herself again. "Sorry," she apologized again as she steadied the tea with one hand and used the other to wipe away her tears.

Suddenly, she lifted the cup she had resting on her as her belly moved. "Whoops! That was close!" she said, chuckling as she met Calanon's eyes again. Reaching over, she placed the tea on the side table next to her. Her belly moved again and she smiled and then got a thoughtful look in her eyes. "They are kicking. Do you want to feel?" she asked him.
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Old March 29, 2018, 09:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Calanon did not miss the tears that threatened as Niven greeted him, and it did nothing to ease his already tightly strung nerves. He wondered if it would have been better to have Kailin there, if Niven might have felt more comfortable. But then as he left her to go and get her a drink he realised quite how ridiculous the notion was. For it was seemingly confirmed that he knew Niven quite intimately, and that they would have to move past this strange awkwardness.

He had felt odd last era, still believing that their encounter had been a vivid dream and nothing more, for it had conjured some sense of intimacy that did not exist in the waking world. Only now, with the evidence all there to suggest that night had been so much more than a dream, he still did not know at all how to relate to the woman. It had taken Niven to produce that small glass vial before he could even entertain the idea that there was any truth in what she said, but with his denials rather eviscerated by that innocuous looking item, it left an entirely different reality.They had been lovers. And now.. Well now they were to be so much more and trying to reconcile the two things simultaneously was proving a challenge.

But needless to say, Niven had not deserved his anger nor his accusations. If he still felt a lingering sense of injustice that she had told Kailin before him then he could at least accept that it was in part due to his history, and he brushed it aside as he sat back down before her. The apology he knew to be owed spilled out before anything else could be said, and Cal watched Niven anxiously, hoping she could see beyond his initial reaction.

When she responded, her words only underscored his feelings of guilt, for here she was speaking in his defence, even after he had spoken so cruelly of her. He could not hold her gaze then, looking off to the side until Dante’s name drew his attention back to Niven’s expression and he panicked slightly at the tears that fell. Kailin had appraised him of what she knew when emotions had quieted a little, and it was yet another thing he felt terrible about, though she had reasoned with him that it was not his fault. Just another consequence of the bizarre situation.

But that Niven had suffered as a result, well that was undeniable, and as Calanon watched the elfess try and rein in her feelings in order to go on, he realised again how lucky he was that Kailin was -for now at least- still by his side. Not that things were in any way settled..they had fought as much as they ever had in the past few days, but there was hope at least that they would weather the storm. Unlike Niven and Dante…..

Seeing Niven failing to stem the rising flood, the male elf passed her a clean handkerchief from his pocket, would have taken her hand had it not been wrapped about the cup she rested on that impossibly large bump. He felt a little helpless in the face of her tears “ Please don’t apologise Niven, you have endured so much on your own already because of….as a result of all this.” Searching for some reassurance he could offer, he went on “ You’re not alone now, and however I can support you, I hope you will let me try.” No matter how hopelessly unprepared he felt.

For amongst the tears and recriminations of the past brightenings, there was a small spark of something that saw past the difficulties of the situation, shone a little light through the fog, a beacon that he tried to keep in his sights when everything else seemed shifting and uncertain. That this was a second chance. He had walked a path before, similar but not the same, and had gotten himself thoroughly lost. That would not happen again. Here he could at least try.

Pensive, Niven’s exclamation of surprise had him pull his thoughts from the abstract to the here and now, and Calanon looked at her with some concern.

“Is something wrong?”

When the elfess explained, there was a fleeting look of panic and the elf paused before seeming to come to some resolve “ ...may I?” He moved to crouch beside Niven, hand raised but hovering uncertainly without actually touching. It felt strangely personal a thing to do, and yet Calanon reminded himself it was far from the closest they had beenThough that did not really help. With a self-conscious scoff at his own hesitance, the elf gingerly pressed his hand flat against the curve of Niven’s rounded belly. It was pushing at the edges of what he felt comfortable with, and briefly his eyes lifted to find hers, questioning. “ Should I be able to feel something now?”

It was surreal, stooped at the feet of the woman carrying his children, and yet almost afraid to touch her. Perhaps the awkwardness would pass? Part of him, and he had silenced it so far, almost wanted to ask her about her recollections of that night, reassure himself that it had not been a bad experience for her. That wherever they were now, however unfortunate the circumstances surrounding the dream that was not a dream, these babies -plural, as if it were not enough of a shock- had at least been made from a union that was, in its moment, right. It seemed unfair to Kailin to revisit it though, and so Calanon had resisted the temptation to call back his memories of that night that had led them all here, to this point. He wondered though, if Niven had done the same.
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Old March 29, 2018, 07:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Niven found the gesture of Calanon handing her a handkerchief so touching that it only added to her tears, but they were not sad tears any longer. “Thank you,” she managed to squeak out, between drying her eyes and wiping her cute little nose.

Giving herself a few moments to calm down, Niven gave Calanon a sad smile. “Calanon, I want you involved, as much as you want to be. I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t.” This was true. Niven wasn’t actually sure what she would have done. She knew no one else who might have taken her in and her money would have run out eventually. She needed her best friend, but she also knew that, no matter what, Calanon deserved to know that his children existed in the world, especially after they both had lost their entire families. “I didn’t mean to cause you any trouble, I promise. I just knew that as we’d both lost everyone in the fog that you deserved to know you had family. Or at least will.”

For a moment she wasn’t sure she hadn’t made him completely uncomfortable, but Niven’s eyes lit up with happiness as Calanon seemed to want to and moved to crouch at her feet. He hovered his hand over her belly for a moment before he seemed to gain his courage and placed his hand on her.

Smiling at his question, Niven shook her head and took his hand with both of hers and moved it just where she thought to expect another kick. Sure enough, she was correct in her prediction and she felt the foot of one of the babies press against Calanon’s hand. “There! Did you feel that?”

Moving his hand again, though this time to the side and down towards her hip, Niven waited, her eyes staring off into nothing, the smile still on her lips. Another kick, though a hand, she was certain, this time. “That’s the other one. They must just now be getting the juice I had earlier. It makes them more active when they have something sweet. I've found there are about 2 candlemarks between when I eat and they respond to it.” Niven released his hand, giving Calanon the option to either keep his hand on her stomach or retract it as he wished.

This interaction reminded Niven greatly of when she and Dante would sit together in the library and she would guide his hand too to where she could feel the babies kicking. It always delighted him and even now, she could see the joyful smile on his face as he stared in wonder at her pregnant belly, trying to imagine what the child -as they had only thought there was one at that point- would look like. They would talk and imagine and try to picture what their life would look like with a baby in the house. Refusing to cry again, Niven pushed it from her mind and focused on the elf in front of her, the true father to the little lives growing within her.

Watching Calanon, she thought back on the darkening and what she all knew about him. Truth be told, Niven had thought about that darkening a lot since she left her husband’s house. Each time she ran it through her head she remembered a new detail. The memories of his she received from him, the way it felt when they touched, the softness of the moss on the forest floor against her naked body, the coolness of the water afterwards. She remembered what she felt, how good and right it felt to be in his arms. She blushed every time she remembered that and, as the recollection surfaced again, a rosy hue rising in her cheeks as she looked at the elf kneeling before her. She shifted slightly in her seat and averted her eyes, trying to shake it off. It was inappropriate. He was her best friend’s beau and whatever infatuation they had then, it wasn’t that way now. And even if it could be, Niven wasn’t sure it was what she would want. Really she wanted her husband. But that was no longer a possibility.

It dawned on the elf at this moment that her mother must have felt very much the same as she did now when she had gone to move in with her sister and brother in law when pregnant with her after her father’s accident. Alone, frightened, looking for support. And her family was there for her. In a similar sense, Kailin and Calanon were now her family and, Kailin at least, had taken her in in the same fashion as her aunt had her mother. “Life is funny that way,” she thought.
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Old March 30, 2018, 08:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Calanon flinched a little as Niven assured him she had meant no trouble, the words he'd thrown at her in Kailin’s studio echoed back at him. He shook his head, for they had been unmerited, and he would take them back if he could. There was a pause too, as she went on, some past hurt carving a frown across the elf’s brow.

‘He deserved to know’.

Niven would likely never know how grateful he was for that. For how different things might have been had Ylenna been of the same mind? If she had written sooner, perhaps he might have had the chance to see his family again. Would certainly have stood a better chance at carving a relationship with Cal’ed’non. Silencing the regret, the longing ,Cal blinked it away. He could not rewrite the past, after all. And slowly, it was becoming easier to let it go and to look to the future etched ahead. Though the shape of that had altered rather dramatically with the learnings of the past few days.

Taking in the happiness he glimpsed in the green eyes above him, the male tried to relax as Niven guided his hand to another part of her stomach and pressed it there. A pause and then sure enough, Calanon felt movement beneath his palm, harder and more forceful than he had anticipated and his eyes shot up to Niven in surprise “ That was….” Comical shock painted his features “ They are strong!” He tried for a moment to imagine what it must feel like for the elfess, feeling such a thing from the inside, but decided he was quite unable to. The second nudge was no less surprising, and Cal found his stomach give a little flip in spite of the stress of the past few days, the weight of responsibility that now sat on his shoulders.

When Niven released his hand, it lingered a moment as if hoping to feel another, his focus resting where his palm sat on the swell of the belly before him. He gave a little shake of his head.
“ And that happens all day?” It was a yet another reminder of what he had missed with Ylenna, and he felt a surge of gratitude toward the woman opposite, looking back to find her watching him.. There was a flush that rose to Niven’s cheeks and Calanon pulled his hand back as she shifted, clearing his throat as he rose fluidly to his feet and returned to his own seat. There was that awkwardness again.

Feeling the need to fill the silence that had fallen, Cal asked a question that he needed answering. “ When are they due to arrive?” For that would let him know the little time they all had to adjust. Before things became even more complicated. There were practicalities too, things that needed to be addressed. “ Do you..plan to stay in Port Alyxandrya?”

She had said that Kailin and he were all she had, but Calanon did not know if that meant she had made her up her mind already, especially given his initial reaction to her news. “ I had hoped that you would consider it…” He paused to lift his mug to his lips, wetting his throat for it felt dry all of a sudden “ You must tell me, Niven, what you need. How I can be of use..”
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Old March 30, 2018, 11:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Unable to read the thoughts of the elf before her, Niven's eyebrows knit together as he shook his head when she said she didn't mean to bring him trouble. She hoped that it was more of an affirmation that she didn't cause him any trouble he didn't want rather than a shake of disbelief that she would think that way. But he had asked her here, didn't he? Surely it wasn't the latter? He said nothing further on the topic, so Niven forced herself to let it go. It wouldn't do her any good to stress over it.

A grin spread across her pale pink lips as Calanon responded to the first kick. "Yes, they are!" she confirmed, beaming as he marvelled at the miracle of his children. "They are both very strong." She watched him carefully as he responded to the second kick similarly to the first, letting out a soft chuckle.

As Calanon switched the subject, Niven looked back at him the hue slowly leaving her cheeks. She answered him as he moved back, trying desperately bring back the ease in which they had just communicated. She smiled at his curiosity and replied to his question. "No, not all day. During the brightening, I find they are mostly lazy. I think walking and my general movement rocks them to sleep. They move more when I am stationary for a long while or I have eaten something with sugar in it. Then they are active. They seem to be most active in the darkening though, which can be rather frustrating when I'm trying to sleep. It's often then that they think it's time to play. I just hope it's not any kind of indication of what their sleep schedule will be like once they are out of the womb."

Niven felt awkward in the silence that followed. Calanon had clearly not reacted well when he saw her blush. And that was on her. She was the one who made it awkward again. She chastised herself and resolved to work harder to keep her emotions from her face. Thankfully, Calanon broke the silence and she was actually prepared for the next question he posed to her.

"About two months, give or take a cycle or two, I think,"
she said with confidence. "I was told that babies tend to have a timing of their own, so there is no way to be certain. But based on conception..." the hue rose in her cheeks again. "Feth!" she thought. "...I think my calculations are correct."

She could only answer with honesty his next question. "I hadn't really thought too far ahead about it," she admitted. "I have no intention of keeping them from you if that is something you fear. If I had wanted to, I would not have told you about them in the first place. They are as much yours as they are mine and, as I said, you are welcome to be as involved as you wish to be."

When Calanon took a sip of his tea, Niven reached for hers as well. It gave her something to do with her hands again. The babies shifted within her, pressing against some internal organ and it was quite uncomfortable. Niven held her tea in one hand while pressing firmly on her belly with the other, trying to shift their position again while trying to adjust her own position in the chair. She was successful and she relaxed and rested her cup on her stomach once again.

Niven wasn't sure she knew what to say to his next question. "I'm not sure," she said, truthfully. Unsure how to continue she decided to just lay out the facts as she saw them. "I didn't know what to expect when I came to see Kailin. I am ever so grateful to her for taking me in, but I don't want to overstay my welcome in her family home either. I have some money saved, but not enough to support us long term. I also have a commission from the governor of Moonstone to go and scout what's left of our home in the Sylrosian forest and report back to her. I found out I was pregnant soon after so haven't made it there yet. Somehow, I need to make it there as well. But I can't see from where I am now how to make that all work. When I was with Dante, I had Kala at my disposal, not to mention the other children. Now I have no one, but you and Kailin and I would never wish to impose myself upon either of you." "At least, not any more than I already have...."
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Old March 30, 2018, 03:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Calanon was a little bemused by the insight Niven gave into the patterns she noted in the babies movements. He supposed she’d had a while to observe such things. When would they have been strong enough to kick? He realised then quite how little he knew about pregnancy, and infants, and it was enough to stir again the anxiety he had been wrestling with since he had found out.

And two months? Whilst he could not fathom how Niven could get any bigger, two months still seemed so soon. Ten cycles. Little time at all until everything would be different. It might have been enough to send him spiralling into a panic, but the elfess neatly managed to divert his focus as she stumbled over a reference to that night again, her cheeks once more staining crimson.

Calanon sighed, his gaze meeting hers steadily, unblinking. “ There is no point dancing around it I suppose.” he observed, an eyebrow lifting in question. “ No matter the circumstances in which it happened..it did happen.” There was little to be gained in this clumsy sidestepping, and the elf wondered if in fact it might just be better to talk of it, clear the air. “ And as I recall, it was not unpleasant?” He watched Niven carefully then, trying not to dwell on images that flickered rapidly through his mind, of moonlight on pale skin and winter grass hair, of that strange crackle of electricity that he had felt when they touched.

More easily explained now, it had hit him hard as he realised that with dream asserting itself as reality, the matter of it being Niven’s first such experience was so much more significant.
“ I hope..” his expression softened, though the intensity of his gaze did not “ that you can remember it fondly..that it was not..” He sighed again. “ It was one night, Niven, but it was not a throwaway experience. In my mind at least”

There was a need to reassure, to let her know that her innocence had not been disregarded. The realisation that he had been the first to walk that path, before she was wed, made him feel more wretched than anything. Gently then, he tried to apologise for it now, for love potion or no, he had made that choice. “ I’m sorry that it was not as you had intended.”Guilt that it had cost her her marriage was also hard not to cling to, no matter how he told himself that it had not been a knowing decision, that whatever was in that vial had led both he and Niven a merry dance.

Wishing suddenly he had something stronger than tea is his mug, Cal stared down into it unhappily, but the knowledge of what a drunken idiot he’d been only days before still burned, so tea it was. And at least it meant he kept his wits about him in what could only be considered a delicate conversation. And if Niven claimed not to have thought too far in advance about where she would be staying, about what he could do, then the male elf could claim to have given it even less consideration, so newly revealed was the situation. But he drew comfort anyway from the knowledge that she did not seem about to turn tail and run, lifting his eyes back to find her own.

There was no doubt in his mind that Kailin’s family home was not anything other than an interim solution, and an unwelcome one at that as he was concerned, fiercely protective of his privacy. There was a rather hard undertone to the lilting accent so similar to Niven’s own as Calanon responded.

“ Indeed. Kailin’s family are gracious, and no one wishes to see you in some Inn.” he said, a little tersely. “ But it is far from ideal. We should consider the other options,longer term. And, of course, I will do what I can to help with the financial burden.” Not that he was wealthy, by any means. But if he had to imbue more, he would, or he would seek mercenary work to bring in some extra income.

He waved away her fears about being an imposition with a rather disbelieving stare. “ You are having my children, arwenamin. I think the precludes you from such a title” The words felt alien on his tongue, and for a moment distracted him. But then he registered what she had said before, and Calanon’s expression grew only more serious. “ You mean to go back to Sylrosia?” It had been but months since he was there himself, and the male could see no rhyme nor reason in Niven subjecting herself to the same. “ It is a ruin, Niven. A wasteland.” Ghosts and Ash and nothing more “I was there myself in Autumn, I would not see you travel there.”
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Old March 30, 2018, 05:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Calanon’s gaze was soft as he referenced the darkening they were together and while Niven was uncomfortable, she grateful that they weren’t going to dance around it any longer. It was so much better to get it out into the open lest it hold awkwardness over them forever. “It did,” she agreed, her own emerald eyes never leaving his.

At his question, Niven quickly looked down at her cup as a flush bloomed anew on her cheeks, a shy smile on her lips. Flashes of feelings and memories of that darkening came to her again. The closeness she felt to him. The certainty that what they were doing was right. The care he took to make her experience as pleasurable as possible. She let out a soft chuckle. “No, Calanon, it was….it was…wonderful.” And it was truly how she remembered it.

After his next statements, Niven managed to finally bring her eyes to meet his again. “ No,” she said slowly, “You are right, it wasn’t what I intended. But, I do. I do remember it fondly. I would wager many a girl would envy me such an experience,” she said shyly. Niven thought herself ridiculous to feel so shy on this topic. She was carrying his babies for the gods sakes! And she was married, having had relations numerous times! Yet here she sat, blushing like a school girl. But there was little doubt in her mind; Kailin was a lucky woman.

And in that moment Niven felt compelled to thank him. Calanon had been gentle and tender and Niven was grateful that her first time was as good a memory as it was. Especially considering how awkward her first time with Dante was. “Thank you,” she said giving him a soft smile. “For making it a good memory at least. If nothing else about the fallout is good, at least that was. And we can know, no matter what, that our babies were made in love and they will always benefit from that.”

Niven smiled gratefully as Calanon reiterated what Kailin had said cycles earlier. No one wanted her in an Inn. It was comforting to know that there were people still around who wanted what was best for her. But it was the talk of a long-term that peaked her interest. Other options?” she asked, an eyebrow arching.

Smiling weakly as Calanon brushed off her fears of imposition, she could not help but think that it was all she was. Calanon and Kailin had just purchased a home together. They deserved their privacy and happiness and should never have had to deal with this. “Gods, why couldn’t the children have been Dante’s? Then everyone would have been happy!” But that thought made her feel guilty. The lives she was nurturing with her body were completely innocent in all of this and she would hate for them ever to feel as she did now. Somehow they needed to find a way to make all this work. She would likely never tell them of her marriage to a dracon or how they responded to his voice before he knew they weren’t his and how it had all fallen apart from there. She’d rather die before letting her children think they had in any way ruined her happy ending.

She was about to say as much when Calanon suddenly grew serious and asked her about Sylrosia. She opened her mouth to reply but he kept talking. She closed her eyes and inhaled sharply. The words he spoke crushed her soul. Ruin. Wasteland. Her fears about her home were correct, then, and that brought great pain with it.

But she had made a promise to the governor and she was not going to welch on her end of the agreement. Her children were Sylrosian elves and they belonged in the Sylrosian Forest. The area would need to be rebuilt and she felt it was her duty as a druidess to do what she could to return her home to its former glory.

Opening her eyes again, Niven shook her head. “I appreciate what you are saying, Calanon. But I have to go. I made a promise. The governor wants to rebuild and she cannot begin to do so without knowing what to expect and what is needed." She said firmly. "I have to do it."
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Old March 30, 2018, 07:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Right then. Out in the open. No more dancing around it. Only, as Niven flushed again and reassured him in turn, Calanon found he rather wanted to push it back into the dark. For it did not make it easy to quieten those snippets that replayed, and for a few long moments the elf found himself unable to look at her, placing his focus instead on surveying the other patrons of the tavern and steering his mind very definitely away from their topic of conversation.

At her softly spoken ‘thankyou,’ he had to meet her eye, and there was a tight smile to greet her own. Not that he couldn’t share in the sentiment, but it felt odd to be reminiscing over a night with another lover when things with Kailin were under so much strain because of it. He had felt as if his legs had been cut from beneath him when he had thought she was pulling away from him those days ago, and even still, it was like he and she both were holding together the threads of their love and frantically trying to bind them to survive this upheaval.


“ And I am glad of it” he offered eventually in reply, and the truth of it was there in his eyes as he looked back at Niven, even if the smile still showed some tension. It would not be without its pitfalls it seemed, whatever accord could be struck between the two elves, joined as they were by the lives they had created. Thinking it safer to move on, Cal could not claim to have gotten so far as working out what those ‘other options’ that Niven questioned were. He just knew he could not bear for the intimacies of his life to be conducted under the eyes of the entire Alyxanda clan. Perhaps because he had been out from under the familial wing, or had just become used to keeping some things to himself, he was struggling with how very public this whole affair had been. And though she had not said as much, he was sure Kailin would appreciate not having everything tied up with her family as well.

“ I confess I had not gotten so far as the detail” he said, fingers drumming on the sides of the mug he held. “ But we can talk about it and see what alternatives there might be.” Ones that would not have him running the gauntlet everytime he wanted to see her, and that would not give fodder to the opinion that some members of Kailin’s family had of him as a philanderer. Calanon let out a soft snort at that, for perhaps he was hoping for the impossible now.

But yes, talk of Sylrosia had him turn heavy eyes upon her, for he would spare her the upset of seeing all that he had seen. “ I apologise for speaking so bluntly. But Niven truly, there is nothing there. I can give Sliucha a report of what I know, and perhaps that will at least buy you a little time, if you truly think this task is yours to do.” And maybe she would change her mind in the meantime. Had he not walked upon the dust and bones of their kin then he would have found it easier to understand that determination in her eyes, not to scoff at the idea of rebuilding. But as it was, Calanon could see no way that they could ever hope to restore the elfhame to its previous state.

He sighed. A conversation for another day though.

“ I understand you left Demios quite quicky” he said, gentling his tone. “ I’m sure Kailin has asked, but...do you have everything you need? Clothes and the like? We can buy new or..” he faltered a little before going on. “If there are things you would like to retrieve from your home we can do that too”

Not that he relished the prospect of seeing Dante, for Calanon felt terrible for his part in the dissolution of the marriage, but also shared in Kailin's anger at the man for how harshly he had treated Niven. He did not know how his temper would hold should they meet. But he had to offer at least.
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Old March 31, 2018, 12:42 AM   #11 (permalink)
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"Oh," Niven said, her eyebrow returning to its usual place as Calanon admitted he didn't have an answer to her question. "Ok," she said, dropping it. She had a feeling that when he said "we" he meant him and Kailin, not him and her. And in many ways that frustrated her. She was not in charge of her own life and was constantly at the mercy of other's charity. But there was nothing she could do about that now. She would have to figure out a way to make her peace with that though.

Niven straightened and cocked her head. "Wait. You know Sliucha?" How small was the Empire?! He knew Rosie and Adyn and now Sliucha too? Who didn't Calanon know? She would love to hear the tale of how the pair had met. But his idea wasn't necessarily a bad one. Niven took a sip of her tea which had now cooled to a drinkable temperature and considered the idea.

"I do still have to go, Calanon, I have to see it for myself. I appreciate your idea and how you want to protect me from whatever you found there and its very kind of you. But I am a druid. I will perceive the area completely differently than you do with your sorcery. And that's what she needs."
Niven sighed. "I will admit, I'm rather leery to go with what you've told me though."

Calanon sighed and it seemed that this conversation was over for now, so once again, Niven dropped the current subject.

Taking another sip Niven almost spat out the liquid in her mouth at the next topic Cal brought up. Instead, she swallowed hard and looked at her cup, at the dark liquid inside. She licked her lips as her whole body tensed. Her home. It wasn't that anymore. And hadn't been since the brightening Dante had found out the babies weren't his.

"No," she finally said. "No, I didn't leave anything behind. I brought everything I had in a trunk that sits in my room right now. I am ok for things right now." Niven had known when she packed that she had needed to take everything. There would be no coming back. Gods, the idea of having anyone go back there for anything sent a shiver down her spine. And if Calanon went, she wasn't certain he'd ever return.

Thinking for a moment, she continued. "I don't, however, have everything I will need for the babies. I only planned for one so I only have one of everything. I will need two. If you are willing to help with that, it would be greatly appreciated."
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Old March 31, 2018, 08:54 AM   #12 (permalink)
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There was a slight furrowing of Calanon’s brow as he thought he detected a little disappointment in the elfess’ response. He shrugged a little, for after all he had not exactly had long to consider the alternatives. And though one thought had crossed his mind he knew the timing was not right to raise it with Kailin. Not if wanted to live, nor if he wanted to her to stay by his side.
“ We have options I am sure, but worth taking a little time to consider, no?” he added, hoping to appease the woman opposite. He wondered if it had been the right thing to raise on this occasion, or if he should have held his tongue, despite his own misgivings about the current scenario, but it was too late for that now.

Mouth curling in a small smile at Niven’s surprise that he might know Sliucha, Cal’s eyebrows raised at the emphasis she put on ‘you’, and refrained from asking why it was so shocking that he might have met the rather eccentric Governor. “Yes” he answered, a faint air of amusement to his tone. “She and Kailin are good friends, she taught me a little alchemy last era.” That was some of the story. His smile dimmed a little as he considered exactly how he had first met the Fox Elf, and Calanon felt the stirrings of unease. There was so much Niven did not know of him, and enough that he would not want her to, given the choice. Time would tell, he supposed.

And, it seemed, enough that he didn’t know about her either, because she dug her heels in about Sylrosia, and the male elf had a little grudging respect for the fact that she would not let herself be dissuaded. He frowned, wondering what Sliucha was planning, and still thinking it a fool’s errand, before he spoke. “ Then I will go with you.” he stated firmly. “ At least I have some idea what we will be walking in to”. His jaw tightened as he finished, generous mouth a thin line as he was lost for a moment in memory, but then Calanon shoved it away. They would deal with it when it came to it.

He was still wary though, as he waited on Niven’s response to his final question. He did not wish to prod an unhealed wound but did not want her to feel alone and unsupported should she have things unresolved. He had created this situation as much as she, after all, and he would not balk from the consequences. Not this time. “ You are certain?” he pressed softly, eyes careful as they took a measure of her. He did not know the detail of course, but for her to come away from a marriage, from her life with little more than a trunk of possessions made Calanon unimaginably sad. They had lost enough,surely, he thought grimly.

He would think on it later he knew, when he could find a little quiet, try and make some sense of whatever twist of fate had led them here. Arrogant perhaps, to try and understand the machanations of his Lord- Silevon would say so certainly- but Cal could not accept blindly. It was something he struggled with still.

Niven’s second request at least was something he could help with, and he welcomed the chance, nodding immediately as she explained. “ Of course. We can do that” he said expansively. And then, only a moment later, a less certain expression had settled on the fair features. “...only...you will have to tell me exactly what is required.” For he had no idea what sort of paraphernalia was deemed necessary for babies. What more was needed outside of a crib?

It reminded him how out of his depth he was, and Calanon sipped at his tea as a distraction., Grimacing for it was lukewarm now - testament to how he had arrived early so as not to risk Niven getting there first -he pushed it away. “ I still cannot quite believe we are here” he admitted, eyes darting up to look at the elfess, flickering from the rounded expanse of her belly and back to her face, his own expression less guarded and showing more than a touch of the apprehension he felt. Kailin's words from the previous brightening rang in his mind, and as he looked at Niven, heavy with child, cast out from what had been her home and life, he wished things were different. If he were not a selfish creature then he would offer her more: stability, a commitment to raising their children together. But his heart -not easily given, despite the fact that his affections often were - rested with another, and he did not have the strength to disregard its wants so entirely. And what was to say she would even have him? His chest rose and fell with a sigh that seemed to bear the weight of all his worries.

" It is not how you pictured this, I am sure, arwenamin. And I cannot offer you all that might be expected...traditionally. But.." he paused, swallowed. "I will stand by your side in this as friend and you have only to ask if there is more that you need".
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Old March 31, 2018, 02:35 PM   #13 (permalink)
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"Yes, yes of course," the elfess replied to her kinsman, forcing a smile. The feelings of frustration and concern that she was being a burden didn't lessen, though, but it was kind of Calanon to try to make her feel so. Perhaps deep underneath his hard exterior was a sweet, kind man that didn't show often. It truly might have been better had he said nothing or merely stated that they would work on an alternate solution as soon as things had settled down some.

Niven laughed in spite of herself. Of course Kailing knew her too. Why wouldn't she? It impressed the druidess how well connected the governor really was with the surrounding area. She would have to find the time to ask Kailin how she had come to meet the fox-like elfess.

"Alchemy, really?" she replied with interest, taking a sip of her tea. "Sliucha is a woman of many many talents, I gather. I confess I do not know her well, but look forward to knowing her better in the future. Her mate was of particular interest to Dante." Wait, did Calanon know that Dante was a dracon? Niven wasn't certain. She knew she'd told Kailin, but perhaps the woman had not told her mate of Niven's odd pairing. How true was the adage, "The heart wants what it wants." "I assume that you met her through Kailin then? What are your thoughts on the Governor of Moonstone?"

Niven's eyebrows rose as high as they could go. "You will what?" she asked, astonished at his proposition. She had never considered that she might have a companion to go with back home once she was able to go. It had become her expectation that whatever lie ahead she would have to be strong enough to handle on her own. She would have gone with Dante if things hadn't turned out the way they did. He had forbidden her from going once pregnant lest anything happen to her. And as sick as she was early in her pregnancy, Niven hadn't argued. They'd barely made it out of the Absis facility alive as it was and Dante was adamant that she stay home, rest, and take care of herself and the life she was growing.

But surely after what Calanon had said of what was there, he would not be keen to return. This only made her curious as to what he'd found there that he did not wish her to go alone. Danger? Or simply unbearable sadness? Either way, it was touching that he would offer. Niven wondered for a moment if maybe, just maybe, the two of them could get to a place where awkwardness did not always precipitate any interaction between the two of them, find a place where they could be comfortable with each other and, as a result, end up with them successfully co-parenting their children.

Closing her eyes, Niven tried to steel herself from the wave of pain and sorrow that was rising within her as Calanon probed to see if she was certain. Sadly, there was very little that had stayed behind that she could have taken with her and so much that she'd had to leave behind that caused her pain to have no claim to. The children hurt the most. But they had all taken their father's side, feeling her betrayal as keenly as he had. Tears formed in her eyes and two slipped from beneath her lids as her heart physically ached from the loss of them.

There were a few things she would have liked that had been left behind. Her portrait from the museum heist and the portrait Kailin had done of her for a wedding gift. She had no way of knowing if they even still existed or if Dante hadn't burned them to cleanse the house of anything that might remind him of her. She didn't know if Calanon would even find them worth his time. But if she didn't ask, the answer would always be no.

Inhaling slowly, Niven gathered her courage. "Most of what we had were Dante's before I met him. I took away only that which was mine. There are some things I left behind that I wouldn't mind having if they still exist. If they do, I'm certain Dante would have no trouble parting with them. They are portraits. Both of me. The one that Kailin did of me and then another that came as a result of a difficult job I completed eras ago, before Dante and I were even together. If they could be recovered I would greatly like them." Her eyes slowly opened and met Calanon's, her intense sadness reflected in the emerald irises.

Gratitude filled her features as the elf before her seemed eager to assist with whatever was needed for their children. A small chuckle escaped her when he seemed concerned about how to know what was needed. "I can give you a list of things if you like. I haven't yet asked Kailin if anything might be borrowed from her family yet, but that is an avenue I hoped to explore," she said tentatively. Calanon didn't seem keen to have Kailin's family involved in the situation any more than they already were, so she wasn't sure how he his pride would feel about borrowing things from them. Niven's only goal was to make everything as cost effective as possible. She had already sewn some baby clothes and blankets under Kala's tutelage, so she felt confident that she could do more if needed. "I have no qualms with making some of the things we need as well, as a cost-saving measure as well," she offered.

Niven tucked her lips inward and looked down at her cup of tea again. Absently, she rubbed her belly with the thumb of her hand that rested at the base of her bump and she nodded. "I know what you mean," she said, sincerely. "Some brightenings this all seems more like a cosmic joke than reality. There are still mornings I wake up thinking it was all a dream." "Like I thought the darkening this all started was," she thought but didn't say.

At Calanon's next words, Niven's eyes finally raised to meet his and she found them open and sincere. No, this was not how she had envisioned this point in her life. Her plans had been quite different for so many things related to their current situation. And she was certain that Calanon never expected to be in this situation again either. But now here they sat, now forever linked together in this strange twist of fate considering how little they really knew each other. They were, or at least had been, each linked to another. This alone made everything so much more complicated than the situation already was.

Again, she felt moved by his sentiments and tears pooled in her eyes once again. She was not alone. And nothing at this point really mattered to her more than that. The loneliness she'd felt since Dante and family had tossed her out had been almost completely overwhelming. But it was no longer so.

"Thank you, Calanon,"
she said, barely above a whisper as the tears made little wet trails down her face. "You don't know how much that means to me."
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Old March 31, 2018, 05:43 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Sensing Niven’s dissatisfaction, Calanon regretted having brought it up.Clearly, some thought needed to be given to such suggestions before he shared them. She would understand though, surely, how the current arrangement might be difficult for him, for Kailin? Niven’s laugh caught him off guard, and the male looked at the elfess a little doubtfully. The Governor of Moonstone had not factored much into his considerations when he had been rehearsing this conversation on his way over, but he frowned a little as the woman went on, wondering exactly what kind of interest Sliucha’s partner had held for Niven’s husband. Ex husband?

He gave a little nod of agreement, for it had been through Kailin that he had been formally introduced to the Fox Elf, even though they had unwittingly met the brightening before. The male elf canted his head to the side a little as he considered Niven’s question. “ I think she is a formidable force” he said after a moment. “ And also a lot of fun, which is not always the case with politicians”. He was more than a little interested to hear whatever plans the Governor had in mind for the decimated forests of his home, and though returning there did not sit easy with him, there was still the suggestion that Ylenna’s ghost had made, that Cal’ed had not been there….

But at Niven’s reaction, Calanon wondered if he had overstepped, and he pulled back a little from where he had leant on the table, raising his hands a little “ Not if you would rather go alone” he amended. But then he thought back on how hard it had been, how much harder it would have been if Silevon had not found him, and he exhaled a short sharp breath through his nose . “No. no. You should take someone with you. I will go with you.. Or we will settle something nearer the time.” It was not the most pressing of concerns, after all.

Concern. His expression shifted with it as he watched the elfess before him grow tense, upset as he shone a light on what was still so raw an injury. He listened as she spoke of those things that she had left behind, still and quiet as she explained. And when she finished he gave a small nod, already wondering how it could be done. It was the weight of sorrow in her eyes that moved him to reach across the table, lay his hand briefly across her forearm, a slight squeeze as he felt buffeted by the guilt of his part in it. He might have said something if he had been more trusting of his voice, but instead it was just the momentary touch to express his regret, solidify his support.

He had drawn his hand back by the time Niven moved back to babies, and if the hesitation in her tone did not mark it well enough, the brief grimace that twisted Cal’s lips confirmed that he was less than enamoured with the idea of involving the Alyxandas any further. Seeing Niven’s worry and not wanting to be misunderstood, the male took a breath and ventured an explanation of sorts. “ I’m sorry” he began, plucking at the seam of his cuff as he spoke, lifting a cautious gaze to the woman. “ I am sure Kailin’s family will offer whatever they have. Do not mistake me, they are generous to a fault. It is just...I have not found favour with all of them, and I fear this..revelation will only solidify what they think of me. I would rather not shove it under their noses where we can” There was a weak smile sent her way but it did not quite reach his eyes and he could only nod emphatically. Cosmic joke indeed.

But whatever had led them here, now they had to find a way forward, and so Calanon’s words were not lightly said, though he was dismayed when they seemed to conjure further tears, giving a little shake of his head at Niven’s thanks .” I am only sorry it was not what you first heard” he said, ashamed of his initial reaction. “ I do not always think enough on things before I react. It’s a flaw, but I’m working on it.” He chanced a glance up her, a wry smile appearing briefly. “It would seem I still have some work to do. But we are in this together Niven, you and I, however we find a way through”


Gradually, the elf felt the knot of nerves in his belly begin to unravel, and as he finished speaking he realised this had not been as hard as he had feared. It was not always easy for him to be open, honest when he felt cornered, and it was a testament to the inroads he had made, Kailin had made that the tension he had felt had not sharpened his tongue, manifested in a colder manner. It had not always been so, and Niven knew little of him to be able to look past such a thing, so there was relief that he seemed to have said his piece the way it was intended.
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Grim & Your Mum :Cal can't possibly be all that prissy, seeing as he's going around propositioning people :<
Cal: ONE TIME
Hoskuld & Walt:...and he was drunk.
charybdis >> grim :And crying.
Hoskuld & Walt :...and it was a weird time.
CIR
Secrets

Last edited by Calanon; March 31, 2018 at 06:10 PM.
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Old March 31, 2018, 10:21 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Niven smiled at Calanon’s description of the fox-like elven Governor of Moonstone. “Yes, she has a way of getting what she wants. And, I agree, she is a lot of fun. Definitely not what you would expect from a politician. But she has a keen mind and goal to restore her province. I have seen her efforts and worked with one of her teams for a while last summer,” she said, thinking of the time she spent with Silla and Shanti.

“N-n-no!” Niven stuttered, clearly taken aback, but realizing that her initial response was misconstrued. “I would be grateful for your company, especially as you have been there already.” It took her a few moments to realize that she would have to explain herself a little more than that. “I just thought that now I would have to go on my own and handle whatever was there alone. I never imagined…” she gave a small shrug, “…that anyone would care enough to accompany me.”

Calanon’s hand on her arm brought comfort to the druidess, brief though it was. While she had left a family behind, there was the spark of the beginnings of a new one here. Niven could not have hoped for anymore. But what she was learning of the elf who’s babies she carried was completely different than any other interaction she’d ever had with him. Who was this Calanon sitting across from her? Why had he never showed this side before not under the influence of a love potion?

Ah. So that was what was going on. Niven bit her bottom lip and lowered her eyes. She watched absently as she rubbed her hand on her large belly as her mind moved quickly to try and alleviate some stress if she could. “I didn’t realize. I’m sorry. I would never have allowed Kailin to have me stay there if I’d known that it would make things even more difficult for you. Would it be better for you if I go back to the Inn?” she asked quietly. She had no claim to her lodgings now and it would be simple for her to move. The elfess knew she had already brought enough pain and wished not to further exacerbate the situation.

It was true, even amidst the unusual situation, the Alyxanda's had been welcoming and accommodating and Niven was grateful to them all. They had fed her, lodged her and cared for her. Even now, she was spared from having to walk anywhere. It was insisted that she take the carriage when she went out as no one would hear of her walking or spending her money on a hired coach. But all of this came at a cost to Calanon, and likely to Kailin as well.

The elfess shook her head, her hair dancing on her shoulders. “You have already apologized, Calanon, and I have forgiven you. You are not the first person to react before thinking. Even I have been guilty of that.” she said with a soft smile.

For a conversation she had been anxious about, Niven was pleased with how well this was going. They were talking with a fair amount of ease, trying to sort through this strange twist of fate the gods had bestowed upon them, something she had never been able to do with Calanon before. She was only now getting glimpses of the person that Kailin had so clearly fallen in love with. And the memories of his that had been shared with her started to make more sense to her. Perhaps there was a chance that they would make it through this alright.
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