Old May 12, 2011, 12:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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A heart shaped box [Niven Please]

TS:Cryxatum 1 Ear XVIII Post Fractum

The hour had just passed into spring, literally. It was the wee candlemarks before suns rise on the first brightening of the new season and although it was a season for renewal and Dante had been charged with a very important task the dracon suddenly felt dread. Not dread from the demon he would have to face, nor dread for the possible death he might have to inflict, nor even the dread of the death he might face, but dread of another kind.

No the dread the dracon was feeling was the dread of seeing the most beautiful, radiant, loving, enchanting creature on all of Telath and telling her that he wouldn't be able to accompany her to Natura this season. If it was a simple question of missing a trip to the country that would be one thing, but this was a trip profoundly more significant. This was the trip where Dante was to ask the guardians of his beloved for their permission to marry their daughter. While Niven's mother was technically her only living parent, Niven's uncle was the patriarch of the family and as Dante understood it the father figure that had raised his intended.

She was going to Natura to see her family. Dante had promised to go with her, but the only way that was going to happen this season, or possibly next for that matter was if the daemon he was being sent to hunt happened to be near Bria... which as far as Dante knew wasn't the case and even if it was he would insist that neither Niven nor any other member of his household go there... even if he had to employ security to make sure they stayed put.

He stepped lightly up the steps, for it was such a late hour, and he didn't want to wake anyone. Not yet. "Niven," he whispered looking up into the night sky thinking how much the stars twinkle reminded him of the twinkle of his beloved's eyes, "please forgive me." The thing was Dante knew the woman well enough to know that she wasn't prone to over reacting. He didn't doubt that once explained to her she wouldn't be angry at him, although disappointment from her was easily worse. What he was truly afraid of was that this task might create a permanent rift between them. How to explain though that choosing to go daemon hunting rather than with her to Natura was the only choice he could make? If this creature followed through on its apparent plan and destroyed the world like the Heirarch thought it was trying to do, not only trying but easily capable of, then they wouldn't be able to live happily ever after anyway. The thought of daemons hurting Niven or his children, or anyone of his friends filled him with a righteous wrath.

Such thoughts brought to mind the face of poor Phillip de Bourbage, Duke of the Trident Isle. The friend of Dante had died literally in his arms, subject of the daemons' attack on his home isle seasons past. He had poured his thaumaturgical mana into the man trying to heal him, but he was too far gone. It just wasn't fair. He'd been a good man and decent friend. He'd stayed to help fight the assassins attacking Dante when even the Heirarch and his special guard had simply departed. You don't meet a lot of people like that... Like Niven.

With another sigh he resigned himself to his fate. "If she hates me forever at least she'll be safe from the trouble I attract," he thought to himself and turned the knob to his estate. Presumably the house was dark and quiet at this time of darkening, unless Niven herself was up. Kala would have retired to her parents' abode candlemarks past and the children would have all been in bed. Rather than risking his sounds on the steps and chancing awakening them, he snuck into the downstairs sitting room and collapsed on one of the sofas. Of course it was possible that Niven had been waiting up for him, or even simply heard him at the front door, but he would address that when it was time.

Turns out that although he saw the woman the next brightening at breakfast it just didn't seem the right time for breaking the news. Instead he went to work and brooded about it all brightening. He attempted to find her once he got home, and unless she was already he waited up for her to get back. Unless she seemed in an overwhelmingly bad mood Dante would query, after giving her a greeting hug and kiss, "Can we talk love?" The look on his face indicated he was worried about something... very worried.
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Old August 10, 2011, 08:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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ooc Sorry! Finally wrapped up the thread taking place earlier in the brightening. Now to get on with this one :D

Losing track of time was not something she was accustomed to doing, especially now that she was party responsible for the Asunder family, and so Niven's dainty leather clad feet barely touched the ground as she practically flew back to the Asunder estate. She doubted she would beat any of the household back from their daily activities and while the stress that it would cause (either the lack of an extra pair of hands to help or the concern that something had happened to her) was relatively minor, it was still something the elf wished to avoid.

As she burst through the front door, Niven caught sight of Dante, who was presumably waiting for her, and Niven took the look on his face as concern pertaining to her tardiness. "I'm so sorry," she said immediately before he could say a word, an apologetic look on her face. "I went out to look around the shops in the Merchants Plaza and you won't believe what I ran into! An Ancient Aelyrian! Right here on Telath! I assumed when he approached me that he was an Eshlahier, but when he was standing before me I noticed he didn't have elf ears and he was really quite beautiful in a way that I've never seen before…" Niven trailed off and for a moment she stopped her babbling. Unfortunately for Dante, it was only a moment, as he would not yet have an opportunity to get a word in edgewise.

"Anyway, he was lost and this was the first city of his stay here in our world and so he asked for assistance. I guided him to the Inn and then he expressed an interest in seeing the Temple's in the Holy Plaza. While we walked we chatted some. Ancients are really quite interesting. The thing that really got me, though, was that he spoke Charismean to me, rather than Ancient Aelyrian or even Medonian. I can't imagine why, He wouldn't have heard much of it around the city." Niven paused again and smiled. She stepped into Dante's embrace and rested her corn-silk blonde hair against his chest. "That is why I was so late. I just lost track of time showing him the way to the Holy Plaza and we were quite deep in conversation. I didn't mean to worry you." She smiled up at him again and give him a kiss.

As she pulled away a bit, the elf could see that the expression of worry had not lessened on her love's face. Perhaps she had been mistaken in her original assumption. She frowned. "What's the matter? Is everything alright?" Dante's question made her raise her eyebrows and her heart sink. Everytime Dante asked her to talk, he never had anything good to relay to her. The last time he'd told her he was leaving to fight a succumbus. Alarm immediately flooded her body. "Yes," she said after a long pause and much searching of his eyes, "We can. Should we go into the study?" Unless Dante objected, Niven moved towards the study where they could talk privately without being come upon. If Dante had a better plan for where he wanted their conversation to take place, then Niven was more than willing to go with him.
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Old August 13, 2011, 03:40 AM   #3 (permalink)
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OOCNo worries! Glad to have you back!

It wasn't obscenely late when the door burst open. Dante's face registered surprise at the sudden noise and although the woman of his dreams, life, and soul was now home he didn't relax. His state of being had gone from surprise at the loud noise to the intense moment no more time to put off something that was dreaded.

Before he could say anything Niven immediately went into the story of what she had done with her brightening. She sounded guilty about being late, and although she called the Ancient Aelyrian 'beautiful' it certainly didn't bother the dracon. He knew that Niven hadn't fallen for him for anything as superficial as looks. Had the situation been different he would have been amused at her quick speaking and unnecessary apology, but as it was there was something more dire going on than Niven making a new friend and being home later than normal.

Although he always had a bit of worry about her safety, the dracon knew that Niven could handle herself. She could handle herself better than most in point of fact. He'd seen too many fools fall by her bow to act like a worry wart about something as trivial as her getting home later than normal. Gone a brightening was one thing, but a few candlemarks? Ridiculous.

When she took a breath Dante was about to explain his mindset to her, but she immediately jumped back into the story of what she and the ancient aelyrian did with their brightening. For a moment Dante was almost side tracked with his beloved's description of their meeting and how the ancient spoke Chismean, but what he had to say was too important to get distracted. Although her embrace and kiss still succeeded momentarily.

It didn't matter, for that all to brief moment which constituted their embrace, that the world might be destroyed or a giant rift to Aeternia might be torn open so that Jorel and his hosts could invade Telath. Niven, there in his arms, made everything right with the world. Everything was the way it should be if she was in his arms.

The sweet taste of Niven's kiss was soured by the recognition Dante saw in her eyes of the seriousness of his expression and tone. It suddenly felt as if he had a garrote around his heart squeezing his chest as tight as it could. He started to shake a little at the fear he felt, not for his life, but for his love. He didn't want to lose her, ever; but he had already asked so much of her.

The dracon shook his head gently, unable to meet her eyes for a moment. His only response was, "We need to talk." Then with a nod he followed her to the study and shut the door quietly behind himself, locking it so that they wouldn't be interrupted without warning. He certainly didn't want the children to hear what he was about to do. Dante already felt guilty enough that he kept asking Niven to cope with such a lifestyle.

The dracon waited for Niven to situate herself. It suddenly felt cold to him in the otherwise cozy study and he hugged his arms and wings to himself to stave off the chill he just felt. Once she seemed prepared he began his explanation. "I'm being sent by the Hierarch to resolve a dire problem. I need to leave in a few brightenings and I'm uncertain of how long I will be gone."

He sounded callously formal to himself. Perhaps to Niven too. Unfortunately he had to be, lest he not appear strong for the woman he loves. He didn't want her to see the worry in his eyes. A worry that was completely justified based on the magnitude of the task he had to undertake, the worry about missing their trip to Natura was enough. She had already watched him leave to go fight Jaedaxian Thorns, daemons, monsters, etc. He sometimes wondered if his promise to tell her what he was up to before he left was still what she wanted him to do.
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Old August 15, 2011, 03:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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With each step towards the study, Niven's anxiety level grew. Dante would say nothing about what he needed to talk about in the foyer and that never meant anything good. The elf moved straight to a comfortable chair as he closed and locked the door behind them. The soft "click" the lock made was like a gong in Niven's ears. This was worse then normal, if he was locking the door. There was something he needed to impart to her that he didn't want anyone coming upon them The feeling that something really bad was imminent was something she couldn't shake. Were the Thorns here in Diana? Was there some other monster coming to harm the family?

These thoughts all swirling in her head, Niven kept her expression stoic and sat in the chair, arranging herself so that she was as comfortable as she was going to get. She sat on the edge of the seat, her back straight, her legs crossed at the ankles, though this was not visible under her dress and her hands neatly folded on her lap (which she was making a conscious effort not to clench). Dante hugged himself with his arms and wings and a look of confusion momentarily passed over the elf's attractive face. Then he spoke.

The words didn't register for a moment. Perhaps it was the tone and delivery. Niven gave him blank look as she played what he was saying over and over again in her mind. 'The Hierarch is sending him to resolve a dire problem. He leaves in a few brightening and doesn't know when he will return….' Then it clicked. "So we're unable to make our trip to visit my family this season," she said, nodding her head slowly as she pieced what she thought he was trying to say to her. Lifting her green eyes to meet his she smiled. "Well, we'll just go later. When you get back. You are a priest of Diana. When she calls, you must go." Niven visibly relaxed. If that was what this was all about, Dante could certainly relax as well. She wasn't angry, though a little disappointed. However it was something easily rescheduled. She hadn't even sent word that they were coming yet.

Thinking for a few more minutes about what he'd said, a frown crossed her face. She looked at him sideways, a skeptical look on her face. "What… kind of 'dire problem' are we tailing about?" she asked, unsure she really wanted to know the answer.
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Old August 18, 2011, 11:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Dante could feel the tension in the air the whole way to the study. He could hear each of his and Niven's soft foot falls. Each one fell like the ominous sound of a coffin being hammered closed. The feeling didn't improve inside the study. It felt to Dante as if the whole house held a certain amount of tension that was sucked into the study as the door closed and was locked.

Niven's calm collected demeanor didn't make his apprehension any better as he met her beautiful green eyes. The dracon looked away before he could get lost in them. He didn't deserve that peace and comfort that getting lost in her eyes always gave him.

Her stoic expression combined with the time she took to process caused his stomach to clench and an icy feeling to build up in his chest. When finally she stated what he had been trying to say, only in her intelligent and direct way, Dante was stunned. Took look at Niven she didn't appear to be someone who could lift a great deal so why did it suddenly feel like the weight of the world had landed on his shoulders with those words.

Then she did something he wasn't surprised by, but certainly didn't feel he deserved. She... understood. The woman he loved more than life itself met his eyes and smiled at him. Suddenly the tension was gone as if a dark presence was banished by the bathing light of Diana. His life was good. He smiled his self as she seemed to relax which cause him to relax as well.

The chill in the air suddenly returned as Niven asked about the type of danger. He swallowed, not in the intentionally comedic way, but in the instinctive reaction to the sudden presence of an unpleasant situation. The dracon had promised to tell Niven about his 'tasks' before he left for them so that she could face whatever may come in her own way and so that she wouldn't have to hear about any unfortunate eventualities from a third party, like say a Vagran woodsman/druid with the conversational tact of a pirate ship loosing a broadside barrage of cannon fire.

Dante looked at Niven and went to sit down beside her. He took he hands in his and gently brought them to his lips and kissed them. Meeting her eye with a seriousness she would come to expect from him he sighed. "Beloved it is a situation most dire."

With another sigh he patted her hands still holding them gently, "The Heirarch informed me that the church has been keeping a daemon, a herald for armageddon, prisoner in... a church vault. Well he is afraid that it may have broken free. The are sending me to solve the problem should that be the case." He then managed a charming smile, "Don't worry beloved. It's only one daemon. Child's play for me right?"

While Dante knew that it was much more serious than he was letting on there was nothing in their previous agreement that disallowed him from trying to make the woman of his dreams feel better about his time away from her. Besides he had confronted a whole island full of daemons, fought a war with them, and brought back the body of Phillipe de Bourbage to boot. He'd handled daemons before. Perhaps that was why the Heirarch requested him.
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Old September 14, 2011, 03:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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oocI hope this makes sense, there were many distractions

Seeing Dante relax made Niven feel so much better. She'd been expecting something quite horrible. Her smile only grew.

Unfortunately, the mood didn't last once she asked her question. The tension returned in an instant and Dante looked nervous as if he truly didn't want to tell her, though they both knew he'd promised to. The possibility for misinformation was too high, a situation they'd both experienced previously, leading to the promise of full disclosure. Niven knew when she asked for the promise she'd likely still worry, probably all the more, but at least if anything went wrong, the gods forbid, she was better prepared to act, especially for the sake of the children.

The elf bit her pale pink bottom lip as her love came to sit beside her and took her hands. As he kissed them, she watched him carefully. When he spoke, she forced herself to remain calm. She said nothing but cocked her head to one side, waiting for him to continue, as per their arrangement.

As Dante explained further, Niven's worry grew exponentially, but she was winning the fight to keep it off her face. However she tried and failed to match his charming smile. "A herald for armageddon," she repeated. "Where is this vault? If he's broken free, then what does that mean?" Her facade of calm was starting to melt, but the elf was doing a fairly decent job of holding it all together. Niven was no fool. If the Heirarch was sending Dante, who did indeed have experience with daemons, then it was more serious then Dante was letting on. Unless Kala had told him, Dante was unaware that Niven knew what had happened on the Trident Isle and that Dante had barely escaped with his life and he'd had the assistance from a mage. To be fair, that was a whole island of daemons and this was only one. This thought made the elf feel a little better, but if the feeling lasted would depend on Dante's responses to her questions. "Are you going alone or with others?"
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Old October 12, 2011, 11:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Dante smiled at his beloved, careful to not look too deeply into her beautiful green eyes lest she see his own concern. "That's what the heirarch said," he replied in response to her question about armageddon. It was worrisome, but it also seemed surreal. He didn't know what it meant and he was certain that the heirarch didn't either.

"I'm afraid I don't know. A driver is taking me there. They didn't really give me an address," which was mostly true. They had given him a map, but he was unfamiliar with the area it showed so couldn't give her any sort of real answer, plus he wasn't about to show the most important, courageous person in his life where he was going to risk his own lest she get it in her head to go with him or something.

"If he's broken free then I must kill him. If he hasn't I must assess his prison and make sure everything is in order and secure. That's all." Dante had shared so much with Niven he only assumed that he had told her about his time on Trident isle, perhaps not. Perhaps he hadn't got to that point when he was coming clean with full disclosure, but with how close he felt to her he assumed she knew everything about him.

Dante swallowed, knowing that his answer to her next question wasn't going to help calm her much. "Alone. The heirarch doesn't want this common knowledge and you must tell no one. Imagine the panic it could cause. Promise me," he begged as he still held both her hands and now looked deep into her beautiful green jade colored eyes. He wanted to see the truth behind her next statement. He trusted her completely so he knew her word would be good if she gave it like this.
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Old October 17, 2011, 11:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The elf sat stoic through all of Dante's responses. This whole thing couldn't be real. It just couldn't. The ramifications if it was, if this daemon had escaped, if armageddon really was coming… She could tell Dante was trying to keep her from worrying by downplaying the whole thing, but it didn't help.

Revealing that he was going alone, that this entire endeavour and it's outcome rested on his shoulders, Niven felt her whole body go numb. He begged her to promise him that she would tell no one what he was telling her was a no-brainer. The widespread chaos if the information leaked out somehow would be catastrophic. Still feeling bewildered at the entire situation, Niven nodded unconsciously. "No, I…. I wouldn't dream of telling anyone. It would be… horrible." she said. It was clear she was digesting all the information she was being given and it was taking her more then a moment.

Her jade eyes meeting Dante's she fought back the urge to drop to her knees in front of him and beg him not to go. She knew he had to. Diana had called. He had to respond. And she understood that fact. But it didn't erase the fear for him, for all of them, that was rising within her. Nothing Dante had told her before chilled the blood in her veins like this did. "And you leave in a few brightenings for this…" she said, confirming only what he'd already said. She blinked at him a few times and then took a deep breath. "Okay…. okay…. okay, we… we can… deal with this." She said, talking more about herself then about Dante. "Okay," she repeated, feeling nothing like the word she was saying over and over. She put on a fake smile and forced cheerfulness. "We'll be fine. You'll be fine. You'll come back in a few cycles, I assume, and everything will be fine. It will be fine." There would be no mistaking that Niven was trying to convince herself of this fact more then she actually believed what she was saying.
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Old November 4, 2011, 03:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Dante didn't really sigh in relief, although he was relieved at her promise. He watched her, remaining silent as she took a long while to process what he had told her. The dracon loved this woman, and he worried about her always so he started to get anxious and feel guilty as the time seemed to drag like a glacier trying to reach the sea. He pulled her onto his lap and wrapped his arms around her tightly resting his chin on the top of her head, unless of course she stopped him. Regardless of whether Niven was on his lap or simply in his arms on the couch he just held her tight and let her process.

He didn't smile at her repetitiveness, for it worried him. He held on to her even as she leaned back to look at him and put on her fake smile. Dante hugged her to him again after her affirmation that everything would be alright. "You better believe it will. Nothing in Aetheria or on Telath will keep me from coming back to you," he said as (if she was on his lap) he started rocking her back and forth gently. Although he was trying to remain calm for her benefit his heart was still racing. This was going to be dangerous and they both knew it and although he would be the one walking into the proverbial dragon's den it was more difficult to be at home powerless to do anything for the one in danger, at least it always seemed thus to Dante. With an appreciative shake of his head he realized once again how much stronger Niven was than he.
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Old November 4, 2011, 06:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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In her numb state, Niven wasn't in any state of mind to fight anything that might be happening to her at this moment. A natural disaster could not have pulled her from her processing of her thoughts. She allowed herself to be moved from her seat onto Dante's lap. She leaned against him as he held her, but she had a faraway look in her eyes as she digested all of the information.

Dante pulled her close again and started to rock and Niven rested against him. However, she could feel his heart racing, which didn't match the calm tone he was using when he spoke to her. He was afraid too. The elf didn't know if that made her feel better or worse about the situation.

A thought struck her and she bolted up right. She looked at Dante and asked, "What are we going to tell the children? This is big. Bigger then anything before. We obviously can't tell them everything, but should we let them know in a general sense of the importance of this mission? Perhaps to pray, if nothing else?"
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Old November 4, 2011, 06:50 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Dante looked at her as she suddenly bolted up right, surprise momentarily on his face. "I don't know," he replied as pain washed over his face. "I promised Maya I'd take her with me on my next 'project' just assuming it would be another fishing trip. I obviously can't take her with me, but I don't want to get caught lying to her either."

Dante looked at his intended with a wrenched heart. He was looking down, not able to meet her eyes. She was so wonderful, she deserved so much better than to be attached to a worrisome burden like him. The dracon hadn't missed how Tristan had looked at her at the ball. She could be on the arm of royalty if she wasn't with him. Not worrying about anything and completely free from the troubles that Dante always attracted. What was next? Diana would die and all dracons would be chased from the city? Knowing Dante's luck that was probably more likely than not.

He sighed looking back up with a nod. "Yes perhaps you are right. We should tell them some of it and definitely pray." The dracon looked at his intended for quite a while before stating, "Would you like to tell them what you think they should know?"
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Old November 5, 2011, 10:23 PM   #12 (permalink)
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oocLAMO! Perhaps a bit of forshadowing?
Compassion flooded Niven's body for the dracon she loved before her as he spoke and the new emotion removed anything else she'd been previously feeling. This was clearly hard on Dante as well. It was hurting him not just to go, but also to have to tell her he was going. And now there were the children to take into account. Niven couldn't imagine how difficult this was for him. It was most likely tearing him up inside.

"No, you can't take Maya," Niven agreed. She thought for a moment. Dante looked crushed and it saddened her. When he looked up again and spoke she bit her bottom lip. Looking past Dante, as if the wall had more answers, she said, "What if we handle this slightly different from other situations. Perhaps we should tell our older four more then the young ones. I think that would solve the issue with Maya and it wouldn't result in her being quite so sullen about the whole situation and still allow you to save face…."Niven trailed off. Then she shook her head. "I don't know. Maybe that's not a good idea. There's just no precedent for handling something like this, you know?"

Niven looked back at Dante and found him watching her. "What?" she asked. He revealed what was on his mind and Niven couldn't hide her surprise. "Are you sure? I mean, I will if that's what you prefer, but do you think they'd rather hear it from me then from you?"
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Old November 9, 2011, 10:17 PM   #13 (permalink)
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The dracon didn't know what to do. Dante was confused, worried, and a little frightened. It was a big deal what they were asking him to do and he wasn't 100% sure he was up to it. He was worried about how his children would handle it, how Niven would handle him being gone... again... for only the gods knew how long. Not to mention what they'd do if the unspeakable were to happen. Dante thought they'd be alright. He had quite the nest egg, but if worst came to worst. He shook his head to clear it of such dark thoughts. It wouldn't do to dwell along those lines.

As he shook himself back to attention he focused in on what Niven was saying. It was true. There was no precedent and he'd been taking front seat so far, but if they were going to be a family, partners, he had to start sharing the burden a little more with his beloved when he was around. Her opinion mattered regardless of whether or not a ring was on her finger and whether the kids liked it or not she was going to be their mother. "...unless she comes to her senses," the dracon thought wistfully with a grin to himself.

"No I think you should tell them. I'll be there of course, but if you tell them with me there it will be an obvious passing of the torch. Your in charge while I'm gone, regardless of whether or not we share a last name,"
he explained. His face of course turned sour at the fact that they didn't share said last name yet. It wasn't her fault, it wasn't even his, it was more like the Holy Trinity wanted to test them or something.


"I like your idea. Let's tell Jar, Kel, Maya and MeekoWe need to start including her again.. They are old enough that they can understand the severity of what is occurring. After that... well I'll do what I can to put their minds at ease." The dracon laced his fingers through her's and forced a smile. After a moment it turned sincere. He sighed contentedly, just enjoying the quite moment holding Niven. He hugged her close, almost too tight for comfort. "I love you. You know that right?"
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Old November 9, 2011, 11:28 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Dante's reasoning made sense. When he'd been away in the past, Kala had technically been in charge of the household and the children. This was Dante's way of making her more permanently apart of the family. It was a role Niven was comfortable with. She was ready and willing to share the burden of the family responsibility with the one person on Telath she loved more then anything. He seemed upset that they didn't share his surname, but Niven only smiled. She didn't think that was really necessary for her to do her part for their family. "All in good time," she said softly and in a comforting tone.

Nodding as Dante agreed with her plan to tell the older children, Niven squeezed his hand lightly as he laced his fingers through hers. "We will show them nothing but confidence that everything will turn out alright," The elf's smile faltered slightly. She noticed that Dante's was forced as well. "Even if we don't feel it. We will need to be strong for them. Diana will watch over you. And she will bring you home to us." Niven's resolve to think the best of the terrifying situation at hand was growing. She already sounded more confident then she felt. But she had to believe it was true. The alternative was unthinkable.

He let out a contented sigh and hugged her close to himself and Niven let Dante hold her. All too soon this wouldn't be a possibility. And neither of them knew how long it would be until they would be together again. Dante confessed his love for her and Niven smiled a happy contented smile of her own. "There is nothing on all of Telath I am more sure of," she said, resting her forehead on his. "And I hope you know how much I love you."
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Old November 9, 2011, 11:59 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Dante grinned at his beloved and her ability to read what he was thinking. It amused him that she was getting to the point where she could read his mind. He was glad that they could still talk about their future together with a certainty. By Diana, but Niven put up with a great deal. How did he get so lucky?

He nodded at her with a firm look in his eyes. They wouldn't do the children any good by acting worried now. They needed to put on their best face, their most confident one, so that the children wouldn't worry or be scared. "You are right my dear. I have faith the goddess will protect me and we must show that to the children."

Her affirmation of her knowledge of his love for her and her confirmation of her love for him warmed his heart. Dante couldn't help but be glad at how close their relationship was, especially in light of all the challenges they'd faced and would continue to face together.

"What should we do until the children get home from schola?" he queried. An almost mischievous tone was in his voice. Now that they seemed to have a plan of action the dracon seemed more relaxed and of course relaxed meant more playful flirting with the woman he loved.
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