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Kexti

On the second saturday [October Contest]

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Kexti    42


“Who were you talking to?” asked Ilduria, slinking her way down the hall. Seledyne turned, quickly, but did not jump. A pale green flash faded from the room, leaving only a dark basin before Seledyne. Ilduria stood in the doorway, the purple light of false dawn behind her.

In Suramar, behind the shield wall, time moved differently. It flowed and ebb at behest of magisters, and sleep was more of a formality than a predicted time of day. The Shal’dorei had long dismissed notions of day and night, and had come to simply engage in activities of necessity without respect to a common schedule.

Ilduria was wearing her guard uniform, a mix of the most delicate of white silks and the hardest of reinforced steel. The blade at her side flickered with bluish starlight. She took off her helmet to get a better look at Seledyne’s room. They shared a small villa off the Market district.

Seledyne’s room (or the library, as Ilduria tried to assert, wanting to assimilate Seledyne into her life as much as possible) was surprisingly sparse. The common tomes of the zeitgeist rested in nooks along the curved walls, and the shelves were more full of dust and all matter of arcane reagents more so than novels or studied texts.

 

“Nobody,” said Seledyne. The woman turned, linking her fingers together, and setting them in her lap. “Just reviewing some formula.”
 

Ilduria nodded, slowly. “You’ve been teaching me magic for a while...I don’t think I’ve ever heard you use that cadence except when we’re talking.”
 

“Maybe you just don’t listen very carefully?” offered Seledyne with a small smile.

“You know if I listened carefully we wouldn’t be together now, right?” Ilduria made her way to Seledyne, kneeled, and rested her head on the other elf’s shoulder. She smelled faintly of...Ilduria’s mind tried to figure out what. The mixed delights of Suramar lended themselves to a scintillating array of aromas, to say nothing of the odd side effects of arcane magic. It was familiar...but where…

Ilduria sighed. “Do you want me to bring anything home after patrol?”

Seledyne shook her head, then laughed, a dark, chipped sound. “Just yourself. It’s so dangerous here without you.”

“In our house? The guard surely must do a better job,” responded Ilduria, wryly.

Seledyne unfolded her hands and ran them through Ilduria’s hair. The smell was stronger by her hands, the guard noted. “Very dangerous....” muttered Seledyne. Seledyne’s pulse quickened. Ilduria could feel, if not hear, her heartbeat.

 

“Are you sure you weren’t talking to anyone?”
 

Seledyne nodded, easily. “Reaching beyond the barrier is forbidden, isn’t it?”
 

“Why would you say that?” said Ilduria, rising to her feet. “You could just be talking across the city...to…Seledyne, no, you weren’t, were you?”

Seledyne shook her head. “No, of course not. Do you want me to show you what I was doing? Would that make you feel better?” She took Ilduria by the hand and walked over to the dark basin. The mage muttered a few words, and the basin flared purple.

But something wasn’t right. Where was the green? The magic felt differently, even to Ilduria’s relatively untrained sixth senses. The words too. Then Seledyne began to speak, conversationally. The bowl repeated back her words.

“See. Just a diary. I’d share more but…”

 

Ilduria didn’t feel better. Seledyne was fiercely protective of her privacy, even the little details, for reasons she could not quite articulate to Ilduria. Ilduria was suspicious and stubborn by nature. You had to be, in Nightborne politics.
 

It had been a long road, to come this far with Seledyne. And the moments she cherished were worth the differences between the women, so Ilduria thought. But there was something strange about this. Seledyne dismissed the sheen on the bowl, which faded without a flicker of energy or light.

“How long have we been together, Sele?”

The mage smiled. “Long enough that you don’t know the answer.”

“Then why don’t you trust me more?”

 

The smile didn’t slip. It folded gracefully downward into a practiced frown. The lanterns in the room were low, and the feral angles of Seledyne’s kaldorei heritage, from long before the Nightwell changed them, were pronounced.

“You don’t need to know everything. If we’re stuck behind this barrier forever, shouldn’t we take our time in sharing our secrets?”

“But what secrets could you have? What do you do here that I don’t know about? Is there something you’re hiding from me?”

Seledyne took a deep breath. “I was...cut off from my family when the barrier went up. I…”

“So you were reaching beyond…”

“No, let me finish. You can’t ask for me to tell you a secret and then just interrupt.”

Ilduria gripped her sword, and then took a deep breath, and nodded.

“I was...trying to find out where they went. Not beyond the barrier, but back through time. The Grand Magistrix and her chronomancers are encouraging research...I thought maybe I could help, at least for my own peace of mind.”

Seledyne’s hands had folded together like spiders in her lap. Ilduria watched her partner. She asked, again, if Seledyne was talking to anyone else.

“No,” said Seledyne. “My family is gone, after all.” She pulled Ilduria into an embrace, the sudden warmth of her lips and the tightness of the hug startling Ilduria. The guard sighed and rested her eyes in the crook of the mage’s neck. “But...What if they did try to reach me? What if they reached through the barrier?”

Ilduria tried to raise her head to look Seledyne in the eyes, but the mage’s hold prevented her from moving. It was more forceful than Ilduria was used to. Much, much stronger besides.

“What if I knew they wanted to come back?” asked Seledyne. She released Ilduria, who rose to her feet, the blood in her face drained by the sudden mania in Seledyne’s voice. She paused, and considered her choices.


“Don’t do it again,” was all she said. She turned, and hurried her way out into the corridor, down to the landing, and out to the street like she had so many times before. In the darkness of the library, Seledyne’s eyes flashed green as she returned to the basin. A tear slipped down her face into the black water, images swirling within.

“Honestly, my love,” she muttered, looking at the gathering fel in the depths of the well. “I wish I didn’t have to.”

 

Edited by Kexti

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