Part 2: The Night

Dawn was a mere thought on the horizon when Elga awoke next, replete and aching pleasantly in all the right places.  Opening her eyes she saw an empty pillow, but looking around the room she saw Berriam standing by the window watching the skyline.  She took a moment to watch him staring out over they valley, noting how the light caught in his hair as he leaned against the windowsill.  Good gods what a male, she thought to herself.  Lithe and handsome in the way of all elves, a stalwart fighter, a fantastic lover, here was a male she would be proud to have claimed as a mate if their lives had been different.  But what’s done is done.  No point in dwelling on what could have been.

“Berriam,” she called softly, “not that I mind the view, but why don’t you come back to bed.  We have time for one more round surely.”

“A moment my lady,” he responded glancing over at her, “I simply wished to see the sun rise before we parted ways.”

Finally mustering herself to rise, she padded silently over to the brooding elf, wrapping her arms around his waist as she rested her chin on his shoulder.

“Come now.  Everyone in this valley has drunk and eaten themselves into a stupor.  I say we have at least until midday before people start wondering where we are and look for us, our comrades included,” she began to nuzzle at his neck, emboldened as he tilted his head to accommodate her.  “And if I’m wrong, the door is locked from the inside and my Shadow is sleeping in front of it on the other.  There is no way we will be disturbed.”  He gasped as she reached up and gently nipped his ear, pressing himself back against her.

“Gods woman, you are insatiable,” he moaned as he felt himself stir yet again.  “Have you not had your fill of me?”

“Obviously not,” she said as glanced down his body. “And it seems nether have you.”

Berriam laughed and turned in her arms, grabbing her hips and pulling her against himself as he kissed her.

“It seems not my dear, and I do believe we can make time for one more round.”  Elga grinned as she kissed him back.

“Good!” Elga began to slowly lower herself down, trailing kisses as she spoke. “For I believe it is time for me to show you how grateful of a guest I am for your…tender ministrations last night.”

Berriam hissed and threw back his head, threading his fingers through her hair as she began to show him just how grateful she was.

***

Several ‘one more’ times later, Egla and Berriam were finally getting dressed.  Dawn was just beginning to give way to morning, and the two knew they would have to move swiftly if they wished to avoid being questioned by friends or servants.  Thankfully neither had heard stirrings in the corridor beyond, but if that was due to a lack of traffic or just prudent avoidance of the no-doubt disgruntled dire tiger sitting just outside they could not tell.

With Berriam’s help retrieving her belongings that were scattered around the room, Elga had packed her bag and gathered her weapons.  As he watched her eschew her usual plate armor crafted from green dragon scales in favor of a plain cotton bodice with leather vest and soft calfskin breeches, the implications and possible repercussions of their time together tumbled through his mind.  Amazing what one was able to forget or ignore after dark with a few drinks in the belly and a naked woman spread out before them he mused.

He knew she was married, he knew as well she had taken other lovers between then and him.  Perhaps only once or twice, but a roll with a harem boy in Surina’s conjured manse was a far cry from bedding a neighboring elf lord and party member.  Her people may be more free with themselves than most others he had come across, so it may well be that her past partners would matter little to her current mate, but Berriam had not lived so long on ‘maybes’ and ‘perchances’.  It would be best to ensure.  He cleared his throat, drawing her attention to him.

“I wouldn’t possibly have to worry about any angry barbarians at my gate, seeking vengeance for besmirching your honor would I?” he asked bluntly as he tied his breeches shut.  Elga grunted as she pulled on the laces of her boot.

“No, you are safe in that regard,” she said.  “Tanta and I never consummated our marriage before I left.” That stilled Berriam’s hands.  “Oh we spoke the words, performed the ceremony, but I did what needed to be done to secure my position within the tribe and to ensure that they would be looked after in my absence.  I wasn’t even certain I would return after all, I did not wish to tie him too tightly in case he needed to take another.  In the eyes of my people we are married in name only, and that is what was needed, what mattered.  As for everything else…” Elga shrugged.  “I know he cares for me, perhaps even loves me, so I have hopes for everything else.”

Finished with the one boot, she turned her attention to the other as Berriam gave a mental sigh of relief and shrugged into his tunic.  “I am sure you will be happy, he would be a fool not to love you,” Berriam said placatingly as he padded barefoot to the door.

“And you Berriam?” she asked, halting him.  “Do you love me?”  Startled he turned to face her.  She stood at the end of the bed, fully dressed now with her bag packed and waiting by her feet as she strapped on her various weapons.  Glancing over at him and seeing his stare she shrugged.

“It is a simple question, and given we are essentially going to be neighbors it would be good to have a firm understanding of such things.”

He watched her for a moment as she turned back to her weapons.  Was she intentionally keeping her gaze from his?  Was she trying to hide something from him?  The problem for him, he mused, was that she was smarter and more cunning than most humans he knew.  And frankly more than he normally gave the species credit for. But he also knew her to be honest almost to the point of rudeness, and that she would not appreciate it if he did not deal with her in kind.

“No I don’t love you,” he said at last, and was relieved when she looked at him again and he saw nothing untoward in her eyes.  “I care for you deeply of course, but purely as a friend.”  She nodded and smiled softly at him.

“Good, that’s much as I feel.  Though I do admit that I think we might have been more, in another time, a different life.”

“Perhaps,” he murmured returning her smile.

Elga bent down and swept up her bag, striding purposefully towards Berriam. “Well my friend, this is farewell for now.  And…thank you.” She reached out and clasped his forearm, a farewell from one warrior to another.

“Well I’ve never been thanked for that before,” Berriam returned her gesture as he glanced at the still-rumpled bed behind them.

“No you ass,” she laughed as she released his arm and punched him on the shoulder.  “That was for always having my back on the road.”  She grabbed a fistful of his tunic, pulling him to her before he could react and kissing him passionately, releasing him long moment later.  “That was for last night,” she purred.  Then with a smirk and a wink she slipped out the door.  Berriam stood there for a moment, lips swollen from her kiss, and listened to the woman and her great cat greet each other with a series of rumbles before the sounds of them both faded as they walked away down the hall.  He looked up at the ceiling.

“So. That’s the death you’ve chosen for me, is it?” he asked of his god, shaking his head as he too slipped out and away, leaving an amused silence behind.

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