Luna and Emya coming home wakes me from my slumber. Luna’s presence coming home almost always does that to me now. It’s comforting when she’s nearby, like a piece of my heart has come home. As my eyes adjust to the dim 6am light of the room, I realize I’m laying in bed, under the covers, and I’m not alone.
I look down and see my darling Sala curled up facing me, using my shoulder as a pillow. She has her hand on my stomach. We’re both in night clothes, fortunately. I think back to last night and recall how I ended up in bed with my beloved. Tipsy from wine and bubbly, Sala didn’t want to sleep alone in a vampire’s home. So she finally convinced me to come to bed with her. We were both tired and, outside of a goodnight kiss, snuggling together in our sleep is as far as last night went. Still, I won’t mention this to her parents. Who knows what they’ll think what we were up to?
I slide out of bed. Sala mumbles and complains about the loss of body contact, but falls back asleep. I make my way downstairs to greet my family. Luna gives me a loving hug. I feel her emotions shift as she notices Emya looking at us and stops herself from leaning down for the kiss she wants to give me.
“Did last night go well, Emya?” I ask, turning to our mother.
“Last night’s sales more than made up for the free bubbly, I would say that was one of our best New Year’s Eve parties yet.” She smiles happily. “We had to lock the lap dance rooms, though. After catching one couple using it to ring in the new year, it was best to keep them closed to the patrons.”
“I’m glad that we could attend the event. Thanks for letting us be there.” I return her happy smile and give her a hug.
“I’m glad you enjoyed it.” She hugs me tight and sighs. “I’m so going to miss you. How long do you have until you leave?”
“About an hour and a half.” Lyric responds, walking down the stairs slowly as she focuses on braiding her auburn hair. “I peaked into the bedroom. The Fae is still asleep, we can let her rest another hour if you like. It all depends on how long you think it’ll take to get dressed and eat.”
“Maybe give her a half hour if she doesn’t wake on her own?” I offer and Lyric nods, heading into the kitchen.
“You had Sala sleep in our bed last night?” Luna says with a touch of annoyance.
“Hrivënahta taught me how to trance in a lotus position, I don’t need a bed like she does anymore.” I say in argument, hinting that we may not have shared the bed.
“So much easier than needing to carry a cumbersome bedroll with you everywhere.” The blond-haired elf replies as she comes from the kitchen with some fruit salad. “How else do you think three elves have slept in your two-bedroom house?”
“They offered you bedrooms at the Rivers house.” Ashanna reminds them. “You didn’t need to inconvenience yourselves of your own rooms by staying here.”
“Our duties lie with Aranelma Simiathlas.” Laïrecarca replies, coming out with her own bowl. “We wouldn’t be able to respond to her needs with how far away the Rivers live.”
The two druids are quite the opposites: The winter druid, like me, is fair with long blond hair and blue eyes, whereas her summer druid counterpart is darkly tanned with chestnut brown hair and dark brown eyes.
“Why do you keep calling her your princess?” Luna asks, using the common word for my station.
“To simply call her paralma would imply that she is only our student, and that would insult her station in life as the child of our city’s leader.” Hrivënahta responds with a frown. “Her betrothed also holds the title of princess, so it is fitting that she be addressed as the royalty that she is.”
My resident druid is clearly insulted that my sister is not recognizing me for who I am. I’m hoping they don’t start an argument. Seeing people with food is triggering my stomach. I go into the fridge and pull out a large bowl of fruit salad. To make it more filling, I add some granola, strawberry yogurt, and some fresh berries.
Ashanna leaves the kitchen with some blood fruit salad for herself and Luna. The open concept of the house lets me hear their conversation. “So I take it you two are now her permanent attachées? And we can expect you to return with her?”
“We are her aides.” Laïrecarca responds. “We are to stand with her as she takes her seat on the council this spring.”
“While you are away then, I’ll make you rooms at the back of the house for you to stay.” Ashanna nods as she takes a bite of breakfast. “You will need permanent accommodations for clothing and personal effects if you will be part of this household now.”
“You are taking this rather well.” Lyric comments.
“I think it’s wise not test the Arch-Druid’s patience by sending these two home permanently.” Ashanna replies. “If this is their role, I will respect it. Besides, my daughter needs to learn the Druid ways, and who else can teach her better? I’ve noticed her abilities have improved since her rebirth. She’s stronger now than ever, and will require their guidance.” She is thoughtful as she takes a bite of breakfast. “Besides, this house won’t feel so lonely anymore.”
“I don’t find this house so lonely, I’m asleep half the time you are gone.” I say from the kitchen as I finish making my masterpiece of a breakfast.
“How much more powerful will she get? I notice that she’s easily ahead of any peer her age.” Lyric voices her thoughts.
“As a future Arch-Druid, her powers are limitless.” Hrivënahta replies. “Her aura is so much stronger since the ritual. Her abilities will probably far outshine mine by the time she reaches adulthood.” The druid’s voice borders on admiration, not jealousy. She’s actually eager to see me grow beyond her.
“She will make us all proud.” Lairelindë voices from the amulet as I come to sit down with my family.
The rest of breakfast passes discussing my training and what will be required. To think, when I come back from Arborea, I’ll not only have my schoolwork, but druid studies to go along with it, and my godmother is hinting that I no longer use the Dreamscape to fast-forward on my training, I’ll have to do it during my waking hours.
After breakfast, I go upstairs to wake Sala. She looks so lovely, peacefully sleeping. Her wings are laid out behind her and occasionally twitch or flutter as she dreams. She’s facing the middle of the bed, so I have to climb on the king sized bed to reach her. I caress her cheek, and she mumbles wakefully. I kiss her cheek, then lay on my stomach to kiss her lips.
Sala wakes with a start, but soon as her eyes focus on my face she smiles and sighs. “Simia my love, so it wasn’t a dream, I slept by your side last night.” She pulls me in for a loving kiss. We hold each other for a few minutes, sharing our tender moment.
“Did you want to eat before you get dressed?” I ask as we finally break our kiss. Sala nods. “Okay, go downstairs, one of the druids will tend to you, I’ll get dressed while you eat.” I smile.
“Okay.” Sala smiles lovingly. Then she does the unexpected, She sits up and spreads her wings, then flies downstairs, nearly a meter off the ground. She’s much faster flying than on foot…
I’m gathering my clothes, ready to go into the bathroom when Luna comes into the bedroom. “Your girlfriend just flew by me, I guess she’s hungry this morning.” She finishes with a chuckle.
“She’s more than my girlfriend now nettinya.” I remind her, leaving Luna to frown. She’s not liking that I went from barely dating to engaged in a matter of months. “What can I help you with?” I ask innocently.
“I’m coming to claim the kisses I missed out on last night and this morning.” She says seductively as she saunters up to me.
“Luna…” I start, but don’t finish as she pulls me into her arms and gives me a deep passionate kiss. I drop my clothes as I put my arms around my sister for a very non-sibling-like embrace. I respond to her deep kiss with equal passion as we hold each other tight. “We shouldn’t be doing this.” I breathe with a small level of guilt once we break our embrace.
“You asked me once if my love for you would diminish, when you were no longer a boy.” Luna says tenderly, caressing my cheek. “You are more beautiful that I could ever imagine. What I feel here.” She touches my chest at my heart. “Hasn’t gone away with your rebirth. I nearly lost you in that ritual.” She says, I can feel the sorrow in her comment. “It made me realize how precious you really are to me.” Her eyes are welling with tears.
“You’ve been holding onto these feelings for two weeks without telling me?” I ask, caressing her arm.
She nods. “Just come home to me?” she pleads.
“Always.” I say in a loving tone and she pulls me into a deep soulful hug. I feel her tear fall on my shoulder. “Shh. I’m going to be gone less than a week, and I’ll have wonderful stories and gifts for you.” I say tenderly as she holds me close. I give her a squeeze to let me go.
Luna finally releases me and sniffles. “Okay, I’m just going to miss you so much!”
“I’ll miss you too.” I say as I wipe her cheek. “You can travel with us to Fallcrest if you like.”
“I’d like that.” She says, a smile returning to her face.
“Let me get dressed, I’ll be right down.” I say caressing her cheek again. She nods and gives me one last kiss before letting me go.
I pick up my clothes and go into the bathroom, quickly washing myself down. I put on the forest-green buttonless silk shirt first, followed by the brown leather pants. Lyric expertly judged my size. There is lacing along the sides, which lets me tie them so that the pants are like a second skin. The grey tunic is more like a dress. It falls to mid-thigh, has a slit up to my hip, and is open in the front, forming a V down to my navel. There is lacing under my breasts to allow me to close the top to cinch around my waist - like a bustier. The boots are also a near perfect fit, with a little room to grow. They also lace up the sides so that they fit snug. You’d swear that I have to worry about bugs getting in my clothing with how form-fitting everything is. The clothing definitely amplifies my new teenage hourglass figure. I look at myself in the mirror, thinking how Sala is going to love how my rump is well shaped in these pants. I know I do!
I come downstairs and Lyric whistles. “Good, I got your size right, you are definitely not the thin, shy, boyish girl I met this fall. That outfit looks amazing on you!”
Luna is speechless as her jaw drops. Sala looks up from her food and gasps. “My beloved is the most beautiful girl in school, the others are going to be so jealous!” her wings flutter with excitement.
“I just might wear this the first day of class.” I smile and turn so that everyone can see how the outfit forms to my body. “Your outfit is the same with a blue shirt, my love. If you need help to tie any of it up, let me know.”
She gobbles down the rest of her food. “I’m going to go get dressed!” Sala says excitedly. She hops over to me, gives me a loving kiss, and then flutters upstairs.
“The Fae’s clothing is designed for her wings to fit through.” Lyric says. “If she moves her haversack to her front, then she can fly in those clothes with ease. Unlike you, I’ve designed her outfit to work mostly with belt pouches. The haversack is to carry her clothing, and can be left in her room when you venture the city.”
“She’ll love that.” I smile as I arrange my belt and pouches. Lyric hands me my friendship stone, handing the other to Ashanna. I note mine is green, so that we’ll never confuse one for the other.
I hear a high pitched “Simia!” from Sala, and dash upstairs to see what she needs. I get upstairs and notice that she’s having trouble with the tunic. And arrange it so that the tunic shoulder straps are on the outside of her wings. I come around and tie up the tunic around the front.
“Were you able to lace the pants without trouble?” I ask, and she nods.
“Do all elves wear form fitting clothing that show off their every curves?” Sala asks as I help her with her boots.
“I think it’s cause we’re supposed to be from a higher cast. Even these travel clothes denotes a certain influence.” I say as I lace up her boots.
“I thought Lyric said there wasn’t an upper or lower class.” Sala says surprised.
“I think there might be a certain level of comfort depending on your profession. There is no real wealth or economy to distinguish rich from poor, but I think some people enjoy certain finery that others don’t bother with. A simple farmer doesn’t need nicely appointed clothing, they just need something that’s comfortable and easy to clean. Whereas diplomats can enjoy some more refinement.”
“That makes sense.” Sala says as she arranges her belt pouches.
Everyone is ready to go by the time that Sala and I come downstairs. I pick up my haversack and offer to carry Sala’s on one shoulder. With my weight training, it’s easy to carry both, I carry it on my right side, where it doesn’t interfere with my staff. So I hold Sala’s right hand with my left as we form a circle.
“Is everyone ready?” Luna asks, and we nod. “Tentalmë Lantafalma” she says, closing her eyes and focusing on our destination.
A moment later, we’re standing outside of the cabin we first met Lyric in. I feel Luna’s fatigue and give her a worried look. “That’s more people than I’m used to. Worry not nettinya, I have enough strength to get myself home after this.”
“Are you sure? I can feel your exhaustion.” I say concerned. “Don’t worry me before I’m about to leave…” My tone matches my statement.
She puts her hand around the back of my neck and pulls me forward, kissing my forehead. “I’ll be fine.” She smiles.
“You feel her exhaustion?” Lyric raises an eyebrow as we cross the street and start walking along the river.
“Simia and I share an emotional bond, we are close sisters.” Luna says affectionately.
“An emotional bond? But that’s…” I give Lyric a warning glance. “Uncommon.” She finishes.
I knew what she was going to say. Cassandra had told me about the bond she shares with Rose, and I don’t want Sala to catch on that there is more to Luna and I than mere siblings.
“It’s what led Luna to find me, and it changed my life for the better.” I smile. “I appreciate this uncommon connection.” I stress the word. Luna gives me a loving smile.
We follow the river quietly, revelling the peace of sunrise. The forest around us wakes up with sounds of birds and small animals. The sound of the waterfall gets louder as we finally reach the end of the path. Lairelindë comes out noticing that there is no-one else around. Before us, in the middle of the river, just before the river falls down to the valley below, stands a large stone platform. The base forms a six-pointed star with three symbols etched in the stone in front of an elaborately carved stone doorway. The three runes glow at the top of the portal in green, purple, and red. The door itself is a swirling mist of multiple colours perpetually in motion, like a mystical kaleidoscope. There are stone steps that lead from the path to the platform so that one doesn’t get their feet wet in the river.
“I want to hold your hand as we cross the barrier seylenya. I want to make sure I can feel the crossing.” I notice Lairelindë is now calling me daughter, rather than godchild as she used to. Biologically, she’s not wrong. I’m technically her third daughter or a twin of Laireonermi, so it’s just fitting that I call my druid ancestors Mother and Father now, as I’ve started doing myself.
“I wish I could go with you.” Luna pouts.
“You can follow us longer if you like. It’ll take a few hours to reach the forest gate. I’m sure you will love the view of Sanctum as much as the rest of us will.” Lyric replies. “There is no actual sunlight in Sanctum, so it wouldn’t hurt you to go there.”
Luna suddenly perks up. I smile and nod. She happily hops across the stones and waits for us on the platform. The stones force us to cross single file as we all gather at the doorway. My resident druids lead the way, followed by Luna & Lyric. Sala and Lairelindë clasp my hands as we follow the others across the threshold.