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Friday, September 30, 2011

Unexpected

My parents came from different worlds, and met each other by chance. They went their separate ways shortly after I was born, and I was raised by my father. He taught me to fight and protect those that I loved no matter the cost.
When he died, he gave me all the power he possessed so that I would always be strong. I was devastated that after all his insistence that I fight for what is right, there was no one left on his world to protect. I was all alone, and missed my father terribly.
My mother felt my pain, loss, and confusion, and came to get me. She brought me to her world, and told me not to fight. Instead, I should learn all that I could so that I would be able to help those I loved no matter what. Her world was a peaceful place, and it made sense that there was no need to fight.
When she died, she gave me all of her power, and begged me to find love and be happy. I must admit that finding myself all alone once more did not give me much hope that I would ever be happy, but I knew one thing for certain… If I ever found someone to love, I would do whatever I could to protect and help them, even if it cost me my life.

*******

“You’re injured.”
“I’ll be fine.”
The man with the silvery-blond hair gave his companion a wry smile. “I’m sure you will be, but indulge me and let me find you a healer.”
“This is nothing… A scratch,” the black-haired man insisted. His face was nearly white from the loss of blood, and he soon lost consciousness.
The tall, nearly pole-thin, silver-blond man used his slightly shorter, muscular companion’s inability to protest to check his wounds. “A scratch?! If you call this nothing then I’d hate to see what you consider a grave wound!”
A quick search of the area confirmed that all of the men who had attacked them – bandits they had wronged -  were dead. They were safe – for the moment. This was all he needed to know.
“Divine light, guide us to the one who can save us from this plight!” He cast a spell after gathering up all the energy he had left. For a moment, he was afraid that his spell had failed, but then their surroundings faded, and changed. He made certain that his companion was still with him, and then passed out.
“Well now, that’s different,” a girl muttered to herself as she knelt in between the two who had appeared before her so suddenly.

The blond groaned. “Something smells fantastic.”
“Oh, you’re finally awake!” The girl exclaimed happily. “Are you hungry?”
“Yes!” The man insisted fervently.
“Good thing I made something to eat then,” the girl grinned. She had golden-amber hair, and nearly matching eyes.
“What about my companion?”
“You mean him?” The girl asked, pointing to a huge mound occupying the other side of the bed.
At first, there was nothing to indicate he still lived, and the blond sat up abruptly to check for a pulse. He sighed in relief when he found a steady beat. It wasn’t as strong as it could be, but it felt strong enough to continue beating.
“I can assure you that he’ll be fine,” the girl stated. “He was in pretty bad shape, but it just so happens that my mother prepared a large supply of wound healing herbs before she died. I don’t really know why, since this land is peaceful and the herbs are rarely needed, but they turned out to be very useful after all.”
“Thank the Gods!” The blond praised. “I’m Cedric, and that’s Gavin. We’re travelers.”
“Pleasure to meet you! I’m Failina,” the girl introduced. (F-eye-lina) She finished dishing up a bowl of stew, and handed it to Cedric. She tilted her head, and smiled. “Your eyes are green like emeralds.”
“Thank you,” Cedric replied with a blush. He couldn’t figure out why he was blushing, but he was. “And thank you for the food and saving our lives.”
Failina flapped her hand at him. “Ah, it was nothing. If there’s something I can do to help, it’s my pleasure to do so.”
Cedric concentrated on eating, and soon his bowl was empty. He held it out, hoping that she would give him more, and she nearly dropped the bowl in her eagerness to do so. She laughed at her near blunder, and carefully refilled his bowl.
“Now that I’ve gotten a better look at you, you seem awfully young,” Cedric remarked.
“I’m not that young!” Failina laughed. “I turned 16 not too long ago.”
“Oh? 16, well…” Cedric wore an expression that made it clear that he considered 16 to be pretty young.
“How old are you then?” Failina asked curiously.
A shadow settled in Cedric’s eyes, and he stared at his food as he muttered, “25.”
“No wonder you think I’m young!” Failina replied in a way that – while her statement sounded like an insult – made it clear that she did not mean it to be one. “What about him?”
“I never thought to ask, but I think he’s about the same,” Cedric mused as he chewed on a chunk of potato.
“I’m 26,” the black-haired man grumbled. “Must you two be so noisy? I’m trying to sleep here! Strike that, I smell food.” He struggled to sit up as a strange sound filled the room. He looked away to hide a blush as he covered his growling stomach in an attempt to muffle the noise.
Failina filled a second bowl, and very carefully handed it to her second patient. She waited for him to eat about half of his food before bothering him. “How are you feeling? Better?”
“Well, there’s almost no pain. That’s a plus,” Gavin responded grudgingly, as if it physically hurt to be civil.
“Blue like sapphires!” Failina gushed suddenly. “My father’s eyes were blue as well.”
Cedric handed her his empty bowl once again, but gestured that he was full. “Were?”
“Yes, he died when I was 12,” Failina informed him with an inappropriately cheery smile.
“I… see, and when did your mother die?” Cedric wondered.
“Hmm,” Failina placed a finger on her bottom lip, and examined the ceiling. “Close to a year ago now, I think… Yes. A year – just days after my 15th birthday. She was secretly very sick, and old. It was a relief for her to finally rest.”
Normally, Cedric had enough tact to avoid potentially messy questions, but this girl seemed so cheerful – even while discussing the death of her parents – that he couldn’t help but blurt out, “Old? How old could she have possibly been?” At his calculations, even if her mother had been in her 40’s when Failina was born, she wouldn’t be old enough to die a mere 15 years later.
“I’m not really sure,” Failina tilted her head to look Cedric in the eyes, and smiled. “I do know she was in her 60’s when she gave birth to me. It was one of the reasons that she gave me to my father for the first few years of my life. He was only in his 50’s when I was born, but there was war…” Her eyes clouded, and her smile faded.
“War?” Gavin grunted incredulously.
“Oh yes, his world fought so many wars that it destroyed itself. Now it is doomed to suffer an eternal winter,” Failina explained as if she was telling them that the weather would be sunny and beautiful tomorrow, and both men stared at her in confusion. Aside from the fact that there was no such thing as another world, she sounded almost happy that this mythical world was a barren wasteland.
Failina hummed as she completed some basic chores, and filled Gavin’s bowl again when he asked her to. She bounced as if she was dancing in her head, and often tripped over nothing – as far as they could tell. She clumsily dropped practically everything she carried, and it was good that most of her belongings were made out of wood, which didn’t shatter when dropped.
When Gavin handed her his empty bowl – after his second refill – and indicated that he was full, Failina set it aside, and climbed into the bed. She straddled his legs, and pulled open the bandage wrapped around his chest. His first instinct was to pull away from her or push her off him, but he caught Cedric’s fierce look. His look made it clear that Gavin would submit to the healer’s touch or Cedric would murder him.
“Wow!” Failina exclaimed after she had wiped away the paste of healing herbs. “That is an angry looking scar!” She gently pushed Gavin onto his back, propped up by a couple of plump pillows. “You heal quickly. If someone who hadn’t tended to you looked at this now, they’d think you’d been unconscious for weeks rather than days. It’s healed enough that there’s no danger of it reopening – therefore I don’t need to bandage you back up. However, the bandages will still provide support and healing, so I am going to wrap them around your chest anyway. But first…”
Cedric didn’t wait for Failina to finish her sentence. “What kind of herbs did you use on him?! That gash was nearly fatal!”
“What kind? I don’t know, just whatever my mother hand in the jar labeled ‘herbs for healing grave wounds.’ Why?” Failina wondered.
Cedric gaped at her. What does she mean she doesn’t know?! Those herbs must be worth a fortune! He was a bit of a scholar, and such things interested him.
Failina reached across Cedric to grab a jar off the side table. She shifted to straddle Gavin a bit higher as she gathered some ointment out of the jar. Now that she was in a better position, she massaged the ointment into the wounds, and Gavin did his best to grit his teeth and endure the pain. It was a good pain, the healing kind.
Suddenly, his attention was completely occupied with an awareness he hadn’t noticed moments before. He had nothing to cover his nakedness except for a thin blanket, and she was seated right on top of a majorly sensitive area! Gavin looked to Cedric to see if it he would be allowed to push the healer off him yet, but Cedric was still firmly glaring at him. I get it, let her fix me, but you have no idea what her innocent touch is doing to me!
After thoroughly massing the ointment into Gavin’s chest, Failina wrapped a set of clean bandages around the wound, and made sure they were tight enough to discourage movement. No sense in letting him think he was well enough to get up and walk around already!
“Your turn!” Failina announced in a singsong voice as she briefly stood and then straddled Cedric’s lap. He had already had the good sense to lay back down, so Failina didn’t have to push him, but she did help him to sit up just a bit using more pillows. “You don’t have a wound, but you were also very close to death, and need to recover.”
She chose a different jar off the side table, and uncapped it. “Drink this, and even though it is disgusting, if you spit it out or refuse to swallow it, I will find something sharp and pointy to poke you with until you do!”
Cedric was frankly shocked by her. She was obviously innocent of what her close proximity was doing to his body – which he now realized was why Gavin was so anxious for her to finish tending him – and she was much too cheerful and sweet, yet she dared to threaten him! Not many people dared to threaten him unless they were prepared to actually try to kill him.
Failina mistook his open-mouthed shock for compliance, and held the jar to his lips. Cedric quickly swallowed the vile liquid, and forced himself not to choke on it. He ignored Gavin’s amused smirk.
“What is that stuff?!” Cedric demanded.
“It’s a tea made from the herbs in the jar my mother labeled ‘herbs to force-feed to idiots who use up too much of their energy and nearly die.’ It’s intended to help recover wasted life-force,” Failina explained. “I think… It’s that or they are intended to put the idiot out of his misery for good.” She placed a finger on her bottom lip and faced the ceiling once more. “Hmm… I’m pretty sure that if they were intended to end you, they would have done so a couple of days ago when I first gave them to you.”
Cedric felt his heart stop for a few moments at that statement, and thumped on it slightly to remind it to continue beating. “You mean you gave me herbs without knowing whether they would help or not?!”
“Oh,” Failina flapped her hand at him dismissively. “I knew they would help, I just wasn’t sure if they would help you recover or die in peace.”
Gavin could not stop a snicker from escaping over Cedric’s expression. Considering that Gavin had passed out before Cedric found a healer, it was entirely his own fault for bringing them to this pretty young thing who was not the brightest person they had ever met. Cedric glared at Gavin.
“I am glad that they helped you recover,” Failina informed him. “I’m also glad I didn’t have to use the herbs in the jar marked ‘for use in an extremely dire emergency only!’ as I am pretty sure those really can kill a person as often as they save them.”
To Cedric’s great surprise, the nasty tea made him feel 100 times better! He not only had energy to spare, but his magic was at full power and then some! He firmly shoved his savior’s carefree attitude concerning his potential death to the back of his mind.
Three days later, both Gavin and Cedric felt it was time to go, before their kind hostess’ constant clumsiness and overly cheerful demeanor grated on their last nerve. They found themselves following her around just to catch her or the things she dropped before anything serious happened. They honestly felt like they were taking better care of her than she was taking of them – which is not to say that she wasn’t taking excellent care of them. They were both practically good as new.
Cedric studied the jars on a massive shelf, and wondered at the kind of woman Failina’s mother was. Seriously, who in their right mind labeled a jar of herbs, “herbs for getting rid of an unwanted brat when a woman can’t keep her legs shut?” His favorite jar – though he would never admit it to anyone – was labeled, “herbs to slip in a man’s drink when he can’t keep it in his pants so that he can’t get it up.”
“So, anyway, we plan to leave first thing tomorrow,” Gavin explained gruffly.
“I see, that makes sense,” Failina nodded. “You are pretty much healed. I’ll just rub a bit more ointment onto your scar tonight before bed, and you should be good to go in the morning.”
“Ah, no… I’m fine,” Gavin tried to protest.
Failina pulled out a large butcher knife that she had used that morning to chop up a chicken to simmer for dinner tonight. “Oh look, I found something sharp and pointy. I have no problems using it to create a new wound if you do not let me make certain your old wound is doing well.”
It was Cedric’s turn to cover an amused snicker. Gavin was an extremely skilled fighter, and there was no way that this little girl would actually be able to scratch him with her knife, but the grumpy warrior act was just an attempt to cover a soft heart. He’d submit to the girl out of pretend fear over her threat rather than risk injuring her while resisting.
That night, Failina massaged Gavin’s wound, force-fed Cedric that vile tea, and then tucked them into her bed. They both felt guilty that they occupied her bed while she slept on an uncomfortable looking chair, but she insisted that they needed her bed more than she did, and honestly, prior to now, she had been right. They both firmly pretended to be asleep as she once again proved that she had no sense of modesty.
Failina stripped, and sponged herself clean for almost a half an hour before slipping into a plain white nightgown, and curling up in the chair. She had obviously been the one to strip them both naked and sponge them clean when they first arrived. But they hadn’t allowed her to do so again after they’d regained consciousness. It made no difference to her since she had helped her mother tend to injured people for years, and had continued to tend to people after her mother’s death. She had no modesty because modesty was actually a hindrance when it came to caring for an injured person.
Finally, all three of them were asleep for the night. Just as the first rays of morning highlighted the small, one-room house, a thick smoke caused Cedric to choke. His eyes flew open in alarm.
“Gavin, wake up!”
“What’s wrong?” Gavin wondered.
“The house is on fire!” Cedric exclaimed.
They both snapped their gaze to Failina as she coughed faintly. One look at the blaze told them that it was already much too late to save the house, and that they needed to be quick if they wanted to save Failina and themselves. They silently agreed that Gavin would scoop up the healer girl while Cedric cast a barrier and secured their escape.
They raced to a safe distance, and wondered what could have possible started the fire. The house had seemed fairly fire-proof – aside from all the wooden utensils – and should not have burned so quickly. Had it been set by someone who had a grudge against Failina?
Failina coughed with more vigor this time, and then gasped. “My house!” She burst into tears, and abruptly snuggled into Gavin’s chest. He nearly dropped her, but managed to hold her tight as she sobbed.
“What now?” The two men asked each other. They both had all of their possessions on them – since all they owned was their tattered clothing, and a couple of little treasures in their pockets. It was sleep in their clothes or sleep naked, and fully clothed seemed like a better option – especially since Failina had washed and somewhat mended the clothes at some point.
Failina – on the other hand – had nothing left, except the nightgown she wore. The three of them remained there indecisively until a pack of concerned neighbors showed up.
“Failina! Are you and your patients all still alive?” The neighbors asked.
“Yes, we’re all fine,” Cedric answered for her since she was still too busy crying.
It was quickly determined that there was nothing to be done, and so her neighbors did the only thing they could. They gathered up a few things to give her – such as spare clothing. They all offered her a place to live until materials could be gathered to rebuild her house, but Failina was too numb to respond to their kindness.
Gavin tried to hand her over so that he and Cedric could depart, but she clung to him desperately, and absolutely refused to leave the safety of his arms. He sighed, and silently asked Cedric what to do. Cedric shrugged helplessly.
Finally, her neighbors reached a consensus. “From what she has told us, you both owe her your lives. So, we feel it is only fair for you to care for her until she has a home to return to. Bring her with you and then bring her back in about a year. We promise to have her house rebuilt by then.”
The long time frame was due to the lateness of the season, and how it would be easier to build a proper house come spring or summer. Neither man wanted this burden, but it was true that they owed her, and so they nodded. It seemed like Failina wasn’t going to let them leave her behind anyway.
Cedric accepted a sack full of things her neighbors had given her – along with some food – and led his companions away from the ash filled area where her house once stood. Failina stared at it and shuddered in horror until it was out of view, and then she silently rested her head against Gavin’s chest. His heartbeat soothed her to sleep.

A week later, Failina was back to normal, chattering on cheerfully as they walked through a thick forest. She tripped fairly often, but mostly did not fall. Even so, her two “guardians” felt certain that this constant worry that she would hurt herself would soon cause their hearts to fail!
“Ooo, ooo! A pond!” Failina announced happily, and stripped. “I had no idea how much I would miss bathing each day!”
Cedric and Gavin were not entirely sure what to do. They couldn’t just abandon her in case someone with dishonorable intentions came along, but at the same time, it seemed like a bad idea to just stand there and watch her. Plus, they both needed a bath direly! They still reeked of smoke from the fire.
“Hey, toss me your clothes, and I’ll wash them,” Failina suggested.
Her companions both hesitated, and finally shrugged. They complied, and then decided that they might as well bathe since they were naked anyway. All three were grateful that her neighbors had thought to give them some soap.
“So, I know you two are travelers, but are you traveling for any specific reason?” Failina asked.
Cedric smiled. “I suppose I should tell you. Yes, we are on a quest to uncover old magic. Specifically, the magic needed to break our curses.”
“Curses?” Failina wondered. “As in ‘curse you, you scurvy dog?’”
This caused both men to laugh. “No,” Cedric finally replied. “Gavin here bears a curse that makes him unable to return home no matter how badly he wants to, and I… Well, I am cursed so that no matter how close to death I get, I won’t actually die… In exchange, I will die on my 30th birthday. I won’t have any illness or wounds, but I will die.”
“That’s horrible!” Failina cried out – one of the few times she showed an expression other than cheerful happiness. “I won’t let you!”
Cedric laughed. “And how do you plan to stop my curse?”
“Oh I won’t stop it,” Failina grinned. “I’ll let it kill you, and thereby fulfill itself, but then I’ll bring you back… Of course, I’ll need to remember what herbs were in the jar labeled, ‘resurrect fools from death’ or maybe the jar labeled, ‘bind a spirit to walk beside you.” She gazed at the sky as she contemplated the merits of each.
“Um… well, can you remember the herbs?” Cedric wondered, not really believing that they would help him anyway.
“Probably not, but I’ll do my best to try,” Failina replied airily.
This time, it was Cedric and Gavin’s turn to nearly trip, causing water from the pond to splash. No, she’s definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed!
After they finished washing up, and then hung their clothes to dry, they made a small fire to cook their food, and wrapped up in their blankets – again generously provided by Failina’s neighbors. Failina used some things she scavenged, such as mushrooms and wild onions, to make a stew for their dinner.
They didn’t have any cooking utensils except for a pot and a large wooden spoon, so they took turns eating by sharing the spoon, dipping it directly in the pot. When they were finished, Cedric volunteered to wash out the pot while Failina snuggled up next to the fire and dozed off.
“Finally!” Gavin sighed in relief. He pulled Cedric close, and kissed him.
Cedric pushed Gavin away. “What if she sees us?!”
“Keep quiet, and she won’t wake up,” Gavin murmured, kissing Cedric again. They settled themselves on the opposite side of the fire, and made sure that Failina’s sleeping face was pointed away from them.
“I was beginning to think we’d never be able to make love again,” Cedric whispered. He covered his mouth to keep quiet as Gavin sucked him off, and then let Gavin bite his fingers as he returned the favor.
“I love you,” Gavin mumbled as he entered Cedric, and then kissed his lover. They both knew that Cedric was far too likely to make enough noise to wake the dead if he didn’t keep his mouth busy. After Gavin finished, it was Cedric’s turn to enter his lover, and ironically, it was Gavin who had a hard time staying quiet.
Cedric finished sometime later, and whispered, “I love you too,” in Gavin’s ear. They were still joined, and had completely forgotten about their sleeping companion.
Failina moaned, and they froze. One look told them that she was still facing away from them, and they held their breath. She moaned again, and then groaned as she sat up, and rubbed her eyes.
“Gotta pee…” she mumbled sleepily, and crawled away from them. She didn’t look in their direction once, and they sighed in relief.
“I’m sure someone as innocent as she is wouldn’t understand what we were doing anyway,” Gavin said softly as he nibbled on Cedric’s ear.
“Still, we should separate a bit, cover up, and go to sleep,” Cedric suggested. “Before she returns.”
Gavin nodded, but neither could actually fall asleep before she returned. Ten minutes passed, and they were getting concerned. Could she have been attacked by bandits? It was rare for bandits to lurk this far into the woods where not many travelers passed, but still, it was a possibility.
“I’ll look for her,” Gavin stated. “Wait here in case she returns before I do.”
Cedric nodded in agreement. Gavin started looking in the direction she had crawled, and found her three trees away. She had fallen asleep as she emptied her bladder! Gavin shook his head in exasperation, and carried her back to her blanket.
“I swear! That girl is going to be the death of me!” Gavin mumbled as he return to his own blanket. “Who falls asleep while squatting to pee?!”
Cedric laughed. “Apparently she does!”
The next morning, they shoved their blankets into the sack, and continued on their journey.
“Where are we going?” Failina wondered.
“There’re some ruins over there – according to your neighbors,” Cedric replied.
“Oh,” Failina responded. “You know, I think they are actually that way.”
“One moment,” Cedric bade, and closed his eyes. He quietly chanted something, and a line of green light zoomed of in the direction Cedric had originally pointed. “Nope, they’re that way.”
“Wow! I didn’t know you could do that!” Failina babbled excitedly. The three of them walked towards the ruins, none of them having any idea how far away they were.
About 15 minutes later, they came across a handful of corpses. Failina immediately checked them for signs of life, and found none.
“That’s weird. They’ve all had their throats slit. I wonder who could have done such a thing,” Failina mused aloud.
Gavin rummaged through the dead men’s pockets to find any identification. He found a wanted poster with a sketch of two of them, and correctly assumed that these were the bandits they foolishly assumed would not be this far into the forest. Cedric helped with the rummaging.
“That’s down-right creepy!” He exclaimed. “Whoever killed these bandits did not take any of their loot. It’s all still here, or so I assume.”
Gavin took the full pouch from Cedric, and looked through it. Sure enough, it was full of golden coins. “You’re right.”
Failina tucked the pouch into their sack, and shrugged. “There’s nothing we can do for them, so we should probably keep going.”
Both Gavin and Cedric nodded in agreement. A half an hour later, they located the ruins, and explored them. As it turned out, the ruins housed a few more bandits, and Gavin had his hands full exterminating them all as Cedric protected Failina – and provided magical back-up to his lover.
Once the ruins were clear of bandits, the trio discovered a large room full of books.
“This looks promising,” Cedric remarked.
Gavin shrugged. He had little to no hope they would ever find what they needed, but had nothing better to do. He gestured that he would look through one section, and Cedric gestured that he would look through another section. Meanwhile, Failina was practically dancing with excitement.
“Look at all these books! I’ve never seen so many in my life! You guys can read?!” She tripped, and then picked herself up as if nothing had happened.
Unexpectedly, she began to climb a tall and wobbly shelf. “Ooo! Do you see that pretty book! Isn’t that the prettiest book you have ever seen?”
Gavin quickly prevented her from climbing the unstable shelf, picking her up like a mischievous cat, and Cedric contemplated all of the books she might be referring to. “Which book?”
“That one, the pretty one!” Failina pointed to a book near the very top. Cedric used his magic to retrieve it, and Failina caught it happily. “Such wonderful pictures! I wonder what it says?”
Cedric took a look at it, blinked, rubbed his eyes, and shrugged. “I honestly don’t know. I’ve never seen that writing before.”
“Well, I don’t care, I’m keeping it!” Failina announced, and promptly sat to look through the book.
“As you wish,” Gavin promised absently, having returned to his task. The two of them took turns reading promising passages to each other, and Failina clapped at the end of each “story.”
“It’s amazing that you can both read!” Failina complimented them, and they privately agreed that trying to teach her would probably be a waste of time. Besides, not many people ever bothered learning to read.
“Would you like me to keep a book of legends to read to you?” Cedric offered.
“Will you?” Failina asked with an expression of wide-eyed hope.
“Why not?” Cedric replied with a grin.
“Hey, I found a book of curses. Maybe this’ll help us,” Gavin announced.
“Excellent!” Cedric beamed, and they mutually agreed to stay in the ruins for a few days so that they’d have time to examine all of the books.
Three days later, they’d found two other somewhat promising books, and several that they couldn’t read. Their foreign script seemed to fascinate Failina far more than regular writing did, and she spent hours looking at the “pretty pictures.” Neither man could understand what she meant by that, but since doing so kept her quiet and occupied, they let her be.
They gathered the books that they wanted to keep, and all the treasure they found, and left the ruins. They put as much distance between them and the ruins as they could, and made camp next to a river late that night.
“I don’t care if it’s dark and cold; I’m going to take a bath!” Failina insisted.
 Gavin performed a thorough perimeter check, and deemed it safe for her to bathe alone. He and Cedric resisted temptation, and decided to sleep while they had a chance. The fire was warm and soothing, and they were asleep before they knew it.
Cedric reached out in his sleep, and snuggled up to Gavin’s back. He dreamt that the two of them were making love, and pressed kisses onto his lover’s neck.
Gavin shifted so that he could embrace his lover, and located the opening with one hand. Finding it, he entered his lover, and thrust eagerly. Cedric moaned, and rocked his hips. This felt so good!
Time passed, and the lovers eventually climaxed – too asleep to care if Failina heard them – if she had ever even returned from the river. Both realized that something was strange, and struggled to open their eyes.
“Oh my gods! What have we done?!” Cedric gasped as they discovered that Failina was actually between them, and that they were both inside her – in different holes.
“Something wonderful,” Failina murmured. “You made my body feel so incredible that I shook from the pleasure. Can you do that again?”
Gavin paled. “What if you now carry a child inside you?” He was in the front, so the child would be his, and he didn’t like the idea at all.
“Oh! So that’s how!” Failina exclaimed. “I helped birth plenty of babies, but mother never told me how they got in there.”
“I take it that no other man has ever been inside you?” Cedric asked needlessly.
“Not one!” Failina practically sang. “Though if I had known what it was like, I’m sure I would have invited as many men as I could find!”
Cedric frowned. Something didn’t add up here. Both he and Gavin were fully clothed when they fell asleep, but they were naked now. Also, how had they not noticed that Failina was between them? She was much smaller than they were, and it should have been obvious.
Failina stroked Gavin’s cheek, smiled, and then laced her fingers through Cedric’s. “Please? One more time?”
“Uh…” Gavin didn’t know what to say. He was in the mood for more, and still inside her, but he honestly loved Cedric, and this seemed wrong to him.
“Um…” Cedric didn’t know what to say either. She must think we knew what we were doing to her, and if we reject her now, she’ll be terribly hurt. He sighed, and craned his neck to look at Gavin. “Switch? That way…”
Gavin was touched that Cedric understood how he felt about the idea of creating a baby. They had once talked about having children. Gavin didn’t want to have kids until his curse was broken and he could actually bring them home – if ever. He wasn’t really the patient with children type. Cedric – on the other hand – would love to have kids, but didn’t think it was a good idea to have a baby when he knew he was going to die on his 30th birthday.
That Cedric was offering this now meant that if a baby had already been created, none of them would know for certain which of them was the father, and so, in that way, the baby would be both of theirs. Hopefully, the situation wouldn’t present itself. Yet, if they didn’t continue, and a Failina did have a baby… Gavin really didn’t want to think about it. He nodded.
They both withdrew, and carefully turned Failina so that she now faced Cedric, and she responded by kissing him. “I’ve wanted to do that since I first saw your silver hair,” she confessed.
Gavin chuckled, and ruffled Cedric’s hair. “I felt the same the first time I saw him.”
Failina turned her head a little so that she could see Gavin. “I’ve wanted to kiss you since I saw your sapphire eyes… Well, perhaps I should mention that I actually did kiss both of you already.”
“You did?” Cedric asked incredulously. “When?”
“Well,” Failina placed both her hands on Cedric’s face, and gazed at him seriously. “How else do you think I got that foul tasting tea into you when you were unconscious? You’re probably lucky that I didn’t know what these body parts were for, because if I had…” she left the rest unsaid.
Gavin laughed again. “You little!” He carefully entered her rear, and Cedric took that as his cue to enter her front as well.
“Are you sure we’re not hurting you?” They both asked.
“I feel wonderful,” Failina purred.
Failina felt absolutely no need to be quiet, and cried out in pleasure as much as she wanted. The only way they could get her to be quiet was to kiss her or cover her mouth. However, hearing her scream made them happy, and when she shook with orgasm, they both joined her in climax.
Finally! You should be thankful that we waited until you were done!” A stranger informed them. “We heard that you killed our brethren and pillaged our loot. Prepare to pay for what you did!”
A second stranger from the group of 12 men – that they could see – added. “Don’t try to fight us, or will kill the girl before we make you watch us defile her.”
They had no choice but to take this threat seriously since the man had a crossbow aimed at Failina. Both Cedric and Gavin held up their hands as they carefully got to their feet. They stepped in front of her protectively, each between her and as many of their attackers as possible.
Failina watched with a strange expression as her lovers allowed themselves to be tied up on the off chance that these men wouldn’t hurt her if they cooperated. She sighed, and stood up. She held her hands up to reassure everyone that she intended to cooperate, but faced the leader. She smiled.
“I don’t suppose you’ll consider letting us go before we have to kill you all?” Failina asked.
The leader laughed. “Why would we do that? You three are helpless, and deserve to be punished!”
“For what? For killing a bunch of bandits? As if none of you ever killed the inocents you stole your loot from,” Failina scoffed.
“True, but we are the ones in control of this situation. Don’t worry though, girlie, I think I’ll keep you alive as long as possible,” the leader promised with a wink.
“If you are sure you won’t let us go…” Failina paused. “My mother taught me to help others. She told me to find the ones I love, and do whatever I can to help them. I didn’t think I would ever find love, so I decided to help everyone who needed me. My father on the other hand… He taught me to fight and protect the ones I love with my very life if need be.”
Failina raised her hand high above her head, and cast a quick spell that flung all of their captors a few feet away. Then she dashed to the side, and grabbed Gavin’s sword from the pile of their belongings. She capably used it to dispatch two attackers, and then flung it so that Gavin could use it to cut his and Cedric’s bonds.
Meanwhile, she flipped to dodge an attack, and confiscated a dagger from someone. “Lightning bolt!” She aimed that at the leader, and he collapsed into a charred pile. She slit two throats in quick succession, and flipped out of the way of another attack.
She danced around in circles, killing bandits as she went. She was so light on her feet that she almost seemed to be flying. She landed in a crouch next to Gavin and Cedric – who had finally stopped gaping at her and freed themselves – and held out her hands to the three attackers who were trying to sneak up on the naked men.
“Flames of destruction!” She shot a beam of fire at them, and they burnt to a crisp. “Woohoo! That actually worked! I didn’t have a chance to practice that one yet.”
She leapt straight up to the lowest tree branch high above her. “Let’s see… 1,2,3,4,5… 6… 7, and two in the trees. I’ll get the two in the trees if you get those 7!” She called out, and then leapt to the next tree closer to her target.
Not wanting to set the tree on fire, she tossed the confiscated dagger at the farther away of the two opponents. It landed in his chest, and caused him to fall to the ground. If the dagger hadn’t killed him, the fall certainly did!
She made contact with the closer opponent, and yelled, “Lightning bolt!” No damage to the tree!
She returned to their campsite, and watched as Cedric killed the last of the bandits. Gavin was resting against a tree, and Failina examined her naked body carefully. “Ugh! Now I’m going to have to take another bath!”
She wasn’t the only one covered in blood, but she looked the most gruesome. She wiped off what she could, and shook her hands to be free of the excess. From the looks of it, she’d also need to wash their blankets.
Cedric rushed to Gavin’s side. “Are you hurt?”
“Just a scratch,” Gavin admitted.
“Hrmph! The last ‘scratch’ damn near killed you!” Cedric shouted in frustration.
“Where? Where are you hurt?!” Failina demanded as she straddled Gavin’s legs.
“I’m serious that it’s just a scratch. I just pulled a muscle near my wound, and that’s why I’m in so much pain,” Gavin protested, showing Failina the small cut in his sword arm.
Failina responded by kissing Gavin as if his life depended on her kissing skills, and she began to glow. The glow transferred into Gavin, and he felt his pain fade away. He held up his arm so that he could watch with awe as the wound heal while she kissed him.
“I told you I had kissed you both before,” Failina informed him with a soft laugh a moment later. She held out her hand to Cedric, and he helped her up.
“How about you? Are you hurt?” Failina asked Cedric, but didn’t give him a chance to answer before flinging her arms around him and kissing him just in case. Her power flared briefly, but not finding anything to heal, faded just as fast as it came.
“I think I’ll take that bath now,” Failina murmured as she tried to walk away from Cedric. She swayed woozily, and stumbled a few times before finally falling to her knees. She slumped forward ever so slightly, and was asleep before her companions had time to catch her if she fell.
“She fell asleep while kneeling!” Cedric exclaimed in disbelief, just in case Gavin had somehow missed this fact.
“Tell me about it,” Gavin muttered sarcastically.
They washed her, themselves, and their blankets, then built up the fire to dry the blankets as quickly as possible. In the meantime, they took turns holding her to keep her warm. Finally, they had time to sit down and think.
“Who would have ever believed that our little Failina was such a good fighter?” Gavin wondered out loud.
“I know, and she knows some pretty powerful magic as well!” Cedric exclaimed. “Do you think she was hiding it from us on purpose?”
“I don’t know, but if she was, why?” Gavin asked.
Cedric shrugged.
The next morning, the two men woke before Failina did, and they wondered if they should wake her, or let her sleep in as long as necessary. They quietly debated back and forth when Failina groaned.
“Gotta pee,” she mumbled, sat up, and rubbed her eyes. “Wow! What happened here? There’s dead men everywhere!”
Gavin and Cedric gaped at her in astonishment. “Are you serious?!”
“Oh… that’s right! We were having some incredible fun, and then these guys showed up, and though I asked them politely, they wouldn’t leave us alone.” Failina paused to place a finger on her bottom lip, and look up at the sky. She giggled. “I even got to try out a new spell!” She crawled to the other side of the closest tree, and emptied her bladder.
Cedric cast Gavin a confused look. Failina was acting all ditzy again, but they were pretty sure that it was an act. Right? Gavin shrugged, and held his hands up in a gesture that meant, “I don’t know.”
“Hey look!” Failina exclaimed as she proudly held out a plant. “I found some wound-heal! That is definitely one of the herbs in mama’s jar. Not that we need it now, but then I had some of it for years and never needed it until I needed it, and then I was very glad I had it. You know?”
“I have no idea what you just said!” Gavin blurted out.
Failina tripped, accidently crushing the plant under her. “Hey! I’m clean!” She realized as she brushed dirt from the roots off her chest. She grinned at them. “Did you rub your hands all over my naked body while I was sleeping?”
“Um… about that,” Cedric began with a blush. “We um… We didn’t mean to… We didn’t know… We were asleep…”
“Oh! You mean the first time! Yeah, I know. I spelled you to sleep, and then stripped you and wiggled myself between you. Then, I prayed to the Gods that you two would do to me what you did to each other, and you did.” Failina informed them with a blissful grin aimed at the sky.
“And you find nothing wrong with that?!” Gavin demanded angrily.
“Well, no, but… I knew that you two probably would.”
“Then why did you do it?!” They demanded in unison.
Failina crossed her legs, and sat comfortably. “My father was the ruler of a part of his world. When he was about your age, he married out of duty, and had his official heirs. He raised them to be good people and then sent them off to fight in the war. They – and his wife – all died, and out of grief, he planned to kill himself.
“Meanwhile, my mother was kidnapped by people who coveted her power, brought to several worlds, and finally sold to the highest bidder on my father’s world. She escaped, and found my father as he lay dying of self inflicted wounds. She used her power to heal him, and together they created me.
“When I was 12, there was a nuclear explosion that killed all life on my father’s world, and brought about an eternal winter. I still don’t know why I survived it, but I suspect it’s because he gave me all of his power, adding to what I was born with, boosting my already incredibly high healing rate. As he lay dying, he begged me to be strong, and fight to protect the ones I loved. I looked around at the place I was raised to look after, but there was nothing left.
“My mother felt my grief, and brought me to her world. She was already ailing, but she told me how she had truly loved my father. She begged me to let go of my anger and sadness, and learn all I could so that when I would never be vulnerable to inter-dimensional kidnappers. On her death bed, she gave me all of her power. Her last words were, ‘no matter what, be happy and find love.’
“And so, there you have it. I never dreamed that I would actually fall in love, but the moment I realized that you loved each other, I knew that I would give anything to experience that just once, and then I could be happy. I am happy! I’m ecstatic! So don’t worry, I promise I won’t do that again,” Failina finished with another blissful grin.
Both men were speechless. She had just told them that due to her upbringing, and a desire to be happy, she cast a spell on them and then manipulated them into having sex with her – twice! – all because she loved one of them. They scratched their heads, that doesn’t sound like love. That sounds like a jumble of other confused emotions.
They desperately needed time to think, and time to talk this over without her. Not to mention, leaving all these corpses behind would be a welcome bonus!  What do we do now?
“Oh! I almost forgot!” Failina crawled over to their sack, and pulled out her “pretty” book. “This was originally from my world – my other world – and it’s where I learned that new spell. I found something else in here.”
At this point, she stopped talking to them, and directed her comments to herself. “I wonder if I should cast this in this language or the language it’s written in. Draw a circle sunwise… which sunwise? The sun went the other way over there. Whatever, I’ll just try it!”
She walked in a fairly accurate circle around Gavin and Cedric three times, taking care not to include any of the bodies in it. The barrier appeared around them with a flash of light and a soft sizzling noise. Chanting in the other language caused the barrier to solidify until it felt like they were in a clear, upside-down bowl.
“Oh great Goddess, Mother of us all,” Failina invoked in this language, and then switched back to the other one for a few more minutes. Finally, she shouted, “Hear me and break the curses that plague these men! Spiritual freedom!”
She sent her power out to manifest her will, and realized a moment later that she’d sent out way too much. It shattered the barrier, and flung her up into a tree. She landed so that her back was wrapped around a branch that shook from the sudden impact. She gazed unseeing for a moment, blood oozing from wounds all over her body. Her companions leapt to their feet and rushed to her.
“Failina!” They screamed in horror. There was no way she could have survived that!
Failina coughed. “Ow! Yep, I used too much power.” She slowly shifted until she was sitting on the branch. “I only needed a half, or maybe a third of that.” She mumbled to herself, and then absently licked the blood from her arm. It came away clean, revealing uninjured skin below it. She looked down at Cedric and Gavin, and then grinned. “But it worked!”
They stared at her in speechless shock for the umpteenth time and tried to decide what to ask first. How was she still alive? Or, what worked?
“I broke your curses!” Failina elaborated, sensing that they hadn’t quite comprehended her previous statement. “Of course, the only way to be certain is to test it. So which do you wish to test? Should we kill Cedric, or should you try returning home, Gavin?”
“What?!” Cedric spluttered.
“Well, killing you would be far faster to test than traveling all the way to Gavin’s,” Failina pointed out.
“When she said she was in love, I think she must have been referring to you,” Cedric muttered to Gavin. “She keeps wanting to kill me.”
Gavin chuckled, and then smiled at his lover. “So… would you like to come home with me?”
Cedric nodded, and pulled Gavin close for a kiss. “I would love to.” All else was forgotten as they held each other tight. Finally, their impossible dreams of the future seemed possible, and they were giddy with joy.
It eventually occurred to them to wonder why Failina hadn’t climbed down from the tree yet, and they looked up. She was gone! They searched the area, and called her name, but couldn’t find her. Back at the campsite, her belongings had disappeared, and they knew she had left them for good.
That was when they realized that they wanted her in their life, and already considered her family.
“Come back here now, Failina!” Gavin screamed angrily. “We promised to look after you, and we’re not going to let you go!”
They called out to her, and did their best to track her, but she had vanished without a trace.
“I’m not about to give up so quickly!” Cedric insisted, and took hold of Gavin’s hand. He gathered his power, focused on Failina, and transported them to her. It was a desperate action that probably wouldn’t work. This spell always brought him where he needed to go, not where he wanted to go.
Failina gasped. She had found a secluded and somewhat distant grotto, and was indulging in a few selfish tears. She had left them so that she didn’t cause trouble for the ones she loved. Above all else, she wanted them to be happy, and she just couldn’t see how they could be with her disrupting their lives. Their unexpected appearance stunned her.
Her nature truly was bubbly and ditzy, so it wasn’t hard to put on an act. “Oh hello. Wow, you two look just like some people I know, but you can’t be them.” She planned to babble on and on about how they were better off without her, but they preempted her by pulling her out of the small, warm pool.
They sandwiched her in a tight hug, and took turns kissing her. “You belong to us now.”
Failina smiled. “I’m glad.”

Go To Part 2 

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