Private Tales Of Sand & Dragonfire

  • Distant lands call to you, Guest. The next world event coming soon.

    A land once ruled by Dragons and Gods opens, but not every secret of Arethil's past is safe to uncover.

    Titanfall

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Seteta

Wooing a Fabulous Dragon
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Chaceledon shook his head. “I would rather we stay together, Seteta. You’re right. Even if we’re caught we can play it off as just a short jaunt, and we just...part ways.” he clearly didn’t like the idea. He bit his lip a bit. If they were caught, and he never saw Seteta again...somehow there was a small knot in the pit of his stomach at the idea. “But we are not getting caught. We are going to go south through the Cortosi coast, head north to Pedeo, declare asylum and be rid of the bastard forever.”

“With Seteta as a guide we could potentially go deeper into the sands if Persian denies us shelter.” Volker agreed.

Seteta watched as Chaceledon bit his lip, clearly a little apprehensive. "It wouldn't hurt to have a plan in place, in case we are forced to separate for a while, whether because of Oor or other complications," she suggested. "However that would certainly be best to discuss separate from Rheinhard." She gave the man an apologetic glance. "But yes, I can certainly make us vanish into the depths of Amol-Kalit, if necessary."

As Rheinhard said he'd set up the tent already, then gathered dishes and went to purchase... something that she wasn't quite sure of the purpose of, but was sure she would learn. Something about the way Rheinhard avoided answering about leaving the camp unattended, though, made her leery of what they might find when they made it there. Chaceledon's voice interrupted her worry, though.

“Walk with me.” he offered his hand to her. “I wanted to talk to you. If...my current husband comes and finds us, I don’t want you to leave with nothing. You deserve something for helping us this far. I’ve hidden gemstones around Arethil. The better ones, things I don’t want Oor selling off.” he said carefully as they walked. “There is a Diamond pipe east of the Allir Portal Stone. Something that could make anyone rich beyond their wildest dreams. Straight east of the Allir stone, roughly one hundred twenty miles, in a small gulley.”

Seteta glanced out at the street. It was bathed in shadows, now, and so she quickly readjusted her headscarf. She didn't cover her face, but did make sure her ears were covered. Then she slipped her hand into Chaceledon's with a smile, still carefully clutching her chopsticks in the opposite hand. He'd given her clothes, yes, but the chopsticks... they were different. The clothes were things he'd already had, altered to fit her. The chopsticks he'd made for her, specifically.

She fell into step easily beside him and listened carefully as he spoke, noting the location of the diamond pipe. If they did become separated, then having a source like that would allow her to build some assets, and maybe even pay a small army, so she could find him again. But something else he said bothered her.

"Why do you call him your husband?" she asked. "If he kidnapped you, tortured you, forced you to serve him... then any vows you made under coercion are no vows at all. I understand the necessity to act as if he's your husband when you're around him, but the first step to your freedom, I think, would be denying him power over you when you're apart."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon had to admit she was right. He looked down briefly. It was hard to admit after all this time that captivity had become...comfortable, in a way. His role was clearly laid out and expected, he technically wanted for nothing. It was that abuse drilled over and over in his head. She was right in that he had to start shedding it. Defying Oor the title of husband was a reasonable first step.

“By fae laws and dragon laws...we’re married until I destroy the robes we wore for the ceremony.” he said carefully. “But you’re right. He doesn’t deserve that title. None of that was voluntary, I can assure you.”

Chaceledon led her to the camp. He had a fairly good idea of where Rheinhard had chosen; it was in a copse of woods just to the opposite side of the road to town. Close enough to deter thieves. Far enough away to deter casual observers. Chaceledon noticed a strange horse tied up alongside Rations. A very familiar gray horse that drooled soullessly, mouth slack and eyes unfocused.

The rest of the camp looked fairly familiar. Rheinhard’s pine bough bed. Their tent. The wagon...and a freshly made roaring fire.

Chaceledon let go of Seteta with a reassuring pat and seated himself neatly on a log, rearranging his robes around himself.
“Gaal, I suggest you take that mangy stallion of yours and get out of here.” Chaceledon’s voice was icy. “Please come sit.” The dragon told Seteta.

A figure moved into the firelight from the tree line. It was tall, narrow, and moved fluidly. The creature looked like a burned corpse propped upright; most of the flesh had simply crumbled off its face, and what did remain appeared so delicate and paper thin one could damage it at a touch. Ragged grey robes gathered at bony elbows, and the flesh between rib cage and hips was missing entirely. The wraith’s eyes were the only indication it was alive, glowing with a soft orange light. A light that was reflected in its chest.

“Making friends already, Mother of Murderers?” The wraith inquired, his eyes turning on Seteta.

“Seteta, Gaal, the Collector. Gaal, Seteta. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what do you want?” Chaceledon glared.

Gaal tilted his head and drew closer to Seteta. There was a scent about him, like dry books and snakeskin, and mummified flesh. “Seteta. A sand elf...here? Which tribe do you hail from?”

Chaceledon pursed his lips and gave Seteta a barely perceptible shake of the head.

Seteta
 

Seteta

Wooing a Fabulous Dragon
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“By fae laws and dragon laws...we’re married until I destroy the robes we wore for the ceremony.” he said carefully. “But you’re right. He doesn’t deserve that title. None of that was voluntary, I can assure you.”

"Why would fae laws bind you?" Seteta asked. If Oor was a wraith, then he wasn't fae. She made no comment on the matter of dragon laws. Not yet. But it seemed to her that if dragon laws did not make allowances for coercion, than they were unjust.

For the rest of the walk to the camp, she enjoyed the feel of Chaceledon's hand wrapped around hers. Since this strange courtship of theirs had begun--once she'd understood that he was reciprocating her interest--she'd found herself recalling every incident of physical touch that they'd shared. In the shop, when he'd cleaned her hands, rubbed lotion into her arms, painted her nails. Fixed her hair. She'd enjoyed it all, simply because she was a social creature that enjoyed physical contact, but she hadn't made any particular note of it at that time. Now she wished she'd paid a little more attention, because she'd promised to let Chaceledon set the pace and apparently that meant endless restraint and merely holding hands. It would have been nice to be able to recall what his touch felt like with a little more detail.

She wished she'd lingered just a bit longer with that first kiss. Only kiss so far, ugh. Wished she'd given him at least the chance to kiss back, so she had something more now to think of than just the barest hint of warmth against her mouth.

When he'd cuddled against her in the tent for warmth didn't count, because she'd been asleep.

Seteta was letting out a slightly frustrated huff as they finally approached the camp. As Chaceledon's hand slipped out of hers, she caught sight of the clearly abnormal horse secured with Rations and that promptly cleared her wistful thoughts out of mind. She looked around for Mau, sighing with relief when she spotted her mare staked out further.

“Gaal, I suggest you take that mangy stallion of yours and get out of here.” Chaceledon’s voice was icy. “Please come sit.” The dragon told Seteta.

Seteta turned back to the firelight, saw Chaceledon settling on a log, and took the seat beside him as she looked around the camp warily, unsure of who he was addressing. The creature that emerged from the shadows of the trees was like something she'd heard of from the depths of the Forbidden City, though she'd never delved into the place herself.

“Making friends already, Mother of Murderers?” The wraith inquired, his eyes turning on Seteta.

“Seteta, Gaal, the Collector. Gaal, Seteta. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what do you want?” Chaceledon glared.

Gaal tilted his head and drew closer to Seteta. There was a scent about him, like dry books and snakeskin, and mummified flesh. “Seteta. A sand elf...here? Which tribe do you hail from?”

Chaceledon pursed his lips and gave Seteta a barely perceptible shake of the head.

She'd glanced at Chaceledon as this... Gaal asked about her tribe, saw him signal not to say. Since her ears were still hidden under the scarf, Gaal must have some passing knowledge of Abtat to be able surmise her ethnicity so quickly from just her name.

Seteta wrinkled her nose as Gaal leaned in a little more closely than comfortable. He smelled... musty.

"I'm without a tribe at the moment," she answered honestly and a bit snippily, sliding just a little closer to Chaceledon on the log, her eyes narrowing in frustration as she met Gaal's gaze.

She'd hoped to have a little time alone with Chaceledon before Rheinhard joined them. But either way, she did not want to spend time being interrogated by undead creatures of questionable allegiance.

Chaceledon
 
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Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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“An Abtati without a tribe? How interesting.” Gaal examined her, tilting his head. “Is she for sale?”

The withering look Chaceledon gave him was a clear no. The wraith straightened. “I wanted to warn you not to tarry here. The village is claimed.”

“We’ll be gone by morning. I assume you’re making more Hounds.” Chaceledon said frostily. “Any chance I could negotiate with you for another day?”

“Give me the Abtati.”

“I’d sooner wear chintz.”
Chaceledon growled, putting a hand possessively over Seteta’s. “Rheinhard will assist you, and we have until the next sundown. No interruptions. None of your Hounds sniffing around camp.”

Gaal cackled, a whispering wheeze that rattled his dry throat. “Done.” He stepped past them, and Chaceledon followed him with his eyes. The dragon lifted Seteta’s hand to his lips and kissed the back of her hand.
“We won’t see Rheinhard until morning.” The dragon said quietly, turning more to face her. “I suppose we’re babysitting that poor dumb creature. Gaal collects beings, makes them into docile pets. We’ve had dealings with him before but wraiths are a selfish breed at best. He won’t give us up.”

Chaceledon looked at the weaith’s mount, rolling his eyes. In the distance, screams had already started.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta's eyes flashed and nostrils flared as the wraith tried to bargain for her. Chaceledon had already taken care of the issue by the time she'd gathered her thoughts and cooled her ire, his hand was possessively on hers, and he was bargaining Rheinhard's services for extra time. When Gaal agreed and finally left, Seteta couldn't help but flinch.

Chaceledon's lips on the back of her hand were soothing, and Seteta focused on him and his voice. When she'd wished for some time with Chaceledon away from Rheinhard, she hadn't wished for it at the expense of innocent lives.

She knew there was nothing she could do for the villagers. Life in the desert had taught her that everything was about balance: your abilities vs the stakes. Sometimes, like in the case of helping Chaceledon, it was worth the risk. But she knew there was nothing she could do to change the fate of the village.

"Talk to me," she said, turning her back to the direction where the village lay. "I need something to listen to other than... that. And since Rheinhard isn't here, let's figure some things out. If Oor does intercept us, what happens then? How do I find you, or Rheinhard, again? Let's get several different options figured out. We don't have to give up just because we're caught once. And if you've been held by Oor for this long, you must know how he thinks. What he'll do."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon didn’t seem bothered at the sounds, though he saw Seteta was. Anyone should be disturbed at the idea of a wraith taking an entire town hostage...Gaal seemed to go through servants like men did horseshoes. Death was perhaps preferable to what was happening to them. Chaceledon only felt frustrated that they’d had such poor timing; the tools he had just repaired would now founder and rust. Had he become so callous?

He patted Seteta’s hand. “There is a strong possibility that if we are separated, I won’t be coming above ground again for quite a while. Oor owns an estate known as Witherhold, deep underground. There is an entrance to it in Falwood...but you could get lost in the cave system.” he told her. “Best forget me if we’re caught...it’s the safest thing for you. As for finding Rheinhard...”

Chaceledon sighed. “Wraiths have one distinct talent dear, and that’s memory magic. All of Rheinhard’s memories are in those mirror shards in the Well. Oor snaps one, and it is like he never met you. Just be cautious. The boys will remember you, but my son might not.” He chewed his lip. Gods, the implication of it all. He would return to a cold prison and Rheinhard would simply have his memories of her wiped.

“If we are caught I want you to pretend as though we captured you and forced you to guide us. If Oor thought you were complicit at all, he’d give you to Klaus as a toy. Best we avoid that.” The dragon let go of her hand and smiled sadly at her. “The best thing, really, is not to get caught. You could also return to the sands and attempt to locate my parents. I’m not sure if they’d listen, but they would have the best chance. There isn’t much that can go against several elder dragons, not even an old wraith.”

The dragon began getting ready for a rest, brushing his hair and bringing out the little pots and jars of cream from the wagon. “My mother is Peridot, her husband Hokkaido. I have a sister named Carnelia, and her husband. My brother you’re going to get nowhere with. Dragon men have their ears dammed up to anything with a differing opinion by puberty.” He huffed.

Chaceledon set down his brush at a distinct shift in the sounds coming from the town, and his eyes narrowed. He looked back at the elf. He could tell by the change in tone; Klaus was out. It wasn’t surprising. Volker abhorred waste and chaos, for all of his long tenure as a hired killer.

Seteta
 

Seteta

Wooing a Fabulous Dragon
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He patted Seteta’s hand. “There is a strong possibility that if we are separated, I won’t be coming above ground again for quite a while. Oor owns an estate known as Witherhold, deep underground. There is an entrance to it in Falwood...but you could get lost in the cave system.” he told her. “Best forget me if we’re caught...it’s the safest thing for you. As for finding Rheinhard...”

"There's no way I could simply forget you." Seteta flipped her hand over to entwine her fingers with his . "I guess it's a good thing I'm an elf. I can bide my time for a few decades, or longer, if needed. And as for the caves... I doubt they could stop me. I've more than a little illusion magic up my sleeve."

She let her eyes wander over Chaceledon's face as the firelight flickered over it. His eyes were mesmerizing, but she listened carefully as he continued to speak. A horrified sympathy filled her as he explained that Oor could completely wipe Rheinhard's memories. "I'm sure I can find a way to work around that," she said, reaching up with her free hand to tug his lip out from between his teeth, smoothing her thumb over the spot he'd irritated. "Would I be most likely to find him in Fal'Addas again? Or somewhere else?"

She nodded in agreement, though, when he said that if Oor did intercept them, she should pretend to have been taken captive by them. It would make sense, especially since Abtati didn't often leave the sands. Chaceledon could likely convince the wraith that he'd leapt at the chance since she knew the desert.

When he returned his collection of beauty treatments, she made note of the names of his family members. "Why have they not come for you before?" she asked, albeit hesitantly. "And if I do manage to find them, how do I convince to listen to me? That I'm telling them the truth about you?"

As sounds filtering in from the village began to change, becoming more tortured, Seteta glanced back over her shoulder with a shudder. She turned back to see Chaceledon watching her, and she pulled her feet up onto the log, hugging her knees into her chest.

"What exactly is the purpose of all of this?" She gestured at his collection of pots and jars, desperate for any distraction at all.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon blinked as she simply...tugged his lip out from between his teeth. He was so surprised she’d done it he really had no reaction other than to stare. He cleared his throat and began getting ready for bed, caught off guard. Well! It was good to know she was brave enough to put him on his heels like that, though screaming wasn’t exactly the best backdrop for flirting. Or perhaps she was flirting in spite of her fear and disgust? That made it all the more admirable. He decided on the second, as it painted her in the best light.

“Oh because they’re either punishing me for rebelling...or because the length of time would make it embarrassing. Knowing what you do of dragons, isn’t it possible that I am holding out in some foreign castle with a wraith simply to force my parents to endure the embarrassment of first contact? Not all games are flirtatious. They simply don’t know what happened and since it is embarrassing for them to know the truth, they have made up one instead.” Chaceledon told her. The dragon began applying lotion to his eyelids, behind his ears, the rims of his nostrils, and his lips. A slightly heavier cream went on the rest of his face and neck, and was worked into his hands.

“Beauty darling, all for beauty. How do you think a face like this doesn’t have a single blemish?” He said lightly. He closed his eyes and massaged gently over his eyelids and around the bottom lid.

There was a loud and distinct snarl from behind Chaceledon. The dragon didn’t see fit to move, sighing and opening his eyes again. “I am not that jumpy anymore, Klaus dear.”
Silence reigned for a few precious minutes.

Then Seteta would feel wet fingers in her hair, yanking backwards with ox-like strength. It meant to drag her into the tree line.
Seteta
 

Seteta

Wooing a Fabulous Dragon
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"To be honest, I know very little of dragons other than their existence," Seteta said. "But you... never tried to send them word? To ask for help?" She supposed Oor could have kept him watched so closely, especially early on, that it was impossible for him to do so, but in that case, how would she be able to have any hope of freeing him?

As Chaceledon began to rub the different lotions and creams into his skin, Seteta settled her chin on her bent knees, watching. If she didn't think he'd scold her for using the wrong product, she would force his hands aside, straddle his thighs, and put the lotions on him herself. Distracted by those thoughts, the corner of her mouth quirking up with a sly smirk, she stopped paying attention to their surroundings.

Even so, she barely flinched when something--or, apparently, someone--snarled from behind Chaceledon. She took a deep, steady breath as silence fell again. Klaus Volker. The one that Chaceledon, Rheinhard, and the other Volkers she had met had warned her of most, even indirectly. She let her arms grow lax around her legs, but kept her gaze fixed on Chaceledon as she listened to her surroundings once more. The grass and trees were far noisier than the sands ever could have been, but even so she barely heard a sound before wet fingers were twisting in her hair, pulling her backward off the log.

Seteta dropped, letting herself become dead weight as she snarled, digging her fingers into the ground. She felt some of her nails give way, dirt and debris embedding in her fingertips as nail separated from beds, at least at the tips. While pain was usually only the price she paid for her illusions, in that moment she simply reacted, redirecting the pain as she pressed her clawed fingers deeper into the earth and gave a wordless cry.

A pillar of earth--large and solid--rose up behind Klaus-Rheinhard without a sound. When he struck it, Seteta slammed her head backward, at the same moment her back collided with his shins. She thought she maybe heard the pop of bone as she forced the wrist and hand clutching at her hair to bend at an angle that was certainly not normal and then slammed her head back again to crush his groin. Silently, through just her touch, she commanded the earth to wrap itself around Klaus-Rheinhard, restraining his arms and legs. Only if he had some skill with magic himself would he be able to free himself from it before the spell wore off.

But still, Seteta withdrew her knife as she reached up to untangle the bloody fingers from her hair, pressing the sharp point of it against the man's belly.

"Do not touch me again," she hissed in his face once free, but not bothering with any further threat. Chaceledon would likely scold him soundly for the damage to her nails, and there was no point in making a threat she would not follow through on. Like burying him so deeply--literally--that not even Oor would be able to find him. She already knew too much about the Well to be able to actually do something like that, and was certain Klaus knew it as well.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon stood up angrily as Klaus dragged Seteta backward. “Klaus that is enough!” he snapped out sharply. Usually, reacting just made the man even more determined to do what he was going to anyway. Klaus a man who fed off the reactions of others, and screaming or showing fear was like crude oil on a flaming ship.

Klaus was obviously not expecting the soil at his back, but neither did he give in so easily. He wrapped his wrist around her hair, bracing and twisting it to make it harder to get free. He felt his bones pop uncomfortably, but he wouldn’t have to deal with that would he? He cackled nastily when she drove her head into his groin. He felt the sucking pain, but he enjoyed it.

The earth around his arms and legs gave him but a few precious seconds, but the knife at his belly stayed him.

Klaus. Put Rheinhard back in control this second.Chaceledon’s voice was dangerous. He grabbed Seteta and yanked her back; she should know better than to get anywhere near Klaus’ face. His teeth clicked shut on empty air. Chaceledon knelt in front of Klaus, sighing. “Darling please put Rheinhard back in charge. If you get bored playing with Gaal you don’t interrupt my nightly routine. Look.”

The dragon held up his palm, showing Klaus the dirt and blood from touching Seteta. Klaus was covered in it, so much so it was difficult to see his face in the black. “I’ll let you play again later, what’s got you so upset?” Chaceledon cradled Klaus’ cheek in a palm. He at least seemed to have absolutely no fear of being bitten. Klaus’ eyes went up to Seteta.

“Stop that, I’ve known her a week. I appreciate the protectiveness, darling, but I can take care of myself. Now be a good son and throw Gaal off our trail. Seteta is mine. You want to make me proud don’t you? Seteta, please let him up.” Chaceledon stood and flicked a hand, throwing flecks of drying blood and filth from his skin. He waited, quietly, for Seteta to release Klaus. The man bolted into the dark like a rabbit out of a snare, and Chaceledon released the breath he’d been holding.

He plunged his hand into the fire, burning the filth to ashes, and washed his hands in the campfire. He knelt in front of Seteta and gently touched her hands, tutting. “Come on now, let’s get those cleaned before they fester.” his voice was gentle.

Seteta
 

Seteta

Wooing a Fabulous Dragon
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Seteta barely restrained a snarl at Chaceledon when he yanked her away from Klaus. She'd fought off starving Zephyr wolves and lived, one insane killer was not much worse, and even without the dragon's intervention, Klaus-Rheinhard's teeth wouldn't have touched her.

As Chaceledon spoke soothingly with the Klaus, she caught her breath, but didn't put her knife away yet. When Klaus-Rheinhard's eyes snapped up toward her, she met his gaze without flinching.

And honestly, the only reason she let Klaus free from her earth-bindings was because she could not help the warmth that flushed through her when Chaceledon said Seteta is mine and she didn't want to deal with those feelings while Klaus-Rheinhard was around. So she crouched low, pressing her bare palm to the earth--barely flinching despite the stinging of her fingertips--and let the earthen pillar and bindings crumble into dust.

She followed Chaceledon back to the fire, watching silently as he cleaned his hands in the flames, sheathing her knife as she sat on the log once more. It had been a while since she dealt with the rush of adrenaline that happened after a skirmish, and her heart was pounding.

He knelt in front of Seteta and gently touched her hands, tutting. “Come on now, let’s get those cleaned before they fester.” his voice was gentle.

She hissed at his touch, almost drawing her hands away. The pain wasn't unbearable, but she had been caught off guard in a way she hadn't been... ever, actually. Knowing how to defend oneself and actively having to do so, especially in a moment when she'd felt safe, were two different things.

If she was back in Amol-Kalit, in the days before her tribe had disbanded, she would have known how to ask for--take, even--what she needed after an incident like that. To have her wounds tended to--which Chaceledon certainly could do--and then a lover, or if not a lover then a tribe-sister, guide her through the prayers and ritual touches to re-center and ground herself.

But instead, she was far, far away from any of that, with a dragon that was somewhere between an acquaintance and a lover, listening helplessly as a village was taken captive and her lover's dead-but-not-really son attacked her out of... jealousy? Protectiveness?

And all she could do was sit there while Chaceledon knelt before her, and mutter, "There's blood in my hair, too."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon held her hands gingerly, examining the damage, and got up. He filled their pot with water, and brought it back to her. He took her hands in his, delicate and gentle, and slowly submerged them in the water. “I know it stings. Leave it there a moment.” he told her, and fetched his kit. He withdrew a small instrument, a long piece of silver tapered on one end to a point, and on the other into a spade like shape. He took her hand out of the water and brought it to his face. With deft, artful flicks, he cleaned the dirt from under her nails and flushed the wounds. One hand down, he moved to the other. When he was satisfied nothing would fester, he withdrew yet another pot of something.

This time it smelled vaguely like mint, and was more of a light green gel. “You’re lucky I’ve caught my nails before.” he used the spade edge to gently pack the wounds with the gel. “Raw honey, aloe, jojoba oil, and a tiny bit of poppy for the pain.” Tiny linen bandages over each nail, one by one.

Then he moved to her hair. He dumped the water, refilled it, and had her lower her hair in. Rheinhard would be angry over the wasted water, but something told Chaceledon he’d be too tired to complain. He washed the blood from her hair, worked in soap, then another rinse, then a protective oil that smelled faintly of oranges. She didn’t need to lay around with wet hair either; Chaceledon’s warm breath blew it dry.

He dumped the water and sat down again, giving her a small smile.
“I think you may have earned a little respect from the boys standing up to Klaus. You certainly impressed me; fear isn’t a cudgel people are used to defending against.” he patted her knee.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta was silent as Chaceledon tended to her hands. From time to time, she would wince or hiss in pain, but for the most part she focused on breathing calmly and slowly. She blocked out the noises from the village to the best of her ability, concentrating on the crackling of the fire, tree branches creaking in the breeze, the quiet whickering of the horses from time to time. Except for Gaal's mount, anyway.

The warmth of Chaceledon's touch, even when it aggravated the stinging pain under her nails. The sound of his voice, though she didn't really register the words.

She slipped her coat off, frowning at the dirt and bloodstains on the back of it, as Chaceledon brought the water over for her hair. As her hair was cleaned of the blood from Klaus-Rheinhard's hands, she imagined it washing away her shock and anger and fear. When the scent of oranges wafted over her, she remembered the bath she'd had in the shop and let the contentment of that moment be found again in the present. She smiled softly as Chaceledon dried her hair, then settled once again beside her.

“I think you may have earned a little respect from the boys standing up to Klaus. You certainly impressed me; fear isn’t a cudgel people are used to defending against.” he patted her knee.

She caught his hand in hers again, though not quite as nimbly as before with her sore and bandaged fingertips.

"In the desert..." she began to speak, then paused a moment as she figured out how to word what she wanted to say. "There are many things to be afraid of. I was not a warrior, but we were all taught how to defend ourselves and our tribe. Abtati have many dangers to face. The predators in the desert. Humans. Sometimes other Abtati. Fear can kill you as surely as a weapon, if you succumb to it."

With a quiet sigh, she shifted closer to Chaceledon, leaning against him. The top of her head barely came to the top of his shoulder.

"Earlier," she whispered softly, staring into the campfire, "you said to Klaus that I was yours. Do you mean it? Will you do something for me?"

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon neatly slid his fingers in hers, his other arm sliding around her shoulders. He let her lay her head against him. He enjoyed the quiet of the moment; the crackling of the fire, the scent of her clean hair, the sound of her voice. It was comforting and calming. “Klaus is...a sweet boy. He’s had more damage than most of them. Instead of inheriting the Well after five, ten, or even fifteen years, he was granted it at birth. When your birth tongue is violence...” he sighed a bit. “I didn’t mean it possessively. No one should own another person. That’s your choice. I would like you to be mine but I would sooner burn my clothing and wear sack cloth than force you.”

He was making this awkward wasn’t he? He sighed a bit. “What can I do for you? You’ve earned more than a favor for weathering my most rambunctious son.” he said softly. He thought about what she would have had to go through; even other Volkers feared Klaus but they reacted as she had. To fight. To at the very least make the man regret tangling with them. It gave Chaceledon some confidence that she’d be able to survive his family. Volker was always going to be a part of that, no matter what.

He was planning to have a talk with Klaus, though. The man didn’t like being embarrassed and she’d certainly caught him off guard. Feeling out how the wind was blowing with Klaus would be wise.

Seteta
 

Seteta

Wooing a Fabulous Dragon
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Seteta listened as Chaceledon spoke of Klaus, could hear the affection he had for that particular Volker in his voice, heartbreaking as the situation was. If Chaceledon had been enslaved for... over ten thousand years, even as himself she couldn't even begin to comprehend what Rheinhard, Klaus, and all the others must have been through. But she also couldn't deny that they frightened her. That Oor frightened her, and she hadn't even met the wraith yet. Hopefully never, but she wasn't counting on that.

She couldn't help but crack a small grin as Chaceledon mentioned burning his clothes and wearing sack cloth. She hadn't meant to challenge what he said, but she appreciated his reassurance.

“What can I do for you? You’ve earned more than a favor for weathering my most rambunctious son.” he said softly.

"Wait here a moment," she said as she rose to her feet. She ducked inside the tent and retrieved a couple of blankets and the bearskin that Chaceledon preferred. She ignored him for a moment as she came back, laying one of the blankets across the ground between the log where they'd been sitting and the fire. Then she draped the bearskin over the log so that it lay partially across the blanket. The second blanket, still folded up, she set on the log.

Seteta stepped over to Chaceledon, grabbed one of his hands, and tugged him to his feet. Reaching up, she pulled at the collar of his shirt. "This, off," she said, then gestured toward the bearskin, "then sit there, on the ground. The bearskin is to protect you from the tree bark."

As she waited for him to comply, she sat on the log and bent over to remove her boots and stockings. Once her feet were bare, she stood and reached for the hem of the linen tunic she wore, pulling it over her head. The scars now visible across the right side of her torso gleamed in the firelight, as did the gold jewelry in her ears and nose as she tucked her dark hair behind the pointed tips of her ears.

She did not disrobe further, but reached over and moved the folded blanket from the log to the ground, next to where Chaceledon sat now. She smiled at him, then gently nudged his knees apart with her feet, then turned and sat, carefully scooting backwards to press her bare back against his bare torso. Without a word, she used her toes to pull the edge of the blanket beneath them upward, until she could sit comfortably with her knees bent, bare feet against the soil. Then she reached for both of his hands, pressing his right palm flush against her skin, over her beating heart. His left arm she direct him to drape across her. Then she leaned her head back and let it rest against his chest as she looked up at the sky. She took several long, steady breaths. The heat of him behind her, the coolness of the air across the rest of her skin, and the weight of his arm across her hips, his hand over her heart... all of it helped to settle the last bit of uneasiness she hadn't been able to shake on her own after both the situation with the village and then being accosted by Klaus.

When she felt her heart begin to pound with slightly less intensity, she let her fingers begin to drift across Chaceledon's arms. She closed her eyes for a moment, and let herself feel the magic in the ground, let it begin to circulate through her. She wasn't absorbing it or using it, just... existing with it. Chaceledon might be able to sense it, being a somewhat magical being himself, but likely not to the same extent as another of similar ability within her former Abtati tribe.

"This is... a little more intimate than I would normally ask of you," she finally broke the silence, though her voice was barely more than a whisper. "But I had no one else to ask right now. When Klaus tried to drag me away earlier, I had to use my magic in a way that I normally don't. I fueled it with pain, and while with the illusion magic pain is a manageable price... with my earth magic, it's dangerous and draining. It leaves me shaken, off-kilter, and the situation with Klaus, multiplied by the distress I was feeling for the village, was enough to do that on its own.

"This is the first time something quite this intense has happened since I left the desert." Her voice shook just a little. "I will confess that I had hoped, when I departed from Amol-Kalit, that I would not need the grounding rituals I shared with my tribe anymore. We were small and isolated, and relied on each other in ways that many other tribes did not."

With a deep, contented sigh, Seteta carefully reached over for the folded blanket, draping it over her torso and Chaceldon's arms. Then she leaned back again, melting into him. She reached up, resting her right hand over his, resting on her heart. "If you're uncomfortable, you can readjust," she said. "But if you're willing to just hold me for a little bit longer, I'd appreciate it."

Seteta turned her head, closing her eyes as she pressed a soft kiss to his chest. "If there's anything you want to know about me, just ask."

While she was weary, she doubted she'd be able to sleep for quite some time, despite finally having calmed her mind and her body.

"I am curious about something myself, though," she murmured as she opened her eyes and stared into the campfire again. "What do you look like when you're a dragon?"

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon didn’t quite know what to make of it at first. He shed his heavier outer robe and stripped to the waist, settling down on the ground. Well, he was grateful for the bearskin and the blanket at least. They guarded him from the ground and the filthy log. Gods, what he wouldn’t give for furniture. He watched her disrobe, and given the rather intimate way they’d been sitting it seemed a bit...forward. He showed no outward signs of awkwardness other than a blush across his cheeks.

Thankfully she explained. Grounding rituals weren’t uncommon for mages, though Chaceledon only had experience with Transmuters; one of the Volkers had been a Speaker. He welcomed her into his arms and relaxed, one long hand rested over her heart and the other around her middle. The dragon found himself contented; he liked resting here in the relative quiet. The shrieks from the village had died down into the occasional shocked cry. He slowed his breathing, and smiled at the gentle kiss to his chest.

He planted a kiss of his own on her neck, a delicate press of his lips to her skin. Just behind her ear, down her throat a bit before he relented. She’d asked him a question, after all. “Now ask me if I remember.” he muttered. “I remember being long and serpent like, deep amethyst and plum colors with copper edges to my scales. A soft ombré of pink turning to yellows and whites along my mane and the tip of my tail. My mother always said I was built more like her than my father.

“I barely remember the sands.”
He said quietly. “I talk like I was stolen yesterday, but...I can’t see them in my head anymore. I barely remember what my mother looks like. Tell me about it. Describe it to me.”

Chaceledon lifted a hand to play with her hair quietly, planting gentle kisses along the back of her neck.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta felt Chaceledon's breathing slow, and in just a few breaths she'd matched her own to his. He didn't answer her question right away, though, and her breath stuttered for just a moment she felt his warm lips behind her ear, then whispering down her neck. She tipped her head back as his mouth trailed over her throat. It wasn't uncommon for a grounding ritual to turn into something more, which was why most magic practitioners she'd encountered preferred to do them with a lover. And she would certainly not turn him down if Chaceledon initiated more, but that would be up to him.

She leaned her head back against his shoulder as he began to speak. With barely a thought, she twitched her toes in the dirt and switched the flow of magic up so that it circulated through her from opposite foot and back out the other.

“Now ask me if I remember.” he muttered. “I remember being long and serpent like, deep amethyst and plum colors with copper edges to my scales. A soft ombré of pink turning to yellows and whites along my mane and the tip of my tail. My mother always said I was built more like her than my father."

"You sound beautiful," she sighed dreamily. Between the physical contact and the magic flowing through her she was rapidly moving from distress to practically euphoric. Just a few more minutes, then I'll stop with the magic, she thought.

As Chaceledon continued to speak, though, an unspeakable sadness spread through her.

“I barely remember the sands.” He said quietly. “I talk like I was stolen yesterday, but...I can’t see them in my head anymore. I barely remember what my mother looks like. Tell me about it. Describe it to me.”

She was silent for just a moment, suppressing a contented moan as his fingers carded through her hair and his mouth pressed against the back of her neck again.

"I can do better than tell you," she murmured, slipping her hands out from beneath the blanket covering her front. She brought her left hand out in front of her, and carefully scooped up a handful of soft dirt so as not to disturb her bandaged fingertips.

"The price I pay for my illusion magic is always pain," she explained to Chaceledon as she began sifting the dirt back and forth between her hands slowly, redirecting the magic that had been flowing through her in a circuit to now flow between her hands as well, gently coaxing the moisture out of it. "There are two ways we can do this. I can make my fingers hurt again, but you took such care with tending and bandaging them that I don't want to undo that work.

"Or--" her breath hitched here, and if she was honest the second option was the one she would find far more preferable and enjoyable, but she didn't want to make him uncomfortable. "Or you can bite me. Hard enough to hurt and to keep hurting for a while, but it doesn't have to break skin. But you don't have to at all, all right? I can do this without you doing that, the illusion just won't be quite as vivid. But the pain would be worth it, for what I can show you."

She gnawed at her lip while she waited for him to either refuse, or to act, letting that little bit of pain begin to sweep through her and feed the illusion magic. It was just enough to pull a few embers from the fire, to cast a glow through the dirt sifting through the air between her hands.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon shook his head ever so slightly. He kissed the back of her neck delicately, closing his eyes. “And what if I don’t want you to hurt?” he asked. He tilted her head back, and his lips met hers. His kiss was gentle, his arms cradling her so the position wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable. “There’s enough pain in this world as it is, the last place I want to see it is in those beautiful eyes.” he whispered to her, and kissed her again.

He was respectful of her. As much as he could move to touch her body, it felt so much more meaningful to cradle her and be the support she could lean into. Men rushed everything; couldn’t he enjoy the poetic sweetness of her mouth for a little while? The details were what mattered to him. Her breathing, the scent of the oil he’d put in her hair and disturbed earth. Blood and burning metal...

Blood? He lifted his head, reverie broken. He saw a whisper of robes and straightened them both up, offering Seteta back her shirt. Gaal cackled, which sounded a bit more like a cat trying to hork up a lung than any sort of amusement.

‘I see why you didn’t want to give her up. Gaal commented. He grabbed the reins of his horse, and Chaceledon felt chills up his spine. The townsfolk were hovering just beyond the camp, and that was where the smell was coming from. Chaceledon had seen the result of Gaal’s work, just never up close. The men had their eyes, noses and lips removed, as well as upper eye teeth. Metal rings ran through each nostril, all the way back and punched through the soft palate, then met together with a simple O ring at the front. By chaining them together, Gaal had control over their heads, and could turn them with a gentle tug.

Volker was still cleaning up, and by the look of him, Chaceledon relaxed slightly. His son was back. Rheinhard. He was giving Seteta a hard look, then glanced in their water supplies.

He was most helpful. Thank you for leading me to them. Gaal chuckled, and lashed the chain gang to his horse’s saddle. The wraith mounted up, and plodded his catch back down the road. Thankfully, the opposite way they’d come.

“We will need to replenish the supplies before we go. There is a well in town.” Rheinhard said, as he measured a bit of water out and began to scrub away blood and dirt. Chaceledon kissed Seteta’s cheek.

“I think we had better get some rest.” he said softly.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Her concentration faltered as Chaceledon's lips touched the back of her neck again, but a moment later it didn't matter. She felt him shake his head, heard his sweet words, and then the magic she channeled stuttered to a stop as his hand smoothed over her jaw. She relaxed under his touch, sinking into his embrace as his mouth covered hers. The soil in her hand scattered over the blanket as her eyes drifted shut.

“There’s enough pain in this world as it is, the last place I want to see it is in those beautiful eyes.” he whispered to her, and kissed her again.

Seteta's heart was pounding again. Her lips parted beneath his, and it wasn't long before she was trembling in his arms as he kissed her with delicate intensity. He tasted sharp and hot like the desert at high noon for several moments she lost herself in the sensation of him.

Then Chaceledon was breaking the kiss, pulling back, and she almost whimpered, not ready for the contact to end, but she caught site of movement from the corner of her eye as the dragon shifted both of them to sit upright as he handed her shirt back. She stayed in his embrace, her back turned to Gaal, as she slipped the linen tunic back over her head. As she untucked her hair from the collar she glanced up at Chaceledon's face. The grim disgust there said she did not want to turn around and see the sight. She pressed her face into Chaceledon's shoulder and waited until she heard Gaal's horse traveling back up the road before she pulled away.

Chaceledon kissed Seteta’s cheek.

“I think we had better get some rest.” he said softly.

Despite the grim interruption, she couldn't help but smile softly as Chaceledon kissed her cheek.

She stood and began to gather shake out the blankets and bearskin once Chaceledon was off them, glancing at Rheinhard hesitantly. "Sorry about your wrist," she said, then carried the blankets back to the tent.

When she returned for the bearskin, she caught Chaceledon's hand with hers, tugging him gently toward the tent.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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“Gaal has healed it. It will be weak for a few weeks.” Volker told her. “I would appreciate if you do not target my arms or legs. It was not me you were fighting, but I am left with the consequences.” He finished washing up and tossed the disgusting water. He would get a more solid bath on the road, lest he attract flies.

Chaceledon rose and went to Rheinhard while Seteta returned their blankets to the tent. “Are you alright?” he asked, taking Rheinhard’s wrist and examining it. There was a hitch in the way it moved, and soreness, but Gaal had done a decent enough job. “Get some rest, dear. We’ll talk in the morning.”

Seteta caught the dragon’s hand and tugged him toward the tent. Surely she wasn’t moving that quickly? Chaceledon cleared his throat and settled back into his routine at the tent. He made up their bedrolls, making sure to share the blankets, and began undressing. He forwent the gown this time, tucking himself under the bearskin and blankets in little more than a diaphanous underrobe. “I’m sorry about today, Seteta. Rheinhard is alright...I think he might be keeping watch most of the evening.”
Seteta
 

Seteta

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"I won't have to target anything again as long as I am not accosted again," Seteta stated simply in response to Rheinhard's request. "But I am sorry that you were caught in the middle."

As Chaceledon prepared for bed, Seteta ducked out of the tent again mumbling something about boots, and then realized when she was back by the campfire that not only had she forgotten to retrieve her boots and stockings, but also her coat, and that Chaceledon's case of cosmetics was still out as well. Rheinhard was still cleaning himself up, though, and after glancing in his direction once, she gathered up the forgotten items and ducked back into the tent.

She fastened the tent flap behind her, then slipped out of her pants, but this time left the linen tunic on. Then she quietly slid under the covers, and hesitated just for a moment as Chaceledon spoke.

“I’m sorry about today, Seteta. Rheinhard is alright...I think he might be keeping watch most of the evening.”

With a sigh, she scooted across to him under the blanket, tucked herself under Chaceledon's arm as she rested her head on his shoulder, and curled lightly into his side.

"I..." she hesitated a moment, not wanting to offend Chaceledon because she knew he cared greatly for Rheinhard and all the Volkers, but she felt no regret for how she'd handled the situation. "I don't know how he could be all right after all of that, because I'm not," she confessed. "What's been done to him and his family is horrific, but I do not regret how I handled it. I'm sorry that Rheinhard was hurt... but if Klaus, or any other of the Volkers, tries to hurt or intimidate me again, I won't hesitate to defend myself, even if Rheinhard's body is the one hurt in the conflict. The only promise I can make is that I will not kill him."

Seteta took a long, deep breath, then exhaled it forcefully. "I like you," she whispered into the darkness. "I like you a lot and I know that the Volkers are a part of that package when you do escape Oor, and if our courtship advances further. But I won't be afraid of him, or any of them."

A moment later, she gave a short, harsh laugh. "I also get the impression that if I can handle them, then handling your dahn will be a piece of cake."

Then, rather abruptly, she found herself yawning. Her eyes were aching and heavy, but she didn't want to sleep until she knew that Chaceledon wasn't upset with her.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon gratefully took the cosmetics case and tucked it away, glad she hadn’t left it out. It was sweet of her to grab it. He welcomed her into the bed with him, draping an arm around her shoulders when she snuggled into his side. “He isn’t alright. The poor man is lonely, and he’s wanted little more than a mate and a normal life since I met him. Don’t be sorry for what you did. A broken wrist isn’t the worst he’s suffered and it won’t be the last.” Chaceledon huffed a bit. “Considering those boys view ripping each other apart in that Arena a form of sport, I’d imagine a broken limb would feel akin to a paper cut.”

He leaned over and kissed her with a gentle smile. “My darling, I have always prized the Volkers for having the courtesy to bury a knife in your chest rather than your spine.” He yawned and laid his head back on the pillow, closing his eyes.

In the morning, Chaceledon woke slowly. He had one hand rested lazily on Seteta’s breast, the other tangled in his own hair. Oh for...this would take an hour to brush out! He untangled his fingers in disgust and looked down at Seteta, quietly moving his hand to a less forward position along her ribs.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Setata shuddered as Chaceledon mentioned those boys ripping each other apart, the image of Rheinhard snapping Aluid's neck in annoyance flashing through her mind again. But then Chaceledon was leaning over her, kissing her softly, calling her my darling and her mind was suddenly filling with rather different kinds of thoughts, even as he laid back on his own pillow. She snuggled in a little closer to him, letting the sound of his heartbeat fill her ears as she drifted off first into indulgent fantasies, and then into dreams.


She woke in the morning as the blankets were jostled, letting a stiff, cool breeze into her warm pocket of air beneath the bearskin. She almost curled into a ball and yanked the covers up over her head, but then realized that a hand was gently sliding from her breast to curl around her ribcage. Her eyes flew open as a devious smirk flashed across her lips.

"Wouldn't it have been more prudent to take that action last night when I was topless?" she teased the dragon mercilessly as she laughed softly, twisting back toward his hand as she stretched, arching her back and pressing into his touch. Her eyes locked onto his in the dim morning light, curious to see if he would flush with embarrassment or not.

She could already hear Rheinhard fixing breakfast outside, so she wouldn't tease Chaceledon for long, but if she didn't take advantage of the moment for a little fun, she would have to eat her boots for the shame of passing it up.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon watched her writhe back toward his hand, and sat up with an amused look. “You look like a little sand cat.” he told her with a smile, and stretched. He could hear Rheinhard cooking outside. It smelled good; he’d likely taken a few supplies from the razing of the town. If Chaceledon knew his son at all, Rheinhard would have been up at dawn carefully picking through the wreckage for useful items.

Chaceledon brushed his hair, getting the tangles free, and set out his kit again. His eye makeup alone took twenty minutes, even with the artful hand of a man who’d been doing it for decades. He’d gone with a decidedly masculine shade of bronze and deep mahogany, accented with tiny flecks of gold leaf and dust across his cheeks. His lips he left natural but for a thin stripe of gold, and he chose earth tones from the clothing he’d packed. Eschewing the practical white nails, he chose long stiletto nails in bronze.

“Let me see those.” Chaceledon reached over to take Seteta’s hand and examine the bandages. “I’ll change those when we stop again for the evening. Another day of balm should do it.”

Chaceledon rose and came outside, giving Rheinhard a kiss on the cheek. “Good morning.” he said lightly, and looked at the wagon. He didn’t have as big of a space to sprawl any more. Volker had raided furs, gold, and supplies from the town. Sacks of potatoes, dried meats, fresh fruit. Even their breakfast was extravagant; scrambled eggs and tomato with a little pepper.

“You found peppers?!” Chaceledon picked up the small bag of dried red peppers and bit into one. Flames spread across his tongue and he sighed happily.

“Only a small amount and those must have been expensive.” Volker clarified. “We will sell them at the next town.”

“You will not.” Chaceledon snipped.

Volker snorted. “Gaal has told me that Oor is taking a trip to Vhora, to find me new contracts. We will have a few weeks but we also run the risk of actually meeting him in Pedeo.” He said quietly.

“Good, I hope he drinks himself senseless in the Bunny District and doesn’t come home for a month.” Chaceledon sniffed. “I suppose we owe Gaal for that information.”

“Klaus paid the debt, we owe him nothing. He did see fit to warn us the Lamplights are investigating a battlefield not far from here, so we will move quickly after breakfast.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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“You look like a little sand cat.” he told her with a smile, and stretched.

"Rrrrrr," Seteta purred as she reached her hands overhead, latching onto one wrist with the opposite hand and giving into a full body stretch, pointing her toes and rolling her shoulders. She eyed Chaceledon as he stretched as well, not bothering to hide her observation of him. Her eyes widened, lips parting as she traced the tip of her tongue along the edge of her teeth. The sheer thing he'd put on last night hid nothing from her sight.

Then she sighed and rolled up, pulling her pants, stockings, and boots back on, if a bit reluctantly. While layers of clothing were customary in the desert to protect skin from blowing wind and sand, she missed the time spent resting at an oasis where extraneous layers were often shed, since a single light layer of clothing dried faster after a quick dip in the cool water.

By the time she finished combing and braiding her hair--her sense of touch hindered by her bandaged fingertips--Chaceledon was putting the finishing touches on his makeup. She began to pack up the bedrolls, watching curiously as he picked out his nails, then sat cross-legged in front of him when he motioned for her.

“Let me see those.” Chaceledon reached over to take Seteta’s hand and examine the bandages. “I’ll change those when we stop again for the evening. Another day of balm should do it.”

"They're a little sore this morning," she murmured. "But it's dull. Nothing I can't handle, though I think I'll ride bareback today, rather than messing with the buckles on the mare's saddle."

Then she gathered up the bedrolls and followed Chaceledon out of the tent, listening to his conversation with Rheinhard as she took short trips back and forth to load the contents of the tent into the wagon, finishing with the bearskin spread across the empty spot wagon bed where Chaceledon would lounge for the day.

She joined the two at the campfire, eyeing the dried peppers Chaceledon held. Reaching up, she curled her fingers into his collar, stretching up on her toes as she tugged him down within her reach. She hummed contentedly as she pressed her mouth to his, coaxing his lips apart until she could tease at the inside of his mouth, finding both the natural warmth of his mouth and the residual stinging heat of the peppers to be an intoxicating combination.

Then she pulled away, smacking her lips. "Those are good peppers!"

With a quiet smirk, she turned away from Chaceledon and dished up some of the eggs for herself, then sat on the same log from last night as she shoved a forkful into her mouth. After she chewed and swallowed, she asked, "What are the Lamplights?"

As she took another bite of the eggs, she tucked away the bit of information about Oor possibly being in Pedeo by the time they arrived there in the back of her mind. She needed to know more about wraiths, she realized, especially after the incident with Gaal last night. Rheinhard had told her not to be concerned with it the other day, but she didn't want to be unprepared either.

Chaceledon
 
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