Private Tales Read between the lines

Talus

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Talus let his hand pass over Grey's head, ruffling the great Wolf's fur for just a brief moment as Zana slipped off to the side of him and pulled herself out of bed.

For a brief moment he considered snapping forward and pulling her back in, but he was quickly dissuaded of the notion as he felt Grey nudge his side. A wet nosed pressed against Talus' side, and he made a slight squeak as he was propelled off the bed.

With a muted thud he fell onto the floor. "Ow."

Sometimes he forgot how damned big the Wolf actually was. He wouldn't be surprised if Grey actually weighed more than him now. He was pure muscle.

"Fine." Talus said as he crawled up from the ground. "But we're ending the day on the lava plateau at the top."

Part of the plan.
 
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Zana

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Zana gave him a curious look but she didn't argue the point.

"Well there were some really lovely expensive places right at the very top, past the springs. You can take one of those strange little cable cars up there," it had looked a little terrifying to her but then what was a little bit of height when you had started into the literal eyes of death itself? "So we'll go for our wander, come back and get changed, then hitch one of them to the top. I'll ask the boy downstairs to make a booking for us," it was probably one of those places that required such a thing.

As she was talking, Zana was busy getting dressed. Grey jumped off the bed and walked patiently to the door then sat staring at it expectantly. They had left him inside most of yesterday whilst they had gone to the springs so she wasn't surprised to see he wanted to join them. Once she'd changed into some breeches and a shirt she pulled her hair up into a pony tail and then scratched the wolf on the head.

"Ready?"
 
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Talus

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Talus pulled on the last of his garment, some shirt that Zana had purchased for him and sneaked into his wardrobe when he hadn't been looking. It was comfortable enough shirt, and he wiggled himself into it as he was pulling on his boot.

"There." He said, stomping his foot and immediately taking a hobbled step or two as everything fell into place.

By the time he reached Zana Talus was standing up straight again, a smile on his face as he glanced towards his pack. He wouldn't be needing it until they made it back, but he did move it for a second behind some of the furniture.

Just to be sure. "Ready."

Talus said as he breezed by Zana and went out into the city.
 
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Zana

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Zana hadn't really paid much attention to the city when they had first arrived. She had been tired after the long journey and then the smores had taken up most of her attention after that. But in the new light of day and rested as much as Zana ever got rested, she couldn't help the small little gasp as she stepped out of the hotel and took in the sheer beauty of the place.

Most of the buildings were made of the strange black material and in the sunlight it seemed to sparkle like a sort of gemstone in a way. It felt less imposing than Vel'Anir with none of the high walls and flags proclaiming very clearly who ran the place, but it didn't seem smaller than their home city. People bustled about with their activities and daily lives, tourists tried to keep out of their way as they too gawped and stared at the architecture that was so unlike their own.

"I don't even know where to start," she shook her head to clear it, sliding her hand into his and running her hand through Grey's fur with the other. "Shall we head for that big church?" she motioned to the temple of sorts that towered over the other buildings.
 
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Talus

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The cathedral, for that was the only word that Talus could think to describe it, was an utterly massive thing.

They had to be at least several blocks away from the massive building, and it towered over everything around it like a giant. His head nodded at Zana's question, sticking his arm so that she could loop her own through it as they set off. "Have you ever been in a church?"

Talus asked nonchalantly.

Neither of them believed of course, but that didn't mean much for his new question. Talus himself had never been in an actual church, just an ancient ritual chamber used for sacrifice. He thought it might have counted...though he also suspected most priests would not enjoy the comparison one bit.

As they walked along the streets Talus marveled at their surroundings, gazing at the reliefs upon the buildings and pointing out the seemingly impossible lines carved into walls.

Of course as they walked he could see the church ahead if them getting larger and larger. It's mass expanse clearly built for something more than human.
 

Zana

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"Not... in this sense no," Zana wrinkled her nose. Like Talus and the rest of Vel'Anir she was not religious so had no occasion to visit such a place. She didn't even know if there were any such places in Vel'Anir - perhaps in the slums? Her brows pulled down into a frown as she dwelt on those thoughts for a moment or two before shaking her head.

"I think the last time I was in one was a mission in the Northern lands and a group had barricaded themselves into one claiming the ancient rite of Sanctuary," it had caused... complications. They hadn't exactly been counting on there being a Dreadlord who had been able to move every single brick, including the floor, so that they were not technically 'housed' in their Gods temple.
 
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Talus

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"Mm." The noise came from Talus' throat as they turned the last corner into a large square paved with what appeared to be a single massive black stone. It was the same material the church was made out of, but instead of dozens of blocks it was a singular massive plateau that stretched over the entire square.

The church itself was a massive thing, thrice as big as the Keep in Vel Anir, with doors that had clearly been meant for giants.

"Kress." Talus invoked the name of the ancient god. "That is some Temple."

Dozens upon dozens of reliefs had been built and crafted all along the church. Some resembled angry masks, others winged beasts the like which Talus had never seen, still others were of dragons, and he even noted a Phoenix or two among them.

It was more a piece of art than Temple.
 
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Zana

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Zana came to a full stop and her eyes widened into saucers. She could only nod in dazed agreement with Talus' statement; she wouldn't have called it a Temple. Even the museums back home did not look nearly so grand nor elegant. Neither had the things she had seen in the Empire where they seemed to care more about the arts and culture than they did in Vel'Anir.

Clearing her throat she picked her chin up off the ground and started towards it.

"Oh!" suddenly Zana exclaimed and pointed right up at the top where shadowy figures could be made out of tourists taking in the sights. "Look, we can do all the way to the top. I bet the view is wonderful up there," her hand ran through Grey's fur and she ruffled his head. "Wait for us out here boy okay?" the wolf let his tongue loll out before trotting off to find a spot to flop down in the shade. Making sure he was okay, Zana then tugged Talus inside.
 
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Talus

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The view, as Zana had predicted, really was wonderful.

They had been able to take in the entire city and more, viewing the vast plains beyond and seeing even the roads that led up the Volcanoes side. It had been that same view they'd used to map out the rest of their days journey.

Zana and Talus spent hours upon hours walking through the whole of what the Fire-giant's had built. A few times they collected pamphlets, sometimes they asked someone standing nearby a question, but by the end of the day they had learned more of the cities history than either of them bargained for.

It was near dusk that the two Dreadlords found themselves near the top of the volcano, walking along obsidian steps as they neared the small viewing platform that lay over the top of the lava pit.

"Almost there." He said, feeling even his feet get tired.

Despite that small ache though Talus felt excitement in his chest. One hand remained on his satchel, clinging to the bag as his fingers felt to make sure everything that needed to be there still was.
 
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Zana

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"If I ... had known... it was this many steps...I wouldn't have worn... the heels," Zana gulped in the thinner air. They had taken one of the odd little lifts that operated up the mountain side but even then they had had a good 100 steps to get to the restaurant they had booked for the evening. Her feet were beginning to throb from walking all day and they protested bitterly at now being forced into the slim elegant black shoes with needle point heels.

She had opted for a deep royal blue dress for the evening that looked as though she was clothed only in water. It pooled over her body like a second skin that slunk and shifted over every little curve of her body. Strapless, it cupped her breasts then cinched in at the waist before flowing over the curve of her backside to the ground. There was a sultry slit up exposing the length of her leg. The cowl back exposed her skin to almost the dimples at her back. The necklace about her throat glittered.

More than a few gave her a double look.

"Why did you have to bring the satchel again?" Zana threw another critical look at her lovers choice. She had done as she had vowed to do and found a suitable, extraordinarily expensive but beautiful suit for him to wear. The satchel, she complained, would ruin the whole look. But he had insisted.
 
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Talus

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"Snacks." Talus said as he dug around in the satchel for a moment and pulled out a small bar of granola that he had wrapped in wax paper.

He knew his love, knew that she had an inquisitive mind and would want to know why things were done. He'd decided that the best way to fool her, if only for a few moments, was to ensure that he had a believable excuse.

Without hesitation he chomped down on the bar. "Keeps your energy up."

Talus said with a shrug as he continued on the path higher and higher.

Eventually the steps came to an end, and the platform of pure obsidian came into view. Much like the restaurant they had been at just a day prior there was an odd shimmering shield about the platform, but here magnificent flows of magma bubbled right along the plateaus edge, rivers flowing beneath it, the red and fiery light igniting it all.

Perfect.
 
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Zana

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Zana could only stare at him as he ate. The man was a bottomless pit, she was sure of it. When he died she would hand over his body for science and they would inform her she had been in love with a hollow trunk of a man. With a light shake of her head she went back to focusing on getting up the last few steps and catching her breath. The view was absolutely worth it though. Seeing the rivers move below them was fascinating and captivating. It took a gentle hand on the small of her back to snap her out of her wonderment but she followed Talus further onto the plateau.

"This is beautiful..." she whispered, eyes wide.
 
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Talus

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"It is." Talus agreed quietly.

The plateau was entirely empty. He ventured to guess that most people came here during the day, either because of the long walk or whatever other reason. That was a fact which suited him just fine, and he quietly reached into his satchel as Zana wandered in front of him and further towards the edge.

"It's a really interesting view." He said as he pulled out a large egg from his satchel, nudging it free and whispering a few words to it before he gently leaned down and placed it onto the ground. A paper was slipped beneath it a second later, and then he quickly rushed after Zana and touched her lower back to ensure she did not peer behind her. "Reminds me almost of the riverlands but...well, more fire."

He smiled, walking her towards the edge and pulling one last thing from the satchel before he slipped it off his shoulder and dropped it to the ground.

Behind them the paper began to glow softly, orange turning to red, and then slowly beginning to burn as Talus lead Zana forward.
 
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Zana

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"Yes," Zana breathed out, completely unaware of what Talus was doing behind her. She was trying desperately to look at the whole picture in front of her and little details at the same time as though she were worried it would disappear if she blinked. This was what she had been longing for her whole life. Adventures, new sights. Memories she could cherish. She felt light headed and she went to turn back towards him when he appeared at her side and pressed a comforting hand to the bare skin on her back.

"I didn't even know something like this could exist," her voice held within it something so vulnerable in that moment. She looked up at Talus and smiled at him brightly, green eyes shimmering in the reflected light of the fires below. "Thank you for bringing me here."
 
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Talus

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Talus smiled and leaned over to kiss her cheek, timing the seconds in his head.

He knew that it would not be exact, but form what he had read things should be close enough. Phoenix's were unique creatures. Unlike many other animals they did not exactly get 'hatched' as children. Their lifecycle was all together different than most beings.

Born of fire with ancient souls, they came into being not fully formed, but far more coherent and together than many other beings. A fact that in this...was rather convenient. "You're welcome."

Talus said softly, and then the flames behind them began.

The runes he had set upon the paper earlier burst into flames, and the egg at the center was instantly consumed by fire. There was a loud crackling, and Talus was sure that Zana would turn around and peer at it.

Which was of course what he wanted.

As soon as she turned Zana would see the fire, and from it she would see a phoenix born. The moment she did Talus would step back, hold himself behind her and drop to one knee until she turned to him in her excitement.

A plan he'd now had for months.
 
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Zana

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Zana's eyes turned back to the rivers below and skated over the ebbs and flows with fascination until the sound of cracking caught her attention. For a moment she wondered if it was the shield that was keeping them same from the heat of the magma and her eyes flickered over the bubble. But Talus gently nudged at her side and with a small frown she turned to glance over her shoulder.

Her face transformed into one of open astonishment, wonderment and excitement as she realised what exactly it was that was happening in front of her. She stepped forward eagerly as if to go and see the magnificent creature that was rising from its egg. Zana had only ever read of them. On their tour of the city people had mentioned it was rare but that tourists sometimes could see nesting phoenixes on the mountainside. Sadly they had been unlucky in their search today but it seemed, now, she would get to see something so rare that they were more myth than reality.

"Talus look! It's a phe--" she turned round, her cheeks flushed with excitement to grab at him and pull him forward with her, when she finally noticed him on one knee.

The air left her in a rush.

For once, Zana looked genuinely surprised.
 
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Talus

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Months of planning, practice, trying to keep his thoughts hidden. All that practiced paid off as she saw the excitement that flashed across her face.

Talus was already on one knee, a box in his hand, a ring of the same metal as the necklace around her throat nestled within soft velvet. There was a brilliant green stone in the center of it it, far more brilliant than any emerald could ever hope to be.

The light of the lava seemed to illuminate it beyond what should have been possible.

"Zana Vjollca." Over the last few weeks he had even practiced the pronunciation of her last name. It sounded almost native on his tongue.

He'd wanted it all to be perfect. "Will you marry me?"

Talus was sure he knew the answer, but he felt a weight lift off him even as he said it.
 
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Zana

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The words dried up in her throat as she stared from him, to the ring, then back to him. Of course there was no doubt what her answer was. Even as she tried to work her tongue which felt liked led in her mouth, the love, the true joy she was feeling was streaming down the bond like a flood. Tears began, to her horror, to form in her eyes and fractured her pale green eyes into jewels of her own.

"Yes," came her hoarse answer finally, her hands fluttering from her sides to her chest and mouth then finally to him. Zana dropped to her knees in front of him and the tears finally spilled over as she laughed, cupping his cheeks and pulling him into a kiss.

"Yes," she repeated in a breathy whisper against his lips.
 
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Talus

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Talus wrapped his arms around her, hands slowly floating over her body as he tugged her into a tight embrace.

He made sure that the ring did not go anywhere, not wanting it to drop to the floor or fall as she pulled herself against him. Lips quirked into a wide smile, only growing wider as the phoenix that had exploded from the flames circled up over them and landed just a few feet behind Zana.

"I love you." The Dreadlord said softly as he tightened his arms around her.

There was little else for him to say in that moment.

The smile on his face could not have been taken away by the grandest of monsters. It seemed to be stuck there, holding on even as he gently squeezed and held her in place.
 
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Zana

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"I love you too," Zana's smile matched his own, like a pair of twin perfectly curved blades. She leaned forward and claimed another long, passionate kiss with her hand coming up to cup the nape of his neck and hold him in place. The whole thing was like a fairytale. Back in Karak when she had jested about him needing to pull out all the stops for a proposal after announcing her as his wife, Zana had never dreamed of this.

Not this, she thought quietly when they pulled apart and her eyes were drawn once more to the bird. Her attention was divided between wanting to investigate the bird more and look at that ring again.

She settled on the ring.

Gently she took his hand and pulled it back between them so she could see it properly in the small velvet box, then she held at her hand towards him.

"Thror is going to explode with happiness."
 

Talus

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There was no hesitation. Talus took the ring from the box and gently slipped it onto her fingers, letting the cool metal run over her skin.

It fit perfectly of course.

Vorak had made the ring when they were both in Karak, and somehow the Dwarf had known exactly the size that he'd needed to make. Talus would have sworn that it was some type of magic, though he'd never bothered to ask his friend.

"He is." He confirmed with a soft smile.

Briefly Talus wondered if Vorak would have told him, but he somewhat doubted that fact. It would be their secret, nobody elses. "I made sure it matches your necklace."

Talus said as he leaned in and kissed her forehead.
 
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Zana

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Zana's eyes closed briefly as he kissed her forehead. The smile was still plastered across her face and when she opened her eyes they went from him to the ring that glittered on her finger now. At his words she brushed her other hand over the silver necklace about her throat and she smiled even wider. Not because it was beautiful, for it was, but because that meant he had been planning it since then.

Since the moment she had joked about it.

It was such a pure, thoughtful thing. She kissed him once more then slowly turned to look at the bird with wide eyes.

"How...?" Zana looked back at him then the bird. It cocked its head at her then hopped forward a few paces. Her smile grew impossibly more and she held out her ringed hand towards her. There was no fear about being burnt and the phoenix bobbed its head against her palm after a moments hesitation.

"Tingles,"
she giggled as her fingers trailed through the flames.
 
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Talus

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"Imprinting." He was sure that was the right words.

Talus wasn't really one for reading, but he had tried his best for her. All of this had been planned out, all of it he'd made sure that it would go perfectly. For once it seemed that it had done just that, and he couldn't have been happier.

"He saw you first...she...it." Not sure which one. "Sees you as it's mom."

Talus explained. "That was what the book said anyway."

Of course, he'd found that book in the ancient library of Vel Anir. He had no idea if it was accurate or not, though with the way the Phoenix acted...he suspected it was true.
 
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Zana

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The phoenix mantled for them both and Zana ran her fingers reverently over the soft feathers. It was like touching the tip of a candle; there was a threat of being burnt but it wasn't unpleasant. At least not yet. Not unless the bird wanted to hurt her.

"You're beautiful aren't you?" Zana cooed softly and the bird spread her wings even further and fluffed them out. The Dreadlord grinned and finally drew her fingers back but when she did the bird hopped over and booped her hand once more for another stroke, which Zana obliged.

"I'm not quite sure how I am going to explain a phoenix alongside the wolf."
 
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Talus

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Talus smiled at her. "Not sure that's my problem..."

It was a joke of course.

Any problem Zana had was a problem that Talus had. They both knew that, but he would never miss an opportunity to tease her, even if it was the slightest thing. A kiss was planted gently on her cheek, and he took in a deep breath.

"Maybe you can train it to stay at home." He told her softly. "I'm not sure."

A chuckle escaped him. "I just thought it would make a good proposal."
 
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