Private Tales The Sun and Its Shade in Spring

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Elida

Without Wings
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A symphony of howls and barks resounded all around the Falwood. A dozen or more hounds were chasing after one prey, their parted jaws easily picking up their prey’s scent as they bounded through the verdant green of the forest. Bloodhounds and elkhounds and retrievers were leading the hunt, their masters not far behind them. All of them wore red hoods, all of them were fully prepared with iron and magic to capture their prey. They moved swiftly, runes and spells aiding in their speed and ability to avoid the troublesome overgrowth of gnarled roots and briars.

With magic, they chased their prey who had none at their disposal.

Hiding from the sunshine and running in the shade, their prey continued on with their poor escape. Her blonde hair was knotted with dried blood and mud, no longer looking blonde but gray and green with filth. Fair skin that once shone with a inner radiance that would caused the most spoiled and tended to queens green with envy was translucent and gray. Blue and green veins crisscrossed over her frail and slight body, at least where her skin was visible. Still clad in her tattered and dirty smock of a tunic, stained with things she couldn’t bother to think about, Elida ran like never had before.

Barefoot and unarmed, the only thing she still had, the only thing to still prove that she was fae, was the earth and flora allowing her to pass through without getting in her way. Surely, even without her wings, without her magic, the land she once called home pitied Elida for the pathetic state she found herself in. Elida wasn’t sure if she should be grateful or angry. There was that voice in the back of her head that told her running away as futile and she was only prolonging the inevitable.

All around her, the further she went into the Spring Court territories within the Falwood, she could see others. Fauns and small pixies, little brownies and will-o-wisps. They hid, none of them offering help, but how could they? The dogs were approaching, closer and closer, and with them, the hunters were close on their heels. Elida tried to shout for help, but the iron collar tight around her neck choked her and seared her. It seemed speaking in Iza was the same as using magic, and so Elida could nothing but keep running.

Her body burned despite the cold sweat that dripped down her delicate brow and bony shoulders and back. Her lungs felt trapped by her ribs, every breath was painful just as much as it was life-giving. With blurry vision, Elida moved forward, only narrowly missing trees a second before it was too late. Despite her shaky form and not quite able to trust herself to keep moving forward, somehow the wingless sidhe didn’t falter.

“You can run!” She heard echo around her. “But you can’t hide! You can run! But you can’t hide!” Elida felt her nails digging into her palms as she willed herself to keep going, to run faster. But it seemed with each pounding echo of the taunt— of the threat— that she only ran slower and slower. “You can run!” She could hear the hounds paws behind her, could clearly distinguish all of them as they pounded the ground only feet behind her. “But you can’t hide!”
 
The lush lands of the Spring Court had been Razareal's home for many years now, longer than was worth remembering. The Sidhe had arrived in the forests of Falwood an outcast whose own kind saw no use for him, had shunned and rejected his existence because of his blood and his heritage. The Spring saw through such superficial traits, took him with open arms, and gave him a reason to be. Razareal was not a Watered to his brothers in Spring, he was a warrior.

Ever since that day when Oberon had pointed him in the direction of his enemies, Razareal defended those lands from any who would even dare entertain the idea of threatening Spring's peace. They began to call him The Sower-- Who tilled the lands touched by violence so that the seeds of new life could be planted in the wake of his destruction.

Oberon was no longer King, however. He was dead. In his place was Nairth San'Seya, a Duanann that Razareal had known very little about, but who'd accepted the Sidhe with arms every bit as open as his predecessor. Indeed, Nairth had quickly promoted Razareal to command the entirety of Spring's army, under only the King himself. It was a tremendous honor, and a duty which he took with the utmost of sincerity.

It was all that he truly had, after all.

Today had been a peaceful one, with none of the rabble brought on by local poachers or lesser Fae in the odd squabble. Raz too was at peace-- The only sounds he made were that of his feet pressing against the soft soil beneath them, his steps in a gentle rhythm that played like the slow beat of a drum in his head. He heard not the birds, the teeming life that made home in every nook and cranny of this vast haven of nature. The coolness of night was slowly giving way to the warmth of day, and the light breeze against his flesh was comforting as if his home swaddled him in comfort.

He always had a talent for falling into peaceful trances. Shame this one was so mercilessly shattered by the commotion of a soul in need, shouts of predatory taunting and the hurried steps of their prey.

Razareal did not take even a fraction of a moment to consider who it was that called out in need. There was a life in danger, a heartbeat drumming too fast, breath coming too short. The slow, gentle walk he'd been taking broke out into a sprint, the blackness of his eyelids raising so that every detail of the world assailed him at once, a cacophony of the purest sort. A mere wave of his hand as he moved, drawing from the Prim to seek out the life of another Fae in distress, and he felt the trail of her panic, saw it in the corners of his vision.

The prim bubbled within him, coursed through his viens and gathered at his palms like the drawing of a violent, magical bow, ready to be loosed on any unlucky enough to face his wrath. Before him he saw her, approaching with fear paining her face.

Razareal stood in her path and raised his palms forward.

The bright white flashes erupted from his flesh, searing bolts of destruction soaring past her head with angry screams of magic as they sought her pursuers' heads. With a booming voice, he called not to her, but beyond her.

"Those who would encroach and harass my kin have no welcome here. Turn and flee, or be silenced."

Elida
 
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A hound leapt, and Elida was certain it’s jaws would have wrapped around her arm if it hadn’t been for him. Who he was didn’t matter, and yet it did. She saw the energy shooting from his palm, bright white and blinding like staring up at the sun when she was young. Her arms went up to protect her face as she lamely stopping running, weakly lunging to the side as if it were her he was after.

Elida wasn’t sure if he was a enemy or a friend, but enemy seemed far more likely. She went to her hands and knees, looking over her shoulder to see if this was part of their plan to trap her.

All she saw were the hounds. Some were standing upright and snarling at the fae. Some were laying down and headless. The tang of blood, a smell so familiar by now, filled Elida’s nostrils and she gasped. The echoing taunts that had once been resounding throughout the forest were silenced.

She looked forward, her green eyes finding the one who was saving her. Suddenly, she remembered his words. She had heard them, hadn’t she? She just hadn’t been able to process them, running away from her pursuers was the only thing on her mind. It still was on her mind, and so she stood up. She was slow and shaky, her thighs quivering from exertion.

She took a step forward but yelped. The moment she had fully put weight on her right leg, she felt a flash of pain that debilitated her, almost having Elida lose her balance. Gritting her teeth, she prepared herself for it, and took another step. Her left leg was fine, but when it was time to place her weight on her right leg, she felt her ankle protest.

Elida hunched over, clutching at her midsection. It hurt, and she couldn’t even scream her favorite curses in Iza to express this pain. She bit her bottom lip, whimpering to herself, feeling the iron collar burn against her throat.

A arrow flew past, narrowly missing Elida’s head by barely a inch. It hit a tree, and Elida heard a sizzle of flame. The arrow had something attached to it, and smoke was rising out of it. Elida focused on it, willing her blurry vision to straighten up and make sense.

Was it a pouch? It was red, that she was sure of. Another flew whistled through the air, landing right before Razareal’s feet, only a foot or two away. Just like the first arrow, the same dark smoke began to seep out from the red pouch. A second too late, Elida realized what it was: iron.

She wasn’t sure how Suntory Market was able to do it, but they had figured out a way to weaken the fae. This iron mist made all the fae weak, and it was what they often used to make their wares more compliant. Panicked, Elida looked at Razareal, trying to explain with her hands alone that he should avoid it. She pointed at the arrow (or at least she thought she did) and then pointed at the Sidhe (or at least she thought she did) and tried to gesture for him to back away.

It must have looked like she was just flailing about, but unable to speak, it was all she could do.

Razareal
 
The Sidhe's expression was stoic, unchanging as his bolts of magic collided with several pursuing hounds, leaving them only a moment to howl before their skulls combusted from the sheer destructive force that he'd just hit them with. He took no pleasure in claiming their lives, especially when their actions were taught, and not natural instinct.

There was no alternative, however. Razareal had only just come upon this situation and already it was well out of control. Such blatant hunting was never to be tolerated within his lands, and his blood boiled at the mere thought of it-- They had clearly done great harm to the Fae who now struggled to move towards him, and while he was concerned for her safety his gaze went through her, focused solely on those who chased her, now idling in the distance at the sound of his warning.

One would hope the fact they had ceased pressing forward meant that they would take his words of caution to heart.

One would apparently be wrong.

If they thought they were being clever, these unwelcome interlopers, by quieting down, calling off their remaining hounds and attempting to hide the fact that they were readying their bows, they were sorely mistaken. The Sower of Spring narrowed his eyes at the distant figures, more light building in his palms as he readied himself to silence the remainder of the fools. What good did they think arrows would do against him? Such weapons would only promise their demise.

It wasn't until they loosed those arrows not at him, but at his surroundings that he realized his foes were perhaps less foolish than they appeared. He felt the tug at his energy even before one of the strange projectiles buried itself at his feet, sapping away his connection to the trees and plants that surrounded them. Razareal felt his teeth clench and his legs move to retreat on instinct. He only allowed himself to backpedal a few steps. They were trying to keep him from the woman who now urged him away.

To run would be defeat, and this devilry was not enough to contain his fury.

Despite his resolve, The Sower did drop to a knee as his strength was drained, any window he had to walk away passing as the feeling began to leave the muscles in his legs. The Iron before him did its job well, and while it would not be enough for them to keep him contained for long, it would be more than enough for them to make off with their prize and flee to safety before he could squirm out of the bewitching metal's range.

Razareal aimed not to give them the satisfaction, and there was one last chance to free himself. The collected magic in his hand had not dissipated as the power inside him had, and with the last of his strength he brought his arm back and hurled it at the arrow in front of him, aiming to either destroy it altogether, or blow it away far enough to free himself from its effects.
 
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Elida rose her hands before her head, for a second thinking that the fae before her was going to throw that ball of power at her, but instead it hit the mark. She had never seen any fae still move with such intention and force when weakened. She herself was hardly able to stand, and if she walked she knew she would be tripping all over herself.

So she stayed still and watched in fractured segments of the arrow being destroyed, and with it, the iron. It dispersed into the air as if it had never existed in the first place and Elida gaped in awe. She heard shouts, commands being given in the special language that the Hunters used amongst themselves. The dogs were barking, and even with the commands being given to them, they didn’t move forward to attack the fae.

Run.” Elida said, using trade tongue, her dulcet voice completely ruined with the iron around her neck. It was raspy and rough, as if she had spent these last couple of years only smoking cigars. Once more, she tried to gesture with her hands for the fae to get out of here. There was no way that he would be able to face off the Suntory Market hunters, and when she looked back to their direction, she could see the approaching red cloaks.

An incantation was shouted from the shadows and all the dogs before them became still as something overcame them. Their eyes glowed red and in unison they all showed their teeth and growled. There was another shout and then all the dogs were bounding towards the two fae, no longer fearing for their life.

Fear-stricken yet still wanting to live, Elida turned to run away, hobbling and limping with her arms spread out to keep her balance.

Razareal
 
That he doubted his own aim for even a moment was fallacy. Razareal did not miss, nor had he ever missed since leaving his home and shedding who he'd been before. The iron flew away like an insect swatted by the back of his hand, and with its departure, so too did the weakness it inflicted leave him. The weights that had seemingly been slung over his shoulders vanished, and the large sidhe rose from his knee, his eyes finally meeting those of the pleading wounded before him, imploring him to flee.

He offered only two words in response, using the same tongue she had spoken to him. "Lay down."

As one beholden to Spring, Razareal was obligated to offer mercy to those who encroached upon his lands. For to take life when it could be spared was against the way of this Court. These mortals... they had been offered that chance, and their reply had been to spit in his face and bite the hand that offered them leave. Now, there would be no more mercy shown. The Sower was not some peaceful hermit who had grown in these forests. He was a child of the Summer, raised as the abused, as the belittled. There was rage in his heart, fire in his soul that not even The King could match.

And as he began to march forward towards Elida, towards the resurgent hounds and distant mortals, he felt it building within him, to a boil. The stony expression on his face twisted as tongues of power licked and burned his features, threatening to burst from his eyes and mouth as he gathered every ounce of might within him. He would dispatch them all with one flurry and leave none to return to their homes.

The white energy that had slew the hounds before him now seemed to shimmer out of every pore of The Sower's flesh, a long tendril reaching out and striking the second arrow as he drew near, disintegrating it in a magical flame as Razareal brought both of his hands forward, his own incantation like a ghastly whisper that somehow bounced off of every tree around them.

The hounds never reached their prey. The brightness of the sun itself seemed to wrap around them, long tentacles of light weaving across their entire forms, and then tightening like an anaconda around a fresh meal. Only brief howls of pain would escape them before those burning tendrils sank into the flesh, causing the foul creatures to all but detonate into the very bright light that had killed them.

Light that now spread out across the round like stalking shadows towards the feet of the hunters that had sent the dogs in the first place, moving carefully around Elida herself. If they still refused to leave, that light would rend the flesh from their feet and up their legs until any trace of life was stripped from their dry, dead bones.
 
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Frantic green eyes looked at Razareal as he spoke to her in common. It had been a long time since she had met a fae that was able to speak both Iza and Common Tongue. Usually they could only speak one or the other unless they were like her: fae that frequented about human dwellings. There was nothing worse than when she had been taken to Suntory Market and forced to speak only common.

It was something she had to accept and to be fair, she did get a lot better at speaking it when that was the only way she had been allowed to communicate. But it came at the cost of the ache in her heart to speak her native tongue. If she even tried to speak Iza then her iron collar would sear her delicate skin. When the sidhe before her spoke common, it was different.

Not because his common was unlike hers, or because it was the first time she recognized it as common. It was because when he spoke in that common language, despite it only being two words, Elida trusted him. She brought herself to the ground, even if one part of her mind wanted her to run away from this altercation altogether.

Soon enough, that strange light was coming back at full force. All of the dogs were gone in the clutches of a hungry flame before turning to nothing but dust. Elida didn’t want to watch but she didn’t let herself look away, even if the hurt her gaze. She was aware of the fact that the light seemed to moved above and around her, not harming her, but not giving up on the strike forward either.

One hunter from the market stepped forward, roaring and using magic to create a shield of light but the moment the fae’s power reached his shield, it broke like it was nothing but glass. Tendrils of that indomitable magic slowly began to travel up the hunter, eating away at his clothes then flesh and even his bones as if it were acid. It was horrifying to watch, but Elida found herself intrigued by it.

The hunter’s screams was like music to her ears and a strange smile appeared on her face for just a moment. Quickly, she hid it and tried to look appalled instead. Isn’t that how she should look? But all she felt was a sense of unbridled joy bubbling up within her.

The other hunters weren’t fools. Faster than they had came, they began to run away, splitting off separately as if Razareal were about to chase them.

A sickly sweet smell was in the air. Elida’s stomach growled. She remained on the ground for a moment more before lifting up her head and angling it to the fae that had saved her.

It’s over?” She asked him in a whisper.

Razareal
 
Razareal watched as they fled, tails tucked between their legs to lick their wounds like the dogs they were. The carnage he'd left before them was all the message he needed to send to discourage them from taking another step forward, and as their scattering shadows left his sight, the glow of Raz's skin slowly recceeded, and his arms lowered down to his sides.

That the Sower did not pursue them was due only to the feminine form on the ground in front of him. Preserving her life was more important to him than taking theirs away. Not paying them another thought, the leaf-wearing warrior stepped forwards toward the wounded woman, dropping quietly to a knee and sliding his broad arms underneath her body, scooping her up against his bare chest as he stood.

"For now." He replied, wincing as he felt the tug of that collar around her neck, tugging at his energy as he turned around to take her to safety. "But I need to remove that collar, or you won't heal. I need privacy." These forests would accommodate him, and indeed the trees making up the dense wall of wood on either side of the path seemed to part like biblical waters as he approached, offering themselves to shield the needy.

They were swallowed by the wood, and the thick trunks of life continued to make room for Razareal as he carried the stranger deeper into the Spring. After a moment, it seemed even he loathed the silence.

"What is your name?" He asked in her tongue. "Where do you hail from?" Without waiting for a reply, he added, "I am called Razareal."
 
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As if she weighed nothing, and Elida supposed right now she did weigh much less than she had before, the fae picked her up and held her against him. She was careful to lean her head and neck away from him, the thin piece of iron around her neck a heavy reminder. He was right, of course, she couldn’t heal with it around her neck, but she had no idea how he planned on removing it.

She had tried to do so many times, scorching her fingers and even ripping off her nails in many attempts. When it was first put on her she was unable to sleep, eat or drink. Now the pain was dull but constant. She had grown used to it around her neck but it never became easier to bear.

And speaking hurt. So much more than it should have, even if she spoke in common. She was quiet until he asked questions. He had said he needed privacy, but hadn’t clarified for what reason. To hide his might? He had already shown her and the forest the raw, unblemished power he held within him. Instead of answering, she gave herself a moment more to think.

I think I sprained my ankle,” she whispered, her voice hoarse. She didn’t struggle against Razareal as he carried her. Even against his bare chest, all Elida could think and appreciate was his warmth. She hadn’t realized how cold she had become. Of course, the thread-bare tunic she wore hardly could be called proper clothing for even a child. Her hands moved down, gripping the hem and pulling it down to keep herself modest.

At least she could do that much. Even as a fae, especially a fae who used her undeniable alluring charms against mortal men, Elida sought to keep her appearance decent. As decent as someone as dirty, disheveled and injured as she was, she hoped this action kept her from looking too pathetic.

Elida cleared her throat. He had given her his name, the least she could do was give her own. And maybe answer a question or two.

My name is Elida. I was born in Spring. My mother knew King Oberon personally.” She added. Elida knew the King’s name held sway over those within the Falwood. She hoped it would help her now when she so desperately needed it. “I’ve been gone for years but I know he’d recognize me if he saw me, I look just like her. My mother, I mean.

Razareal
 
In all honesty, Elida could have been nude and the Sower wouldn't have paid her a second glance. Not that he found her lacking in beauty, but the watered Sidhe had never known the pull of desire or lust. His entire existence had been a simple one, with few vices. The Spring Knight lowered his head in a small nod as she appraised her own ankle, wincing as he felt the tug of her iron.

"Likely so. I'll treat you at my home."

Removal of her collar would be tricky and precise, but it was perfectly doable with his magic. It would not be the first time he'd needed to remove such infernal things from innocent beings that crossed into these forests. Those hunters, the market they served, had become more and more prominent over the last few years. Every now and then he'd find an escapee, usually in far worse shape than this one.

"You're lucky, usually the market runaways that make it this far are much more damaged..." Razareal casually stated, making it known he was aware of her pursuers. "They were certainly determined to recapture you though, that was new." He'd never had a direct confrontation with them before today. Now that he had, their boldness concerned him even further.

A break in the woods came, and they emerged at a concealed clearing, the roots beneath their feet rising from the earth and traveling along the surface to support a small structure of shaven logs, held aloft by branches, the twisted veins of massive oaks surrounding and lifting it up, with a woven cylindrical cage extending out from its rooftop.

Wordlessly, Razareal carried her inside, the single-room home filled with plants of all colors, and the same smooth wood was also used to fashion furniture; a table, a bed with a soft, white-looking mattress, and a chair wrapped in what looked somewhat like green leather, but with leaf-like veins on its surface. Gently, Raz set Elida in the chair, which was surprisingly soft.

"Give me a moment while I gather my strength." He muttered, stepping back to retrieve a cloth and dunking it into a basin of water. Wringing it slightly, he dropped to a knee and began to clean the wounds on her legs, careful to avoid her sore ankle. "Oberon has recently passed, unfortunately." He spoke up to her as he worked. "But his successor is no less kind. He will offer you asylum, as he did me. I'm sure of it."
 
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She bristled in his arms. All at once she felt relaxed and restless, a conundrum of conflicting thoughts and feelings that couldn’t possibly fit in her slender frame but somehow did. She kept her soft green eyes on the woods surrounding them instead of the face of her rescuer.

Elida didn’t speak, letting every comment of Razareal’s be met with somber silence. Instead she would tuck away the bits and pieces of information woven within his words to be considered later. She wasn’t sure how to feel about his comment on how damaged she was. A part of her felt like he was suggesting she hadn’t suffered enough, another part told her that it must just be the way he spoke.

Only when she had been placed on the chair did Elida now consider speaking. But where to begin? Asking questions about the new king? Had she really been away for that long? She supposed it had been years, but at one point the days and weeks began to blend in with each other. Sometimes a whole season would pass before Elida would realize the time of year it was.

Elida leaned back in the softness of the chair and with impeccable femininity, raised her scar crossed legs up to him. Her calves were slender with a curve that drew the eye from the ankle to her knee. Even with her knees red and bleeding, there was beauty in their shape despite the sinew and bone showing too easily through her skin. Leannan sidhe were lovely, beautiful things and that was all they could ever be.

Razareal was right. She was damaged. Damaged in the worst way a sidhe like her could be.

I am already belonging to the Spring Court,” Elida said, watching him work. His hands were strong yet their touch was gentle. “But who is this new King? I’ve heard nothing about the happenings of the Courts.” She admitted. She looked down at her injured ankle, swollen and purple like a overripe berry.

Razareal
 
Razareal gently placed his large hand under her leg, holding it aloft by her calf as he finished cleaning the wound. There was a quiet admiration somewhere deep behind his gaze, one born of instinct. When was the last time he'd been so near a female of his own kind? Decades, at least. While his mind remained clear, the Sidhe within him burned ever so slightly at the sensation of her skin against his palm.

"This will sting, but I will be gentle."

It was all the warning he gave before he took a handmade pin and thread stripped from a vine, and began to carefully stitch the gaping wound. Normally, those like he and Elida would heal quickly enough to make such measures redundant, but Elida still wore a collar of iron, and even after he removed it, it would take time before she would return to full splendor. Razareal was not going to risk anything.

In attempt to distract her, he continued to speak.

"The King's former Chamberlain, Nairth San'Seya, has claimed the throne." Admittedly, he'd been surprised to hear Elida was already of the Spring. Nairth had not made mention of her... how long had she been gone? "He lives in Grovehaven, a palace he constructed after Oberon's death." Obviously the woman would want to know the circumstances behind her former King's demise, but Raz felt she had enough on her plate for the moment without worrying about The Dark One.

"I'm finished." Raz stated quietly, gently wiping the now knit wound clean before standing up in front of the fellow Sidhe. "Now, we need to handle that collar..."

Elida
 
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It did more than sting. Elida should have been used to such pains, but instead she seemed to be acutely aware of it all. The way the needle punctured through her fragile skin, the pulling and tugging of it all. She whimpered, closing her eyes and looking away. Her body shook despite trying to be still, and her hands gripped the armrests of the chair until her knuckles were white.

This was him being gentle? It hurt. It hurt, it hurt, it hurt, it hurt, it hurt, it hurt, it hurt, it hurt, it hurt, it hurt, it hurt! She bit her lower lip, not wanting to make any more sound, not wanting to tremble as she shouted inside her mind about the pain she felt. Elida focused on Razareal’s words as if they would be the secret to life and her reason for being alive.

King Nairth San’Seya,” she whispered, trying to get used to saying it instead of King Oberon. She shrank back into the comfort of the chair, curling her toes as she did her best to steady her body. “Yes, I think I remember his name,” Elida whispered softly, flinching as Razareal finished the last stitch. She opened one eye, listening to his words and then took the time to admire his handiwork.

It was surprisingly neat and tidy, the stitching reminding her much of her mother’s. She leaned over, gingerly placing her fingers over the thread. She winced, the spot sore, but when Elida looked up Razareal, admiration and gratitude showed in her face.

Thank you, Razareal,” she said and then went to take his hand into both of hers. Her smaller hands were clasped together against his large hand. “Do you really think you can remove my collar?” Elida asked. “Without hurting me?” She added. “I have no magic, even if you were put me against the leys themselves, I just… I wouldn’t be able to heal.” And that was the worst part of all of this, wasn’t it? At least with the iron around her neck she could live, but if it cost her life then… could she really agree to such a thing?

Razareal
 
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The Washed looked up at her as she complained blankly. The pain would have been much worse had he been even a smidge less careful, but he didn't hold her agonized words against her. Their kind failed to realize how spoiled and privileged they were to be devoid of such mortal discomforts. That they could recover from such terrible wounds is just one thing that made them a step above all others.

"Your leg will heal normally now, especially once the iron is removed and your natural factors return." Razareal murmured as he washed his hands clean of Elida's blood in the bowl of water he'd placed beside her, before the wingless one reached out to take one into her own. Her gratitude and her concern... they were appreciated, but unnecessary. "You do not need to thank me. It would have been against my nature to leave you for dead. You deserve life."

Elida was a Sidhe of the Spring, just as he. Their lives had taken different trajectories, quite obviously, but the Sower saw her as an equal. His hand held hers for a moment, perhaps in some silent display of comfort as she worried for her well being. The gaze that met her admiring eyes was one of stone, but stone with a softness to it, as though if she really wished, it would have let her through.

Now, the Iron.

"It is a delicate process, but it is one I've done before." Razareal moved forward, sliding his hand from hers as he placed one bare knee down beside her leg on the chair leaning his body forwards as an arm rose to grip the top of the seat beside her head. His large form now hovered over hers, his chest nearly against her own as the fingers of his other hand found her throat.

His body would tighten, muscles flexing and relaxing in rapid succession as the iron burned at his fingers. The glowing tips of his digits, flowing with the power of his wrath, of the destruction that coursed through his body, pressed tightly into the metal, denting it, cracking it little by little with every passing second. But so too did that infernal collar do it's job on The Sower-- His breath rained hot against the top of Elida's head, pants of exertion, small grunts and groans of pain barely held back by the Knight of Nature.

Until finally, she would feel the collar snap in two, and fall from her body to the floor with a thud.

Raz caught himself with both hands before he collapsed atop her, struggling to catch his breath as he looked down at the woman he'd freed.

"Give me a moment... I'm okay."
 
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She was quiet, keeping her thoughts to herself. Fae couldn’t lie. She had no magic, but it seemed Razareal believed otherwise. Did he not know much of her kind? It was possible, so rare out of the many sorts of sidhes were her kind. Or maybe he thought her wings to be under a sort of glamour?

Elida raised her head, looking at Razareal as he got on top of her. It was a position she was used to and yet under his broad form her nerves tingled. She quickly brought her head back down, staring straight at his bare chest. Gripping the chair to keep herself from touching his glowing skin more than to prepare for possible pain.

Yet no pain came. At least not to her. She held her breath, quiet and uncertain as she listened to the sounds that the fae above her made. Green eyes watched the quiver in his bicep, noticed the tension in his shoulder and neck. There was a sudden throb of warmth between her legs and the thought made Elida blush along her cheeks, chest and ears.

She wasn’t pretty anymore, she shouldn’t think such selfish thoughts. Just as she was scolding herself mentally, Razareal made true on his promise: the iron broke in half and fell to the floor. And with the collar clanging on the ground, the Sower of Spring fell on top of her.

Elida inhaled his scent, a earthy musk like earth after rain with notes of fresh pine that evoked memories of lush verdant fields and trees. Tentatively, she raised her chin up again, eyes roving over his features and analyzing his condition.

It’s okay,” Elida whispered, hands reaching up to caress his brow and cheek to wipe the sweat away. Her hands and fingertips held a unearthly chilliness to them, far too cold for any fae. She pressed the back of her hand against Razareal’s forehead. “You’re so warm, you worked so hard.” She murmured soothingly. The pale lifelessness still permeated under her skin: dull and lackluster. Yet when Elida smiled at him it was bright.

Take all the time you need. My body has soothed many weary souls. It’ll relax you as well.” She wondered if she still had the same effects without wings? She’d find out soon enough.

Razareal
 
Razareal would apologize in advance for any lapses in logic he was displaying. Though he did not admit it for fear of shaking her belief in his ability to help, such prolonged exposure to her iron restraint was harming his mind as much as his body. It was nothing that he could not withstand, and withstand worse he had. Even so, thoughts struggled to form properly.

Even after his power had made that cursed collar snap underneath his might, and its remnants had clattered uselessly against the wooden floor beneath them, his body and mind reeled with the toll it had taken on him. Any attempt at movement or coherent thinking was met with pain and confusion.

It was all the Knight could do to rest himself helplessly and completely against Elida, beads of sweat dripping from his brow as he pressed against her through the worst of the experience

Elida spoke up to him, her words muffled through the cloud of agony he'd been granted in her stead. The Sower did watch though, as she slowly moved her hands up to press against the cold sweat on his burning flesh. The tips of her fingers felt like ice against his skin, causing his entire body to shiver against her, his breathing to slow as she brought him back down, the muffled reassurances and praise now clear to him.

"You... are still wounded." He breathed, even as his mostly bare form arched towards her, eager for more of whatever life she was pouring into him to ease the pain still combating him. It wasn't much-- akin to a kiss on a snake bite, but what little comfort she offered him caused Razareal to let out a slightly muted groan as he winced at the chill of her caress against his brow. "I cannot take from you when you have already lost so much."

So, he had noticed the wings after all.

The fog in his vision seemed to clear as his pained sounds lessened with every moment passing in her presence. While his body remained perched above her own, The Sower of Spring now held himself up without the need to press against her, and his ivory-white gaze roamed over her with emotion, admiration that hadn't been there before.

"Thank you, Elida..." He murmured slowly, removing one of the hands that braced him against her seat to wipe at a bead of his sweat that had fallen to her cheek. "You didn't have to..." She'd pushed out what little she'd had remaining for his sake, when it should not have come to such a need.

His words failed him. Never had another done something so selfless for him, in all of his years. The ice around his heart did thaw, ever so slightly at the silken smoothness of her words on his pointed ears. Instead, he lowered himself, pressing his forehead slightly against hers as he expelled the hastily drawn breath he'd taken in to fight his groans and screams in a long sigh, the hot breath cascading down to her face as those tensed muscles began to slacken and relax, one by one.

"I will soothe you, as well."

Elida
 
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His admiration fueled her, slowly as it was a trickle but Elida could feel it. To be adored, to be a muse, it was what granted her kind the power that they had. Leannán sídhes were called muses by many, but there were a few that thought of them to be a succubus. They weren’t wrong.

Being adored, being loved— oh how it fueled her. Even without her wings, with that brief moment of admiration (for it wasn’t quite like being adored which always felt best) the color of her skin slowly returned. The cut on her leg mended slightly, nothing like it would have before, but there was less of that burning, itching feeling.

Her soft eyes looked into Razareal’s, searching them. He was powerful. He could defeat iron. He could scare the hunters, no, he could kill them. For the first time in her life, Elida wanted a man not to love her but to kill for her. She knew how far she had fallen and was acutely aware of her morality, a thought that should have never belonged in her mind in the first place.

She wanted revenge. Elida wanted Suntory Market to burn down into a ugly black. The thought made her smile and Elida pressed her forehead against Razareal’s. She bloomed slowly beneath him, her smile matching her eyes, her body leaning towards him as her hands moved down to his chest. Finally, she could speak in Iza she realized.

Soothe me?” Her mother tongue felt good on her tongue and lips, how lovely was it not to choke on her words in the back of her throat. “I am filthy. I could not ask such a thing of you as I am now, Razareal.” Elida murmured his name, letting it roll off her tongue like a decadent piece of chocolate that she wanted to share with him. “I cannot ask such a thing when it is I that still owes you.

Her eyes twinkled. She hardly looked wicked, even with her dirty hair and vindictive thoughts, Elida very much looked like her kind: sweet and innocent.

You saved me. You healed me. I owe you so much more than these soft touches.” Her nose caressed his, her lips close to his. “I can give you more relief. I just need… a little bit of help.

Razareal
 
This close, with mere inches between them, the emotions swimming in her pale, green eyes were laid bare to him. He saw the flowing colors of admiration and affection, the dull sheen of shame and defeat, and the fires of vengeance that burned brighter than the sun beating down on the hut they now shared.

Razareal understood. He knew these emotions, had felt them all at some point or another. That he related to her plight... that was the unusual part of all of this. Her soothing touch traveled down, across the muscular lines of his chest as she spoke in her proper tongue, music to Raz's ears. This sounded so much more natural as it traveled past her lips.

"You are not filthy. You are Leannan Sidhe. You are beauty personified." He breathed in response. It was a compliment, as well as a statement. Were she pristine and winged, none would have debated such a claim. Razareal saw not why damage ruined a person. "I understand, Elida. You are damaged. Wingless and weak of power. It makes you feel shamed and unworthy." One of his palms slid up to rest against the side of her face, his strong fingers, uncalloused despite the ruthless nature he'd shown, drew trails across her cheek.

"I am damaged too. The shame instilled in me for my blood still aches." Her nose grazed his own, the sharp edge of vengefulness in her heart did nothing to scare Razareal. "And for so long, I wanted them to pay. But wounds such as mine... they cannot be repaid in blood." He muttered. There was no blame to be tossed for a watered-down Sidhe like himself. No tangible enemy to hunt and destroy. No target for his fury. So he raged against the enemies of his King, and contented himself to that.

"But yours can. And this hurt you feel will not withstand the brightness within you."

It was the last thing he said, before he closed that final inch between them, pressing his lips ever so briefly against her own. He'd seen what his affection had done. The emotion she'd brought out of him had given her strength. If a look could do that much for her, then what would his undivided attention accomplish?

Pulling his head back once more, his hand slid from her cheek and down the lines of her neck, resting on her shoulder as he offered again:

"We can soothe each other, and then we will ensure this never happens to another of our kind again."

Elida
 
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Her body reacted without her needing to think. Her head tilted towards his hand, resting her cheek against his palm while he caressed her. Every little touch, every little movement, every little look he gave her was like the beginning of rain on a desert. It wouldn’t be enough to change her predicament but it would be enough to make Elida gather some strength back into her body.

Razareal’s words delighted Elida more than her face, even her calming green eyes, could ever show. When he kissed her it was electric. Tingles of his affections traveled long the sensitive nerves of her lips and suddenly she could feel warmth. Her hands and finger twitched and she nearly reached out to pull Razareal back to her when he broke their kiss.

Her heart was beating quickly. She looked up at Razareal, lips parted. Then she smiled. Much like a cat would as it stalked an unaware mouse. Her hands reached up, each one holding either side of his face. Her thumbs could caress the underside of his jaw.

What a lovely idea,” Elida whispered, beginning to spread her legs and not caring if the only article of clothing she wore rode up her thighs to her hips. “Now come and soothe me.” With surprising strength, although it was nothing compared to the strength that Razareal had, she pulled his face close to hers and met him halfway, kissing him deeply. When her lips turned to kiss along his cheek towards his ear, she whispered. “Please, Razareal, give me more.

Razareal
 
Those whispered pleas may as well have been rapturous moans in the Sower's ears. In an instant, they unwound him. A lifetime of isolation, a kindred spirit, and the heat of Elida's lips as they so daringly claimed his lips and flesh were the components needed to open the blazing fire that Razareal so commendably kept under control for the sake of duty. Despite what he wished to project, he was no machine, no soulless knight devoted solely to service.

He was Fae. He was Sidhe.

And his only concern now was claiming the woman blossoming underneath him. To bring her the life she needed, and to quell the inferno that burned at him from within. Elida's begging was met not with words, but with his large hand tangling itself into her platinum locks of hair. A small tug would pull her head to one side, exposing the pale skin of her neck.

Briefly, he gazed upon the discolored stripe where she'd been confined in iron, his ravenous gaze softening with sympathy. Razareal brought his head forward, pressing his lips to the stripe without fear, Her skin was slick with sweat, but still, his tongue drew shapes against the salty surface as his teeth grazed like a shark, threatening to bite. He could feel her tremble against him, the sounds bubbling up from her throat only increasing his fervor

Razareal felt her legs spread apart, a silent message of her desire, and one he planned on answering in due time. For now, his clutch on her blonde hair released, his fingertips sliding down to her shoulder, gripping the sullied smock that hung insultingly over her body with both hands and ripping the cheap fabric holding it around her neck, unwilling to leave her without his lips long enough to remove it normally.

It was garbage anyway; A fae of her beauty shouldn't be seen in such a thing.

As it fell uselessly to the floor, The Knight embraced her completely, pulling his lips from her flesh to pick her up into his arms, his hands holding her shamelessly by her backside as he whisked her away from the chair and to the soft, feathered mattress of the waiting bed.

He would answer her call, laying her down on the bed and letting the loose fitting of leaves around his waist fall away. He would cover her in his affection, his hands and lips leaving no swell or valley unattended. And he would take her by the hips, pulling her in to join with him.

And he would give her more.

Elida
 
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Elida hadn’t been able to sleep. She was tired, even more so after the acts she had engaged in with Razareal. Yet when it all been done and they laid together with their legs tangled together, Elida could not sleep. She felt a sort of fulfillment in her body but her mind was far from pleased. Deep inside, Elida knew she would never feel the same burning adoration and love from a lover until she had her revenge.

For it was revenge that consumed her now. Razareal’s body had been a brief, pleasant moment at best but it was not the solution to the rancor in her heart. She had used him, more than she had used anyone before him. She was only getting started in using his body as she wanted.

There were things that needed to be done first. While there was some magic back in her body it felt watered down and impure. Elida was unable to feel the ley lines, once as natural as feeling her own heart beating in her chest, but now she couldn’t discern where they were. Was it because of her wings? Was it years of exposure to iron?

The wound on her leg had healed, but there was a corroded, pink scar. The lumpiness of it was far ugly than a clean cut would have been. Fae didn’t scar. It worried Elida far more than it would have worried a mortal, because now Elida had to see herself as no longer fae but something in between. She’d have to be careful and cunning.

Birdsong brought her from her thoughts and Elida felt comfortably enough now to sit up. She brought her hands to cover her bare face. She could feel the warmth from her skin. But already it was waning after hours passing by. She’d have to find a ley line and fast.

Elida got off the bed, light and nimble, careful to not wake up Razareal. She went to the door, still naked, and opened it up. Stepping outside, looking about the thick woods. The bird song picked up, a symphony that had brought her comfort in the Market when all she saw was darkness. Now, beneath the early morning rays of sunlight, Elida vowed to never be in the dark ever again.

Razareal
 
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Razareal's slumber was dark, and dreamless. It was a contrast from the vivid strokes of color that usually painted his mind, picturesque landscapes, and intricate portraits of places and people that did and did not exist. Why then, after such a happening, did his mind abandon him to a lonely, cold sleep? He knew. Some part of him had known from the moment Elida had joined with him.

Their actions were impure, and unclean. Not because of their nature, but because of the motives behind them. As the Sower awoke and rolled to his back on the bed they'd shared, there was a feeling of dissatisfaction that settled over him. In the moment, he and the Leannan had taken solace in one another's bodies, but it was not a victory for either of them. It had been a distraction, and the waking world brought with it a return to reality.

The Suntory Market were still at work. Elida would not be the last preyed upon by them. The Spring Court did not have the manpower to deal with such a threat while also managing their other two impending threats. The situation called for action, and the action fell to Razareal alone, The Sower of Spring.

But in order to bring down something so vile, he would need help beyond his own strength. Who better than the beautiful Sidhe who'd fallen victim to their depravity? Elida had not found him by chance-- This too was the work of fate, granting him the tool he needed for the task he was meant to perform.

And yet, as he rose from the bed, eyes lingering on the door she'd just exited, he felt apprehensive.

He had seen it, ever so briefly in her eyes as his lips had touched hers. There was more than a desire for safety and justice against the Market. There was darkness, bitter and ugly. It was anger, hatred and vengeance. What those mortals had done to her had planted a dangerous seed, one that only grew with time.

One that could very well sprout if given what it wanted.

It was not his choice, not his place to deny Elida her revenge. Razareal followed her outside, an emerald robe slung over his arm and the woven coat of leaves slung over the other. Quietly, he stepped beside her, offering her the robe.

"Your indignity ends here." He stated plainly. "Now, like saplings from the charred remains of a burnt forest, you re-emerge from what was and begin anew."

Elida
 
Indignity?” Elida questioned, taking the verdant robe and clutching it to her chest as if she were embarrassed that he caught her outside. She didn’t like that word, somehow it almost made her feel like she was at fault. Of course she knew Razareal hadn’t meant it that way. She shifted from one foot to the other. The bird song didn’t stop, rather there was a rush of birds vying to be heard all at once. Elida slowly began to shrug into the green robe.

It didn’t hide the still red scar around her swan neck.

It will end when the Market is gone.” She said firmly. “Until then, I can’t relax. I must feel this” a hand went to the center of her chest and turned into a fist. “This awfulness. It’s the only thing keeping me alive.” Elida wished it was an exaggeration but it was far from it. She took a timid step towards Razareal.

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘no one steps in the same river twice?’” Elida was frowning. “I’ve learned my lesson, I won’t make the same mistake twice. I was weak when they got me. Next time they see me, they’ll fear me. I’ll have them on their knees.” Her blonde brows furrowed. If only there was something as special as her wings on those awful mortal swine.

But my magic, something is stifling it. I’ll need to go to a leyline first.” She looked up at Razareal, not hiding her frown. “If I can’t be refueled from a leyline you’re going to need to help me. How are you feeling? Tired? Wakeful?

Razareal
 
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Elida's words only served to confirm what Razareal had suspected. The serenity of the birdsong around them clashed harshly with the cold storm of fury in Elida's heart, and it was a wrath that would not fade with time. Not all of her scars were physical, and even the ones on her back where there had once been wings may pale in comparison to the mark they'd left on her psyche.

"You must have caution, Elida." Half-lidded eyes followed her movements as she slid into the robe and stepped closer. She walked a fine line with her words, and he'd seen good Fae consumed by black thoughts before. It was a fate he didn't wish for her. "I understand your rage, but do not lose yourself within it. They will suffer for their actions, but their suffering will not undo what has already been done." Razareal too had found himself in fury's grip, before he'd come here to these forests. He knew the pain, and he sympathized.

Reaching out with his hands, he gripped her shoulders and gazed down upon her with soft, albeit conflicted features. Yes, their joining had recovered some of her power, but she was obviously still lacking. Elida seemed to suggest that perhaps they continue where they had left off to further energize her, but Razareal shook his head.

"I am rested, but I do not wish to attempt to bolster your magic myself. I worry that our negative thoughts on our situation may be a hindrance."

It had been easy enough to ignore their problems before, in the hazy cloud of arousal they had both fallen under. Now that they were clear of mind, he doubted he would be able to put much into giving her what she needed.

"We'll go to the castle. It rests atop a massive and powerful ley source. I'm certain the King would allow you to replenish yourself there."

Elida
 
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Elida knew that Razareal spoke words of wisdom as he told her that her suffering wouldn’t end with the suffering of others. Some part of her knew that as well but anger and bitterness had convinced her others. With a pout, her green eyes settled to look down at her palm and the lines that were supposed to be able to foretell her fate and destiny.

Was there a line there to speak of the years she spent in Suntory Market, treated worse than a dog, worse than scum? If there wasn’t anything on her palm, now there were lines on her back where her wings had once been and they would further be her testament for her vitriol.

Especially as Razareal rejected her. She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth and looked off to the side, clearly upset until Razareal told her about the castle. Truly, she wished to be bathed in the magic of the leyline than to copulate with the Sidhe before her. He would only be able to give her so much and perhaps it was best for her not to try to drain him for her own vitality. She needed him to be the muscle behind her plan.

Then we go to the castle.” Elida said, now looking back at Razareal and seemingly unbothered by his words he had just spoken. She smiled, a soft and sweet curve of her lips that suited her far better than any look of ire could. “Will I be able to meet the King and pay respects to him?” She figured the answer to this would be a no, after all, a King should be too busy to look upon the likes of her.

Razareal