Zael Castomir did have work to do in the great city of Elbion, but he also had a few reasons (cough, excuses) to slack off. First of all, preparations for the big Festival of Fiery Skies were making things a little difficult. Second of all, his work wasn't exactly time sensitive and, hell, he wanted a little rest and relaxation. Third of all, tonight was his birthday. Hell yeah. Nineteen summers choked out, and Zael was still the reigning champion—hold your applause, folks, the best was still yet to come.
All this resulted in a lot of coin spent, some of it gained back from gambling, and frequent tavern crawls and other dives into Elbion's plentiful amenities. So it was really only a matter of time until Zael, having met some students before during an incident with kraits and having visited Elbion itself before during a cultural exchange, would bump into somebody he knew.
This is exactly what happened at the One-Legged Flamingo, a tavern that was actually well-put together, stylish, and one might daresay classy.
"Zael!?" said Yuna, a small and mischievous student from the College, whose last name Zael still never had the occasion to learn.
"Hey, Yuna," Zael said, raising his beer toward her.
She stomped over to where he sat at the bar. "You!"
"Your face is glowin red."
"Because I'm so fucking mad at you!" Yuna said. And then she slapped him across the face. "That's for leaving us in Rostok, you asshole!"
Zael rubbed at the flaring redness that was perfectly sized and shaped like Yuna's right hand. "Yeah, I did lead you all on there. But you still got the Stalker's corpse for your studies, so that's somethin."
Yuna just ignored the entirety of his response and, in a way that was quintessential Yuna, went from seething anger to doting concern in one second flat. "What happened to your eyyyyeeeeeeee~? Gods, what happened? Tell me. Tell me, tell me."
And that's how they got to talking and drinking. Talking and drinking that began in the One-Legged Flamingo, went out onto the evening streets, and eventually toward the very inn where Zael was staying. Yuna was just an endless font of chatter—entertaining chatter to be sure, she could probably keep the Emperor of Amol-Kalit amused even on the topic of sand. She was also clingy, acting like Zael's arm was something she had bought and paid for. And she was also as subtle as a bludgeon in the hands of an orc about how much time she had tonight, and that she didn't need to be anywhere, and how nobody was expecting her, and how she had tons of time to fill, so on and so on.
For a good ten minutes outside of the door of his room at the inn, Zael was trying to disengage from Yuna, but she'd always find a way to revitalize the conversation. So, eventually, Zael did what most young men would do in such a situation. He said fuck it, why not.
"Yuna," he said, interrupting her as she went on about how some Professor always came to class with a splotch of peanut butter on his mustache. "Do you remember that promise I made to you in Grishino?"
Her brow flattened and her lips scrunched up in confusion as she racked her mind to remember. And then, not more than one and a half seconds later, she did indeed remember. She gasped with both anxious anticipation and unexpected delight. Then Zael yanked the knob of his inn room door, kicked it open such that the door bounced off of the wall inside, and roughly took Yuna by the waist and hauled inside the room with him. She let out a yelp of nervous glee and then the door slammed shut.
Inside the room there was a frenzy of fumbling hands from both Yuna and Zael, each working hastily, and therefore clumsily, to remove the clothing of the other—and this was only made harder by the two of them being utterly unable for a good while to separate their lips from one another. Yuna, for her part, was both ecstatic and terrified. Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, was it finally happening!? She'd been waiting ages for a boy to actually do this with her, but, argh, damn it, everyone that she liked and wanted didn't like nor want her, no matter how much she came onto them! What rotten luck she had! She practiced for hours on this, you know! Making out. Kissing. Practiced with her pillow, with that little mannequin head that was supposed to be used to hold headgear, with apple slices she took from the plates of other students at lunch (she was always hungry so always ate her own) that she'd put together to form makeshift lips, even felt desperate one day and tried with her dorm neighbor's cat but it bit her! But now this was the real thing! The real, real thing! And they were going to do it! She wasn't going to be a stupid virgin anymore! Finally, finally, she could quell those awful and perennially unsatisfied urges of hers!
But, to Yuna's dismay, it didn't quite go the way she wanted.
Zael had playfully shoved her down onto the bed, where she bounced lightly and giggled as she came to rest. He even got his shirt off. Yuna had gotten hers off, was making to likewise remove her undergarment beneath, when Zael just froze, his big grin faded, and he got this look of bemused disquiet, like a pall of uncertainty had come over him and he couldn't figure out why.
"Wait," he said.
"You've seen them before, we went streaking together, re-mem-ber? Duh, silly," Yuna said of her tiny breasts.
"No, it's not that."
"What are you worried about? I'm good. I'm good at this. Trust me. I know what I'm doing. I've done this plenty of times! It'll be fun. You'll be like, 'Wow, damn, I can't believe I didn't want this sooner!' Here. Look. I'll pinky promise you you'll have a good time!"
That look of uncertainty still plagued Zael's expression. He looked off to the right. Off to the right. Back to Yuna sidelong. "We can't do this."
"What? What do you mean 'we can't do this'?"
"I mean we can't do this."
"It doesn't..." Zael actually struggled to find the words, "...it doesn't feel right."
Yuna scoffed. "What? What is it? Is it some other girrrrrrrl? Huh? That it?"
"I gotta go."
"No, no, no, Zael," Yuna all but vaulted up and off of the bed, grasping at him as he started to put his clothes back on, "listen to me, listen to me, okay? Nobody has to know. This can be our little secret, just you and me. I can keep a secret! I can!"
"But you made a promise to me!"
"See you some other time."
Zael effortlessly made it to the door despite Yuna's meager attempts to haul him back. He opened it, stepped outside the room, and as Yuna in her frustration hollered, "OH COME ON!" he shut the door and briskly made his way out of the inn.
Out on the streets of Elbion in the early starlit dark of night, Zael massaged his forehead as he walked aimlessly. Thinking. Just thinking. His own frustration was but a shadow of Yuna's (and certainty different in character), but it was there, and marked more by incessant qualms about right and wrong. Even within himself, however, there was disagreement at every turn about what he should do and what he should not do. Kress...he just...he just never felt like that before in his life. He didn't even think it was possible. Confused, without answers, even with some near irrational apprehension about himself as a man, he just walked through the streets of Elbion.
Some birthday, alright.