Private Tales You Were There

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Nairth San'Seya

The King of Spring -- Preservation Through Action
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Life is beauty.

Those were the words that he'd lived by for ages, generation after generation he was fueled by his love of life, the beauty that it created on this planet that all beings roamed. Nairth San'Seya was a being of incredible strength, to be sure. However, that strength meant nothing without the air that filled his lungs with every breath, without the grass between his toes and the sun at his back. He often wondered why his Fae brethren were so insistent on spending all of their time making paltry deals with mortals, politicking amongst each other and vying for things as fickle as power. Nairth needed none of it, he need only be at one with the world around him to find a semblance of peace.

What better place was there to attune yourself with nature than the lush forests that covered much of Falwood? The Duanann was attuned to the energies of the life around him, so even his usual loneliness was quite abated when surrounded by the wildlife that covered every inch of the woodland. That was where the tall, silver-haired Fae was now, lounging bare-skinned on a gigantic leaf situated in the center of a small grove, supported by thick stems that rose from the ground and weaved in and out of each other as though built to hold a bridge aloft over water. The grove was teeming with life, trees and flowers surrounding the Nairth's spot, a small pond to his right side, vines worming their way up from out of the water, the sounds of toads, birds, and other creatures was thick in the air. To Nairth, this grove was heaven.

He'd found this spot many years ago, before he'd fully come into his own as a Duanann. It was where he'd made his first pact, and met his first Human. The importance of the event was never lost on Nairth, and the pristineness of the grove it happened in struck the spiritual creature as fate. He warded and shielded this grove, ensuring that no mere adventurer could enter it's hallowed grounds. This tiny little grove, situated in the southernmost part of the Elven lands, became Nairth's home away from the tribulations of his kind. These trees and plants knew him far better than any in his court did; They'd been here when he would bring lovers to his grove, when he christened his children with their names: The San'Seya. They were here for the sorrowful years after he slew every San'Seya, when he could do naught but weep and regret. They'd seen him at his peak and at his lowest, every lover's sigh, mournful tear and father's wisdom sunken deep into the roots of everything here.

The life that surrounded him here was all the family that he had. Perhaps, it was all that he needed.

Still, he had a duty to his King, and it was a duty he could not overlook. Oberon often sent him as a liaison or stand- in to political events or social gatherings. They were all things Oberon himself was quite capable of managing himself, but as Chamberlain Nairth was bound to serve the King as his hand. It had confused Oberon quite immensely when Nairth had thanked him upon returning from the latest ball. It had not been the boring slog he'd stood through so many times before. This time, he'd met somebody who piqued his interest.

Fraeya.

A human dressed in Fae's clothing, searching for something with the determination that matched her disguise. He'd admired it so, that fire in her eyes even as he fed her into the arms of The Autumn King. There were many lesser Fae who would have panicked at such a thought. She said nothing, no complaint. Even now, as he lay on his bed, a beautifully bright sparrow perched on a finger as he ran his digits softly across its feathers, he found himself wondering if she'd made it out okay.

Of course, admiration didn't necessarily mean that he felt an indulgent affection for the human. His children had made such an err and paid dearly for it. Still... what was it she had asked him?

"I wonder if it would be easy to love you."

Yes, that was it. What an odd question to ask of a Fae. Of course, it wasn't so much the question that troubled him so much as it was the fact he didn't know the answer to it. He'd never looked at himself as the one to be loved, only the world around him, the life that surrounded him. He himself? Well, he was a vessel through which that loved flowed. Now, his thoughts broke as his avian friend turned his head north. The loving smile on Nairth's face as he doted on the creature turned curious as he followed its gaze. Nairth could often tell if anybody was visiting the forest, being at one with nature allowed him eyes and ears through the flora and fauna. The Sparrow was right, somebody new roamed his land.

No, not new. It was the very presence he'd felt at the Ball. "Yes. I feel it as well. Fly ahead and tell me what you see, I shall be with you shortly, my friend." He cooed softly at the bird before watching it fly away.

Fraeya
 
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Under normal circumstances, the Falwood was one of her favorite places to visit. It was far from the prying eyes of the autumn king. It was still dangerous but there was a certain rhythm here and a comfort to that rhythm. More ordered than the Ixchel wilds. And it was a welcome break to the cold and damp of the autumn court.

Delun had sent her with a message from the autumn king. She’d never met with the Spring Court head. The closest she’d ever gotten had been with the dance with Nairth. She still remembered how they’d moved together. The dance before she sealed her fate with the autumn king. How Nairth had surprised her with his kindness.

Perhaps she’d see him somewhere here. Booted feet tread lightly along the bright green grasses. Head tilted to the side and she paused, hearing something.

A twig snapped and she spun around. Two lesser fae with gray skin and dark clothing spread from the woods. They were slender and tall. Fingers like gnarled branches with deep, black eyes that gleaned in the sunlight. A third she hadn’t even seen flanked her.

“What do we have here?” Its voice was like hissing snakes. Despite the relative warmth of the woods, she felt a chill curl down her spine.

“Hmm,” she felt a breath down her neck and in her hair as one of the tall lesser fae were suddenly behind and at her side. “Haven’t had a woman in awhile.”

Fraeya bristled and tried to step away but one of their long fingered-hands curled around her arm. The second one around her other arm.

“Release me,” she snapped and went to yank free. The two holding her captive licked their lips and clucked their tongues.

“I do love it when they show spirit,” one of them hissed, it’s nails digging into her skin until blood began to drip down one arm. She lifted her booted foot and slammed it down into the foot of one. It hissed and released her. She curled her fingers into a fist and spun, swinging it into the odd-slanted jaw of the second that still had a grip on her. But the third was behind her and gripped her hair, yanking her head back.
 
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"I am severely disappointed by your conduct, brothers."

The voice seemed to come from nowhere, a chiding reprimand that emanated from the land itself as the lesser fae moved to defile the unfortunate woman. This transgression was an unacceptable one, even if it hadn't been Fraeya involved; Nairth forbade the mistreatment of life in his presence, and this included humans. These lessers... they knew where they were, and they knew who they'd crossed as soon as the chastisement rang out into the air.

"I have made it clear you are not to disturb this forest with such behaviors. I am done warning you."

The three of them stiffened, but it was far too late to flee even if they decided to; The trees surrounding them seemed to bend closer, the branches rustling as if caught in a powerful, violent wind filling the air with the sound of leaves as the branches shot outward. The thin tendrils of wood grow and wrap around the assailants, the thin creature gripping Fraeya by her hair meeting a particularly gruesome punishment as a branch wrapped tightly around the wrist he used to hold her in place, digging into his flesh and eliciting a sharp groan of pain before the branch twists violently, snapping the male's wrist and freeing Fraeya from his grasp.

The other two weren't faring much better, suspended in the air as the trees hoisted them up, tangling their limbs in an oaken grasp. They'd been spared an injury such as their friends, but now the broad-shouldered duanann who had ensnared them emerged from the brush, his bare feet leaving no indent on the dirt beneath them as he stepped forward with his hands locked behind his back. "I must apologize for such untoward behavior, Fraeya. I assure you these two will be dealt with properly."

His attire allowed him to blend in quite seamlessly with the lush environment that the Falwood forests provided: The shining green chest piece over his torso adorned with ornaments and designs painted in brilliant silver almost resembled a glimmering carapace, and a billowing emerald robe hung underneath it to cover the remainder of his form, leaving his arms exposed.

He passed the human woman with a brief nod on his way to stand before his lesser of kin holding his broken wrist and seething in a mix of pain and anger. The calm smile he normally wore was replaced with a disapproving scowl. "You're lucky it was not your neck, Kai'lem. Leave now before I change my tune, This human is under my protection." It was the closest he'd shown to anger in some time, enough to frighten the injured Fae off. Nairth turns on his heel, addressing the restrained pair, now bound to the trees that had ensnared the both of them "As for you two, I think I shall leave you where you are for a day or two, and allow you to ruminate on your choices."

Ignoring the swears that rained down upon him at such a decision, he finally turned his attention to Fraeya, the soft smile returning to his face as he bowed his head to the mortal woman in greeting. "Welcome to my humble little patch of land, Fraeya. Had I known to expect company, I would have endeavored to ensure you're safety; This is certainly not the way I wanted our next meeting to happen."

Fraeya
 
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Nairth.

Oh stars, Nairth.

Heart still clattered like a caged bird in her chest. She tried to keep herself from trembling. From wobbling on her feet as the three offending fae's grip on her were released. Blonde-locks of hair pulled from their braids to drip freely down her back, feathering across her face in a tangled mess.

Warm blood still oozed down her arm from those newly made gashes. But she didn't register the pain yet. She could only stare at those three lesser fae. The sickly color of their skin. Their sneers and voices like twigs scraping against a glass windowpane.

If Nairth hadn't...if he hadn't been here...

She firmly stopped those thoughts from spiraling. Lips parted as the Chamberlain addressed her. She managed a small dip of her chin. "Can we go away from here?" Her voice a strangled whisper.

Away from them.

And then she did sway on her feet as bloodloss and shock began to take their toll on her very human self.
 
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The expression upon his face was neither a grin nor a scowl; Nairth too felt the weight of what had just happened. A generation ago, lesser fae would have never attempted something so brazen and despicable in the light of day. The Duanann followed Fraeya's gaze up to the restrained assailants, a soft sigh leaving his lips. "How tiresome..."

A shake of his head, the markings on the Spring Fae's face seeming to glimmer in the sunlight that so barely peeked through the treetops above as he turned his attention solely to the woman in distress. She was wounded, her arm fresh with cuts and dripping crimson life slowly. Fraeya's injuries were collectively quite minor, but the events that brought them about had seemed to take a toll on her.

Still, that slight bow of her head did curl his lips upwards into a small smile. "Haven't forgotten your manners. An excellent start." His eyelids lowered softly as he accepted the gesture of respect. It mattered not how friendly they were with one another, if she was traveling here from the Wilds, as he so assumed, then it was likely on business.

That made it his business.

"Yes, let us depart. I will need to ask you what your busi--" As she began to sway unsteadily on her feet, he paused in mid-sentence. She could barely stand, let alone walk to a more secure location. He stepped forward, allowing her to fall against his chest as she lost her balance completely. "I see."

One of his arms would wrap snugly around her back, holding her close against his body as his eyes slide shut in thought. "I forget your humanity at times, you must forgive me. Let me take you somewhere you may collect yourself and we can discuss business afterwards." He waves his free hand lightly across the tender, wounded flesh of her arm, and the pain would lessen through what little bolstering of life he could provide to humans.

San'Seya pulls away from what may as well have been an embrace, keeping an arm wrapped around her back tightly to hold her steady on her feet as he leads her back to his Grove. It was well warded-- they would see no intrusions there. It would have been faster to merely pick her up, but humans had a tendency to consider that an insulting gesture.

Fraeya
 
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He’d see a ghost of a smile on her lips about the manners comment. Then her eyes closed briefly as she leaned against that chest. Knowing she would’ve ended up on the ground if he hadn’t been there. The most that hurt now was her pride. How could she show such weakness in front of the fae? In front of him?

Still, she didn’t move away as his strong arms wrapped around her shuddering form.

She was okay.

She was safe….relatively, for now.

Taking a small breath, lime-green eyes cracked open again. A grateful nod up at the powerful fae. A look of surprise as he sent some sort of healing energy into her arm. She gazed down in wonder as the bleeding stopped. A clearing of her throat as she found the strength in her legs again and began walking beside him.

Not giving the other fae a second glance. Time was strange with the fae. Or perhaps she moved with magic as she walked with Nairth. Because in no time, she found herself in a protected grove.

“it’s beautiful,” she breathed. “I’m okay now,” she reassured him as she wandered from his grasp. Sights like this? It never got old for her. There was always great beauty held by the fae and their lands. Ancient magic.

“Is this where you live?” She asked curiously. Fingers trailed along the trees, down over the tips of the grasses.
 
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There was a limit to how he could assist Fraeya with her injury, but it was the very least he could manage to stop her bleeding. He moved at a much slower pace than he usually would for her benefit, but it was likely she would be dazed by the rush of like he'd offered her, and they would reach his Grove quickly either way. The trip was not silent, as he held her up. He would hum a strange tune idly as they passed streams, clearings, and nests of all types. It was a mysterious, and yet somewhat happy tune.

Finally, they passed the wards that surrounded his abode, his grip tightening on her as if pulling her through unscathed. If a human tried to cross this invisible barrier on their own, they may find themselves in quite a predicament, but Nairth had shown he was unwilling to allow harm to come to this one.

This one...

He remembered his words to Isiell about Fraeya, about his beliefs that she was destined for something great. Of course, it was just an uncanny feeling... but he couldn't shake it, the notion that she was very important. It went beyond his personal liking for her.

Although he found that as she reassured him softly, pulling away from his arms to explore his home, that the personal liking was growing as well.

He smiled softly, stepping in time to follow her and lifting a hand to the air, the trees above them shifting to bend the sunlight in such a way that the cool shade would follow her as she walked. The grass seemed to bristle at her touch, the trees almost appeared to breathe with life as they swayed gently. "Yes..." He murmured softly. "This is my home, this grove is my family. Every tear, scream, and moan I've shed has been baked into the floor, every memory lives on in these trees, in these rocks. My paradise..." He spoke wistfully, his hands locked behind his back as he squatted down beside her, cradling some flowers in his hands gently. "Here, there are no courts, no Kings or hierarchy. It's my own little world, from which I watch over these forests and ensure they are not harmed..."

Turning his head, he smiles up at Fraeya, the unusual sight of him beneath her height likely striking. "It's such a lovely thing to have you as my guest, Fraeya. Please, do tell me what I can do for you on this evening? What is it that you need from me? Or, rather, my King?" As Chamberlain, Nairth was considered second only to Oberon in hierarchy. He didn't have the final say on anything, but he was the King's direct right hand.

Fraeya
 
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She looked down at Nairth by her side. It was strange to have a fae put themselves in the position that he was. A lion crouching before a fawn. "You surprise me once again and you have been...very kind. Kinder than most I know," she said quietly. Her fingers twitched at her side, a sudden urge to move some of his wayward hair from his chiseled jaw. His skin practically glowed here.

Instead, she lowered herself to sit next to him in the grass. Legs crossed and her hands rested behind her, pressing firmly into that soft green blanket.

She tipped her head back, looking at the shaded canopy above them and the soft golden rays of sun that filtered through the leaves. Blonde ribbons that were a paler shade than the sun of hair flowed freely down her back. She took a breath and closed her eyes.

"Just need to savor a world without courts and politics for a moment," another flicker of a smile on her lips.

Smells of ripe berries, fruits pricked her nose. And honey. She could smell honey somewhere.

Her small smile widened.

"But if we must delve into business," her eyes finally fluttered open, bright greens re-focusing on her host. "I carry a message from Delun and the autumn court. I do not know the contents but I was given strict instructions to pass it onto the king. Though I would prefer to give it to you for the king."

It was no secret how the Spring Court King felt about humans. What all of them felt about humans. It was why Nairth constantly surprised her. She doubted his long past was innocent. Neither was her short one. But she didn't forget how he reacted when they'd first met on the dance floor. How he'd seen through her disguise and instead of drawing attention to her or walking away in disgust, he'd chosen to try and help her. And that was no small thing among the fae.
 
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Her praise for his kindness was met with a warm smile, bright across his face as he slowly lowered himself once more to sit in a manner identical to Fraeya, his lungs filling with a deep breath of his home's crisp air. "I am San'Seya. My name means "Lover of World". There was a time I encouraged all of my brothers and sisters to practice such tolerance and love for all forms of life, including the humans." His eyes traveled similarly to her own, wandering from her eyes, down the markings on her cheeks to her neckline. She would have been right at home here, amongst the endless beauty of the forest. "Fae are not creatures of hate, no matter how much they aspire to be. There is no reason that we should despise another race so vehemently, but it is our fear that keeps us at arms."

He raises a hand slightly, shifting the canopy of trees to shed some light on a nearby flowerbed, the colors of many different plants popping against the green grass surrounding them. "You humans... You're so resilient. You have fiery spirits that refuse to relent in the face of impossible odds. When something blocks your progress, you do not fret, but instead, work until you've found solutions. Such a stubborn will confuses many of my kind, I feel..."

He sighs, his lips pouting slightly as he brushes the hair that had fallen down over his chest to his back. A message from Delun? Yes, he would need to hear her out then. It was likely he would be rather thoroughly chastised were he to delay the movement of such a message from reaching his King. "Then I will take your message, and you may consider your official business concluded, should you so wish..."

When he saw her nose twitch, perhaps at a particular out-of-place scent, Nairth seemed to remember something. "Ah yes, the gerrin root..." He rises to his feet and wanders over to the flowerbed bathed in light, flicking two of his digits upwards and causing a few strange purple-colored violets to emerge from the garden. "You probably don't want to catch the sweet scent of gerrin root violet's bloom, Miss Fraeya." He smiles gently and strokes the flowers that stretched to meet him with an affectionate hand, before murmuring some words to ward it for the time being, preventing its scent from escape.

"Both the petals and the seeds are a delicacy to beast and man alike. They elicit a euphoric, orgasmic response in most mortals who smell them for very long, and the seeds themselves can be eaten as a powerful aphrodisiac. As you might expect, this has rendered them quite sought after and rare. I do believe these are the last in Arethil..."

He releases the flowers gently, allowing them to sink back to their spot on the ground. That could have ended... well, interestingly. Turning back to face Freya, he offers her a wave of invitation to come and look at his collection of flora, before gripping the hard carapace-like chest piece and pulling it off of him; it was getting far too warm for his liking, and he placed it on the ground beside of him. The slightly sheer but quite modest emerald-colored robe he wore would do for the remainder of their time, surely. "Come, come. Tell me what it is you've come to tell me. Perhaps afterwards I can show you more, if you'd like to stay a while."

Fraeya
 
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Her eyes widened and she could feel heat warm up her neck and face. An aphrodisiac?! She didn’t usually blush easily. Perhaps Nairth just had a way of catching her off guard. Green eyes of hers narrowed slightly on the fae male.

“If those flowers only affect mortals why keep them here at all?” There was no real bite behind her words and her eyes sparkled in amusement. At his gesture, she rolled back to her feet. But not before slipping her feet free from her boots so her bare toes could curl in the soft grasses.

She joined his side, keeping her gaze from remaining on his chest for long as she asked her next question.

“If a human in spring sought you out to be…set free. Would you help them?” Her voice was quiet. Cautious
 
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She'd yet to deliver the message she was supposedly entrusted with, and Nairth would usually have pointed out such stalling of one's duty. He belayed any chastisement of Fraeya, however. He had presented a new topic of discussion, after all. Her reaction to the gerrin root brought a soft laugh to his lips. Perhaps she realized she'd smelled something odd that could have been just that? There was a chance of such a thing occurring, but he doubted she'd caught enough of it to get the full effect.

As she opted to pull her boots from her legs with amusement and playful tone to her voice, he raises a hand to brush the silvery locks from his face. "Well, they can affect me in large doses... Nevertheless, the reason I keep them here is quite simply because they are the last of their kind. I am a purveyor of all life, Fraeya. I do not wish for any plant or animal to truly be wiped from the world."

He would look down at her fondly, gesturing to the purple violets. "These poor flowers deserve much more than a fate decided for them because of their innate effect on others, wouldn't you say so? He was preserving them, keeping them from total extinction. Of course, occasionally he had borrowed some of their seeds in the past to ensure he had an entertaining night, but only as a supplemental. It had been long since that type of company had kept him warm under the stars. "It is the same with animals. The most vicious of species have souls and hearts that make them just as entitled to their life as the rest of us. We must remember this, and celebrate all." He added rather bluntly at the end. "You may look at me as you wish. If my visage pleases you, I do not object."

However, it was her final question that seemed to catch him off guard. The smile that seemed stuck to his face lessened a bit. Not in anger or sadness, rather surprise. A human seeking freedom? The words resonated with something Isiell had told him days prior, regarding what Fraeya needed most. She'd used that same word; freedom.

Of course, this was hypothetical. There were factors to consider, however. His position was high in the Spring. Such a decision may be considered treachery, by his peers. While he wasn't fearful of any Fae, he knew better than to irk Oberon. He brings a hand to his chin, a low hum leaving his throat as his eyes slide shut in thought. "A very bold question to ask the Chamberlain, Fraeya. One that I doubt is what you were sent to tell me... The answer isn't so clear-cut as you may like..." He would have liked to say yes, to eagerly volunteer for this scenario, but... "It would depend on several factors. I can tell you that I certainly wouldn't be sharing such a request with anybody. In fact, I do think I would be inclined to offer whatever assistance I reasonably can..." He tilts his head. "Whyever do you ask, Fraeya?"

Fraeya
 
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Blonde brows furrowed together and her arms crossed beneath her chest. “Celebrate all? You would even say that about those that attacked me? What’s to keep them from doing that to another? You won’t always be around. Someone else will get hurt who won’t be as lucky as me.”

He had to see the logic in what she said. She doubted they’d learned their lesson. In fact, if she recalled from the encounter correctly, he’d already spoke to them about their actions. How many others had they hurt….before her?

She huffed at his second response. It wasn’t exactly a yes. To help a human here. It also wasn’t a no. And it was a risky question. One she hoped she wouldn’t regret asking.

Reaching into her back pocket, she took the letter with the Erlking’s seal on it. “Here’s the letter. And I asked the question because I realize not all humans brought to these realms are…” she paused unsure of what to say. Growing up with Delun in the autumn court certainly hadn’t been easy. But she knew it was probably easier than in spring. She’d at least had SOME protection while those humans here had none.

“would you fault me for wanting to help other humans who wished for a different life than what they were born into?”
 
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He had offended her with his words to an extent, that much was clear. He didn't fault her for the response, and for the first time since she'd arrived in this forest, he averted his own eyes as she crossed her arms and challenged his view. How bold of her to do even that. Perhaps Nairth was growing fonder of her than he admitted; to allow such a display would have made him look weak to others of his kind.

One of his arms reached to grab at some of the cloth of his robe as his eyes slid shut. "You know you're special. You know that I already hold a liking for you." He chuckles a bit at his own words, but speaks on. "I wouldn't have allowed anything to happen to you. Regardless of that fact, I do not kill. To end a life is violation of my own ideals and self." It was hypocritical for him to say such things with all of the blood on his hands, but it was the stains of crimson on his fingertips that he so constantly fled from. "Those who assaulted you were not always so violent and base. They were led down a dark path by the cruelties of this world."

Just as Nairth had bathed himself in blood, one's lowest point did not condemn them. "For me to kill them, to give up on them... It would be saying that they cannot change. If they cannot change, then there is no hope for one like me to mend my own sins." He peered over at her for a moment, before turning his back to her and sliding the robe off of his back, the material sliding down his flesh and resting around his waist as he held it up to prevent totally baring himself.

His skin was not unmarred; twenty seven long scars ran down his flesh from his shoulders to the small of his back in neat rows spaced apart just enough to leave room for them all. "I too, am a killer. Twenty-seven of my own kind fell at my hand, drunk on unbridled rage. In my lowest moment, I was worse than those lesser's have ever been. Do I deserve death for my actions? Possibly so..." He released his robe, letting it loosely hang at his waist as he turned to face her once more. His smile was gone, his eyes lidded in thought. He trusted few with his thoughts on the events that had occurred that awful night, and yet Fraeya had come here asking him to assist her in liberation that bordered on treason. If she trusted him that much, then Nairth could put a little faith in the human girl.

"Yet I live on. I am no creature worthy of judging others for their actions, and certainly not one who should be trusted to pass a death sentence. No, I let them live because if they can change then I can as well." He would take the letter from her, opting to slide it into his robe for now; instead focusing on Fraeya's words. Her request for help with other humans had taken him off guard, but it wasn't totally unexpected. "Your desire to help your own kind, the human desire to reach higher than they're expected to... It's natural, indicative of your endless ambition. With or without my help you will eventually succeed." As humans were so oft to do, they excelled in persevering until the end.

"If I may quicken that process with my hand, then you may count me as an ally in your efforts. I will assist."

Fraeya
 
"But how will you keep them from hurting others?" She pressed. Because wouldn't his feelings of guilt extend both ways? If he killed them, yes, taking a life. But if he let them live and they hurt someone else...she was curious if he'd thought of that. And now she wasn't just speaking of him taking their lives. Was that how powerful he was? He'd be able to know of those...other fae were about to hurt someone else and stop it?

Those lime-green eyes of her widened as he turned, nude from the waist up. Why were fae so gods-damned perfect? Even their scars. It made her self-conscious about her blood-stained arm. Her tattered tunic. The grass-stains on her cheeks and her unbound hair.

She swallowed. But remained back straight. Shoulders set. Tension in her jaw and lips pressed thin. Until she found her mouth relaxing as he took her letter. And offered her his help.

"I'm glad you have enough confidence for us both," she spoke, finally. Referring to what he said about her succeeding. "I can't even protect the other humans in my court." She thought of the one found with a nail. How she'd been strung up and whipped within an inch of her miserable human life. And if the Erlking even suspected her question to Nairth, he'd have her killed quickly. Well, killed. Perhaps slowly.

A small shudder ran down her spine at the thought.

"And not everyone can change," she said quietly. Slowly, her arms unwound from beneath her chest. A hand reached out, fingers hesitating a second before they brushed against the outside of his closest arm. "That doesn't take away from your own." She saw his pain. Nearly felt it and she couldn't stop the comforting gesture. Just like she couldn't stop what she did at the ball. How she'd felt the need to protect Delun and get him home even if it meant coming face-to-face with the Erlking.
 
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The next time he spoke, it was not with the calming and serene aura that he usually employed in his speech. There was unmistakable frustration in his voice, restrained, but apparent. That near-constant smile that softly curved his lips faltered, and his smooth unwrinkled brow furrowed. For one moment, the duanann looked every bit as human as Fraeya at face value. "I can't save everybody, Fraeya! I can't stop them from doing as they damned well please! I truly wish I could, but I can't. I don't... I'm not killing any more Fae." Of course he felt guilty! What could he do, though? He'd killed so many, the thought of more blood on his hands... No, he refused.

He caught himself, his eyes closing tightly, face tightening and contorting as he forced that every so calm expression back onto his face. Inhaling deeply, he shakes his head as the crisp forest air calms him ever so slightly. "I'm so sorry, Miss Fraeya. I allowed myself to be lost to emotion for a moment. You're right, I am... lax in my ideals. A fault of mine" He had no desire for Fraeya to see him so weak, so unable. She was here asking him to be a pillar, somebody she could rely on in her own efforts, and he'd responded with a childlike outburst.

He was just and fallible as she. Did she not see how similar she was to those she found so flawless and divine?

He'd felt her gaze as it bore into the bared flesh of his back. What was it the human felt, he'd wondered? Was it disgust as he'd felt? Was it pity? He couldn't very well ask her, but that small touch to his arm was a gesture that reached a place quite untouched for many years inside of him. It was a gesture of comfort, of understanding.

Nairth had been living in this forest for so long now, stewing in his own grief and leaving only to serve as requested by his king. He'd forgotten what it felt like to have another offer any form of care or condolence. He'd forgotten that warmth that grew in one's chest when such words of care were spoken, and wise words they were.

He turns, the arm she touched shifting so that his hand gently held her arm as he pulled her into his embrace. This was not like the one he'd held her in while walking to the Grove. This time, both of his arms wrapped around her small frame, holding her slim form close to his chest, hair gently brushing his skin as he closes his eyes and takes another breath of his grove's air. "Thank you, Fraeya..."

His hands would rest on her back similarly to how they had at the ball, this time though, he pulled back, gazing down at her as he spoke with that calm little smile of his. "You are much more powerful than you realize Fraeya." He murmured softly. "You are human, but you reject the path chosen for your kind by others with higher status than you. You fear us, and you fear what may become of you for your ideals, and yet you put aside that fear and throw yourself into danger for the good of your kin." His head tilts, his smile growing as he reminds her of her deeds:

"I've watched you stare down a King, I've watched you out-dance beings who consider themselves the epitome of grace. Today, you've travelled to a figure that could end your life in an instant to ask for his help in liberating those you care for from a terrible fate. Your passion for your kind is boundless. You are humanity at its core."

His grip on her tightened, ever so slightly.

"You are an incredible creature, Fraeya. There is much more than a human woman underneath the clothes you wear and the flesh and bone that make up your form. There is a champion of your kind lying at your core, and I will do everything within my power to ensure I have the pleasure of witnessing it. In this effort to free your humans from their servitude, The Hand of Oberon is yours to guide."

Fraeya
 
It took her a second to wrap her arms around the duanan's form. Even as he pulled her in against his chest. Fingers brushed along his skin, that ancient and coiled muscle of his that could break her as easily as if he crushed a dried leaf. But she held him with a different strength than he held her.

"There might be a day where you will have to kill a fae, Nairth. But I will never ask you to," she said quietly against him. It was the world they lived in. Perhaps more so her. She knew nature was red, teeth, and claws. Or perhaps it was due to her upbringing in the Autumn Court where she knew there was balance in everything. Especially nature. Predator and prey. Death lead to new growth.

Eyes traveled upward as he pulled back, the full weight of his gaze coming down on her and her hands transitioning from around his back to rest at his sides.

If she had grown up in the human realm, she would've said thank you by now. But she hadn't. She'd grown up among them. "You put great trust and confidence in me. Let us hope I can live up to my own expectations," a small self-deprecating smile. But then her sandy-brows knit together. "You don't have to pretend around me, Nairth. I won't betray your trust."

Index finger tapped lightly against his side.

"What you showed me before you apologized, perhaps that was the real you. You're looking at someone who wears their emotions on their face half the time so never apologize to me when you show me something behind that mask of a smile of yours."

Eyes narrowed as close to scolding as she could get even as he dwarfed her form.
 
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He could only respond to her scolding with an amused chuckle. He must have seemed a mess of emotions to the human, but then he supposed he was. Maintaining a demeanor as calm and reserved as he so often did allowed feelings and thoughts to bottle up within him; it was a behavior often displayed by humans, but Fae were just as susceptible to it. He should have been ashamed, exhibiting such behaviors in front of a mortal.

He found it rather puzzling that he wasn't.

Never the less, it seemed his composure had returned, and the brief display of emotion had receded back behind a calm, serene wall. That wasn't to say he was retreating back into his shell and closing himself off to her. Far from it, as there was an honesty and punctuality to his voice that had certainly been somewhat absent before. "I would be quite ridiculed if it became known just how much you'd just seen." He murmurs, a hand brushing some of her hair that had fallen out of place. He seemed rather amused. "Ever my weakness, the humans are. Such a beautiful, powerful form of life...

He lessened his grip as the moment seemed to stretch a bit, leaving her room to back away from him. "Do you have any idea how many heroes I've seen come and go in my lifetime? They all do great things, they all aspire to change the world. You may not consider your aspirations to be great, but consider the effects they would have in the long term, mmm?" He closes those golden orbs set in his head, raising one of his hands and idly curling a bit of his hair around a finger in thought. "Do not feel too much pressure from my praise. I'm merely excited to see how you perform."

Perhaps it was the presence of company that made him wish to prolong this conversation, or perhaps it was her company in particular. Either way, the urgent letter he had obtained felt trivial. "In the event where I have no option, I will do what must be done. You can be certain of that."

Fraeya
 
She felt her heart stutter in her chest as his hand brushed along her hair. That full, wild attention on her. Two orbs like the blazing suns. She swallowed.

A blink of surprise at him. At his words. He’d do what must be done if it meant protecting her. She hoped for his sake, he knew what that meant. Because trouble seemed to follow her everywhere. And if she was so bold to enact her plan, then the Erlking might be the last fae she saw while still alive.

She took a step back as he allowed and quickly turned away from him for fear if she stood close for longer she would burn up in his gaze. Taking a breath, she turned back to him.

“I didn’t realize humans are your weakness,” a small smile and shake of her head. “Is that why you looked so surprised and appalled to see a human ready to dance with you at the Erlking’s court?”
 
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He'd felt her own gaze upon him. How did she feel about him, he couldn't help but wonder? Was she still fearful? Did she harbor resentment for his mercy on her attackers? No, that warm look she'd offered him, that stammer in her aura, only momentarily, had told him of the intense emotions that she kept hidden.

She was passionate. In her plight to help humanity, and in her feelings towards the Fae. Nairth knew well that he was far from the only one with eyes on her. The goal she had, the one that he'd offered his support to, would take them both through difficult trials and powerful foes. Before it was over, the possibility that Nairth was seen as a traitor and a heathen was far greater than zero.

He didn't much care though.

He'd been wallowing in his own misery and memories for generations now. At what point did he cease allowing himself to be miserable and content with his droll, unchanging existence before he seized change for himself? No, if being a traitor and staring at the Erlking in defiance meant something more than this, then it was a change worth making.

She stepped back and turned away from him. Almost immediately he somewhat missed the contact he'd had with her, but he lowered his arms behind his back as he so usually did, offering a soft smile at her observation. Humans are his weakness...

She was more correct than he realized.

"Humans and I have always had our fates intertwined. I was raised on Seelie behavior, Fraeya. To look upon the humans as anything but lesser creatures was not how my family taught me." His head bows slightly, his eyes sliding shut. "When I became attuned to life, I was forced to reevaluate my beliefs. For what is humanity but strong, bourgeoning life? I campaigned to my kin, pleading with them to see you not as lesser, but as a people with every right to live and be happy as any other creature that breathes Arethil's air. When my children were born, I taught them this same fundamental lesson."

He supposed now it was all coming to a head... There was no dancing around the topic. "When one of them fell in love with a human... It didn't just anger me. It terrified me. My rage was born of fear, and that fearful anger drew me to do a horrible thing. I was scared that I may be capable of feeling such love for humans as well, if my offspring were." He shakes his head, a slow breath escaping pursed lips. "Is it not sad, Fraeya? The more I spend my life running from a love I'm afraid to feel, the more I begin to feel it..."

Fraeya
 
"I've heard the stories," she said quietly. About what he'd done to his children. She wanted to say it wasn't his fault. But it was. He let his fear drive him and he was still paying for those consequences. But that was the thing. Humans. Fae. None of them were perfect.

She turned to face him fully again, stepping carefully through the flowers toward him.

"Why are you so scared of feeling that love?" She knew he wouldn't hurt her. She believed that now. But that didn't stop her from knowing how easily breakable her body was.
 
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If there were any lesson to be learned from Nairth's folly, it was exactly that; no life was perfect. Looking back on it now, the lessons and mistakes he'd so easily missed almost brought that soft smile back to his face. He had been so eager, so thrilled to extoll the virtues of loving all life that he had not recognized the bigotry and fear inside of himself until it had taken him over.

As she stepped through the colorful bed that made up his Grove, he felt far more naked and bare than he truly was. For the first time, he'd put to words the truth of what his behavior really was; no more than fleeing and fear. It was pathetic behavior for a man of his position.

Yet still, he trusted her.

"Because..." He'd tucked his hair back as he began to respond to the question she posed, but he found no definitive answer to offer her. Instead, he reached forward as she approached him. Perhaps it was that the answer he sought was in front of him, waiting for him to uncover it. "Humanity is strong, but it is fragile. Perhaps my heart could be seized a mortal, but inevitably I will outlive them." His fingertips brush against her cheek, his head tilting slightly as his eyes seem to deepen, misty with thought. "And to ask them to serve me as a Warlock would mean asking them to surrender their humanity for my sake. But perhaps above all else..."

He allowed his hand to slowly, reluctantly drop from her, instead resting it at the bunched fabric of his robe around his waist.

"I do not deserve such a thing, not after what I've done."

Fraeya