I wish that grief were not our constant companion.
A tall adolescent stood at a window's edge. Beside him, a solemn-faced man was nearing a state of sleep. Heavy breaths came in and out like the bellows of a blacksmith's kiln. Hairy, strong arms were crossed against each other, a gesture one used to close oneself off from others.
"Sleep well, Rossel," the boy whispered, putting a dark hand upon the window sill.
From the corner of the room, a white bird cooed. Its eyes were clenched shut by gray lids. Its head was turned backwards and nestled amongst the back of its wings. And it had fluffed up its feathers, as if to guard against the chilling grief around it.
You too, you dutiful carrier. Sleep well, for your return to Gabe.
The bird cooed another snore, as if it heard his thoughts. It remained, upon a short and twisted neck, nuzzling itself into the night.
And for a moment, the boy was drawn to the rucksack that was slumped against the pillow of another's bed. A power inside it called to him. It whispered to him wordlessly, of empowerment and protection; of a way to avoid the greater torment of his forthcoming journey.
The bird wiggled its tail.
I must not. Not yet. This is not the time or the place to come to terms with what I've locked inside myself. I cannot let them know what I am. And, now, it is they who need my help.
The slumbering young man began to snore.
However, temptation wore thinly there, for the weeping of a woman could be heard from the open window. It gave him a far more noble urge, one to comfort and console. Cautiously, he slid his way through the open window to join her upon the sturdy wooden rooftop. A rooftop built for the weight of snow and ice.
The bird's eyes opened suddenly, as if it had sensed danger. And nervously, it dug its head deeper into its wings. Once again, the eyelids shut. Its white feathers were as of a purity that did not belong in the Slough.
Am I right to do this? Or am I to be but another fickle man?
She smiled at him with tight lips and teary cheeks. He was surprised it was something she was capable of doing. She patted the spot beside her, where she lay against the leathery shingles, "Sit here with me, Allerk."
Above them, as he took his offered place, Allerk saw stars in a clear sky he'd never seen devoid of cloud. They were stars he was surprised to have recognized, so far from home. And he spotted the moon, behind the trees, as a woman's arm fell behind his neck.
They were needled conifers that stood tall as spear-bearing sentinels; a kind of tree he'd never seen growing up. There was something beautiful and threatening about them.
The night wind came in from the river, and stirred across them. It opened his robe and teased coldly at his chest. However, with a woman beside him for which he cared, Allerk felt an uncanny warmth. A physical sensitivity rose within him, as his mind began to commit every minute detail to memory.
Then he came to realize that he, too, was crying; for the cruel world that bore their fates.
"I've seen your body naked," she whispered, rubbing tears from her face, "but I've never seen your mind so unclothed."
And as he felt her lean against him, and his body slipped ever so small a way down the roof, the doubt only nestled in the neglected corner of his mind. A grin met his mouth, "Naieyle..."
She nuzzled her head against his shoulder. And she sniffed, taking in his exotic scent. A body from another land, saturated with odd spices and nervous sweat.
And he ran a hand through the soft, hazel hair that he didn't know was fake. His other hand braced himself against the roof. And then he found his hand falling down to feel her neck. Soft, fair skin.
Her head turned, but not to see his face. She moved her lips against his neck, wet and gentle. Tears dried, and fell no more.
"Oh, Naieyle..." ...you must not.
And she began to suck against his skin, moving her lips around the same vicinity and rubbing with a tender tongue.
And with one lithe gesture, she swung her body over his so as to press herself against him. Her head, though, remained in the same place. And she began to draw upon his neck with greater pressure, so as to leave a mark.
Allerk let out a groan of pleasure, and slammed one arm from her neck onto the roof, so as not to fall into the thorny bushes below. And he knew, that if he fought himself and fought her against this pleasure, they would both fall together.
And after leaving a darkened mark upon his neck, Naieyle moved her lips down upon his chest, hands parting the edges of his open robe and caressing the muscles of his youth.
She purred to him, eyes closed with an attention that focused upon all things haptic.
And if she knew the truth, the dagger concealed against her thigh would be at my throat.
And from the wide river, the black silhouette of a loon swam with a watchful ruby eye. It laughed, then, at this bitter moment, as a tear ran down the face, of the one who called himself Allerk ibn Gerauhd.