Gathering - Part 2Mature

"So these are the Plains, huh?" Zane said, eyeing the expansive grasses that seemed to stretch out endlessly. It made him miss his home, despite hating the damn heat and sand. However, the cold is something he loathed. It had been cold enough in the Eastern Lands, but now the wind bit through his red coat like a sandreaver through leather.

"I forget how wimpy you sand dwellers are," Thorn mocked, "I don't mind being out here or even in the sand. Guess it's cause I'm so great, huh?"

Zane glared at her, but held his tongue. Woman was venom when given dialogue to work with. Instead, he changed the subject. "When did you go to Faerein?"

Thorn, for the first time sense he had met the woman, hesitated. "I've been everywhere, love." A nice recovery. "And I wasn't recovering," she added in response to his thought, "I simply... don't have good memories of my last visit."

"What, did you flirt with a taken lord?" 

To his dismay, Thorn ignored him and started setting up for camp. "Give me fire, will you?"

"Ugh, you're useless without someone to invade, filthy woman." He lit a patch of long grass on fire with his Mystic, containing it by nearly freezing a ring of grass around the newly born flames. "Why are we camping with the sun still up?"

"Silly handsome knight of mine. Allow me to educate you!" Annoying, but Zane paid attention. As much as he hated her constant flirting and twisting of his words, he acknowledged Thorn as being... somewhat smart. "Close enough to a compliment for me!"

Sands...

"Anyway, love," Thorn continued, pointing at a particularly worn path near them. "That is a Portal Ground. With luck, we will get a free ride to Mar by tomorrow night."

"You want to wait a whole damn day for a chance at one of those deranged bastards coming!?" Zane roared. "They got me into this mess in the first place!"

Thorn dismissed his anger with a smirk and a hand motion. Insufferable filthy woman! "Not all of them are bad. Porters have made a respectable business with their Mystics."

Zane growled but gave in. He knew they weren't ALL bad, but, sands, it felt wrong to rely on those bastards. Void had cost Faerein its last queen, the former princess, dozens of kidnapped children, and, of course, Zane's brother. But.... He thought of the hero, Jeroha. They weren't all bad, but dammit...

"Just trust me, love," Thorn said, surprisingly nice instead of her usual mocking tone, "I know the Porter who comes through here. We will get your adorable brother back before you can even confess your undying love for me."

A grunt escaped Zane. "Then he'll be here between tomorrow and eternity."

Thorn smiled slyly. "Don't pout, now, little lordling. It'll ruin that pretty face."

"I'll ruin your face."

"Sadly, that was the best one you had up there."

Filthy woman...

-

Rahzin smiled as he walked along the plains, thinking over his plans. Monstroth would see, he would! The man had a heart of gold, after all, and... well, he was Rahzin's best friend. Together, they could save this world from it's own diseases. The lizards, the wars, the criminals....

'But,' a small voice said, 'Aren't I a criminal as well?' 

The voice was crushed in an instant through sheer force of will. No! It wasn't his fault. Rahzin didn't have control when he... ki... ki.... when Saeron died. The Darkness inside him had caused it. Yes, that Darkness that so many Void Users had that made them unstable. Surely, Monstroth and even Craetor would understand, right? He could return home, then...

No, plan! He had to fix this world before he went home. His portals were taking forever to travel with, due to not knowing the location, but he was nearing Mar. Somehow, he knew all the people he needed would be there too... 

"It's so close to completion!"

-

"You awake, love?"

Zane groaned in response. It was well into the night. Why was she still up. Sands, he had even stopped swearing as much to make her leave him alone! That should warrant a medal of honor by itself. "What do you want, woman?"

"You think about your brother a lot."

That was... odd. Thorn was speaking normally. No sarcastic tinge to her words, no backhanded compliments, not even her sickly sweet accent she used from time to time. Just a normal tone he would hear from a regular girl. Sands! Was she dying or something!? 

No, she wanted a reaction.

"Of course, you idiot," Zane snapped, looking across the plains from his position on his makeshift bedroll. "It's my job to look after and protect that annoying sandreaver."

"Because you promised your mother?"

Was that a question? "Don't you already know?"

Movement. "No," Thorn said, "I can only look through images from your past and take a guess. It's like skimming through a book." Why was the damn woman closer? "But every memory I look through with you, I see you trying to protect people and keeping him safe."

"You're just an idiot." Zane growled as memories of Arch came up. If he hadn't watched the stupid kid then he might not be alive. Zane didn't have a choice but to keep him alive. Forget the promise to his mother -  how could he watch his brother die from his own stupidity?

"I know."

Zane turned over to confront the stupid woman's odd behavior, but was frozen as soon as he saw Thorn. Sands, she was naked! 

Thorn was on all four of her limbs, paused in her cat walk toward him, showing her scarred body in it's entirety. Her hair was messy, but Zane wasn't worried about that in the least. No, he was more distracted by the insanity of this woman.

"What are you.."

Zane's voice was lost as his lips were halted by an invading kiss. For all that his mind screamed to react with insults and push her away, he couldn't. He hated it, at least a part of him did, but he knew why he couldn't, too. 

In all his life, Zane had never had someone to compete with or share companionship with. No friends, for fear insulting him would invoke the wrath of his family name, and no real lovers out of reluctance to become just another lord's fling. No, he had never truly had anyone to stand beside him as an equal. They were all either above or below him....

Except Thorn.

In that revelation, Zane was without rational thought for the rest of the night. 

The End

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