The fire, as with all lights, only succeeded in making the paths that Alyxandra’s tears drew transparent, as transparent as her feelings had now become. It must be said now that Alceren had come from the sort of family which is very good at suppressing emotion, and as such, found this sudden display of emotion strange; Alyxandra, sat in silent sorrow, her eyes gazing into the heart of the fire as they sent numerous droplets of water to the tavern floor below. Alceren cleared his throat and moved his chair a little closer. In the most comforting voice he could manage, he asked his new comrade,
“What is troubling you?” Alyxandra turned away, choosing to look at the floor next to the fire rather than Alceren’s face. This puzzled him, for Alceren did not understand the possible behaviour a person can show when they are sad. Unlike him, they could not merely tell a person of all their troubles without hesitation. However, Alceren was also the sort of elf who would not give up easily, and as such, he tried a different approach. He adopted a softer expression, an expression he did not find the opportunity to wear very often. Having done this, he said, “Alyxandra, I can see that something has given you cause to be upset. Could you tell me of its nature?” Alyxandra turned back, saying,
“It is merely the fire causing my eyes to water a little.” Although her lips had been forced into a smile and her voice was soft, even Alceren, as inexperienced in emotion as he was, could detect pain and sadness in her amber eyes. This pain, now present, moved in Alceren a strange recognition - he remembered the times he had wanted to cry out, to shout his feelings to the sky, yet he was permitted only to show shadows of his emotions at any time. In this moment of empathy, he spoke a third time,
“Alyxandra, please do not feel that you have to keep your emotions hidden away. I understand what can happen if they are masked - it will poison your outlook and cloud your judgement. I will not speak unless you wish it, merely listen, whenever you are ready.” Taking another sip of wine, and wiping her cheeks, Alyxandra turned on her seat to face him. Alceren smiled, in part because he wished to provide some comfort, but also because he had found in Alyxandra something of himself - that desire to keep emotions secret to benefit those around her. At this, Alyxandra took another sip from the goblet, before placing it by the hearth, clearing her throat, and beginning to speak.
“I do not wish to trouble you, so before I begin, I give you one last reprieve in which you may walk away.” Alceren remained completely still. Alyxandra sighed. “In that case, I shall tell you, but it is an unhappy tale.”
“I am all ears.” Alceren’s smile became even more sincere as he said this, this mutual understanding of pain, that sad but necessary feeling, had given him a chance to understand emotions, and Alyxandra, better. It was then that she began to speak.