The young woman snaked her bare feet down a well-worn twisted root arcing over a tranquil pool near Darnassus. She wore her waist-length pale jade hair gathered into two braids at her temples that met at the base of her crown, wrapped with a thin string of leather that fell loose on either side, its ends sporting gathered feathers and colored wooden beads. Her face was soft, serene, and unmarked as she lifted her shifts and skirts to allow her to seat herself on the ropy root. Tucking the back beneath her provided her with comfort against the branch. She drew up one knee tightly to her chest, letting her other leg dangle, toe swirling patterns in the pool's unmarred surface. Lazy ripples sprung from her delicate toe moving slowly outward in gentle rings.
She came here to think. Weeks had passed since she'd awoken in the Barrows Dens and yet, she had known so little of herself and her life. They had told her she'd taken quite a tumble from a tree, and they had suspected head trauma. Many of the Circle's best healers were summoned to care for her, but none could break the coma she'd fallen into. Still, the druids had been hopeful.
It was a surprise to all when she awoke, including herself. Too young and inexperienced in the craft to require hibernation just yet, Kyna knew that hers had to have been an extenuating circumstance. But the Circle was vague.
She was a student of the druidic arts with aspirations to become a Grand Restorer. In lieu of the tattoo she would eventually wear on her face, she painted leaf symbols over her eyes each day to remind herself of the Path. Her finger expertly glided silky green paint over her eyes, etched in charcoal pencil. Each day she would paint it in preparation for sunrise, and remove it in preparation for sunset. She was not a full-fledged druid.
"Thank you, Daughter Sun, for rising and bathing us in the warmth of your Light. Good night, Mother Moon, Elune grace us again come evening, and thank you for watching over us during sleep. Thank you for chasing Daughter Sun from her bed again, to rise over our day. And thank you Cenarius, for all things Green, may we keep them so in your worthy Name."
Her morning prayers whispered, she felt the warmth of the rising sun indeed creeping up her back, like an old friend enveloping her from behind. She smiled at the thought, then reached over for a wicker basket perched next to her on the unruly root. She withdrew a set of thin white-and-pink robes, plunging them into the beautiful serenity of the blue pool and humming to herself. After a thorough scrubbing, she placed them over the root to dry and plucked a dark set of robes from the basket, vines and ivy swirling over navy blue. She admired the dress a long moment, before washing it, too.
There was something about the Cenarion story of her "accident" that never seem to fit right with her. She usually dismissed "conspiracy theorists" with the casual wave of a hand (gossip about the Circle being rivals of Staghelm, primarily). But there was something that nagged her about her experience, like shards of unexplained memories...
A child's cherubic face looked up at her cheerily, curls of silver-white dusting her head. Big luminescent eyes popped out of her face, and a perpetual grin lined those wonderfully lush--HER--lips. Her smile was toothless and made Kyna want to giggle. The baby turned toward her breast, laying its head against her contentedly, their heartbeats matching. Sweet, sweet Aceriel, named for--
She couldn't piece the fractions together with the mere life of a young, unbound scholar and aspiring adventurer. She needed to find answers somewhere.
A weather-torn card peeked out of the top of her belt-pouch, dragging against her linens. Bundling up the laundry, wicker basket propped on one hip, she reached down and felt the crisp note in her hand. She pulled it out.
You have Questions?
We may be able to provide Answers.
AgencyNortheast Building in the Park District
She tucked it in more tightly and resumed her morning chores, finding her thoughts straying to this "Agency." Would they help her discover the truth about herself?
The elf gathered her cloak around her tightly, braving against the wind that caught the edges and whipped them back. She pushed open the heavy wooden door and entered the lobby of the Agency with the wind nipping at her heels. It set a stack of papers on the secretary's desk adrift. Lynissa sighed and glanced up at Kyna with a pout on her youthful, heart-shaped face.
"Apologies, miss...?" Kyna stammered, feeling a bit foolish for not catching the door behind her.
"Accepted and forgotten." The woman weaved her fingers almost absent-mindedly. The papers marched right back up the desk, snaking their way into a neat stack. "Do you have business with us? Or are you an adventurer seeking a position?"
Kyna considered the questions closely before answering, but before she could, a large male elf entered the lobby from the back. Thick silver hair shrouded his shoulders. He had a strong, square jaw; a handsome, unlined face; and compassionate eyes. He moved with the self-assuredness of a fighter, his well-muscled figure only adding evidence of that fact. He wore a simple white cotton shirt, denim pants, and black leather boots; but even dressed this simply he gave the impression of being an authority in the office.
His golden eyes fell on her. "Nika, love, are you feeling better? Who escorted you to the...?" He seemed about to ask her a question, lips parted, but then his head tilted slowly to the side, staring at Kyna's face, who still clutched her cloak in the doorway.
"I apologize, sir, but I do not believe I know you." And yet, there was something there... something electric in his eyes that almost seemed to draw her in deeper. She blinked several times, severing the connection. "I came to seek some information regarding Agency -- how to become a client, primarily, or even perhaps an employee."
It seemed to take the male elf several moments to find his voice, so she continued in her soft soprano. "My name is Kyna... Kyna Moonlily. This... is the Agency, is it not?"
The name struck him and he sucked in a deep breath. His head swam as he watched her for a long moment, momentarily rendered unable to speak. Lynissa saved him. In her equally soft, feminine tone, she responded to Kyna. "Yes, my Lady, it is. My name is Lynissa Bellamont, secretary for the organization. This is one of our three Directors, Director Ceridith Silverleaf. And please pardon his momentarily lapse of manners, but you remind us both of someone close to us: Director Nikajah Silverleaf, Ceridith's wife or "Bonded Alpha Female," if you will. There is a strong resemblance, so we do apologize if we've made you uncomfortable. Now. Down to business... what brought you to our organization, Lady Kyna?"
Lynissa's command of the situation surprised Ceridith. She was clearly growing from the meek, shy girl he'd once assumed her to be when Nazumai first introduced her to the household into a quite a woman capable of handling the stress of the office and contracts beside it.
Her lips fell open, eyes darting between formidable Director Ceridith studying her from one side and Lynissa's big blue ones waiting for her answer respectfully. "I am here for twofold reasons. The first is that I desire to align myself with an organization rather than adventure on my own without being affiliated to a company; I believe it's just a more intelligent way for a rising adventurer to secure her career.
"The second reason," she went on in that soft, lilting, almost musical voice, "Is that recently I sustained an injury that caused me to have some memory lapses of my past. I wonder if this organization could assist me in finding out who I really am."
Ceridith finally found his tongue. "The answer is yes to both. Start the paperwork, Lyn. And Lady Kyna, please come with me." He held out a hand, offering to take her cloak and hang it upon a hook near the door. He escorted her to the back of the office, up a flight of stairs, down a hallway to the very end. Stopping in front of the locked door, he worked a necklace out of his shirt, keys attached to one end.
The door swung open easily, into a warm sitting room with a mahogany desk in one corner, two leather wing-back chairs circling a fireplace. She noticed several polished weapons in display: a long double-edged sword gleaming over the mantle, a hefty axe held with pins to the wall, and several other swords, long and short, double-edged and single-edged, some with gems inlaid in the hilt and others simply wrapped in leather. A full suit of plate armor stood on a rack in the corner, not the only set she presumed that he kept. A thick bear skin rug centers on the floor, much to Kyna's chagrin, and preserved dragonheads perched on either side of the blade -- one black with violet markings, the other black with crimson markings. Polished brass plates read beneath them: Onyxia and Nefarion of the Black Dragon Flight.
And in a frame below, resting against the center of the mantle and decorated at its feet with candles in varying sizes. Her eyes drew toward it and she backed into a corner, noticing for the first time, a second mahogany desk only slightly smaller than the first. It was virtually clean of paper, while the other held files and stacks of paper haphazardly. She swung her leaf-ringed eyes back up to the snapshot: Director Ceridith, two pre-teenaged girls, two infant girls, and a lady elf of fiery luminescent eyes, wild feather-and-bead filled loose hair, tattoos of the druid on both shoulders and clearly on her face, the tribal markings spoke to a feral Path. The woman bore a strong resemblance to her, it was true. So that must be Director "Nika." She looked more closely at the girls. The infants were strangers, but the pre-teens were almost recognizable... there was something in that one's freckled cheeks, the way she smiled--
Ceridith's voice drew her away from the picture.
"Kyna Moonlily." His voice whispered, as if he almost didn't believe his words. "I wed a woman of that name, that name originally, and she is my wife today. That is quite curious, no?"
Kyna felt the skin on her bare arms begin to tingle. She pinched the front of her robes smooth nervously. She had chosen the dark navy with its twirling green vines. Now she felt awkward for putting so much thought into that choice.
"Yes... curious..." She echoed, wondering what he could be driving at. That she and his wife were what, long lost twins? Seemed far-fetched!
He offered her a drink, and she politely declined. He slipped into one of the wingback chairs with a sigh, nothing in his hand but a small tumbler of fresh-squeezed berry juice. "Come, sit." He nursed his juice while peering at her over the rim.
She perched herself on the edge of the other wingback chair, strongly aware that she was alone with him now. He was likely a very seasoned veteran, and she just a fledgling, or was she? There had been signs she knew more than she let flow... things without memory that just danced from her fingertips, but she'd attributed that to instinct. What if it was not? The buzz resumed in the back of her brain, incessantly telling her that the situation was off.
His eyes drifted up to the picture on the mantle. "I fell in love with her the moment I laid eyes on her. One day, she made my dreams come true when I left the realm of friend and entered the realm of more. The first time we made love..." his voice trailed off politely.
The first time we made love it was in Lake Elunara, Moonglade. It was night and there seemed to be no one around for miles. Moonlight lit our bare skin, sparkling on every dewy drop that clung. We bathed together, our limbs entwined, a dance in the water of courting, of love; and then suddenly she breathed in sharply, and he was her and she was him, and it was all breathless passion and writhing on the beach, sand sticking to heated bodies. The moon illuminated his silver hair as he breathed in to her neck, spent and elated all at once. They were like mere children, basking in the warmth of newly found love.
"I apologize. What was that?" She shook her head slightly to free herself of the reverie.
"Are you pursuing a position with us?"
"Yes... yes, I think I shall. It is better to fulfill contracts as part of a company, than risk adventuring alone and depending on whoever you happen to encounter. I'm certain your clients are also far more scrupulous," at this, Ceridith suppressed a chuckle, "but also because I wish to ultimately find out what happened to my memory. I don't have enough to hire your services full-time, so I was hoping I could work for you in the meantime. It really is unsettling to just wake up one day and almost know nothing of who you are."
He nodded sympathetically. "Then it is done. See Lynissa downstairs for your Agent paperwork and device."
He just had to make certain that his wife wouldn't notice what he'd seen in the woman. Herself.
Nikajah sat with her feet curled beneath her, watching her twin toddlers sleeping in the crib their father crafted. She rubbed her thumbs along the carved and polished wood, tracing the ivy detailing. Her husband called for her, but she could not hear him, so lost she was in her thoughts.
�There you are. You had me worried.� His voice shook her from her reverie. She absently fingered the pendant Davnika had given her.
�Sorry, love. I put Jasaeri and Isandri down for the evening�� her whisper trailed off and her eyes got that unfocused, distant look in them. It made him nervous. The sooner he could scrape together a hunting party to defeat Prince Malchazzar, the better.
Suddenly she stood up and left the children�s room. He followed her down the stairs, watching her green robes trail behind her. She went into the cellar to fetch a bottle of chilled elderberry wine. He was standing at the cellar door when she returned. She gave him a look of exasperation, and then poured herself a glass. He wished she wouldn�t, but he didn�t say so.
Only when she was half done did she speak again. �I want to go back to work.�
He blinked and immediately thought of their newest recruit, Kyna Moonlily, and how similar they looked� He felt guilty remembering how he thought she was more like the woman he married than Nikajah was these days. She couldn�t help how things had changed her, but he couldn�t help the longing in him Kyna aroused.
�You should take things slowly�� he protested, both concerned for her well-being and afraid she would meet Kyna before he could learn more about the situation.
Her eyes narrowed on him and for a moment, he thought she could read his thoughts. But then her gaze softened. �Just part-time for now. I meant it when I said I wanted to spend more time with the girls,� she replied, draining the rest of her wine. �But I feel� strange being away from the office. Restless. I need something to focus on, even if it�s just handing out assignments for mundane contracts. I need to be useful.�
He couldn�t deny her this. He knew that she would feel this way, and it probably was time for her to climb back up on the horse. If she hadn�t have shown any interest in work, he would have been far more worried� it was just this business with Kyna that had him rattled. But then, he could assign her something to keep her away from the office, until he had a chance, at least, to figure out if there was any chicanery going on. He would just need to hurry.
�Of course, sweetling,� he responded soothingly, and she seemed to be sated, for the moment. She set her empty glass in the large stone washbasin.
�But now, to bed. Those babies have far more energy than I remember�� she chuckled softly and ascended the stairs.
�I�ll be along shortly.� His voice followed her and she nodded, heading toward the master bedroom.
He had a call to make.
The Cenarion Circle leader, Remulos, had told him nothing. Oh, he�d protested; reminding him of the tasks he�d completed for their organization, but still he claimed that he could not explain. [i]More likely, would not�[/i] Ceridith thought bitterly.
He gave the gryphon-keeper a handful of silver for the ride, offering her a distracted smile. Hitching a ride with a traveling merchant cart, he watched the wooden wheels crunch over the gravel of the road, little, stubborn sprouts of grass reaching up between the stones. It was nearly dusk, and night settled over these woods like a shroud. There were some too afraid to pass through these parts � afraid of what lurks near the huge graveyard to the west. He was not afraid.
�So you�re an adventurer,� the cart driver stated flatly, noticing the sheen of the polish on his full plate and the hefty sword slung across his back. Ceridith propped up a boot and gave him a curt nod.
�Seems like most the adventurers that go through here are pretty green. Just trying to make a name for themselves. You don�t quite seem the type, with that there expensive plate armor and fancy sword. You some kind of hero?� The driver had a rough look to his face, his eyes the color of burning pitch, a few days unshaven. The dark stubble contrasted with his ruddy complexion. He had a keg�s weight in his belly, but keen, shrewd eyes. He wore a wide-brimmed hat that blended down into his eyebrows. The horses simply plodded their regular route without needing to be reminded. As he spoke the last word � �hero� � it was said with disdain.
�There are some who have called me that. But I think of myself as a soldier, and my ultimate allegiance is to the safekeeping of this world and to my family. I want my children, and their children, to have something better than to worry of demons in the night snatching them away. I started out seeking glory; I don�t deny it, every youth does. But you grow and learn that the important thing is to prevent what suffering you can prevent, ease what suffering you cannot prevent, and change the world a little bit so that the suffering may eventually be no more than memories.�
�Don�t we all. Some of us, we cannot pick up and leave our livelihoods � that which feeds and clothes those soldiers and adventurers � and in turn feeds our families � to go off and join the Army or become a Hero for the Alliance. That�s best left to handsome arrogant boys with little experience and much brawn. We prevent the suffering of the soldiers through tax, and through our merchant caravans.�
Ceridith did not want to debate or trade stories with the grizzled man, but would have rather been happier to have a quiet ride. He nodded politely as the man spoke, then looked off in the distance. The little path was appearing off to the right. It was mucky and more overgrown than the main road, but was marked with a stone back in some brush that had been reworked to read �The Crimson Lotus Manor.� Before, it had simply said �Sartienne Manor.� He knew the former had to be Elisia�s work.
They turned in, wooden wheels crunching and dislodging stone, pulled along by the two pack-mules leading the cart. The mules� great flanks began to work and sweat as they hauled the cart up the winding, bumpy path and were almost immediately met by a wrought-iron gate. Eerily, it opened for them on its own, and Ceridith suspected engineering of some sort had been used. The gates clanked shut behind them.
The cart drew nearer the Manor, a great estate left to Elisia�s family by her father. Her mother didn�t want it and her sister was in boarding school and expressed little interest in her childhood home. So Elisia completed the required paperwork for the inheritance and claimed it as her own. He�d been inside it numerous times� and had seen many of the rooms, but not nearly all that he knew it could hold. The cart pulled around to the kitchen door, where two servants waited to unload it at a little docking platform. Ceridith pressed several silver into the cart-driver�s hand before the unloading began, and shook it, thanking him for the ride.
He walked up and around toward the front doors beneath the arches aligned at the front of the building. They were ivy-covered and weathered badly, the once-stately white marble slowly turning a motley shade of tan and green. Elisia had plans for the mansion, he knew. She would prefer black marble to the sunny white and would eventually have that renovated. She wanted the garden to be planted in mostly crimson lotus blossoms. She had appointments for renovations all over the house as of late, in fact, and he hadn�t seen her in awhile. Usually, that makes him rather nervous. But he must keep focused on the current issue here before he can even think about Elisia.
The cool air hitting his face and stretching his legs gave him some time to clear his thoughts. He was surprised, really, when he found himself at the front door, and more surprised still when Lady Cilandra answered it herself. He was customarily greeted by one or both of their succubi, but this break with their little �custom� is welcome. Cilandra tended to look rather fragile, but he knew she was not. She was thin and shapely with porcelain pale skin, pale green eyes, and shoulder-length wispy blond hair. But from the way she stood, it was clear that she was part Mistress in this Manor.
Her pale eyes bore into him, her frosted lips a firm line. It struck him that he�d never seen her smile before� not once. And she didn�t now. �Ceridith. Can I offer you something to drink?� She looks small and frail in her large crimson robes, a coy trick for anyone who assumes the same about her and ever tries anything. The woman is cool and crisp when she speaks, rarely does emotion pass over her face. She�s analytical, and logical, and stoic. You never really know what people like that are truly capable of. It�s the quiet ones that should be feared.
�Do you take milk, sugar, honey, or lemon?� Her voice is hauntingly sweet, but authoritative.
�A dollop of honey and lemon sounds nice. Thank you.�
�Carrona.� The succubus emerged as if stepping out of a shadow, wicked smile on her face. Her glint of blue eyes blinked innocently, as if anything about her were innocent. Her tail snapped to the side and she giggled merrily. �Master Ceridith�� She hissed out the words slowly, enjoying them on her forked tongue.
�Two hot teas. One with a dollop of honey and lemon, the other plain.� Cilandra�s voice is soft, yet her tone is commanding. The succubus scurried off to fulfill the order.
Lady Cilandra led him to an extravagant sitting room � the drapes done in floor-brushing crimson velvet, the polished cherrywood of the mantelpiece, the expensive Quel`Dorei weave rug on the floor, ancient and still vibrant with reds, golds, blacks, and flecks of blue and green.
�I assume you are here to ask more about the portal?� She asked, crossing her legs slowly beneath her robes and clasping her hands neatly in her lap.
�Aye, Lady Cilandra. I have a few questions� theoretical questions� that I was hoping you could answer for me.�
She nodded. He never knew the reason she was always willing to lend him a hand with information, but he didn�t press his luck by investigating. Perhaps she felt a little sorry for him at the hands of her crazed lover, Elisia. He doesn�t know how she tolerates Elisia�s sexual escapades or hair-brained schemes. Sometimes he truly thought Elisia insane, and yet something about her captivated him. It was a tangled dance of rivalry and something primal he couldn�t set free.
No�he wouldn�t think of Elisia now. Not now when all this had been dumped into his lap. Carrona brought the tea on a silver tray, carefully setting it between the two of them at a small, but ornately carved table with dragons chasing each other endlessly. Sipping his tea, he felt a bit prissy, but reminded himself that he would not let his faculties be blurred. He must always be on guard, and especially here of all places.
�You wanted to ask me about the portal,� Cilandra said over her cup, steam billowing out with her breath. She sipped.
�Uh� well, in a way. Recently, we�ve had a girl show up at the Agency, by the name of Kyna Moonlily. Now I know it could just be a coincidental name� but she looks very similar to my Kyna before� before she went through and everything changed. I�m not sure what to do about it, but part of me [i]feels[/i] they are somehow the same� different, but the same, like two Kynas in separate time periods.� He gulps down some tea, raking his hair back with his fingers. This sounded like crazy-talk, but Cilandra followed, just nodding and steepling her fingers as if thinking.
�There are few coincidences, Ceridith,� she spoke, lacing her fingers together in her lap. He noticed that her nails were painted a muted shade of red. As usual, her shoulder-length honey-golden hair was perfectly straight with not a single strand out of place. She was attractive in a quiet, intelligent kind of way; a woman with too many secrets and who seemed wise beyond her physical years. Her soft voice that somehow was able to command both attention and respect launched into �lecture mode.� Sometimes she spoke as if she were speaking to a class of magically-inclined students in Dalaran, rather than to him specifically. But she almost always answered his questions.
�How I received this information is not important,� she began, giving him a slight look that quashed one of his questions preemptively. �Your Kyna was asked on a mission for the Cenarion Circle regarding that artifact we spoke of before. She accepted the mission, possibly with some hesitation. Half of the artifact was to be found in a parallel universe, for lack of a better term. The artifact itself had been formed from the Nether and ripped through the fabric of space, time, and magic into separate dimensions. In order to retrieve it, your wife would have to travel to that alternate universe.
Some professional summoners were hired to build a suitable portal in secret; a trans-dimensional portal. They were beginning to become desperate over the recovery of the artifact, as they believed it to have the ability to destroy both of our worlds. They simply did not have time to weigh all considerations of intra-dimensional travel. Kyna was aware that there were risks, but she did not know what she could potentially be facing. Even the so-called experts were uncertain. But they pressed upon her the importance of the mission, begged for her help, and she finally went through with it. She was summoned through the portal with the Circle in attendance.
The problem was several-fold. Kyna already existed in that dimension, so the portal could not just expel our Kyna and have two of the same individuals living in a world where each individual is unique. Something went wrong with the portal; she was stuck inside it far longer than she should have been and would not be pulled through entirely until it was resolved. For lack of a better word she split � dissociating into two personalities, two facets of the same woman. Half her consciousness - or [i]soul[/i] if you like to think of it as such � traversed the portal, bodiless. The other half remained dormant, the trauma far too much for the woman, who collapsed at the portal. The Circle believed themselves a failure and tucked her away in the Barrow�s Dens.
They began extensive research on their intra-dimensional portal construction, bringing in the brightest scholars and theorists to discuss the safest way to transport an agent to retrieve something that doesn�t belong from that fabric, that time. They spent months debating; and the leaders were feeling the weight of their defeat with Kyna.
But then Kyna returned � only she called herself Nikajah now, and her personality was far more authoritative, strong, fierce, and easy to anger. She fulfilled her mission afterall. The Leaders were stunned, and overjoyed, but they could not ask her to do more, despite her insistence and determination to see the mission through. She had been touched by corruption � an old soul-wound that had somehow been reopened during that journey.
Upon �Nikajah�s� return to the realm, Kyna awoke from her comatose state. The Circle likely told her some silly story about an accident, and she remembers almost nothing of her former life. She will be child-like in some ways and will likely retain her half of the personality.
Technically, across the two dimensions, there are now three of the woman you know as Kyna: Kyna of the Other Realm that no one has ever met (she could even be dead) and the two Kynas in Our Ream which is really one just split into two parts. And the more they go on with their lives, I would expect the less chance there will be of magical reintegration. Life experience changes people: they have indeed become two separate and functioning entities now.�
She paused, watching his face as he absorbed her words. He didn�t quite understand it all � it all seemed so strange � but when magic was involved, things always tended to become complicated.
�So you�re saying, they�re both Kyna, and they�re not.� He tried to wrap his head around this concept.
�That would be an accurate description, yes.� Her pale green eyes study him as if he were one of her subjects or experiments or Light knows what they did around here�
No wonder he longed for Kyna� she was just part of Nikajah manifested physically. How could he not; he loves his mate, all of her! Oh how he wished she had not accepted the Circle�s fool mission. They took a gamble with her life.
As if sensing what he was thinking, the warlock whispered, startling him, �She was willing to make a sacrifice of the few, to save the many: including you, her mate, and her children. She is a brave woman, Ceridith.�
Cilandra watched him leave, peeking through the long, velvet draperies. With all she had on her mind right now, she was rather glad her lover was away, looking into hiring masons to renovate the mansion. She found herself wondering if Elisia would tear down the One Room� the One Room Cilandra did not have a key to. She suspects what happened there, but she will not touch upon the subject.
But this visit hadn�t been about her lover. It had been about Kyna Moonlily, a sweet druid child who had once come to Cilandra for advice and found themselves rather close friends during a time when they both needed one. That was until Kyna had not heeded her warnings and unwittingly invited Varukah to stalk her. After that fiasco, she had become afraid of Cilandra. And far more afraid when Cilandra broke down and told her about the deaths. About how she couldn�t help herself. About her crippling disease and learning to manage it. About the mistakes she made trying to come up with some way to mitigate the damage. Kyna couldn�t possibly understand. Her world was still white.
Nikajah, though, apparently hadn�t yet remembered Cilandra. Her world was grey, and she suspected Nikajah would accept and tolerate her without baby-sitting her every move. Cilandra found Nikajah quite fascinating; the strong proud woman she was who would let the ends justify the means. She would understand Cilandra�s plight and perhaps even sympathize. How strange the dichotomy from one individual could spawn two entirely different people? The Circle shouldn�t have been trifling in portals anyway, especially things as experimental as trans-dimensional travel. It wasn�t safe.
She knew Ceridith wanted to know how to break the news to the females. He always liked to be open, with no secrets. Cilandra couldn�t help him there. She wasn�t a counselor, she had remarked.
And still Nikajah suffered under the Beast. It was less of a hold since the Cleansing, but until he was dead, she would always feel temptation nagging at her. She would not have peace. She wondered about the amulet Nikajah took to wearing around her neck, fingering it when in thought. It was certainly worth looking into. When asked about it, Ceridith had said it was a gift from Davnika to ward off evil. She wouldn�t mind examining it more closely.
�Carrona, the tray.� Her succubus sauntered into the room, balancing the tray on an open palm. Her forked tongue licked her lips as she headed toward the kitchen. Cilandra gathered her robes around her, snuffed out the lights, and ascended the stairs to her Master Suite. It had been a long day, and there were many thoughts swirling around that fair head of hers. She let her robes fall to the marble floor, pushing aside the gauzy bed curtains. Letting the illusion fall that has become so natural to her now, a glimpse of white could be seen glistening at one hip, her waist chiseled even smaller, and the slight woman almost seemed as if she were suddenly wasting away. Pushing a mottled greenish-tinged blonde lock of hair from her exposed eye sockets, pearly green despite the ghostly pallor of her skin, lips and exposed pink ligaments formed a wistful smile. She reached over with bony fingers, clammy skin stretched across each joint, and snuffed the oil lamp.
[i]I�m full of plenty of information, more than half of which no one would ever wish to know�[/i]
She yawned then, but knew that sleep would not come. She no longer needed it.
Kyna tossed, unable to sleep. The coals from the fire she�d stoked in the hearth burned low, the heat keeping her warm throughout the night. She couldn�t stop thinking of him � he even invaded her dreams. The Director with the long silver hair, chiseled jaw, and compassionate eyes, he aroused so much [i]feeling[/i] in her. She couldn�t understand herself, especially since he was bonded to another. Not only another, but the very founder of the organization!
She imagined his firm lips against hers, his tender touch. Sandy beach cool against her back, the breeze blowing through her loose hair. She could almost feel his breath against her cheek, her ear. It seemed like far more than a daydream. It seemed so real, so beautifully real. Guilt bit through her like ice and she tossed yet again, tangling the covers between her knees.
The knock at the door was soft, subtle. She almost thought she�d imagined that, too, until it echoed again.
Ceridith chided himself for the eightieth time that evening. [i]What was he doing here, at Kyna�s door, at this hour?[/i] Even berating himself the whole way, it was as if he had no choice. She would turn him away anyway, he knew it. And what would Nikajah think if she knew? But he couldn�t help himself� something propelled him forward. He couldn�t stop thinking of her. He knocked softly against the door once more, swearing to himself he�d leave if she didn�t open it.
She wrapped a cloak around her nightgown, a long shift that nearly brushed the floor. Holding the cloak closed around her, she gingerly opened the door a crack� and gasped. The object of her guilty desire stood, chest heaving, eyes glazed. She felt need tugging at her, desire burning through her, and something else� something far deeper than either of those feelings.
�You should not have come,� she whispered, hoping her voice didn�t betray her thoughts.
�Tell me to leave,� he whispered back huskily, eyes burning through her.
She trembled and he burst through the door, wrapping his strong arms around her. It felt right. Perfectly right. She could think of nothing more as his lips found hers, his fingers dragged across her bare skin, his body pressed against her.
The room door shut behind him and no one emerged from the room until long after sunrise.