It was still the dark of night. The slender kaldorei woman slipped out of bed, shaking. She hoped she hadn’t woken him this time. Picking up her gown from the floor, she slipped it over her head and made her way down the steps. The silk clung to her wet skin, making walking difficult. She grabbed a small towel and wiped the sweat away.
One year. It had been a year since the incident in the glade. It should have been a day of celebration. Joy and blessing. Instead, Mire had shown up. She had brought her filthy felsworn with her. And the world came crashing down around them.
Still the nightmares come. Many nights her mind traveled back, letting her see what she had done. Endlessly replaying the long, terrible moments as she tore Mire apart. Tendrils of void weaving in and out of her flesh, slowly pulling her birth mother to shreds while she screamed. Her own voice shrieking in rage at the woman responsible for nearly every hurt in her life. The pools of shadow cascading from her form, body cloaked in darkness, writhing with the power of pure hatred.
Other nights she saw Kajeda’s face, smiling at her as they sat and talked. Those dreams felt so wonderful, so right. Warm and happy as they often were together. Kajeda had brought her home, in a very real sense. She had offered family, love. Things for which Tindomiel had yearned for so much of her life. The dream would then shift; sickly green bolts shooting through the air. As Tindomiel twisted around, they met with Kajeda’s body, her adoptive mother falling to the ground.
She shook herself hard as the images started flooding in again. Her hands shook as she reached for the kettle. She placed it on the stove and went and sat in front of the fire. The floor around her roiled with black and purple, the firelight unable to penetrate the thick waves pouring from her.
A soft footfall from behind brought her swinging around. Tindomiel’s shoulders and ears fell as she saw her beloved standing at the foot of the stairs. “I didn’t mean to wake you. You can go back to bed.” He sighed heavily and moved to the stove. Lifting the whistling kettle off, he poured the water into her tea pot and started himself some coffee.
“Which one this time?” Forosuul asked her gently as he joined her on the rug.
“Kajeda.” She looked up at him, her face streaked with tears.
Gathering his wife into his arms, Forosuul pulled her up into his lap. She curled her head into his chest, sobbing like it was still new. “Sshhhh.” He whispered to her, his talons running through her long silver hair. “It’s all right.”
“No…it’s not. If it was all right, she would still be here!” She wiped off her face and struggled to get free from his arms. He pulled her back in, holding her a moment longer. “Foro…stop. Let me up.” With a sigh, he released her. Moving to the table, she poured out his coffee and the tea for herself. She held his out to him and slowly sipped from her cup. Wrinkling her nose at the bitter flavor, she added a bit of honey and sat back down. “It steeped too long. I should have gotten up sooner.”
“It’s tea, my nightingale. You can make a new pot.” He reached out and took her hand. “It’s not more important than you. It’s just a pot of tea.” His gaze moved to the swirling darkness on the floor. Giving her a reassuring squeeze he continued. “You did the right thing that day.” He’d said the words so many times, he wondered if she would ever believe him.
Whispering, “I know I did. But it still feels wrong, Foro. I killed her. A kaldorei. My former mother. She took so much from us, but she was still…and then she…” Her voice failed her and she stared into her cup, searching for something she would never find.
“She needed to be stopped. You couldn’t save Kajeda. But you stopped Mire from hurting anyone ever again.” He gently smoothed the hair alongside her face. “You did what needed to be done.”
Her hands shook as she tried to take another sip from her cup. Tipping her chin up to his face, he kissed her gently. Tindomiel closed her eyes, her heart slowing a bit. With each slow breath she took, the shadows started to pull back in. Forosuul gently swayed with her as he moved her slowly towards the stairs. Loosening the cup from her grasp, he placed it to the table. She was unaware of him setting it down on a tiny rune. The cup disappeared from sight.
In the next building over, the tea cup appeared with a light tinkling sound. Alsabe stirred and opened her eyes. With a heavy sigh she swung her legs down off the the bed. Kissing Dæsin lightly, she pulled a robe over her night clothes and gathered up the bit of porcelain.
Sweeping Tindomiel up into his arms, Forosuul carried her up the stairs. By this time only a hint of the shadows trailed below them, whispers of what was there before. He lowered his wife down onto the bed. She began to protest, but he gently pushed her back onto the pillow. “You need to try to sleep. Let me help.” Lifting up a small bottle, he turned it over, spilling the soothing oil into his hands. The scent was calming, having an effect, even before he had begun. He smoothed it over her forehead and worked it down her face. A little ritual he had started when the nightmares first began. With a quiet sigh, the last wisps faded away. He continued his ministrations as he looked to the top of the stairs. Alsabe levitated, quietly waiting. He nodded for her to come over.
Silently they worked together. He sat there massaging his wife’s neck and shoulders, as Alsabe carefully wove her spellwork. After a few minutes, Tindomiel’s breathing had settled into a slow, peaceful cadence. Assured that she was finally sleeping, he wiped off his hands and gestured to the stairs. Alsabe nodded and floated down to the main room. He joined her moments later.
“There has to be a better solution. We can’t keep doing this forever,” he said softly. He rubbed his face and embraced his daughter. “Thank you for your help. I don’t know that I could help her rest without you.”
“You know I will always do what I can, Papa.” She placed the tea cup on the small dining table. “Will Min’da be all right?”
“I hope so, Sel’de.”