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linking hands

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There’s really no word to describe drow festivities—they are a people who do nothing in half-measures, and the Seer feels that her people have earned at least one night of relaxation after the victory across the river, after the birth of hope.

Perhaps the Savior is the answer to this nightmare. He’s begun to believe it, and he’s not sure whether he feels relieved or… disappointed. He thought he would be wary of her forever.

She doesn’t seem like the hero Valen’s read about in the pages of Shadows of Undrentide, sitting beside him here on the long wooden bench, the direwolf’s head pillowed on her lap and the kobold at her feet, scratching away in his journal. The orange glow of the firelight has cast a dreamlike haziness on her and her features, turning her into something—beautiful. The word slips in before he can stop it, and he’s startled that it’s the first thing that sprung to mind. 

He tries to focus on the sound of the flutes, and at the ridiculous conduct of some of Imloth’s younger recruits, but it’s no use. He’s aware of her now, and the knowledge is going to niggle away at him until he stops to think about it more, and when he does—he doesn’t want that to happen. Not yet.

Which is why he almost chokes on his own spit when the woman next to him turns to face him, and with the most serious expression on her face, asks him, very solemnly, “Would you like to dance?” 

He tries to reply, but the only sound that emerges is something between a “no” and a mangled “yes” and a faint noise of regret. The direwolf is watching them. She holds his gaze for one moment longer before she coughs into her hand to hide a chuckle and—smiles. Because of him? Hopefully. Perhaps.

“I apologize,” she says after she’s schooled herself. “That was—unexpected. You don’t have to respond, I was only…” 

“I do,” he interrupts, and then stands, perhaps a bit too quickly. “I would like to. If—if my lady so wishes it.” 

He doesn’t know what to call the emotion that passes over her face, but he knows somehow with an unusual amount of certainty that it is a good thing. The direwolf’s head slips away and she comes to her feet, so different than usual in nothing but a loose-fitting tunic and long, sweeping pants that could almost pass as a skirt. He extends a hand to her, gentle, and is struck by the difference in size and color when she slips her fingers over the space of his palm. Her skin is cool against the near-fevered warmth of his own. His infernal blood is ever-present, ever ready to remind him of its existence, but he can't bring himself to be irritated at the contrast it offers. It's almost… pleasant.

“I do wish it,” Palieth answers quietly, her grip tightening. His heart jumps. “I haven’t done this in a long time.”

He laughs. “That makes two of us, then.” 

Deekin looks up at them for just a moment as they walk away from the bench together. “Don’t be breaking the Boss’ toes! Boss needs them!” 

There’s that little smile again, the bashful one that makes Valen wonder how he ever thought her emotionless. They’re far enough from the main bonfire to have a modicum of privacy, but it still feels startlingly intimate when she faces him completely and they link hands. 

“I’ll try,” Valen murmurs, though he’s not sure who he’s answering, and maybe just at this very instant, it doesn’t really matter.