First, Finest and Last

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First, Finest and Last

Postby Tarq » Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:54 am

Em had been his first, though even then he’d not known if she was Emily, or Emma, or something stranger. She’d been at least twenty, with a brittle smile and fine dark hair and legs nearly as long and rawboned as his; he was a bundle of knees and elbows and ill-considered intentions at fifteen, but even dogs and idiots could figure it out and so had he. They’d done it in Sickie Croy’s garret, which he rented out for any purpose for a handful of coppers at a time. Tarq, thinking himself clever, had learned a time when it was standing empty and talked Em up there, glib even then. In the course of an hour he learned the mysteries of the universe, and skated up against its limits as well. But someone grassed to Sickie Croy, and he’d found Em and taken a knife to her cheeks, and told her to pass along to the northern boy his lesson. Someone always pays.

Gunnar Glasper had been his first, a Tiresian captain who’d run blockades in the war and was now running harbors in the rebuilding. Evading the King’s tax was one thing, but when he’d taken van Cleef’s bloody coin, Reznik the Shiv had put his name on the Tally. Jasper had found them the ship, and Clobber had stood watch, but it was Tarquin and Loche who’d slipped aboard. They flipped for it, and Tarquin won, or lost. It was strange that he couldn’t remember if they’d flipped to do the deed or avoid doing it; in any case, it was moot to Gunnar Glasper. The knife had gone in under his ear, by his jaw, clean and perfect, but it had come out with a sloppy rip and he’d had to dash out of the harbor red and dripping. Jasper had laughed. The rest of them hadn’t. It took at least another four or five before he could start laughing about a murder.

Orwend had been his first, an old tyrant even when he was young, more master than father – they were much the same in his mind, in his spirit, in his iron bones. The girls had been luckier, Tarquin thought as a boy, left to their own devices; it was only when they went south that he realized how battened-down they were, how bereft of opportunity. The old man had seen opportunity for his sons, so he curbed and bent and hammered them into the shape of those chances. Gyles had broken, and Orvain had bent, but somewhere along the line Tarquin had slipped loose of the frame. He regretted only that he hadn’t taken any more of the old bastard’s chattel with him.

Ceil had been his finest, that storm in the form of a girl, from shy dreamer to scarred sleek killer, madly and inhumanly beautiful all the way along. Their bed had been a haven even when things were bad with them, maybe especially when they were bad; when it was no bed at all and their fingers had clutched at wood or grass or marble, nails digging for the threads of hope and hurt that bound them. They’d pulled each other laughing and calling out through that sweet, aching madness, and attacked life the same way, and there’d never been a thought in Tarquin’s head that it was too good to last. Even now, he wouldn’t fill that hollow place with trite thoughts of inevitability or some such shit. They’d fucked it up, that was all.

The grinning man had been his finest, the slick soiled monster that had stalked his godsdaughter to the end of the world. There was, Tarquin prided himself on knowing, a long list to choose from – the mad Scarlet archmage on whom he’d made his name, Hinote Kirase (shameful or not, it was a hell of a fight), the slickear lord he’d opened from gullet to crotch on the day the Bloody Prince fell, and of course the Butcher. Maybe it should have been the Butcher; after all, he’d never fought like that in his life, before or again. It had been a duel, and the grinning man had been a mad rattling brawl. He’d beaten the man to death with a fireplace poker; what kind of professionalism was that? It was amusing that someone else had finished the job for him in both cases, and when you threw in that Uthas had killed the grinning man for him, well, the pattern spun out of control entirely. In the end, he had to choose the grinning man, because he’d been fighting and bleeding for the wee hen and her mother and father and for everything she represented; for the idea that what he’d built could make things right.

Nikolai had been his finest, of that there was no doubt, that great wind-carved glacier of a man. Osborne had trained him, and Shaw had shaped him over those long years, but in the year he’d worn the Diaconescu raven he learned more about being a man than those esteemed cutthroats had ever managed to teach him in ten. Even now, should the Unfeeling trod through the door of the Pig with a thin tired smile on his battered face, demanding to know what his halfwit lad of a right hand was about, there was a chance that Tarquin would answer him avidly and eagerly, whiskey at the ready. Though he’d more than likely knife the old monster first.

Annalea had been his last, two nights ago, both of them drunk on old John Bell’s good brandy. They’d meant to go over the books, but somewhere during that ever-continuing poker game it had become clear that that certainly wasn’t happening, and when they extricated themselves from the table it suddenly seemed that they couldn’t get to her little room above the street fast enough. Tucked into each other like shells, fingertips to knuckles, here and there a muttered instruction or a bad joke. Annie was nearly thirty, and he could see the crow’s feet starting to gather by her eyes, knew that her breasts would sag and her hips would broaden (just as his hair would go gray and slough out, and his clever fingers would knob and bend). She did not try to fill his hollow places, and he did not try to soothe her scars, and together they were happier than they believed they’d any right to be.

Some mad bugger in the Highlands had been his last, a Tauren in an ill-fitting robe singing down fire from the skies and horror from the deeps. It’d felt good to do field work again, the magic crackling over his skin and Annie’s potions coursing in his veins, keeping him as swift and strong as he’d been fifteen years ago, but ten times the bastard. Big Feliche held the front, arrows and sorcery whipping back and forth, making it easy for him to duck from doorway to alcove to the cultist’s own shadow. The silly fuck had never even seen him, only felt one knife in the back his knee and then, if he was unlucky, the other one going up into his throat as he buckled. It had gone in just as smooth as if he were Gunnar Glasper, and just like Glasper, it had been a mess, the Tauren writhing and bellowing in his death throes. By the time Tarquin had gotten the knife out, the rest of his lot were broken. No matter how many times he’d done this, it still got messy.

He was his last, finally; maybe thirty-four was young yet compared to most masterless men, but Tarquin had done far more living in those years than they, and what the fuck did they know of him anyway? He’d served kings and warlords and preachers and lunatics, schemed and cajoled and snuck and killed, danced for them like the song was ending and the Spring Maiden was just bare yards away. But now he had the fiddle, and when he didn’t know the tune, he’d learned to fake it. Sometimes he shuddered at the things he’d given up, or at the things he’d taken that weren’t precisely his by right. But that was the world. Tarquin was just trying to live in it, without any other bastard telling him what it was he had to do; the money, the lady, the pub and the Riders and the dim hope that he might leave something worth having after he was done, those were all just the benefits of living a masterless life. It wasn’t in him to be content, likely for the same reasons that had driven him to this stage. But he could look at the tally sheet he carried in some glutted red place, see his own name on the header, and decide that he was still winning.

And that would just have to be good enough.
Now hang me by this golden noose
'Cause I never been nothin' but your golden goose
Silver tongue don't fail me now
And I'll make my way back to you somehow

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Re: First, Finest and Last

Postby Shad » Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:43 am

Any one of them could have been his first; they died and were born so often, who could even tell? And who cared? It had been millennia ago, before there were even trolls to pay their Mother worship, that the fire of instinct first seared his loins and forced him to chase down a mate, dig teeth into her scruff, and make her the unwilling bearer of his first cubs. No, it wasn't good for him, and less so for her. It was merely the means to a necessary end: brutal, quick, repeated several times, and just like every subsequent encounter for thousands of years in thousands of lives. He couldn't remember a single one.

His intelligent mind couldn't remember his first, hidden away in the depths of time and feline memory, but it had been a troll only for lack of any other upright creatures to encounter first. There'd been no malice, of course. Only tame cats had the luxury of expending energy on hunting for sport. It was hunger that brought his weight down on the unsuspecting scout and shoved his fangs through bone and into brain. Remarkably merciful, really; a lesser cat would have taken whole minutes to kill by asphyxiation. He'd devoured the man's heart (among other viscera), and months later when the man's brother brought him down in a flurry of arrows, the honor was returned.

Mother had been his first, and should have been his only. She whom the trolls knew as Bethekk had given him life after life as well as death in between, and in return had asked nothing but eternal servitude. None of her children had ever had a choice, but neither had they any understanding to resent the lack of it. In recent years, with sentience as his sharpest weapon, he’d often wondered whether his new place was her choice, and if so, why. More seldom, and only in the quiet darkness when sleep and Shad had both abandoned him, did he ever think to wonder if she'd actually relinquished her control.

There was no question that Fells was his finest. His first too, in many ways, though thanks to Shad’s memories he was no stranger to the mechanics nor the sensations that awaited him in her arms. But flesh was one thing and love quite another, and not a damned thing could have prepared him for the rapture that took them both. It'd taken him three years to realize he loved her, another two to admit it, and six months more to get it right. It was all fucking wasted time, and with the first beatific smile she'd granted him in the darkness he vowed not to waste a second more of what little time the loas might leave them.

Laurus was his finest, a beast of a man who deserved nothing more or less than the most gloriously gruesome death he could deliver. As the slights both large and small piled one atop the other, Era spent his days groveling and his nights imagining the unending pain he'd inflict someday. Someday. But his revenge came unintentionally in the form of a thousand days of strained kindness that had only riled the mage further and chipped slowly away at the patience of his wife. For all he'd tried to steal her, it was none of Era's doing when Laurus's life finally walked out the door, leaving him with the empty silence of a house that was no home. Restraint proved to be the sharpest weapon the panther had ever wielded, and the only one that could salvage for himself the benefits of a life worth saving.

Shad was definitely his finest. When the priestess finally fell after months of battle against panthers both physical and spiritual, the elf should have used that staff to force him into absolute submission. Instead, the Will of Arlokk had been laid at his paws. Funny, how the offer of freedom had been the one thing that could have tamed him. He'd been appropriated to teach the elf the ways of the cat, but in the end he'd learned far more from the calm, patient kaldorei on whom he patterned his sentience. Even once they'd become equals, he'd learned the hard way that he couldn't do it alone. For all his bluster, Era needed his elf like smoke needed flame.

Fells was his last. She was! No, he hadn't come out for that. He was asleep. No part in it at all. Fuck you.

His last had been a hell of a fight, a fire-wreathed druid with more fury than skill, not that the latter was lacking. They'd circled one another, snarling, after Era's pounce had been skillfully dodged and elven flesh had melted into fiery fur. The spirit he faced was a magnificent, beautiful beast, and he could see a bit of himself in it. Had things been different, he might have been on their side, serving Ragnaros for the lack of Hakkar. As things were not different, he felt absolutely no remorse for the dive nor the rake of claws that had blessed the charred dirt of the Firelands with a rain of blood and a bit of intestine to boot. He'd taken no specific joy in the kill, but eating the heart always did bring a smile to his red-stained maw. It was nice, sometimes, to be reminded where he came from.

His last was a council of three. Shad may have been employed by the Riders, but Era'd never taken one order from the man he called “Boss” purely in jest. He answered only to the three sets of all-too-observant eyes and ears that learned to echo his every sin, and to the three mouths that declared without words when he would eat, sleep, and have even an instant of privacy. They could be excruciatingly cruel masters, driving him like a mule for days on end, but the reward they granted him was beyond compare. He'd wouldn't trade their smiles, their hugs, or their shrieky cries of "Dada!" for anything in all the universe.
I don't know if you know this, but baby bears are precious and soft. --Mylune

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Re: First, Finest and Last

Postby Shad » Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:44 am

Celesse was his first. He never counted Eurydice, because no matter how she plead, promised, or punished, he always refused her that final step. No, it was the woman he chose to be his wife with whom he finally joined under the shade of a great oak on the shores of Lake Elune'ara. She was beautiful, graceful, so much the ideal woman that he'd been sure that it was love. That it was forever. He didn't regret those six months, two of whirlwind courtship and four of everything men bemoaned when they shunned marriage. Was it any surprise that he also didn't regret the kiss that had ruined it all?

In an occupation where these things should have been months preplanned, his first was a surprise. He'd offered some help at the start, but to be there for the terrifying, bloody end of it hadn't been on the menu. To this day, he'd still never had one that bled as much as that first one. It had taken all his training not to run, but in the end, it was worth it. Most Riders made their way in the world by killing. He considered it a blessing that he’d found another path to take. Nerida O'Connaugh was a most satisfying first child to have to his midwifing credit.

Like most boys, he could count his father as his first. And like so many boys he was so certain that No Really, His Father Hated Him. Why else had he been such a draconian instructor? He’d once made his son sit for three days and nights in the freezing cold of Winterspring, refusing him shelter until he’d felt the pulse of a pine. Even then, he'd never been satisfied. Never once praised him. But he'd show the Dreaming bastard. He'd be twice the druid his father ever was.

There was no question that Fells was his finest. Though his mother had taught him about love, it had been Fells who taught him how, and in the flickering shadows of the waterfall that blurred the bliss of fireworks into a shimmering glow, he’d thanked her for her patience in spades. She wasn't everything he'd ever dreamed of, but it turned out everything he'd ever dreamed of was pretty stupid, and he never could have fathomed what it was like to actually be happy with someone. She didn't try to make him into someone he wasn't; she transformed him effortlessly into who he was supposed to be. Even if she'd only live sixty years more, he knew they'd be the best he'd ever see.

If he had to pick just one, it would have to be Felicia that was his finest, as she demanded that she be born all of fifteen minutes before her twin. Regardless of who’d come forth first, they'd both been his greatest triumph: twins gotten on a once-barren woman thanks to his magics, and a difficult delivery for which he didn't have to call in more competent help. She--they--were proof that he wasn't a failure, and the best gift he could offer to the woman he loved. And during the long nights full of screaming infants, that was the thought that kept him sane.

Era was definitely his finest. After the months they'd struggled for control of the plague-ravaged body they shared, the panther would surely have felt fully justified simply slaying his captor and/or taking over entirely. Instead, he'd taught the lonely child what it meant to be a cat, and gradually helped shape him into a man. That they'd grown into equal brothers only made Shad all the more grateful that Era had endured his years of obnoxious condescension. How had he failed to see then that he'd never really been in charge at all?

His last was something of an awkward topic, at least outside of their little family. Sure, he'd been the one to propose the arrangement and insisted that all things had to be equal, but that didn't make it any less strange to be pulling Zeve down to the mattress with him. But oh, he'd moved as slowly and gently as he would have while treating a wounded tiger, forestalling both flight and fight from both sides of the dance. Of course it wasn't perfect; he'd have been concerned if it was. But in the end, Zeve's words always put it best: it was Right.

Technically, his last wasn't finished yet, but it was his most recent. Baby Boy Windwhisper (as he was presently known) would not come into the world for months yet, but he'd already made his mark. Shad didn't get many kaldorei clients for obvious biological reasons, and those he did had always been, if not ready, then grateful for the blessing. But in so many ways, his last was also his first. Corrienda was the first to complain of being too young. She was the first for whom he'd researched the remedies taught by whores who'd disposed of unwanted baggage. And even though he hadn't had to put them into practice for her, she was the first he had to struggle not to despise.

Tarquin was his last. The Riders pledged allegiance to the black and red, not directly to him, but all jobs and orders ultimately filtered through the Boss's nimble fingers and trickled off his wicked tongue. Shad didn't know him very well, but did anyone, really? He knew enough; he'd put his life in the man's hands as both ally and adversary over the years, and his heart still beat, and that was all he needed. Really, if anything made Tarquin special, it was that: Shad didn't need a damned thing from him other than trust.
I don't know if you know this, but baby bears are precious and soft. --Mylune

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Re: First, Finest and Last

Postby Zve » Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:49 am

Lidia Carraway had been his first and was the only one to surprise him. She hadn’t smiled when she’d singled him out for a dance, and she hadn’t smiled when she’d lured him into a stockroom and laid him on a bed of treated lumber. She’d undressed him just enough, herself barely at all, and had looked as proper when she left as when she'd entered ten minutes before. The memory was as much of splinters in his back and the smell of processed wood as it was of the pleasure she’d drawn out of him. When he’d next seen Lidia at a dinner party and his fellows had seen her look away from him as though he was a disliked acquaintance, they’d exchanged the shit-eating smirks they’d seen from their older peers on so many occasions. It well masked the lying, unsteady confidence of a boy who'd been thrust into manhood too soon.

A Bloodsail bastard had been his first, nameless and not likely to be missed by anyone. The man had been condemned by a gunshot to the stomach and offered as part of an ultimatum: "If you let him die, I will kill you." Had their positions been reversed, the pirate would have gladly cut him down without a thought, but Zeve's hands had shaken as he delivered mercy to the dying man. He’d wondered what made him more of a coward: being afraid of killing or being afraid of dying. Weeks had passed before he’d stopped apologizing to the pirate's pale, dirty face in his dreams. Years had passed before the face and the question had become equally blurred and meaningless.

His father had been his first; Dourian Bosch had wanted to make a son in his own image. Zevedron had been a protege first, a representative of the family second, and a valued son only when he’d merited acclaim for his house. The standard of all things had been propriety. The goal had always been quantifiable success, and to that end Zevedron had been afforded the education and experience to realize his father's expectations. Unfortunately, he’d discovered that the world outside the manor contained booze, barn dances, and pretty things in petticoats. The only time the Lord Bosch had deigned to touch the boy had been when he had cut his losses and discarded his failed creation with a slap that drew blood and a literal kick to the gutters. The thought always brought a humorless smile to Zeve’s face: so much for proper.

Fells had been his finest. How could she not be? She’d picked him up from the floor of the Pig, held his head over the canals while he retched up three nights’ worth of drink, and had done him the kindness of not pushing him in afterward. That kindness had drawn him to her, compelled him to become better for her, even if at the time it had seemed like part of an effort to win a simple bet. His upbringing had dictated that he seek out certain traits in a woman: culture, propriety, and sensibility. Fells was none of those things, yet that was precisely why he wanted her. When they had first been together, the world could have slipped into the Maelstrom for all he’d cared. After, when she slept and he’d traced out words on her shoulder, he’d marvelled at how quickly she and the family she’d given him had become the center of his life.

A bandit named Jack Slade had been his finest. There had been nothing particularly fine about Jack Slade, or even outstanding--he'd merely chosen the wrong mark at the wrong time. The signet ring Zeve wore was like a beacon to Slade, drawing him to the Gilnean in the hopes of easy riches. What Slade didn't know was that his mark had only recently been cursed--that his mark was unable to control the transformation from man to monster. Zeve couldn't remember if the bandit had screamed. When he came back to himself in the small, gore-covered Old Town alleyway, he was gripped by a wicked realization: he was satiated.

Edward Vane had been his finest, if not his worst. Gilneas had given Zeve to the sea, and the sea had given him to Vane, captain of the Black Card. Vane commanded with dispassionate pragmatism: learn or be killed, work or be killed, kill or be killed. Zeve might have boarded as an arrogant noble’s son but the impudence of youth, like the flesh of crewman in need of ‘discipline’, was an unnecessary nuisance to be stripped away. It was Vane who had shown Zeve the weight of taking a life and taught him the meaning of death. When pushed to a breaking point, Zeve respectfully resigned by way of crippling the Card and stealing a longboat’s haul of plunder. At least this time he’d left home of his own volition.

Shad was his last. Shad who had been “Ears,” and became “Haemon,” and was now “mate.” Shad who, when Zeve first asked him to kiss him like he really meant it, had done so gently and with hesitation only to make sure that Zeve was as comfortable as he could be. Zeve didn’t consider himself sly--if asked, he could explain in great detail the things he appreciated about the fairer sex. Still, he could say that he loved Shad and mean it. In order to make sure that their family--their ‘us’--was happy, they had needed to bond with each other. At some point the need had become a want without either of them realizing it.

Someone who had deserved to die was his last. A cultist of some sort meaning to end the world or some such nonsense. Zeve was at peace with the idea that killing was a part of the world--being human had taught him that. Becoming a worgen simply allowed him to kill more efficiently. His last had been preceded very shortly by three or four others just as insane and in need of putting down; there was no shortage of lunatics in the world, but at least a few of them had been dispatched. If Zeve had any say in it, his last would not be the last.

The Riders were his last. Perhaps Tarquin, the master puppeteer or Bricu, the foul-mouthed heart were his superiors, but the Riders were truly his last: men and women from the highest to lowest circles who came together in an equal mixture of Improper and Right. They had accepted him for who and what he was long before he himself had. It’d made settling into their ranks easy, if not natural. The purpose they offered him made the Riders friends and comrades. The freedom they offered him made them family.

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Re: First, Finest and Last

Postby Fells » Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:50 am

Eyan Woolery could have been her first, the son of an Eastvale logger who came by when his family needed produce and hers needed firewood. A yank on her braid had sent her chasing him into the forest, his quick wit had made her forget her anger, and for three weeks in the sweltering summer they'd been inseparable. Sneaking out had seemed fun and daring. She’d focused on tipping over sleeping cows and wading in the creek and making sure to ignore his attentions. It’d been easy enough to fend him off with a dismissive "'trothed, Eyan" until he’d hovered too close and she’d realized that she was wetting her lips and watching his own all too intently. Their midnight misadventures ceased, Eyan Woolery took up with Jenna, the tanners’ girl, and Fells was free to wait for the betrothed she'd never met but was certain would come.

Her first was none of anyone's business - an unnecessary cleanup job done in a fit of blind, stupid panic. At sixteen she should have been retrieved from the Brackwell farm years prior, or if not that, married off to a Light-fearing Elwynn boy and well on her way to giving him a family full of fat, happy babies. She’d helped slaughter and butcher meat for years; it’d been poor practice for taking a human life, crouched over the body in a slurry of dirt and blood that she still had nightmares of trying to wash off. It had been her sharp paring knife, snatched from the floor where it’d been scattered in the raid, that had done her first in. When she’d fled into the forest for safety afterwards, she’d flung it downstream into the creek. Besides needing it gone, she’d simply been trembling too badly to trust herself to run with a blade.

The farm had been her first. Her life was bordered to the east by the creek and the south by the river, with the road to the rest of the world out of shouting distance through the woods to the north. She could have followed it to the tiny schoolhouse twice a week and learned how to read. She could have cast her lot at the garrison once she turned thirteen, or found an apprenticeship in Goldshire at any place but the Lion's Pride. Instead she’d contented herself with stealing away at odd hours to watch the comings and goings at Stormwind's great gates. Whole nights had been lost imagining the lives of those who passed through and wondering if one of them might be her intended, finally coming to take her away. She had always ended up rushing back, had always been relieved and disappointed to find the farm still asleep.

One Lord Laurus Drachmas, third son of Heth Drachmas, noble of Lordaeron and self-proclaimed unrepentant freethinker had been her finest, and she would be damned if she’d admit it aloud anymore. Yes, he’d left her holding onto patience by her fingernails more often than not, and the rest of the world had asked her on more than one occasion: "Why him?" She couldn't have explained their shared, base language of touch and pressure, and wouldn't have even if her limited vocabulary had allowed it. When night had fallen on the bit of earth they'd carved from the world and claimed for their own, they could be together for a spell and she could believe that they loved each other, even if she had more and more difficulty with liking. Her devotion had been reckless, fervent, stubborn, and in the end, simply not enough.

Rengault Haneaux had been her finest. He was an agent of the Kirin Tor whose murder she’d never been charged with but had ended up sentenced to hang for all the same. It was debatable if the kill had even been hers at all. No, she hadn't wielded the claws that raked his throat open; she'd only given the word. But the assault she’d rained on the body in a pique of rage might have been what technically did him in anyway. If nothing else, it’d certainly helped him shuffle off the mortal coil more swiftly, and had given her cause enough to claim the kill when she presented it to the man she came all too close to selling out instead of protecting. Haneaux’s had been the first murder she’d anticipated having to commit. It was also the only one she didn’t regret.

Stormwind was her finest; it had offered neither counsel nor compassion, but assigned its tasks just the same: find shelter, find a way to feed herself, find out how long she could manage without one or the other or both. She only had to hold out until her betrothed or her parents came for her, anyway. Like so many abandoned wretches she’d eked out comfort where she could find it, huddled on the front steps of its closed shops or the cramped crevices beneath its bridges where the rain didn’t reach. What coin she needed could be had from the pockets of its unsuspecting citizens. The city had never rewarded her for lessons learned other than the fact that she got to enjoy the benefits of her new-found skills. When she’d done well, it meant a room with a real bed and the luxury of getting to wonder how she would work through tomorrow.

Going by semantics, her last was a bit of a toss-up. With the lamp snuffed, the faint glow of elven eyes was hardly enough to go by, though she didn’t need sight to tell who was who. And in the end, the distinction mattered little. When dawn had burned away the night's fog, the tangled pile of sheets and limbs separated easily enough into people who roused one at a time to go about their daily chores just the same. The first set to breakfast, the second set to children, and the third slept in far too late to catch the others at either until the sun had climbed well into the sky. Later that night, after the children were down, it'd more than likely start up again. Maybe it’d become routine, but who could ever hope for a more wonderful rut?

Her last was a real tenacious bastard. She knew when to expect him: when Felicia got that certain snotty grin and almost seemed to channel her father directly, that should have been the worst. But she expected the fight then, and it didn’t come, each time leaving her smugly thinking maybe she’d bested him for good. Then the want of him would sneak up on her and strike home without warning, making the back of her mind itch like an ant bite. She could have cut down an opponent of flesh and blood and been done with it, or set poisons to it and let them do the dirty work. Memories and mourning? She had to put those down as soon as they tried to take root, cutting them down with Better Off and Wonderful Home and No Longer Babysitting The Spouse. It was an unending task, but became easier by the day, and eventually she wouldn’t have to think about it at all.

Her last was a rough mishmash of things: children to wrangle and raise, a household to rebuild, a fallen country to help fleece and the spoils of which to see funneled into the right hands. More noteworthy was what it was not: for the very first time in her life she wasn’t mastered by the man she was promised to, hobbled by waiting or duty or playing mediator. Maybe a storm of circumstance tossed her about, but she was the one holding the rudder instead of trusting a Him to hold it for her and letting the rest fall to chance. It only took her twenty-two years to get it right.

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Re: First, Finest and Last

Postby Itanya_blade » Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:43 pm

Her first had been Dir Shiningsky, back in the days where she had been all temper and little more. She had nicked some of her father’s finest jewels to pay the courtesan’s outrageous fee. At the time, she would have done anything to strike back at her father’s plan to get rid of his problem child by marrying her off. It would be years before she knew that Dir would have done the deed for free. He was always willing to help. Dir had been gentle and soft with her, as if she were made of porcelain. There would be more than a few trysts before she figured out how to get what she wanted.

It was true that she had not been the one that ripped Faylen Sunray’s life from him. Dorri had no doubts about having been the one who killed him. Even though she had not acted of her own volition, it had still be her body that had crippled him. She had broken him. The Scourge had killed him, but if not for her, that would never have happened.

Vreldor Anuthen had been her first. The fawning subservience the man had shown her father when he was around had contrasted harshly with the grudging instruction he had given her on matters of the arcane. It had only taken months for her to learn what little he had to teach. The years between then and when he had broken her made him a vicious bitter man. It was his meddling, when conspiring with her demented little brother that changed her. She was robbed of the arcane, but had gained so much. He made her, in a way, but even the chains he had wrapped around her thoughts had not been able to contain her.

Her finest was Keltyr. Not the first time, when she had made a casual invitation to him at a bar. Not the many times while he was stationed in Shattrath and had slyly managed to slip past her guard and her resolve to not have the same bed partner twice in a row. Not even when he had broken the law to reverse the re-education that had been her sentence for betraying him. No the Finest was the night she had told him that she was going to stay with him because she wanted to. The night he told her that he wanted her to stay. The first night she allowed herself to think that she might finally understand what love really was.

Ripping Vreldor’s heart out of his chest and watching the life drain out of his eyes had been the final act in her finest. She and Keltyr had kept the man alive for hours. They had mocked his cries for mercies and ridiculed him as he begged to die. The things that had done to him paled to the way he had changed her, molded her. She could not do the same to him, but she had no intention of letting him live long enough to suffer like she had.

Master Keladryn Winterspell was the only man to ever demand her to be better than she was and expected her to succeed. Even though she would never be his apprentice, since that part of her mind was broken, he had not thrown her aside. Dorri did not always please him. He had told her more than once that he was frustrated with her, but he had never turned her away. Keltyr and the other members of the Order might never understand why she snapped to attention whenever Winterspell was around, but she would never stop. Even when she did not agree with the older man, she would never stop giving him the respect she knew he was due.

This morning had been her last. Kel had grabbed her the moment she had slipped back into the tent with what passed for breakfast among those camped with the druids to assist with the assault on the Firelands. It had been quick; they both had duties for the morning. They had been together for years now, but the passion was stronger.

A twisted fiery kaldorei had been her last. He had charged up towards the tree that the druids of the Cenarion Circle had convinced to grow in the parched dead soil of the Firelands. Like so many of his brethren, he had charged towards the waiting army, but he had managed to get through a weak spot. The surprised look on his face as her axe took him in the side was not nearly as satisfying as the hot sting of his blood across her face. So little blood in this siege. She missed fighting cultists. Holding a position against elementals just did not have the same flavor.

It would have pleased her to say that she was her last, but it would have been a lie. It was hard to say exactly who or what was. She took advice from Dir and even Ysani, craved the guidance from Master Winterspell more often than not. She fought and made up with Keltyr. She lived her life as free of illusions and pretenses as she could. She had adopted a lot of the things that Keltyr lived by because they felt right with her. She was proud and strong and angry and amorous and full of life. Maybe she was her own master, after all.

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Re: First, Finest and Last

Postby Kyraine » Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:50 pm

Clyde Miller had been her first. That harvest night when they had stolen away from Lord Almarle’s barracks to find a secluded spot, like so many of the other trainees who had paired off to celebrate. The night when the milita troops on watch had conveniently watched in another direction with knowing smirks on their faces. Those guards remembered what it had been like to be seventeen, so sure that nobody else had ever been quite that bold or clever before.

A nameless raider had been her first. Rushing out of the small stone house in the middle of the night, hurriedly remembering to draw her sword after she saw the rest of her family do the same, her first fight and a mad rush of not knowing what the hell she was doing beyond the lessons her father had given them all. Lessons that had never involved fighting until now, when he called her name along with the others who were old enough to go. They raced to protect horses and sheep that were not their own. That was how things were. She and her family raised the stock, and guarded it with their lives, in exchange for the freedom to live on that windswept stretch of fields and woods on the southwest coast of Gilneas. So it was at fourteen, she watched the lifeblood of a skinny, beardless man drip from her sword, and felt nothing except relief that she had survived.

Her parents had been her first, teaching her to read, write, ride, birth a foal or a lamb, swing a sword, and cook a meal without setting the house on fire. Drilled home, sometimes at the end of a switch, were the harder lessons of duty, keeping one’s word, and not making a sibling take the blame for a prank that wasn’t their fault. All of those lessons came in a crowded, noisy house full of family, including the orphaned cousins, with no privacy and everyone knowing everyone else’s business. The warmth and love of home, something her parents guarded as fiercely as they guarded their lands, were priceless things.

Brannon had been her finest. He had been an Argent Crusade priest whose last name she had never learned, stationed near the hellish gates to Icecrown during the days when she fought for the Seventh Legion. Neither of them had expected anything from the other beyond a brief night or two of respite from the legions of undead they both fought against. No questions, no expectations, no need to make things complicated. They walked the same road and there was a simple, priceless understanding in that fact. Yes, he had been her finest, nothing could compare to the sheer simplicity of what they had shared during those nights away from the front.

She wished Radek Almarle had been her finest. His father held her oath though, and because of that, she knew she would never get the satisfaction. Being charged with keeping the lord’s son safe didn’t involve killing him, no matter how badly she thought he deserved it. Traitor and coward. If Radek had not been either of those things, then he would have turned for home when they had arrived at the Wall and seen how close it was to being finished. It would have meant facing his father’s wrath, but that would have been his price to pay. The other guard had fled home when he saw the Wall, and yet she stayed and paid the price for her unwillingness to abandon the oaths she had sworn. Had Radek ever guessed what she wanted to do? She thought he had, during those times when the black moods took her, and even the most jovial mercenaries they served with gave her a wide berth. He had died in the end, of course, but by another’s hand. That knowledge gave her a cold sort of comfort in the long years of exile before the Wall had finally been shattered.

And the Seventh, the Seventh had been her finest, even more than the mercenary unit she’d signed on with in those terrible days after she and Radek had learned that the Wall was closed and there was no returning home for them. Northrend didn’t give two shits whether anyone was a soldier, a mercenary, or something else. The only thing that mattered was the ability to stay alive and the willingness to fight an enemy straight out of the worst of nightmares. The Seventh hadn’t seen her as a sellsword either, not after the first couple of months. She was simply the Gilnean with the crazy ward who was fairly handy at making potions and elixirs, and even handier with a sword or crossbow. They helped her relearn the simple camaraderie that came from fighting a common enemy together, something she had forgotten in the years away from home. They kept her from going mad, in that time when the years of not knowing what was going on behind that damned wall had nearly broken her. They made it easy to stay, and even harder to leave in the end when everything changed.

She couldn’t remember the name of her last. He had worked at a brothel in Stormwind that a fellow mercenary had recommended, on that last day before she threw her saddlebags on Mutiny and left to go home. The confirmed rumors of what had happened in Gilneas, her ward’s insistence that she go home to try and find her family, and her own reluctance to do so had driven her to find the only distraction she could. He had been skilled, understanding, and most importantly, had quickly figured out that the last thing she wanted him to do was talk.

A demon in Tol Barad had been her last. Eighteen gold to kill ten of them, a quick job, one that would pay the bills for a little while without taking her away from both her ward and her cousin for weeks at a time. Perfect. Simple. So simple that she found herself going back every time it was offered. Her ward wouldn’t miss her for the few hours it took to go through the portal and kill a few demons. Her cousin might, but as long as she didn’t get herself killed and wind up like the rest of their family, a simple job shouldn't cause too much concern. Sometimes she thought of just losing herself on that strange island, where life was as simple as waking up, eating, and being paid to fight someone else’s battles.

Who was her last? The Riders and her ward, the people who had become family, is what she would have said if anyone asked her outright. They had given her a place that felt like home, even before they had given her the colors. In Northrend, her ward had given her someone to come home to, someone to look after the way she would guard any of her family, and best of all, the end of the years of empty inn rooms. Those two years in the frozen north, fighting with the Seventh and spending leave in Stormwind at the Pig, had been two of the happiest years she had lived since leaving Gilneas. But neither of those were truly her last. Her last had been Lord Almarle’s death, of returning home to find his manor and lands destroyed by the dragon called Deathwing. Her last came with his death and the death of all oaths she had sworn as the seventeen year old recruit she had been two decades in the past. Her last had left her adrift, but it had also left her with the freedom to figure things out.
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Re: First, Finest and Last

Postby Shaurria » Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:44 pm

His first had been Learah, and it still hurt to think of her. For three seasons he had put up with her whims, the teases and torments she thought up for him. He had figured out pretty quick that she didn't love him, but he had still done his best by her, damnit, and it still hadn't been enough. When the inevitable moment came and she had cast him aside, he had wanted to kill her. Now, he satisfied himself with the simple belief that whatever had happened to her, it must have been exactly what she deserved.

Technically, his first had been a stag, taken in the Ashenvale forest near his brother's house. Discounting all non-sentients, however.... his first known kill had been a naga off the Zoram strand. She had been focusing on Alanon as he fought off her myrmidon guards, preparing to blast the elder druid with some spell that had been coating her webbed fingers in ice, and it had been no trouble at all for Pitch to sneak in behind her and jump on her neck. He had felt so.. detached, even as his fangs met through her throat. It wasn't for another year that he had learned it was the cat, coming to the surface at the moment of the kill, that prevented him from ever feeling anything when he killed. He had had to go wash the blood off afterward, and to this day he still considered naga blood one of the most vile things in existence.

His first had been Alanon, whom he loved with a hero-worship that still hadn't faded after six centuries. There was nothing, in Pitch's mind, that his brother couldn't do. It didn't matter that his own abilities, or lack thereof, kept him from learning all the druidic magic that Alanon had to teach. His brother had taught him everything else he needed to know.

He still considered his finest to be Skyborne. Sure, she had kept him confused and off-balance more times than not, but she had been the first person he'd felt comfortable with since his arrival in Stormwind. She had been the reason he hadn't immediately turned tail and gone back to his home in Ashenvale. And that night in Fells' barn, as she writhed on top of him and his back bled from her nails into the straw, he had finally felt the last of the chains Learah had put on his heart fall away.

His finest had also been his hardest. Ursoc was his god, but he had been corrupted by Yogg-Saron. His salvation lay in his death, and Pitch had faced it like every other challenge in his life- full throttle, no holds barred. The fight had been brutal, chaotic and excessively long, but in the end, as he watched the cleansed spirit of his deity fade into the air, the only thing Pitch could feel was satisfaction.

His finest had been the ancient, weather-beaten druid that had found him when his cat went out of control. The old codger had never given his name in all the months Pitch had stayed with him, but Pitch owed him his life all the same. He'd promised Pitch he'd teach him to "control" the cat. At first he'd been convinced the old man didn't know what he was doing; later on he'd been convinced the old man would kill him. But despite all his doubts, in the end it was he that was in control and not the cat, and for that Pitch would be forever grateful.

His last had been Lark, of course. They'd been at it pretty regularly, hoping beyond hope that somehow Shad's crazy plan had worked, that they would find out the baby she wanted so badly was on its way. Pitch himself wasn't sure what he wanted. He didn't know if he was ready for fatherhood, kept telling himself that he was still too young. But Lark wanted it, and after all they had been through already, he knew he'd give her anything she asked for... because he loved her.

His last had been a flame druid in the Molten Front. Weakened by two of Lark's arrows embedded in its torso, it had been an easy kill. He sometimes wondered if he should feel bad about killing them; it was possible they had simply been misguided by Staghelm, after all, and they were still of his people. But all it took was to see another of the fire druids in its cat form take a flying leap at his mate, and all thoughts of sympathy fled in favor of his protective rage. There was only the next kill.

His last was the Riders, and he still didn't know how that had happened. He had nothing in common with any of them, really, and he had always been on his own before. But however it had happened, he was one of them now, and he would bleed and kill for any of them, no questions asked. That was just what you did for your pack.
Will you carry me down the aisle that final day
With your tears and cold hands shaking from the weight
When you lower me down beneath that sky of gray
Let the rain fall down and wash away your pain

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Re: First, Finest and Last

Postby Shaila » Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:17 pm

A man of the Defias had been her first. She had gone to them for refuge from her first employer, a dangerous man who she thought was stalking her. The Defias was supposed to be her refuge, but it turned into another job she’d want to get away from. Not impressed with her skills with a blade, they’d decided to put her to work bringing satisfaction to their more accomplished male and female members. At 18 years old, her first time was unwanted and thoroughly unpleasant. She kept her eyes closed the entire time.

Her first came a year and a half later, after fleeing from the Defias to Kalimdor, to the new nation of Theramore. She took up the work of a hired killer, though with no formal experience under her belt it was hard to get her first job. Eventually she was hired by a man who had made a deal with another for a plot of land out in Dustwallow. Being new to settling his own land, he couldn’t have known until it was too late that the land was entirely unfit for what he had bought it for. He hired Shaila to kill the man he’d bought it from and bring any money left back to him. She stared at her target’s back for several hours after they’d slept together. Finally she worked up the nerve to stab him in the side of his throat, screaming as he woke up gurgling, grasping at her. She brought the knife down again sloppily twice more, hastily pulled on her clothes and climbed out the window sobbing and shaking.

She had been 12 years old when she received her first, though it was not in something she had been interested in at the time. After being orphaned she was found alone in Elwynn by an exiled troll from the jungle of Stranglethorn to the south. Though intending to kill her at first, she was still unconscious and he could not bring himself to do it while she was so helpless. Yet by the time she awoke he had grown attached, having been caring for her while she slept. He was skilled in the arts of stealth and knife play, things which she grew to admire. But he maintained that she had no talent for such things, and instead continued the training in hunting and tracking that she had already been learning from her father before he died. She persisted in teaching herself what she observed her caretaker doing, intent on becoming a rogue.

Lansiron had been her finest. A dark haired rogue, they had been friends for a while before becoming romantically involved. He had already seen her naked many times, being the one who had produced artwork of her in such a state. It was perhaps because of this that he knew her body so well, having reproduced its appearance on paper so many times. He knew every inch of her body, and when he was making love to her his hands were as gentle and sure as if he was molding a sculpture, careful and deliberate. Never before had she felt as appreciated by a man while making love as she had with Lansiron.

She considered her finest the one she’d had the most fun with. It was during one of her hunts in the Burning Steppes, atop her loyal green proto-drake Sharyz that they had come across a young, strong black drake. He came for them as soon as he saw them flying in his flight’s territory. The dragon’s shriek chilled her to the bone, but at the same time it excited her. She knew at once it would be a good fight, and as Sharyz slammed into the drake and they began biting and scorching each other in the air she grinned and leapt onto the black drake to help out. Several times in that fight she had almost fallen to her death, always saved either by Sharyz or one of her engineering gadgets. She shared a portion of the meat from the drake with Sharyz, and took the rest for herself and her family. Dragon meat had never before tasted quite as good as the meat from that one.

Her finest had been Mathias Shaw. Questionable as he sometimes could be, he was the only one who had never given up on her skills as a rogue. She was certainly not the best but he could recognize immediately what she was good at in the field. It was he that had caused her to focus on developing poisons, though in the end it was her that went too far with the research and development and almost killed herself. But the results didn’t lie, and Shaila’s poisons were among the best in the field when she was still active.

Chelody was her last, and if Shaila had her wish Chelody would forever be her last. Though she seemed a bit unsure of herself, Shaila had never before experienced such a caring and tender touch while making love. In Chelody’s arms she felt warm, safe, and absolutely sure that this is where she wanted to be. What’s more, Shaila had never before experienced such an overwhelming desire to make her partner as happy as she possibly could. With Chelody, Shaila knew that this is where she belonged.

Her last had been a troll, while Shaila had been helping with the defense of the Gilnean countryside. He had been a druid, and it seemed like he wasn’t really sure what he was doing. He looked unsure of himself, and Shaila thought that he was young and new to fighting. She wanted to stop fighting him, to spare him. She didn’t want to kill someone who seemed so young and inexperienced. But he proved tenacious, and it had to be either him or her. Her mastiff realized this before she herself did, taking him down and ripping his throat out. It was at that point she realized she was still fairly new to fighting with the Horde herself. She still had a lot to learn about fighting them.

Her last was Genise Crownsilver. The owner of the Silver Feather had been happy to employ Shaila, and Shaila had been happy to be able to earn money for her dancing skills. Genise was easy to work for, giving Shaila a wide range of enjoyable things to do. Whether it was dancing, talking, or serving Shaila had fun. And when Shaila had confided in no longer being comfortable with the more sensual aspects of her job, Genise had been happy to allow Shaila to instead become a chef in her kitchen. Had Shaila still had a lot to learn about cooking and dancing when she came to the Feather Genise may very well have been her finest. But as it was she was one of the best bosses Shaila had ever had, and certainly the most enjoyable to work for.

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Re: First, Finest and Last

Postby Threnn » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:49 pm


Ben Carney had been her first, both of them sixteen and drunk on the Longwoods' apple wine. They'd snuck away from the Harvest Ball to go kiss in the hayloft. Kissing turned to touching turned to undone laces and the briefest flare of pain. It was... well. It was two fools fumbling around in the dark while Cal Longwood fiddled pixie reels for the dancers in the orchard. Ben lasted one song, maybe one and a half, and then it was done. Next day, he'd bragged to the Bells about how her breasts looked in the moonlight, and Robert had beaten him bloody for his gossiping mouth. Ben Carney with all his bruises didn't feel half as bad as Anna did, though, when she saw the hurt lurking in William Bell's eyes.

The baby had been her first. It wasn't her fault, and she knows that, but she'll never stop blaming herself, either. She should've twigged onto it earlier, should've suspected as soon as she crossed the threshhold. She should've run faster, farther, even though the dreamfoil made every movement feel like she was swimming in molasses. Her body, her sheer fucking determination should've been stronger, when the cramps were coming in jagged-edged waves and Threnny and Mrs. Stone exchanged worried whispers at the foot of the bed. It wasn't her fault, it wasn't her plan, but she feels complicit anyway. She'd be haunted by his infant ghost until the day she died. He would have been five.

The bard had been her first. She'd thought she'd known so very much before Threnny'd hired him to teach her. Then he'd put the lute in her hands and bent her fingers into chords. In an hour's time, her soft fingertips stinging and biting from being pressed against the strings, she'd realized how very much she had to learn. When she'd finished with the lute, he sat her before a harp. When the harp was done, he put a flute in her hands. After she'd squawked away at that, he made her stomp out the steps to half a dozen barn dances, then before she could catch her breath he demanded she sing her scales. And that was just the first day. She spent the rest of the summer watching his green eyes for approval. She didn't get it until the very last evening, when he gifted her his lute and set out for far-off taverns.

Her finest depends on your definition. There were so many in her past to choose from, it hardly seems fair. She'd had gentle men and gentlemen, which aren't always the same thing. She'd had coarser, rougher men, and that was fine, too. There were men who made her sing and men who made her scream, and it would be terribly hard to compare one fling to another. But. If you mean the one who didn't just know how best to please her, if you mean the one who made her better than she ever thought she could be, and who made her want to be that better woman, well. He's gone now. Maybe he left her and maybe she left him, or maybe they both left each other with things so, so fucking far from finished. Either way, it's been over a long damned time now, and it doesn't even hurt anymore. It doesn't. Sometimes she can even say his name: Fingold was her finest.

Merrock Hartwell had been her finest. The planning that went into it, the weeks of shadowing him and learning his habits, the utter perfection of her poison working just as it was supposed to. He'd shown her mercy for one moment on that terrible night, but not enough. Maybe she owed him her life, for the goldthorn he'd stuffed in her mouth to counteract the dreamfoil, but the way she saw it the balance sheet still came up short. He'd spared her, but not her child. So fuck mercy. The only way Hartwell's death could have been finer was if Aumery Fane had fallen, too. But Annalea could be patient.

Elune had been her finest. The stuffy men of the Cathedral would condemn her and look down upon her for not being perfect, pristine. Across the sea was a goddess who understood balance and accepted the flawed, and that's where Anna'd gone. The kaldorei priestesses were probably humoring her those first few months: let the human have her game of pretend. She'll grow bored and leave us. She'd stuck with it, though, as determined as when she'd played those first clunky, muted notes on the lute. She didn't pretend to know Elune as well as the elves, but she'd never heard of a deity refusing honest worship. It was a fair exchange -- a little prayer for a little power. Only, Anna thought she'd gotten the better part of the deal.

Tarquin had been her last. The whiskey and ale had flowed freely at the Boomsticks' crawl, but his nimble fingers had undone the buttons and clasps of her rather-complicated dress as fast as any lock. She'd worry, sometimes, that people measured her against his wife, and found her vastly inferior. She'd wonder if they pitied him, or called her the names she'd had flung at her plenty of times over the years. But they weren't the ones in her bed; they weren't the ones lifting a cigarette to her lips as the sweat cooled on her skin. She and Tarq knew where they stood with one another, which was more than some people could claim after decades. It was enough. It was better than enough -- it was good.

Ginger Dan had been her last -- the last that counted anyway. With Stormwind in chaos after a rampaging fucking dragon had turned the Park into so much slag, SI:7's men had more important things to do than guard a thug in his hidey-hole. It wasn't an opportunity Anna could ignore. Two streets over, Tarq had hopped up onto a barrel and delivered a rousing speech to the passersby about corruption, thuggery and Elune knew what else. The denizens of Harrowby Street went to see what the shouting was about, leaving Ulth and Beltar to scout ahead and stand guard while Illi strode up, greataxe in hand, and kicked in the door. Anna had followed, and she'd brought the shadows with her. Ginger Dan had screamed and gibbered in the end, begging mercy for what he'd done to Padraig al'Cair, but Anna figured he could ask Merrock Hartwell about mercy, if the two men met in hell.

The dreamfoil had been her last. She'd had the nightmares for as long as she could remember, but when the Riders had sailed for Icecrown, they'd grown ten times worse. She only took the potions a few nights a week at first, but then Fin was called to Crusaders' Pinnacle and her last barrier against the dreams was gone. She'd been handling it well, she'd thought, but Bricu had seen the cracks in her façade. Doesn't matter the poison -- one addict knows another, and she'd been ashamed. She'd ended it after Angra'thar, when she'd ended the suffering of the too-far-gone with her vials of dreamfoil-laced death. For months afterward, the smell of it was enough to make her retch. The nightmares lessened after the Bloody Prince's fall, but they'd never fully left her. If Tarquin knew why she'd sometimes wake him in the dead of night, demanding his touch, he'd left it alone. All in all, it was a better remedy than any others she'd tried.

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