*It was just before dusk and all the acolytes of the temple were preparing for the fall of darkness. The shadows of the oncoming night were fought back with the soft glow of candle light emanating from the lanterns and sconces positioned throughout the temple. And all sounds quieted to a hushed murmur as activities turned to the more subdued tasks such as preparation for bed, meditation, prayers and vigils.*
*Magia nodded here and there to other priestesses and attendants passing by as she made her way to the High Priestess's apartments. Her slippered feet and robes barely making a whisper as she moved silently through the halls. With a soft knock she entered the Priestess's suite and quietly searched the room for her superior. At the far wall, she found the Priestess kneeling in front of a small altar, obviously in deep prayer. Closing the door gently, Magia took up a place behind her mentor and to the right, waiting patiently to be acknowledged.*
*After some time the Priestess let out a sigh and opened her eyes, letting them linger on the altar before turning to her young pupil.*
"Come assist me to my feet, young one."
*It was a nightly ritual, as the next High Priestess in training Magia was the only attendant to the current High Priestess. So, every night Magia would find the elder kneeling at her altar before being asked to help her mentor to her feet. Rising gracefully, Magia cupped a hand beneath the Priestess's elbow and helped her rise. Guiding her into the bedchamber, Magia assisted the Priestess into bed.* Is there anything else you wish of me before I retire?
*The woman settled into the pillows and sighed.*
"Tomorrow we will begin your training in calling the Elementals...I failed to send someone to fetch the copies of the materials I requisitioned for the purpose. You will need them..."
*Magia nodded, and tucked the covers around the elderly woman. With a soft smile and gentle squeeze of the hand she left her old mentor to rest, extinguishing the candles on her way out. On her way to her own apartments Magia wondered when would be the most opportune time to send someone for the books. Yet, as she thought over the situation she knew that there would be no time to do so before the mornings lessons. Raising her head to look out the window at the light purple and blues of dusk turning into full dark she bit her lower lip, wondering if she should take care of the task herself before the morning. The book shoppe would still be open for alittle bit but the decision had to be made fast.*
*Before the matter was taken out of her hands she grabbed her cloak and headed out of the temple with a fast clipped walk. As she hurried on her errand her thoughts circled around eachother. It had been a few months time since she had taken such a task upon herself. Ever since, Schae had left New Enhasa she couldn't bear to go herself. If the High Priestess hadn't mentioned the beginning of the end of her training...it wouldn't have been so important. She shook her head and walked faster, hoping she would be in time.*
*With the morning sun shining down on the Sea of Nia, Schae had gotten his first glimpse of New Enhasa in what seemed like months and it was just as beautiful as he had remembered, the tranquility and peace only second to the clouds hovering in the sky and the leaves of the trees swaying in the summer breeze. And he had not changed a bit, though he seemed a bit more thoughtful and medatative.. of course make no mind he was shy, but there was a weight on his broad shoulders and he hated the fact that he couldn't work his way through this problem, the marriage contract that Silver and Magia's parents had signed. It was bound by all that was held sacred between the Zeals and the Bainbridges*
*He road into the town and mounted off his horse, storing it in the stables toward the back.. then he walked into the book shoppe where his Zeal cousin, Merlyn was tending the place. When he had gotten to the Valley, he had asked Merlyn if he could take care of the Shoppe, mostly becase Merlyn was of a similar scholarly mind. So he went around while Merlyn gave him a 3 months turnover and then he went into the back to start do some work*
*That work took up a great deal of his time in between the customers entering the shoppe, most wanted to pick up pocket paperbacks of love magic which somehow made him a little bit more thoughtful.. but soon dusk came and he was about ready to close up shoppe for the day so that he could get himself something to eat and perhaps unpack. Dare he steal to the temple to see Magia.. he wasn't even sure he was ready. Oh yes he loved her with every fibre in his being and he had missed her every single day, but knowing that she could never be his tore at his soul...*
*With the town in sight Magia hastened her footsteps, and finally began to approach the door of the shop, hoping it hadn't closed for the night. Tentatively she tried the door and found it unlocked. She stepped inside with a relieved sigh and hurried through the foyer and into the main room of the shop. Weaving though bookshelves and tables she made her way to the counter, calling out as she moved though the store.* Hello...? Merlyn...?
*Although she hadn't been to the shop in months she knew from the gossip of the temple attendants that Merlyn Zeal was taking care of the shop for Schae, while the latter was away. And she knew that Schae hadn't returned yet. She didn't know how she felt about that either. She woke every morning, went to bed every night, and spent every moment in between thinking of him and missing him. There was no way around it no matter how hard she tried, because without him she felt as if she were only half of a whole functioning by memory without ever being completely conscious. Yet, despite the suffering and the desire to be selfish she understood Schae's reason for leaving. It pained her to be the cause of his suffering and yet she knew there was no way to overcome the obstacle that stood between them. She only wanted to have the few moments of shared happiness that the Elementals were willing to give her, before she became their "bride" married to her duty...and more specifically Silver Bainbridge. As she waited for an answer, she heard a rustling in the backroom and stepped closer to the counter.* I know your just ready to close but... *She trailed off waiting for some kind of response*
*He heard that voice while he was in the back and he just kinda paused, closing his eyes in the darkness.. it was Magia, he certainly had not expected her to come by the Book Shoppe this soon, he had thought he would have time to get into a routine however it wasn't possible, he vaugely wondered if Merlyn had told her.. however when Magia called out Merlyn's name.. he realized that it was a coincidence.. but did he want to face that coincidence.*
*Right at this particular moment he felt like chicken shit to put it bluntly, he could stay back here and pretend that everything had been done for the night, however he was going to have to see her eventually.. and along with that seeing he would want to take her in his arms and hold her until the world just passed away. Oh it certainly ached not to be with her, not to hold her and without her in his life he was merely 'existing" and nothing more. He would never be able to live with her, but he couldn't live without her.. such a sad fate that those in power have woven for their children*
*So with much bravery he stepped out of the backroom, and stood there, leaning against the wooden frame with one arm, watching Magia. Had she grown more beautiful and magical.. yes it was clearly evident. And he had the overwheming urge to sob though he didn't, he just allowed his lips to curve into a small smile* What do you need, Magia? I am sure I can find the book before I close for the night....
*It felt as if the breath had been knocked out of her and would never return, yet it resumed shallowly as if she still couldn't quite catch her breath. She hadn't expected to see him or hear his voice, let alone be within a few feet from touching him. She yearned to trace the lines of his face, to brush the ever errant locks of hair from his eyes, to be drawn into the safe haven of his arms. But she only stood and stared at him, almost disbelieving that he was really there in front of her. She looked at him thinking he looked more handsome than when he had left. There was a centeredness and stillness about him that lent more to his beauty because it only made him more compelling. Yet, when she looked into his eyes she could see that the old pain was still there, mirrored in his slight smile. It was something he could never hide from her because his sufferring was her own. She wanted to burrow in his arms and tell him how much she missed him and to never leave again, to ask if he felt the same. Yet she heard herself speak as if they were only acquaintances asking after eachother's well-being.* Schae...your back. *she shook her head* I didn't know...*she bit into her lower lip* How are you? *Despite what she thought was a casual question was all the fears, hopes, and yearnings she felt.*
*It was like every thought that Magia had, he had in kind.. for those same things were running through his mind, causing him to furrow his brows slightly, as if telling the voices in his head to be quiet, but he couldn't and so he let them talk.. but they had no right to each other, it was a forbidden love that they shared.. forbidden for he was a mere bookseller, while she was the priestess of the Elementals.. the highest thing he could aspire to be was a simple paramour if even that. Did he really want to share her with a husband? No he didn't particularly relish that idea*
I got in this morning.. and I released Merlyn of his duties.. *He walked into the store floor, turning his attention to a rack of books that were there.. making the pretense of seeing if they were in order for he knew how books could get re-arranged, such was the trials of such a job* I went to visit my siblings down in the Valley is all and then I took a detour to Valdora to visit with Violache before heading back to Enhasa... *At her next question, he gave her a sideways glance before taking a deep breath and plucking out a book on Alchemy, paging through it idly* I am fine.. and you? How has your studies been going? I trust that the High Priestess isn't wearing you out with your lessons.. *Indeed it was like they were only aquaitances, however the air that lay between them told a different story entirely.. for it communicated what they themselves refused to*
*She wanted to yell and throw things at him for being so casual with her but she couldn't blame him because she was doing the same. It didn't matter that she wanted to cup his face in her hands and kiss him, then look into his eyes and say "It is senseless to suffer like this when we have time left for happiness and more than enough torment that lies ahead. Love me...and let me love you." But those were words she would never utter. How could she consign the one she loved above all else to second place. She couldn't ask it off him, she wouldn't. And if he had offered...she didn't know what she would say. But it didn't matter because they hadn't spoken of it. And at his mention of Violache the intial violent surge of jealousy quieted when she thought that if they left things the way they were then maybe Schae would find someone else to love. At the very least he could be with someone who -could- love him...so maybe he had a chance at happiness. It wasn't the first time she questioned the sacrifices the Elementals seemed to ask of her but she knew that if at least Schae had an opportunity for something more than she could offer she would give in quietly.* I'm sure you enjoyed your travels if not for a chance to escape the routine of life here than for the joy of homecoming. *She smiled softly remembering how coming home to Enhansa after long journeys always seemed to lift the spirit. With a slight shake of her head her smile turned abit rueful.* As for my studies, there are always things to learn but I enjoy my studies more than the average pupil so there is no hardship in it. *She didn't mention that her studies were drawing to an end and that the High Priestess was so aged that she tired easily and so her lessons were either half self-taught or postponed until the Priestess could resume them. There was no sense in adding to his burdens in saying that they might be forever torn apart more quickly than either of them might anticipate.*
*Oh no, Schae could never love -anyone- but Magia.. it would be absurd to even think that, for his heart was so deeply entwined with Magia's.. to even think of loving anyone else made his heart shudder and shake with apprehension all the while he remained cool calm and collected. He stuffed the book back into the case and then turned to watch her, and it hurt him to look at her now.. it hurt when his heart was screaming out of its enclosed ribcage to have him go to her, draw him in her arms and kiss her until she could only breathe through him, and that desire was evident in his purple amethyst eyes even though he remained there standing where he was* Homecoming is indeed great.. if there is actually something to come home to.. *he murmured wistfully and tilted his head to the side before clearing his throat awkwardly*
Tell me what it is you wish? Evidentally you did come here for a book.. and I should be the good shopkeeper and find it for you.. *he said as he brushed his hands against his light purple tunic, for the book he had held obviously hadn't been touched for a good couple of years with all the dust that rubbed off on his hands*
*She felt hot tears well in her eyes and burn with her efforts to suppress them. After all this, she was still breathless and felt like she couldn't get enough air into her lungs. She shook her head and released her breath in a shallow sigh, her eyes closing for a moment before opening again. It was unbearable to be in the same room with him struggling beneath the heavy atmosphere of suppressed words and emotions that seemed to envelope them.*
*She couldn't stand for the casualness between them anymore. So she reached out a hand to touch his only to draw back at the last moment in uncertainty, just barely grazing his hand with her fingertips before letting her hand drop to her side.* Schae...we can't act like strangers...I can't..Talk to me...tell me what you want. What you want me to do...this...this is insufferable.*She swallowed and looked at him wondering if he would turn away from her after she had breached the forced formalities.*
Please Magia.. *he had to struggle to catch his voice and her touch raised his voice a little bit in pitch as if all the emotion that he was feeling was coming up, struggling to the surface and could only be gauged by the hysteria in his voice.. She was bound by duty, and even if she wasn't.. it wouldn't be possible for them to runaway together.. the curse would catch up with them and he couldn't put her life in danger like that.. never.. he had heard the stories of Schala and Magus.. the two most star-crossed lovers in Bainbridge/Zeal history... and he valued Magia's safety above everything else* .. Don't make this harder for us.. I.. I am going to have to let you go.. What I want you can't give me, what I want is exceedingly selfish...
*There was pain in his eyes, visible pain that seered the soul, as he looked up* I need to leave New Enhasa... Magia.. permanantly. I can't stay here. I don't know how to make you understand but it would hurt too much to see you, it would slowly kill me.. us.. I can't let that happen. *He sighed and shook his head* You have things to do and accomplish and I have no part in them, I am a bookseller with no claim to magic.. The black sheep of the family.. no one would notice my presence gone...
*She shook her head in denial her eyes clenched closed against the pain and sorrow in his eyes, which only affirmed his decision to leave her again. Tears trickled down her cheek as she opened her darkened eyes to look at him, her voice a broken whisper only a faint echo of the sundering of her heart, her soul.* I would notice your presence gone...a bookseller who believes he has no claim to magic but must know he has claim to my heart and soul, my very being. *Her voice strengthened to plead with him* You say you can't stay, that it would slowly kill you to see me. Then tell me what is it like when I am not with you and you are not with me! It is no kind of living...it is a living death and if that is what you would leave me with I would rather be killed.
*She quieted choking on further words, wanting to run into him and hold him against her so tightly that if she held on long enough they just might meld into one. But she was afraid he would pull away from her, that he would refuse her and she knew that would be a torture beyond what she knew now.* I have to make it harder...because I have to fight to live...because without you I have no sort of life at all. I don't want you to let me go because I don't want to let you go. You think you are protecting me from something worse than death by running from me and this curse of a betrothal but I tell you, that I am already suffering something worse than death when you say I can't have you and you won't have me. *As she spoke she moved closer, unaware that she stepped closer inch by small inch. When she finshed she was but a hair breadth away yet she still didn't touch him, only looking up at him willing him to feel her anguish and at the same time knowing he did.*
*He noticed that she was close to him, and he couldn't push her away.. but he couldn't let her any closer for fear that he wouldn't be able to leave when he had to, there was no future for them, there was only this single moment that they had stolen from fate and he looked down at her, seeing the tears linger in her eyes and biting back his words though he knew that they were the truth.. similarly he would be dead.. he would live some sort of mockery of life without her in his arms* Tell me Magia.. can we make a kiss.. a touch last a lifetime? Is it possible for us to take one single moment and keep it close to our hearts for memories sake? *he searched her eyes for any sign of what lingered there, of her emotions*
*She searched his eyes as he searched hers and sniffled softly, giving the barest nod of her head.* If it is all that we can have...all that you will give me.
No Magia.. it is all that I -can- give you.. for anything more will make it impossible to leave.. *Schae wrapped one arm around Magia's waist to draw her closer while the other hand moved to run very lightly against the skin of her cheek, he looked at her intently as if trying to memorize every little detail that would be etched in his heart until when he next saw her.. if he saw her again. But if not there would be a memory of her. Very softly his head bent down to capture her lips with his own. If he could transfer his soul into a single kiss.. it would of been this one, and his heart ached truly and with certainty that with the coming week he would leave.. he would make his way to the Valley to set up a bookshoppe there and dwell but for now all he could do was kiss her and hope that the kiss was enough*
*She leaned her cheek into his hand, tears falling freely at the thought that this would be all that was left to her of him, and their love. With her fingertips she gently brushed away the errant locks of hair, briefly twining the silky strands around her fingers before trailing them down his face to cup his cheek in a mirror image of his own caress. Her other hand lifted to rest against his chest to feel the pulse of his heart beat in a counter of her own. Yet as their lips met his heartbeat altered to echo her own, almost as if they were truly one being. It was to be these things and the lithe strength of his form pressed gently against hers and the tenderness of this moment, that would be the memories she was left with.*
*Slowly he drew back from the kiss, and his lips were extremely reluctant to leave her soft strawberry colored lips, and almost insistantly pulled them down to hers again, before he steeled himself against the temptation and then took a few steps backward, releasing her from his embrace* Nothing is certain.. except that I love you and I will continue to love you even while we are apart. *he breathed out those words* Nothing could induce me to do otherwise..
I think you should leave now, Magia.. *he said quietly and then dropped his eyes to the floor, for his fondest wish was to pick her up and carry her upstairs and show exactly how much he loved her.. but they had enough of a bond that made it difficult without such contributing factors.. no.. it was much easier to let it go now, one could not be greedy when dealing with fate*
*As he drew back from the kiss she wanted to pull him back and murmur against his lips that she had lied that a single kiss, a single moment would not be enough to last what might be a lifetime. But she resisted, knowing that if she opened her eyes to his she would see a desperate plea for her not to tempt him further. As he put more distance between them a swirle of cold air rushed to meet her and envelope her in its icy embrace. She knew that there was now breeze in the shop but that this was the frigid greeting of a love destined to be unfulfilled and the foundations of the barriers that would surround the ruins of her being.*
*She listened to his words taking them into herself to cherish and remember for all time, knowing them to be true. She nodded and briefly touched her fingers to his.* I love you...and you are the only who will ever lay claim to that which is only mine to give...my love, my soul, my being. *Unable to be the cause of his sufferring any longer she whirled in a swirl of her robes, forgetting what she came for, focused only on departing and the rending of her soul. The door clicked softly shut with her departure. Leaving only silence and the fading echo of her footsteps.*
*And he watched her go, saw her exit the doors to his shop for perhaps the last time, he bowed his head and only then allowed the tears to fall unbidden. Trying his hardest he willed himself to go start making plans for the changing hands of this shop, and his departure from New Enhasa immediately, he could not bear to be in this town any longer.*
*With the morning he had packed up, made arrangements with Merlyn to find someone else to take up the shoppe.. and so if Magia came back to the store to get the books that she had neglected to get, she would find Merlyn there.. and Schae's presence gone. As if the evening had been a dream within a dream.*
*And he left to go to the Valley, to open up shoppe there, and somehow put her memory into the locked part of his heart. Certainly that would not make the cold nights any warmer.. but at least he would know that she did love him.. just as certainly as he loved her.. and perhaps there were still dreams.. because even the realm of morpheus could not keep them apart.. now could it?*