|Before The Storm
Author: Lady Nailo PM
The paths of a young cleric/ranger and an inexperienced hunter cross, setting in motion one of the Realms' greatest and most tragic love stories. Pre-BG Kivan and Deheriana and their story. Chapter 2 up!Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 2 - Words: 13,615 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 12-08-02 - Published: 06-03-02 - id: 815727
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Before The Storm
Chapter 1: With You
The moment he saw her, the breath was torn from his body and his head seemed to fill with fog. She seemed bathed in light, a bright halo around her dark hair and her eyes bright spots of blue above him. Maybe it was the pain that made him think she was an angel come to save him, but for the moment he couldn't help but stare.
She was saying something to him. "Are you alright?" Her voice was beautiful, soft and gentle like a summer sunrise. He blinked several times, lifting a hand to rub his eyes clear of the dirt that had invaded them. "You're bleeding," she was saying, touching the side of his face gently. "What happened to you? How far have you traveled?"
"I…I come from…" His eyes focused on his hand, covered in a red sheen of blood. "Shilmista…" He looked up at her, into her concerned eyes. "I haven't been there in years, though…"
"Never mind that," she said softly. She muttered a few words and touched his arm, where a large gash marred his skin. It healed instantly, leaving nothing behind but dried blood and a small line. She repeated this procedure several times, healing some of the smaller cuts along his face and neck, pulling open his shirt to try to close the long cut made by the renegade worg he had fought the night before. She worked in silence, apart from her murmuring of spells, for several minutes, until she finally leaned back, her hands wet with his blood. "I've used up my spells, but that cut isn't healed yet," she said, wiping her hands on a cloth at her waist. Leaning over to close his shirt, she touched his hand. "My house isn't far from here. It isn't much, but I have clean water and bandages, as well as more healing magic." She offered a small smile to him, lighting up her face with a soft glow, and helped him rise to his feet. The lightheadedness he had felt a moment before had disappeared from his slowly healing body, and he was steady on his feet, if a little weak. "Please, come." He paused.
"I-I have no money," he said, pulling his arm slowly away from her, even though he wanted nothing more than to have her touch him. "I…"
The woman smiled again, brushing her hair away from her face. She was obviously elven, with pointed ears like his, although her skin was slightly tan and her hair had a reddish tint to it. In fact, she resembled a sylvan elf, like himself, aside from the lighter skin and darker hair. She was also shorter and thinner than the women of his village, without the muscular build common in both sylvan elf men and women. Her eyes were blue, as well -- a rarity at best in sylvan elves. Her long, simple dress of brown and green resembled something similar to cleric's robes, though of whom he did not know. She took his arm again, urging him to lean on her for support. "I ask for nothing in return," she said, looking up at him, "only for company around my table and perhaps a tale or two of your travels." She offered him another of her brilliant smiles. "Skerrit knows I don't get many visitors."
"I…" he began, looking at her. He trailed off, once again struck speechless by her. He knew he was staring again, but he didn't care. "I-I…Thank you," he finally managed. She laughed lightly, sliding one of her slim arms around his waist and supporting him with more strength than he thought was in her small frame.
"It's nothing," she said quietly, beginning to walk him slowly down a barely visible trail. "The God led you to me for a reason only he knows." She looked up at him again and smiled once more. "A reason that even I, Deheriana, his most faithful of children, can't fathom."
"Deheriana," he whispered, looking down at the path and her feet walking next to his. "A beautiful name." The words spilled out before he could stop them, and he glanced over to see the tips of her elven ears turning pink.
"You flatter me," she said, not meeting his eyes. She was silent for several minutes, the sound of their feet blending with the sounds of the forest as they walked. After a time, she looked at him. "You know my name," she began, "what is yours? How did you end up so close to death and so far from your people?"
"Kivan," he said, forcing himself to look away from her. "I was tracking a worg through these woods last night. I hadn't slept, so the worg caught me off guard as I dozed against a tree." He frowned, his face flushing in embarrassment. "I shouldn't have fallen asleep, but…"
"You were tired," Deheriana supplied, "and no doubt the worg was waiting for that. They can be crafty creatures. In fact, they've been giving me some trouble recently as well, although I'm surprised only one attacked you. Usually they travel in groups, or in the company of goblins." Kivan nodded, once again glancing towards her. She carried with her a spear, intricately carved with vines and animals up and down the shaft, and a sling hung at her side. Her steps were confident; she obviously knew the forest well, stepping around holes in the path and crouching below hanging branches with barely a glance to them. Small animals, squirrels and mice mostly, skittered through the woods at her feet, and she smiled and chittered to them softly, sending them scattering ahead of her, dodging around trees and bushes and scampering back to her.
"Do you speak to them?" he asked, his voice seeming loud in the natural confines of the forest. She smiled and shook her head, bending down to beckon to one of the squirrels. It came to her, jumping on her hand and running up to her shoulder to nestle in her hair.
"I don't speak to them as much as understand them," she said, scratching the head of the small animal. It chittered, touching a paw to her cheek, then turned to look at Kivan. "The animals don't speak in words, the way we do. They speak in actions and feelings." The squirrel cocked its head, and then leaped in one fluid motion onto Kivan's shoulder. It sniffed, its whiskers tickling his neck, then laid its paw on his cheek like it had with Deheriana. He watched it in surprise as it chittered again and leapt to the ground, scampering into the forest ahead of them. Deheriana smiled.
"Actions like that, touching another, are gestures of trust and understanding." She pushed aside a curtain of vines. The entrance led to a low hanging canopy made of branches and bushes, giving the effect of a green tunnel leading to a point of light in the distance: a clearing. The clearing housed a small cabin, next to a garden overgrown with both herbs and vegetables. Inside a paddock made of tree beams a small fawn bleated, its side and one of its back legs bandaged in strips of cloth. "Living alone, with rare company, I find that animals have more to say that one would think. They have thoughts and feelings just like you and I, and their ways of expression are so different that I can't help but be fascinated." She smiled and left him to stand in the center of the clearing with her gear, walking over to the fawn and touching its head gently. She knelt next to it, letting it nuzzle her hand for a moment, laughing as it tried to bite at her hair.
Kivan leaned on the spear, a small smile on his face. Deheriana still sparkled in the sun, smiling towards him, the sunlight playing across her hair and turning it red-gold like the sunset that was fast approaching. Gods help me, I must be dreaming, he thought as he watched her check the bandages on the fawn, and, seeming satisfied, set it off to romp across the paddock with a pat on the rump.
He shook himself out of his thoughts as she approached, looking worried. "Are you feeling alright?" she asked, laying a cool hand on his forehead. "Your eyes look a bit glassy…"
"I-" he began, falling silent as she touched his face gently. She looked concerned for him, something he wasn't used to seeing often. He wasn't used to seeing many people at all, in fact; a lone hunter like he was at home with solitude. Or, rather, he should be. But, he realized, as she led him inside the small, clean cabin and pushed him down on the soft bed by one of the windows, if solitude meant renouncing the company of the kind, beautiful, gentle Deheriana, perhaps it wasn't as good as he thought it to be.
She made him take off his shirt, bathing the deep cut in his chest that her magic hadn't healed with cool water. She talked easily, asking him from what direction he traveled, and how far he had come before the worg had attacked. Her questions came rapidly, and often he would become lost, staring at her blankly after she had asked five or six in a row. She laughed every time, letting him answer in his own time, and after several minutes he found it easy to fall into a conversation with her. Her voice was sweet, reminding him of the minstrels in the cities he had ventured into. He said this, making her laugh again. "My mother was a performer before she met my father," she said, sitting back and reaching for a jar from the table next to the bed. "They always said I had her voice, but I was never trained for singing." She blushed slightly. "I suppose it's only the animals that sing with me now." She began spreading a sweet smelling salve from the jar onto the now clean wound. He winced. "A strong hunter like you shouldn't wince from simple herbs," she teased, glancing up at him. He blinked, her face inches away from his, and swallowed.
"I'm sorry…?" he chanced. She laughed, putting the cover back on the jar of salve. She stood up and smoothed down her dress, carrying the jar to a series of shelves. There were other jars there, as well as bunches of dried herbs and baskets of cloth strips.
"My mother used to say that to my father," she said, reaching to put the jar on the top shelf. She was forced to stand tiptoed to reach it. Lifting one of the baskets off a lower shelf, she turned back to him. She wiped her hands on her dress and sat next to him, setting the basket at her feet and beginning to wrap his chest in long strips of white cloth. "They would always joke with each other like that," she continued, "mostly because my mother would always heal my father when he was caught in a battle. He would complain that he was fine, and that she needed healing more than he, and why wasn't she helping herself instead of wasting bandages and potions on him?" She laughed again, smoothing out the bandages with a soft touch that made Kivan suppress a shiver. "They loved each other so much…"
For a moment a sad expression crossed her face, almost too quick for him to notice properly. She stood up without a word and moved to hearth, bending down to feed the fire burning merrily there. Night was quickly approaching, and though the late summer sun warmed the mornings and afternoons nicely, when it dipped below the horizon a wind sprang up and drove off any lingering heat still in the ground. Suppressing another shiver, Kivan shrugged on his shirt once again and stood up.
"I won't be troubling you any longer," he said, making Deheriana turn from the hearth to look at him. "I'm much better than I was when you found me, and I should probably be on my way…"
"No!" she said, jumping up and running a few steps towards him. She reached out a hand to him, but withdrew it again, holding it to her chest. "I mean to say, maybe you shouldn't leave just yet." A fleeting look of embarrassment flared across her face, leaving her cheeks flushed and her ears turning pink. "It wouldn't be any trouble for me to have you stay, and I would feel better if I could watch you at least until tomorrow, to make sure there aren't any more serious problems with your injuries, or any new ones spring up. You never know with worgs, they're smarter than they look. Besides," she looked down and away, biting her lip nervously, "I get visitors so rarely…It's nice to have someone other than the animals to talk to…even if I do talk a little too much…" She fell silent and looked up at him.
Kivan looked at her, her hands twisting a fold of her dress over and over. He owed her his life; if she hadn't come by when she did, he would have died from the wounds the worg had given him before the sun set. He was lucky to be able to see the moon this night. Deheriana looked down, dropping her dress and self-consciously smoothing the wrinkles out of it. "I'm sorry," she said, "I shouldn't keep you if you have somewhere to be, or someone to go home to." The look of sadness passed over her features again, and she turned back to the hearth with a resigned sigh. "I won't delay you any longer. If you need any healing potions, I have extras. You may need them if the worg comes back." She paused again. "I talk to much," she said softly, sighing.
Kivan paused, and took a step forward. "Deheriana," he said, suppressing the shiver again, "please, I-" He stopped again, unsure of what to say. She turned back to him, watching him with an unguarded expression of sadness lingering in her eyes. The flickering light of the fireplace behind her gave her a red-golden halo around her head. If not for her ice-blue eyes, she could be a fire angel. "I'd like to stay," he said finally, "If you'll have me. I don't need to be anywhere else."
"You don't have anywhere to go?" she said softly, taking a step towards him. "Home…?"
"Is far away for me," he replied, running a hand through his sandy blond hair. "I haven't been there in years, and I doubt I would find a welcome there anyway." He sighed. "Thank you for your kindness, it's more than I deserve."
"Everyone deserves this," she said, walking to him and taking his hand in one smooth motion. "It's the least I can do. Sit down, I'll fix some dinner for you." She smiled, somewhat shyly, and gestured for him to sit in the rough table's lone chair. "I should have another one, but it broke last season and I haven't had the time to build a new one." She flushed again. "I don't build things very quickly, and not that good, either, as you can probably see."
Kivan smiled, sitting down in the somewhat lopsided chair and examining the uneven legs. "I can build you a new one tomorrow," he said, testing out the rickety table. "And fix these, too." He looked up to see Deheriana looking at him, a smile on her face. The sadness in her eyes had gone, replaced by happy wonderment.
"You don't have to," she said, setting down a bowl of thick stew in front of him. "I've made do with those for so long, and it doesn't bother me, really…"
"Please," Kivan replied, swirling the stew and staring at it to hide his red face, "it's the least I can do." Deheriana smiled at that, and reached across to take his hand, squeezing it briefly.
"Thank you," she whispered. He shrugged, glancing up only to see her eyes fixed on him, and the smile warm and inviting. He smiled back, making her blush slightly and let go of his hand to move over to the bed. "I'm sorry that I don't have another bed, it's just that I don't get visitors very often and if I do, they're just as happy to sleep on the floor or outside. They're like me, they don't mind sleeping on the floor if it will get them close to nature." She looked down at the bed and smoothed a hand over the quilt covering it. "You can have the bed," she said, and held up a hand, anticipating his protests. "You're wounded, and a good night's rest on a soft bed will help it to heal. Besides," she said with a bright smile, "the floor is that much closer to nature."
Kivan laughed quietly, taking a bite of the stew. It had been at least a day since he had eaten anything, and a week since his last decent meal. Deheriana was only too glad to refill his bowl several times, eating only a few bites herself. "Have as much as you like," she said, lighting the candles around the cabin with a pair of tongs and a smoldering piece of tinder from the fire. "I always have plenty, and I think you appreciate it more than the animals."
"Thank you," he said again, drawing another smile from her.
"You're welcome," she said, and knelt down near the table, sorting through a basket of herbs and plants. After several minutes, she nodded to herself and stood up. "I need to step out for a moment," she said, "to check on the area. You can't be too careful with worgs around." She picked up the basket, reaching for her spear. "Will you be alright?"
"I'm fine," he said, standing up. She pushed him gently towards the bed. There was a distant rumble of thunder outside; it drew both their attention as it broke the soft silence of the forest and everything went quiet, as if waiting for the storm to break suddenly. Kivan glanced towards Deheriana. "Don't worry," she said, giving him a reassuring touch on the shoulder. "The rain is a long way off. And when it does break, we'll be ready for it. Besides, it's only a summer storm, nothing to worry about now." He nodded, moving towards the bed.
"There are extra blankets in the basket at the foot," she said, turning to go out the door. She paused in the doorway, looking over her shoulder at him. "Sleep well. You'll be asleep by the time I come back. And don't worry, nothing will bother you. I'll make sure of that." She smiled again and stepped out the door, closing it behind her. He heard her footsteps rustling softly in the underbrush, and then silence, except for the occasional birdcall from the trees.
Sitting down on the bed, he pulled off his shirt again, looking down at the bandages wrapped around his chest. They were good cloth, and wrapped so that he could move normally without discomfort. She must do this often, he thought, flexing his muscles. They were sore, but functional, and like she had said, a good night's rest on a soft bed would be the best thing. He rose again to blow out the candles, leaving the room lit by the red-glowing embers of the fire. With a sigh, he ran a hand through his hair and leaned back on the bed, arranging himself comfortably under the soft quilt. He felt...calm, he decided. To sleep in a real bed, with a roof above him if the storm did decide to break that night, was a luxury he hadn't allowed himself in too long. And Deheriana, with her smile and her laughter and the simple kindness she showed him... He sighed, smiling to himself as he pulled the quilt up around his chest. Within minutes, he was deep within the reverie, the image of Deheriana bright and shining in his mind.
Deheriana returned less than an hour later, her basket full of fresh herbs and the scent of burnt colewort and peppermint lingering in her hair. With feet accustomed to running through the forest without a sound she moved silently around the cabin, placing the basket of herbs on the table and leaning over Kivan's unmoving body. His eyes were half closed, the eyelids flickering slightly, but he seemed calm. She smiled, pulling the quilt up around him and smoothing a strand of blond hair away from his forehead. With an almost wistful smile she stepped away, reaching for the basket of blankets and pulling out several, making a bed out of them on the floor near the door. Soon she too was at rest, and the only sounds in the quiet cabin were their contented sighs.
A/N: So, how'd you like it? A bit sappy, I know, but I can't help it. I'm a sucker for a love story, even if it's not much of one right now. It will be, though, I promise :) I'd be glad to answer any questions about the story, should you have any - drop me a line via email or AIM, or leave a review with the question, and I'll try to answer it for you either right then and there or in the next installment; just be prepared for a long discussion. When I get started, I have trouble stopping.
The Plot is loosely (and I mean loosely - it's almost falling off) based on a roleplaying campaign my roommate Liz runs. Characters will be making cameos once I figure out where they want to be. I wrote this because I felt that Kivan was severely underwritten in everything I've seen, and I wanted to delve into his past and see what makes him tick. With the way this is heading, I'll find out and then some.
Thank yous! First, to Liz for beta-reading and giving me invaluable tips on what to do with the story as a whole. Plus, she got me to play the game in the first place, so that's something to say :) To my other beta-reader and friend Rose, for putting up with me while I prattled on about this. You're the nicest person I know (hee hee)!
Coming Attractions, Literally: Next chapter, we see Deheriana in action and meet some of her friends, to Kivan's dismay. Mental breakdowns, disappearances, and the storm is brewing in the next installment, Like a Lion, Like a Lamb