"Wake up, deary!" the frightened mole said as she stroked Deminias sweat soaked hair away from her face. Since the time of Aurions last visit, she had dozed off upon the cool, marble floor and slipped into the unconscious grasp of Terris Thule, the dream sorcerer. Sweet Pana Dear had been trying for a quarter of an hour to break Deminia from her horrid nightmare to no avail, until after a quick jolt, her eyes fluttered open and her breaths became desperate from fear. She laid still for a few minutes more while Pana Dear continued to wipe away the beads of sweat and quietly "shh'd" her to calm her nerves.

"Being as old as I am," Pana Dear began as a sweet little smirk crept upon her wrinkled face, "It surprises me so how I can remember soothing the nightmares of many children who lived through this house- Even brave Master Aurion." She crawled away from Deminia's side and lifted a nutmeg-colored garment from the adjacent footstool and gently placed it near Deminia's reach.

Deminias purple eyes rolled and she clasped her hand around her mouth- wiping away the remaining perspiration. A chill had surfaced in the room since the last Deminia had been conscious. To warm her still fragile body, she lifted the brown tunic and slipped it over her damp, snowy hair and let the loose garment fall the rest of the way down her miniature frame. This shirt definitely was not made for the likings of a woman-with the upper portion of the shirt having to be carefully pinned together to keep Deminia unexposed. After the shirt was properly fixed, Pana Dear grasped a hold of a silver candlestick and lead Deminia away from her prison and into the adjoining hall.

"Master Aurion has had the chefs prepare quite a meal for you, child. They've been working all evening whipping up some hearty meals to bring back yer' strength you lost over the past week. Has quite a heart, don't ya agree, little one?" Pana Dear chuckled to herself as the candlelight flickered across the peach colored walls off the hall.

Deminia scowled under her breath and mumbled back, "Quite" as her only response.

Pana Dear paused in her movements and turned to face the little elf she had taken care of the past few days. Such a mournful look dwelled within her black, beady eyes as they stared at Deminia with a slight glimmer of hope that began to fade. If only Deminia could understand...

"You know child," she began, "you really should be thankful for being in Master Aurion's care. He of all people should be the first to spite your kind. You are the very woman who murdered the only thing that ever truly mattered to him in this life- and he still treats you like a guest within his own home."

"I never asked him to..."

"Asking or not, all Aurion wants to do is understand. He is the rare sort of man who can look past where others dwell and find the good in every being, of light or tainted heart...."

Disrupting the conversation, a tiny brown haired rodent slipped past the hem of Pana Dears apron and attempted to scurry past her ever-watchful eye. Yet fate had turned upon the mischievous little creature as her sight grasped its sleek, pink tail in the glimmer of the candlelight. Pana Dear raised an eyebrow to Deminia's direction and gently pushed past her with her hand barely outstretched and her fingers slightly shaking. To Deminia's surprise, the old hag began to mumble a short little incantation as small little orbs of hues of both red and green began to bubble around her palms and envelope the poor little mouse. Slowly, the mouse began to look as if it were aging, then wrinkling up like a grape when it has sat out too long in the Freeport sun. Recognizing the words the housewife mumbled and the darkness of the magic, Deminia gazed unto Pana Dear with utter awe and became so dumbfounded the only word she could mumble out was "Heretic."

Pana Dear smiled with a mischievous quirk and patted Deminia's arm before she once again took the lead and led Deminia back down the hall.

"All he wants to do is become your friend. Tier' Dal, Necromancer, or anything...it matters not in his mind. However Mam', I would appreciate it if you kept my witchcraft a secret...Master Aurion is the only one who knows, and well frankly, he does not wish of me to frighten away the other peasants." Pana Dear whispered to the still awestruck Deminia without turning back. The long apricot hallway had finally come to an end, and opened to a rather fit dining hall with a slightly large cherry-wood table already cluttered with foods one would not normally see next to each other upon the same table. Sultry aromas wafted about the room upon an un-felt breeze; filling Deminia's nostrils with a mouth-watering scent. This truly was something Deminia was not used to.

Pana Dear continued to shuffle past and clasped her bony fingers around the wooden frame of a magnificently carved chair and summoned Deminia to sit down and make herself comfortable. She didn't hesitate for even a second before she flew to the chair and began to ravage through the baskets of rolls and tear apart as many bear fillets as she could get her hands on.

"There is a rule at my table, D91714. If you expect to eat, you must use your table manors." Aurions voice sounded through the echo of the room. Deminia paused with a mouthful of the sweet rolls in her mouth and dropped all the food that remained in her hands to the table.

"You and I shall be dining at the same table?" Deminia questioned with a raised brow, "I did not know I was worthy enough to eat within a Koada' Dal's presence." She continued with a mock.

"Have you not already found that I am not like most who bear the same heritage? As long as you will have me, I would like to dine with you." Deminia's eyes stalked his every move as he paced the width of the table and rested his blistered hand on the chair opposite her own until he received an answer. With the food beginning to grow soggy in her mouth, she nodded her head slightly to the chair and swallowed hard to get the waterlogged sweet rolls out of her mouth.

Aurion beamed another one of his charming smiles back in her direction and pulled the bulk of the chair back to take his seat. The cloth napkin that was lying on his plate was quickly removed and folded gently on his lap and replaced by his hands. His palms were pressed gently together at the height of his chest and he began to speak in a language foreign to Deminia's ears. It was not the kind of speaking that one would hear two travelers utter in time of adventure. It was sweet-like the makings of a muse.

"Trying to lull me back to sleep?" Deminia cackled. There was a strange and cunning glimmer in her eyes that Aurion had not seen since their first meeting. That spark, though meant to be negative, made Aurion smile knowing that she was regaining her health-and attitude- at a quick pace.

"I take it you do not pray much, do you?" Aurion sighed with an understanding smile upon his content face. He lifted his knife and fork quietly from their snug little place on the table and sliced slowly into the bear fillet that was smothered in sauce on his plate. Every move he took was like it was planed for perfection, and was difficult to keep that way.

"Only when I am angry." She remarked casually while tearing her sweet-roll in half and dipping it into her goblet of wine.

With a smile still perched upon his lips, he lifted his eyes to her then pulled them back down. Somehow, he found slight humor in her comment. Out of nowhere, he paused his thoughts and set his silverware down then leaned back in his chair to stare at Deminia.

"Tell me...." He began, "How is it done? I find it rather...intriguing to think that a society with a government- and religion- based off of hatred can exist as long as it has."

"By watching our backs very carefully." She replied. "It is not my business to interfere; the Necromancers are the ones who bother with that."

Aurion furrowed his brow at the mention of the keepers of the Lodge of the Dead. He knew deep down inside that secrets were being kept from the rest of the Tier' Dal society- and Deminia was living proof of that matter.

"Does it ever bother you that only they are the ones allowed to tamper with your government? Why is it that your citizens are allowed to have a say?" Deminia tossed down her wine soaked roll and leaned back in her chair. Anger flushed through her veins at the repeated mention of the Necromancers. Never before has she known anyone to question their superiority as much as this man that hardly even knows them!

"They don't tamper with anything," she began "And we don't need to have a say because we are well informed of everything they do and have enough respect for them to trust that they will do their duties for the queen and her pitiful king."

Aurion leaned forward and rubbed his narrow eyes in frustration. He tried as hard as he could to muffle his chuckle behind his arms, but failed to and horribly offended Deminia.

"Well informed of everything are you?" he laughed and slipped a chunk of his bear steak into his mouth. "Then tell me, what is the purpose of the Ultricle?"

Without hesitation, Deminia answered, "It is a place where traitors to the Queen are damned to spend the rest of eternity. They live a slow and painful death, and even after that they are forced to dwell the area as a tortured soul until they are summoned to the side of a Necromancer or Hell Knight such as myself!"

"Tell me, are the sick and dying considered traitors amongst your people? Or are your people really that sick and cruel to turn your backs upon your own kin and just leave them to rot and die to become servants for those your queen considers 'worthy'? Tell me Deminia- what crimes did these traitors commit that were so treacherous to the Tier' Dal way of life?"

Deminia froze in shock. Not only did she not know how to reply, but she also could not believe that was the truth. Children of Innoruuk were in fact taught not to care and love....but they were never to leave behind a faithful servant.

"How do you know this?" she quietly asked as her quivering hand lowered down slowly to the table.

Aurion slid his chair backwards and removed his tired self from the elegant seat. His mind ached at the thought of old memories no matter how heroic they were....all of them included his beautiful wife before that fateful day.

"The Ultricle was a part of mine and Maylia's life. We were so devoted into learning as much as we could about your kind..." he paused, "When we saw the Ultricle, we saw the side of the Tier' Dal that no one saw. While these creatures you people abandoned were homely and diseased ridden- they also embraced a living hope for your kind. We found the good of the civilization that no one thought existed. So we lingered- and kept them alive.....so they trusted us, and confided in us. We were told everything....how the weak are left to die, and how the strong were left to shroud the sign of embarrassment."

"I don't believe you...."she mumbled underneath her breath.

"I wish I didn't believe it as well. Just to think that a mother or a father would allow such a thing to happen to their child...."

Deminia's ears perked up in confusion, "A what?"

Aurion's eyes grew eager and he quickly showed himself to his seat. He leaned over his table and clasped his hands together tightly as he found himself accidentally involved in yet another lesson.

"You do not know of a mother and father?" he asked. Deminia bit her lower lip and shook her head 'no'.

"Innoruuk?" Aurion too shook his head and tried to explain further.

"No, no, no. The mother is the person who is your guardian so to speak- brings you into this world. Where as," he began as his cheeks began to flush, "the father helps create you and raise you."

"You stupid High Elves and your fancy language. You mean a pairing?" Deminia spat in disgust. "No one besides the guild masters or merchants 'raises' us."

"Do you mean to tell me the parents abandon the children from birth?" Aurion asked as he dipped his roll into the cream upon his plate.

"I have a hunch that the more I tell you now, the less I will have to talk with you later." She sighed, "The Necromancer's created a way to maintain population within Neriak- called a pool. They would 'pair' a man and a woman of certain standards together in order to produce a 'higher-quality' offspring. Every night for up to two years they would be locked in a cell together to mate until the woman conceives another one of Innoruuk's children. If after the two years the pair fails to produce a child, they are both withdrawn from the pool and become outcasts to all city dwellers."

Aurion leaned back and scratched his head in wonderment, "What happens after the child is born?"

"Immediately after birth, the child is taken away from the mother, no questions asked- no answers given....it's a sin."

"...and what of the man and woman- after such occurrences, what would happen if they were to love one another?"

"It is rape, sir....there can be no love in that."she flatly answered in return.

"Sometimes, it takes little more than a simple kiss to make one love, you'd be surprised. Perhaps your people love and do not know it."

"I will never know it- nor want to know it." She replied, "Fore I will not kiss."

Aurions handsome smile swept back across his face as she left his chair and proceded to her side. Deminia's purple eyes stared forward until his hands softly grasped a hold of her chin and turned her face to his. She could feel herself slowly begin to melt against her own will.

"I find it hard to believe that a woman as beautiful as yourself shall never kiss." He whispered, then turned to walk down the opposite hall which she entered- and closed the door behind him.