A nightmare unending. That is what this world is. To many, the picturesque spires and blanket of snow would make this seem like a serene paradise, where the warriors of the north might spend eternity after they expire. One undead warrior, however, saw through the deception, the way one might look at a clear sky and know a blizzard would soon approach.

Grotesque abominations, hellbent on halting his progress, had relentlessly attacked the Chosen Undead. Through snow and ice and claw and fang, through poison and flesh and steel and blood, he pressed on. By this point in his journey, he had been conditioned into a constant state of single-mindedness; nothing exists but battle.

Still, this place threatened to slow him, for the sheer grit of the monstrosities that abounded unnerved him.

And so he persevered, finally reaching the tower where he now stands. His armor shines like newly minted coin; though cumbersome to move through, the snow at least served to clean his plate and mail.

The undead warrior approaches the gate of opaque fog, taking a deep breath and pushing through as he raises his swords.

Only to foolishly lower them upon clearing the fog.

A woman, two and a half times his size, stands in the center of the open tower.

Long silver hair flows down her back, blending in with her pristine coat. She wields a large scythe, but the Chosen Undead feels no malice from her; her posture is loose, peaceful.

A long grey-white coattail hangs... The warrior gasps. Not a coattail, no, but a true, honest to goodness tail!

He sheathes his blades, and the sound of sliding steel draws her attention. She turns around, and he fights to keep his knees from collapsing underneath him. Her face is as pristine and as perfectly sculpted as the finest porcelain, lightly framed with fur in triangular patterns. On her brow lay several small horns. Her size and inhuman features would seem frightening and monstrous on anyone else, but amazingly, they only served to make her infinitely more alluring than any human woman.

The Chosen Undead knew at that moment that no human woman could ever capture his gaze again. A single glance upon this beautiful creature and millions of years of instinct vanished immediately, all desire to find a human partner gone, like the last patch of snow on a warm spring day.

Her full, delicate lips part, and her sweet voice rings through the air.

"Wherefore doest thy that from which we speak hang ope, weary traveler?"

The Chosen Undead blinks.

"Art thee no more brain than stone? thou art trespassing in mine own home! answ'r me betimes!"

Once more at a loss for words, the poor warrior can only stare as she barrels on.

"Doth thee endeavor to speaketh english, 'r art thy wits as absent as thy tongue?!"

The Chosen Undead finally manages to speak. "Um... What?"

Her eye twitches, and her tail slaps the ground. "I ASKED IF YOU SPEAK ENGLISH, YOU DAFT KNAVE! IT APPEARS YOUR ARMOR IS THE ONLY BRIGHT THING ON THAT SIDE OF THE ROOM! Ugh!" She shouts, her tail thumping furiously, sending tufts of snow flying about.

The undead reels back in shock. In the span of a few short seconds, he was enraptured by her, only for her to insult him in a bout of rage. Though the undead warrior is a man grown, his heart tempered in the fires of battle, his eyes water, and he grows dangerously close to moaning in anguish.

The woman notices his posture, clearly showing that he is devastated by the exchange.

"Oh... I- oh, my... I-I'm sorry!" She stammers, hurriedly shuffling towards him, her bare feet gliding across the snow. Her scythe falls to the floor, momentarily forgotten. "I shouldn't have... I just haven't talked to anyone in so long and..." She trails off, reaching a large hand out to touch the man's shoulder.

He looks up, staring at the face of the large woman.

"It's alright. But prithee, pray tell for a fortnight, why doth thou locute thine tongue in such a forthwith manner of concurrence?"

Her mouth opens slightly in suprise before her calm demeanor dissolves into a fit of laughter. She doubles over, her tail swishing furiously in mirth, knocking over the wary undead.

She wipes tears from her eyes. "I think most of those words do not mean what you think they do," she gasps, regaining her composure. He rubs his head sheepishly.

"As for your question, a lady must conduct herself in a noble manner, even for a baseborn knave such as yourself," she continues. The undead is suprised at how easily they settle into a rhythm, and how her teasing was so welcome.

"Baseborn?" He huffs indignantly.

"It means-"

"I know what it means," he interrupts.

An awkward silence settles over the two befor the undead raises his hand in greeting. "Hi."

She blushes. "Hi," she replies shyly.

"Would it be alright if i asked your name?" The Chosen Undead shuffles his feet nervously.

"Priscilla."

"Priscilla," he repeats in awe.

"And yours?"

"Saer," he replies, his eyes never leaving hers, though at this range he has to crane his neck to do so.

She tucks a strand of pale hair behind her ear. "What brings you to the painted world of Ariamis, sir Saer?"

"My legs," he replies.

Silence falls between the two as Priscilla stares at him flatly.

"W-well, upon clutching a peculiar doll I was drawn here," he backpedals.

"I see..." As quickly as their banter had come, it vanishes just as quickly, each acutely aware of each other's nervousness.

Saer shivers. He had had nary a rest since his arrival to this hostile kingdom, and his armor was not made for such a frigid climate.

"Miss Priscilla, might it be alright for me to rest here for a short while? The world outside can be most dangerous, and I would like to face it at my best," he asks, sweating in anticipation of the answer.

She nods.

Saer quickly sets about gathering wood for a fire. Though damp, it catches easily with the aid of pyromancy. He starts to strip out of his chilled armor, only leaving his smallclothes remaining. Unbeknownst to him, Priscilla observes him closely out of the corner of her eye. Once he is finished, she sweeps away the snow in front of the fire.

Saer sits, and she takes a seat opposite him.

"So," he starts. "Do you live here all the time?"

"Yes," she replies, not volunteering any more information. "What about you? What cause do you have to don such heavy scales?"

And so he regaled her with tales of his journey, his cause, and his curse. She ooh-ed and aah-ed at the battles, gasped in all the right places, and by the time the sun dipped low in the sky she was leaning forward, enraptured, her tail swishing furiously. Saer would grasp his sword and demonstrate manoeuvres he used to fell his foes, all while Priscilla applauded vigorously. He would pantomime his many deaths, falling to his knees with and cursing the gods while Priscilla shook with laughter.

By now the sun had set and a deep chill set in, the fire doing little to stave of the cold.

"Well, I suppose I should bed down for the night, lest I freeze and become part of your d├ęcor," Saer says, yawning.

Priscilla nods. "Yes, I suppose you're right. Till the morrow, Saer."

He wraps his cloak around himself, crawling into his fur-lined bedroll. Unsiprisingly, it does little to warm him. The cold bit deeper than he thought possible, chilling his very bones. Even on his visits to the north as a young man, he had not experienced a chill such as this.

A soft voice draws him out of his reverie.

"Would... W-would you like to lay with me? The cold in this land pierces through the skin of all normal men."

Saer's heart skips a beat. Even if the offer was purely for warmth, it still made him giddy with glee. To think the arduous fight to get here would yield such a spectacular reward!

"M-my profound apologies," Priscilla says upon not hearing an answer. "I was out of turn."

"NO! no. I was just suprised," Saer exclaims. "I will. Thank you."

Crawling out of his bedroll, he pads over to her, his bare feet crunching the snow. He pauses once he reaches her, unsure of where to take his place. She rolls over to lie on her back, indicating where he might lay.

The both of them are bright crimson. Priscilla, because she is a maiden devoid of company for years; Saer from the cold and proximity to the giant beauty.

He crawls upon her stomach, his head beneath her chest and his thighs at her hips. Upon laying down, he sucks in a breath.

Soft. So soft. So wonderfully, amazingly, unbelievably soft. He gives an involuntary moan of contentment. "So soft and... And so warm," he sighs. As if in a trance, he wraps his arms across Priscilla and buries his face in her fur.

"Eep!" She jumps, suprised at the sudden contact. Such an action would be unexpected and exciting under normal circumstances; Priscilla had been alone since childhood, and when she extended the offer, she hadn't considered the pleasurable repercussions.

Oblivious, Saer continues rubbing his face into her fur. As he wiggles in closer, her fur encircles him, so that only his back is exposed to the cold. Priscilla trembles, fighting the urge to throw him off and curl up in a corner. It's not like she doesn't want him there, but after so many years of being alone this contact makes her nervous and skittish.

Saer shivers, the cold still biting through his thick cloak. It baffled him how anything could live here; his lips are chapped, his are eyes dry, and sweat would freeze upon his face.

He shivers once more, unsure of how long he will last before succumbing to the cold. The constant movement and flow of adrenaline during battle had kept him from becoming a handsome (in his opinion) icicle. The real danger, ironically enough, is when you are out of battle.

He flinches as the moonlight is blotted out and his back is pressed into Priscilla's fur.

"Mmph!" He writhes around instinctually, pushing on the... Tail?

Oh.

The tip of her tail curls up, and one of her large fingers pokes him softly on the forehead. "Scaredy-cat," she teases.

Saer grumbles, unable to keep a saccharine smile off of his face. Now completely covered in pillow-soft fur, he can feel his hands and feet beginning to warm, pins and needles shooting through them. Once more he lets out a sigh, not bothering to hold it back. During his travels throughout his life, Saer has slept on stone, hay bales, feather beds and cotton beds, and even an oddly comfortable giant bag of beans in the hull of a trading galley. Yet none of them even came close to this.

"Priscilla... Will you be my bed from now on?" He asks, momentarily punch-drunk from the comfort (as one would expect after sleeping on the ground since their Un-death day.)

Her jaw drops, and she struggles to gain her composure. "Wha- Um... Y-you want-"

Before she can finish, Saer grabs her tail, wrapping his arms and legs around it while the tip flails, whapping him softly on the head. She emits a noise halfway between a shriek and a moan, shivering.

Now comfortably situated, Saer rubs his cheek against her tail, closing his eyes.

All at once his exhaustion rushes to him, and he begins to mumble as he falls asleep.

"Priscilla..."

"Mm?"

"In the morning... Please leave with me," he mumbles.

She covers her mouth with her hand, and slowly, unbidden, tears begin to well up in the corners of her eyes. As a young girl, her aunt Velka had read her human tales of myths and magic, of adventures and excursions, of love and lust and knights in shining armor. Velka had always said that while they may not be good for much, humans could always make a good meal and a good tale. (And good consorts, but Priscilla had been much too young to understand what those were.) She had never dared to dream that someone would trudge through the icy land to whisk her away from her prison, let alone that they would have armor straight from the stories!

"Yes," she says, voice quivering. "I shall."

She knew no more was needed.

So Priscilla and Saer drift off to sleep, dreaming of the outside world, and each other.

And fluffy tails, in Saer's case. Lots and lots of fluffy tails.

T.B.C.