I'm Feeling You

Chosen song: "I'm feeling you" by Michelle Branch and Santana

Sometimes I imagine the world without you.
But most times, I'm just so happy that I ever found you.

Milla stood vigilant at the top of the crows nest on top of her sleek new ship, the Reckoner. It was a small and sleek messenger class vessel that served as Milla's personal mobile base. On board were the fiercest and most resourceful Icecarls. Milla had chosen them herself. They were all loyal and very experienced warriors.

Milla's current mission was to enforce the new trade and hunting routes for the selski migration. After the Sharrakor incident, the ice had begun to melt but that problem was fixed and now all that remained was damage control. Her new life seemed suitable to her. She had to admit, it wasn't something she saw herself doing five circlings ago.

Milla was now the War Chief, an influential position that demanded respect from her people. She had command over her own ship. She had a loyal crew. She had the life that many Icecarls only dreamed of having and yet she felt there was something missing. After five circlings of constant travelling, she finally felt the unsettling feeling that she was missing something. Or more accurately, missing out on something.

She often thought that her success was part of destiny. When she thought of the events that had led up to the present days, she knew that most of her decisions had not been her own. If it was not fate controlling her destiny then who was it?

"It was Tal," she thought sarcastically.

Thinking of the gangly boy, Milla remembered the time he had entered her icy domain. She had been filled with so much ambition then. At first glance, Tal didn't look like any Icecarl she had seen. She had deduced that he was a thief poaching on their hunting grounds. Thief or not she was prepared to spill his blood. She had thought that killing the boy was her pass to her first winners-sign to her first kill. Ever since then, things changed drastically. Milla often wondered what would have happened to her if she hadn't met the boy.

It's a complicated web that you weave inside my head.
So much pleasure with such pain.

We always... always stay the same.

From their first encounter with a Merwin to battling Sharrakor, Tal had proved to be a noble ally and friend. Although their relationship started on rocky grounds, throughout their travels, Milla had found that Tal was more than what he seemed. He irritated her with his unconcealed arrogance and childish behaviour, not to mention that he was one of the enemies of her people by consorting with shadows. Yes, it was difficult trying to protect the one she should be fighting but in the end, she found that she was protecting so much more.

Tal may have been an arrogant child but he was brave. He had saved her life on many occasions whether she knew it or not. The boy was also loyal and smart. He had a knack for staying alive, a trait that all Icecarls held in high regard. To save oneself was commendable but to save everyone and live to fight again was something most Icecarls thought very little about. The Ice was a place where one had to fend for oneself. A clan was a necessity to survive but loyalty was rare to find on the Ice.

Milla hated to admit it but Tal was the one person she would choose to stand by if the world was at stake again. He was the only one who knew her and still accepted her. He was the one who showed her how problems could be solved without the tip of a sword. He was the one who slowly chipped away the ice around her heart until she felt what it was like to care again. He was also the only one who made her hate and admire at the same time.

Several circlings later since meeting and fighting alongside Tal, her life has become one that she never thought she would be living. Besides physical appearances and her growing admiration for her once quest partner, not much has changed. The Ice was still the Ice. The world goes on living. She should be happy. Yet something still nagged at her. What was this hollow feeling she felt inside herself. She was surrounded by her achievements so why did she feel strangely empty?

I'm feeling the way you cross my mind and you save me in the knick of time.
I'm riding the highs I'm digging the lows.

The feelings troubled her. It was not the first time she had felt like this. Usually when she felt this annoying feeling, she thought of the many triumphs she had achieved and the feeling disappeared. At least for a while until it returned to pluck at her thoughts. Usually she would have her mind read by a Crone and be done with whatever ailed her but she had a feeling that this time it was a personal problem. One too personal to share and one she had to figure out on her own.

Milla started the therapy with her achievements she had claimed over the past few years. She must have felt better after reviewing them because they showed her how much she had grown. Or was it something more fundamental than that? Did she like those times she snatched victory from the jaws of defeat because it made her feel important? Milla made a visible face of disgust. Pride was one thing but arrogance was something she loathed. Was she just a creature who enjoyed parading around her successes? She dearly hoped not.

Thinking harder this time, she found that this was not true much to her relief. She knew that everything she did was for a purpose and not for any ambitious claims to glory. She thought of the time she had saved her former clan ship, the Far Raider's, from a huge gathering of wandering vagrants. With only her crew, she had turned the tide of a losing battle into victory. She remembered how desperate she was to save the Far Raider Clan. It was her original ship and like her new life, she treasured the time she had spent with them. She remembered she had found strength to push the tides back out of love for them.

Slowly, realisation dawned on her. The answer was love! She had found the word quite unpalatable when said out loud but when she was alone in her cabin, she found how much sense it made. How had it come to something like this? This was something she had not expected to feel. Her love for her people was currently one of obligation but lately her battles have been more to her.

Milla thought of how loyal her crew were. She also thought of how they had been mistrustful of her when she had picked them for her crew. Milla thought of how many times she had entered battles with them and had come out with her crew alive and victorious. Would she have been able to do these things if she was still the girl she was way back then? Would she have looked on the hordes of enemies and felt fear for everyone of her crewmates? Or would she have been cold and sacrificed them mercilessly?

Milla revelled in her new realisation and smiled for the first time ion a long time. This was something very new to her. It was something that she knew was only going to help her in the future. Suddenly she felt empowered. She wanted to get to know her crew. She knew who they were by name and face. She could even recognise their special skills but she knew nothing of them. She had no idea who they were. It was settled as soon as the idea came to her, Milla wanted to know them.

How could she have been so blind? Had she thought that every Icecarl wanted to be a Captain of their own ship one day? Milla felt relieved that she had spotted her ignorance before it became something she would regret. Yet she couldn't help but wonder what ends would she achieve if she were to know her crew better? It suddenly didn't matter as she thought of what would happen if she kept things the way they were.

Cause at least I feel alive.
I never faced so many emotional days but my life is good.

I'm feeling you...I'm feeling you.

Over the next few circlings, armed with a new sense of purpose and a new perspective of the lives of her crewmates, Milla found a family she never knew she had. Her crew was made up of so many beautiful and wonderful people and not just warriors. They had dreams and goals they had hoped to achieve in their life times that Milla felt she had to honour.

You go and then I can finally breath in.
Cause baby I know in the end you're never leaving
Well we're rarely ever sane

Of course, in order to do that, she had to let some people leave her crew. It was always and sad and emotional time when they left but it was so satisfying knowing that she did it out of love for them. Although her crew were a few members less, the sense of fulfilment was palatable amongst everyone. It was dangerous to travel the Ice with so few members but the Milla and the crew agreed that it was a worthy sacrifice. The Reckoner was no longer a ship of warriors. It was also a ship where dreams began. Milla knew that this was what her fate had in store for her. It had to be. At least that was what she thought until the day arrived when Milla and Tal were to cross paths again.

I drive you crazy and you do the same…

Tal had been searching for Milla for a week before he happened to find them moored near the bottom of the Mountain of Light. Tal had borrowed a ship and travelled all over the Ice in search of the Reckoner to pass on some disturbing news. It turned out that a large contingent of renegade Chosen and Icecarl vagrants were gathering for one final battle.

Somehow, the hoard managed to bury their differences and had found ways to secretly enlist allies. According to Tal, the Castle inhabitants who were against the new regime started the uprising. They were led by none other than Jarnil. The man who had wished freedom for Underfolk. Now his ideas were twisted and old pride was playing tricks with his mind. However, being old and crazy didn't stop him from being a great tactician. Tal went on to explain how he was planning to send a small portion of the host to kill the leaders of his opposition. The assassins were already dispatched in the castle but due to superior forces and firepower, they had been stopped. Milla felt the onset of anger and regret. She should have killed the man when she had the chance. Still she partly blamed Tal for not being able to see such traitorous motives sooner. After a brief exchange of heated words and blame placing. Tal gave into Milla and went on to explain the situation.

but your fire fills my soul and it warms me up like no one knows.

Tal's main reason for coming out to the Ice was to warn Milla. Milla thanked Tal for the information and offered an escort back to the castle when he openly refused. He told her that he needed to be sure that she was safe before going anywhere. The sentiment was irritating and caring at the same time. Tal had just implied that she was not prepared for such an event at the same time Milla recognised the worry for her safety.

After all these circlings of surprising change, Milla was surprised yet again. Tal cared for her. It was both unsettling and welcome. The familiar feeling of emptiness nagged at her again and suddenly she realised how blind she really was. All those times she had found strength in dire situation was because of the one inspiring person standing in front of her.

Milla felt a rush of heat reach her cheeks. Why was her heart pounding? In another surprise, Tal reached for Milla's wrist. He pulled back her glove to reveal the triangular scar they had cut into them so long ago. Tal pulled back his glove and clasped hands with Milla.

"I've never forgotten how you've changed my life Milla," Tal said smiling nostalgically. "In life and death I am yours," Tal chanted "…May wind destroy me and Ice freeze me if I fail," he continued as he added the last line of the sacred oath.

Shocked and amazed, Milla was struck speechless. Did Tal just commit his life to her?! Only people who truly loved each other did such foolish things! The words of the oath were sacred for a reason because once said the oath was bound and inescapable. Too late! Milla felt strength flowing into her. It was like a fire that welled up from their combined touch of their scars. Milla felt warm all over.

I'm feeling the way you cross my mind…

Swept up in a tide of emotions, Milla didn't see the arrow coming at her until it was about to pierce her heart. Regret and self-hatred gripped her in those fearful seconds as the arrow closed the distance. Milla froze for the first time in her life. She suddenly feared death. If she died then she would leave the people she had come to know and adore. In that instant of death she felt regret most of all. She regretted the fact that she didn't return the oath just given to her.

And you save me in the knick of time

Tal leapt in front of Milla just before the arrow struck. Tal shouted in pain as a second arrow struck him followed by a third that brought him to his knees. Milla felt horrified and felt the emotions in her explode into fury. Screaming in rage, she felt her talons extend. Jumping over the side of her ship, she ran across the ice whipping her talons and sending ice chips flying.

I'm riding the highs I'm digging the lows.
Cause at least I feel alive.

Facing a hand of assassins, Milla whipped her talons about striking her opponents down one by one. The power of her rage fuelled her to fight on past her exhaustion. Her talons ripping into her opponents mercilessly and without remorse. Tears of rage and grief ran down her cheeks freely. As Milla looked around for more assassins to kill, Milla heard her ship coming towards her. As the ship's sunstone light illuminated the battlefield, Milla saw for the first time what kind of devastation she caused. Such brutality stained the Ice red and painted itself in her memory.

Silently, her crew welcomed her back into their fold. Milla pushed the gruesome images of the battle away as she staggered towards Tal. His breath was raggedy and his face sickly pale. Blood oozed from his wounds and Milla saw the puddle it was making under his furs. His armour had managed to protect him but his wounds were still deep enough to be fatal if Milla didn't save him now.

I never faced so many emotional days but my life is good.

Taking his sunstone, Milla stripped Tal of his armour and clothes and held the sunstone over his exposed chest. Focusing on the memory of when she first used any real light magic, Milla called forth healing blue light. Tal's breathing became even again and Milla's relief was visible.

"Why?" Milla asked as his puncture wounds stitched themselves back together.

I'm feeling you…

"Because you're worth more to me than my own life," Tal whispered.

Milla couldn't help but let a surge of tears fall from her cheeks. No one had ever said anything so endearing to her. When Tal was healed, Milla quickly pulled his furs back on and helped him up to his feet. Together they walked into her cabin and Milla ordered Tal to rest. He obeyed willingly. Milla sat beside him as he lay there looking up at him with a knowing look in his eye.

"Thank you," Milla said after a moment of gazing into each other's eyes.

Removing her glove Milla revealed the scar.

"Yours in life and death," Tal started as he too removed his glove.

"To be with you and to…love you…" Milla said finally feeling comfortable saying it.

"May wind destroy us and Ice freeze us if we fail," they said together as they rested their scars against each other sealing the oath completely.