Due to her severe injuries, Seressa Wraiven is left behind, hiding in a storm pit with her pair Arcantonic Palecog, also left behind to watch over her.
What will happen if that Son of Krash comes?”, Tonic whispered as she lay on her belly, next to her pair in the stretcher in the snow illuminated storm pit.
“That.. never occurred to me..”, admitted Seressa with a pained and tired voice.
“I mean, he could come right now and crash into those two. He could blow the whole thing.. He doesn’t look exactly like the cordial type to me. And I doubt Cora will say ‘Morning..’ and move along like they were some old acquaintances who bumped into each other in a Sparducks line!”, said Tonic.
“Can’t imagine you waiting in a Sparducks line, girl!”, said Seressa, going for a smile but failing.
“Why not?”, asked Tonic, as she started drawing doodles in the snow.
“Seems a bit too posh for you..”
“Hah!”, barked the gnomic girl. “Shows how little you know of me. Didn’t read that in my files you burglarized?”
“Ow, my dear, I know every place you went on a regular basis.”
“Well, miss know-it-all, as a matter of fact, I did go to Sparducks.. Just not regularly. And yes, I did find it a bit too posh for my taste. But I did indulge myself with their cranberry tea and cinnamon rolls.. every once in a while.”, said Tonic wistfully. “Pretty much the only thing I missed about the academy, really.”
Then she snorted in mirth.
“What?”, asked her pair.
“Just imagined Cora standing in a Sparducks line waiting to give her order with her scowling face and her ginormous sword; ‘A latte with extra chill, please!’
Seressa laughed with pain.
“My dear, if Cora went into a Sparducks, I don’t think there’d be a line..”
Tonic squeaked a laugh of her own as she drew more doodles into the snow while waving her legs.
“Oww..”, said Seressa after a while. “Owww, why didn’t I think of that before..?”
“Your Sending Stones..”
There was a brief, strained pause.
“Umm.. What about them?”, Tonic asked carefully.
“We could have given one of them to Cora.. or Brom.. So if Son of Krash came, we could have sent them a warning via the Sending Stones.. Damn.. Why didn’t we think of that?”, berated Seressa.
“Ummm.. That wouldn’t have worked Seressa.”, said Tonic, her voice a bit tight.
“What? Why not? Seems like a perfect solution.”, said Seressa a bit confused.
“I.. I don’t have its pair anymore..”, Tonic admitted in a whisper.
“Ow? How come? Did you lose it?”
“No.. Not really..”, said Tonic, her voice sort of trailed off.
There was another pause..
“I am confused, luv..”, said Seressa, with a totally baffled voice.
“I.. I gave it to someone..”, whispered Tonic a bit shamefully.
“I don’t understand.. I am hurting in too many places, luv. Help me out here.”
“If you must know..”, blazed Tonic quietly, “I gave it to that Gordigon boy..”
“Ooookay..”, said Seressa. “But I still don’t understand..”
Then her voice softened.
“Luv.. Sending Stones work over distance only.. We are centuries apart from him.. Why would you give it to him?”
“Look we.. we chatted a bit, alright? I mean, after I brained him with my wrench, I felt sorry. So on the way to that Ogre’s Foot, I.. we.. sort of snuck out into woods and talked.. Just talked, that’s all! And then, because it was likely we’d separate eventually, I gave him the pair of my Sending Stone. And yes, I am aware we are centuries apart but it made sense, then..”
“YOU DATED PRINCE GORDIGON TINKERDOME BEHIND MY BACK? I AM VERY, VERY WROTH WITH YOU ARCANTONIC PALECOG!“, hissed Seressa.
“You.. you are?”, Tonic asked, her voice truly strained now.
“Ow, my dear, dear Tonic..”, smiled the very tall, very dark Seressa as tears of joy appeared in her luminous eyes. “I am so, so happy for you.”
“You.. you are?”, said Tonic, quite astonished.
“Of course, luv. Now tell me.. Did you kiss?”
A very hot pause filled the storm pit.
Tonic looked down and noticed there were a few too many heart-shaped doodles drawn in the snow!
“Wow, girl.. He was that good, eh?”, whooped Seressa while her pair blushed furiously.
“I liked it.”, she mumbled in a small voice. “Made me tingle at.. Well, I didn’t even know I could tingle there.. Or anywhere!”
“Tell me..”, Seressa said happily. “But only if it’s alright with you. If you feel comfortable about it..”
“There’s nothing comfortable about any of this..”, Tonic blushed, some more. “But who else am I going to share it with but you, girl!”
She paused for a moment as if favoring, or perhaps, savoring a particular memory..
“We were talking. Well, I was talking really, about non-combustion engines, of all things.. I feel like an idiot now.. And he just stood there like a concussed fool, just staring at me. As it turns out, he was, actually listening to everything I was saying too because I tested him then and there and he recited everything I said verbatim! I was like, ‘Wow, even I couldn’t repeat my self like that.’
Then he reached out and.. sort of touched my bangs and brushed them behind my ears, one at a time, and said I had very pretty ears!”
“Seems like he was as stupefied as you were..”, said Seressa with glee. “I am impressed, girl. You destroyed a prince with an artificers wrench, then burned him with non-combustion engines and a pair of bunny ears.. You are a natural zinger!”
“I don’t have bunny ears!”, protested Tonic.
“You have lovely ears with the same difference, luv. Back to your story, then?”
“Well.. Then this.. this tingling thing came over me and..”, she said and stopped.
“And..?”, asked Seressa with eager happiness.
“I don’t really remember. I think I might have jumped him!”, she mumbled.
“Yessss!”, hissed Seressa. “That’s my girl!”
“Did I do right? I mean, he is a prince, after all. I am sure he has dozens of girls who’d want to throw themselves on him. I feel so stupid.”
“What did he do, when you jumped him?”, asked Seressa.
“He held my hands.. My dirty hands and asked me if I was sure, and if this was something I wanted.. I.. I don’t know what came over me, Seressa. I just couldn’t stop.. He looked so.. pretty.. and yummy!”, Tonic said with a small, ashamed voice.
“Baby girl, the fact that he asked you that very question, proved he respected you.. Not just as a girl, but as a person. Men seldom care for the feelings of women, nor care enough to ask what we want, luv. They just want what they want. Which is pretty base, in a primal sense.. Come to think of it, so are women, but that’s another matter.. Girl, I believe the boy genuinely cared for you and truly wanted you..”
“You.. you really think so?”, asked Tonic a bit dubiously.
“I know so, luv. I know so..”
“How do you mean?”, asked Tonic.
“Because NOBODY has ever asked me that question.. I am beautiful. This I know. And this, they see.. And all they want is that beautiful. Never once, however, did anyone wonder what was underneath the beautiful nor did anyone bother to ask what I felt, liked or wanted..”, she answered calmly.
“Oww.. I am sorry, Seressa.. Hells bells, I feel like a gloating idiot now..”
“No, girl, this is your moment, not mine. Tell me how it felt.. Tell me everything..”
Tonic told her.