<i><b>**co-posted with Verrik, written through real time rp and edited for forum**</b></i>
Morena led the agile creature through the north pasture gates and began at a slow trot. She had no idea where she was headed and honestly she didn't really care. Digging her heels in gently, she urged the horse on, allowing him free in the now open space. She could just barely make out the family's small orchard to the east however it seemed that her friend wished to take her west. Morena submitted herself to the horse's instincts and held on tight as he sped up into a full gallop. The feel of the wind beating against her body awakened something inside her...perhaps a spirit that she had only recently forgotten existed.
Morena's senses were alive and yearning for more when the horse began to slow. Not knowing where she was or where the beast intended to go, the young woman went with him willingly. A slight smile graced her lips as she heard the song that floated around her. She was near water. Morena had spent enough time outdoors to recognize the signs. It was the sound of the birds... the smell of the wind. Morena, so engrossed in her surroundings, failed to notice the man that sat nearby. She hopped off the horse and led him to the edge of the pond, allowing the animal to drink. Crouching down, she dipped her hand in the cool water and reached up to release the string that held her hair tightly in place.
Verrik continued revelling in the sun next to the pond. He hadn't gone to church as he was expected to, but he figured a little lie about feeling unwell would help him get out of any trouble with Friar Gordon. Just as that thought crossed his mind he sat up, alarmed. Why had he thought that? Why was he feeling so...rebellious? Before he could sort out the answer for that he heard horse hooves plodding along the earth, and a sensation he couldn't describe swept over him.
Verrik's attention then focused on another sound, apparently on the other side of the bush towards the deeper end of the pond, a woman had arrived. Her hair was the very color of passion itself, but her face looked like a mirror of loss. His heart began to race. Not many people went to visit this pond, so he wondered why the woman was there. By the Great Saint she was beautiful! He paused, not knowing what to do. Everything screamed inside of him to approach her, a voice that was deep inside of his soul.
Morena stroked the horse's neck gently as she looked out across the pond. It was a beautiful day... the perfect day for this. As her eyes scanned the scene, she was forced to stop for a moment as a familiar feeling washed over her. Was there someone else here? She sat very still and looked about closely. If only she was as sharp as she once was! Suddenly a flock of birds, most likely frightened by another animal, burst forth from the nearby brush. Morena's nerves calmed and she fell back into a sitting position with soft chuckle. 'uggh... what am I doing?!' She decided that a swim was the only thing that could clear her head. She sat back and slid her boots off then leaned back slightly to undo the ties of her pants. It was a hot day and the water looked perfect. Standing up, she slid her pants off and kicked them aside allowing the long faded chemise to remain in place.
Verrik, with his heart beating hard against his ribs from the near discovery, looked away for a moment.
<i>"Great Saint, please forgive me..."</i>
He then heard a sound like water being disturbed. Had she gotten nude? Was she now swimming? Although his sensibilities screamed, his eyes and something else compelled him to look to her. He saw her strong, slender legs gracefully gain entrance to the water and his breath became ragged with danger and recognition. He knew this woman!
Morena was already neck deep and treading water when she heard the rustling behind her. Spinning around as fast as she could, she spoke in a loud voice hoping it would mask her nervousness at being so vulnerable.
<i>"Who's there?!?! Show YOURSELF!!!"</i> She looked around quickly, trying to find anything that could explain her unease.
<i>"I...I am sorry,"</i> Verrik's voice nervously sounded as he stepped from the bushes, <i>"I was just sitting here and I heard something splash in the water and I....I..." </i>
He swallowed hard. He didn't understand how a woman could break through the years of suppression that he had built up. He found it hard to speak, and he merely walked forward, trying to avert his eyes but finding them darting back to her face.
Morena's face hardened despite the man's obvious discomfort. <i> "Do you always spy on women as they undress?!?" What do you want?" </i> Morena moved forward slowly, feeling for the bottom frantically with her feet. She had to crouch beneath the water once her feet hit land, but she was not about to reveal herself to a stranger, so this would have to do. She dipped her head under quickly to escape the water beetles that gathered about her, but quickly popped back up smoothing her hair back with her hand. It was then that she looked him over. Long robes...green... of course, he had been able to blend into the background well. How could she have been such a fool. However there was something familiar about him. Something that she just couldn't put her finger on.
<i>"Please forgive me, mi'lady. I don't often spy on women, I swear by the Great Saint that it was an accident. I will avert my eyes now so you can dress."</i> He turned his eyes away but the vision of such beauty burned in his mind. He thought closing his eyes would help but to no avail, he saw her there as if he had been seeing her for years.
Who was this woman?
Morena scurried quickly from the water and grabbed her pants and boots pulling them behind the brush. Quickly she wrung out her chemise and pulled her pants and boots on.
<i>"Don't turn around yet!"</i> she called out as she rushed back to the horse and grabbed the apron she had been wearing earlier. This would have to do for now. she haphazardly wrapped it around her torso to hide herself from him as the chemise was now doing a poor job.
<i>"Who are you?"</i> Her words had quieted a bit and no longer held the edge they once did. She couldn't explain it, but there -was- something. His presence felt so familiar. She looked at the way he held himself and despite the weakness that sounded in his voice, he held himself with such strength. She dared not say it even to herself..but Gods how he reminded her of Breckt, even in this short time.
<i>"My name is Verrik Raandal...I am a priest in service to Saint Mi'kala...errr...I mean Arkon and again, I'm sorry for the intrusion. I was meditating next to this other side of the pond and you arrived and..."</i>
He trailed off. Meditating? He was doing no such thing. Why am I lying, he asked himself and to this beautiful woman, no less? Then again he was uncertain why he found this particular beautiful woman more beautiful than the others he met from Marn and Shim. He swore he heard this voice before and he only had one question.
<i>"May I ask what your name is, mi'lady?"</i>
Morena narrowed her eyes and took a few steps forward, her feminine form rigid and concentrated on him. <i>"Kala?... Did you say Kala?"</i> A red flag lifted in front of Morena's eyes. How could he know Kala..in the just the few months that she had been she had discovered that none here had even heard of the great spirit much less have become a follower. Breckt! This man had to know where he was.. that was the only way he could have heard of Kala!
Morena's breath quickened and she lunged forward grabbing the front of his robes in her small and once lethal fists. Her words were slow and deliberate so that he would not mistake her intentions.
<i>"Where. is. Breckt. You tell me now or may the Gods help me..."</i>
Her eyes bore into his, despite the fact that he stood a good head or more above her. She knew that if he wanted to he could handle any attack she made on him because of the size advantage over her, but she didn't care.. The only thing on her mind was the man she loved and longed for.
He lowered his head sadly, whoever this was seemed to care about Breckt a great deal. Maybe a friend of his? He hated to do it but he had to deliver the bad news to this woman.
<i>"I'm sorry to tell you...that he's dead Mi'lady, "</i> he looked up at her, with his green crescented eyes, <i>"I couldn't stop it...he just started aging rapidly and finally he died. He kept on saying a name over and over again, and I tried every divination I could but I couldn't save him. I'm sorry..."</i>
Morena just stared at him as she absorbed the information. Her chest tightened and she fought back against it as she locked her eyes on Verrik's. It was almost as if... as if she were staring into Breckt's eyes. How could that be? She shook her head violently and murmured the word No.. over and over she said it, each time getting louder until it seemed to explode from her. She slammed a closed fist against his chest.
<i>"NO!!! WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?!?! HOW COULD YOU... DON'T YOU KNOW... DON'T YOU KNOW WHO HE WAS?!"</i> Morena fell to her knees as a deep sob rose up through her chest. <i>"Breckt.. Gods tell me the truth! Where is BRECKT AL ANZ?!"</i>
Verrik quickly fell to his knees with her and embraced her, trying to soothe her. Something in his mind wracked him with pain at seeing her this way and he couldn't do anything else but hold her.
<i>"I'm telling you the truth. I buried the man. I...he...tried to stay. I'm so sorry Morena..."</i>
It was as if a light suddenly shown in his mind. This was Morena. Morena. Morena Niiclu Al Anz. Images of her, memories, flashed in his mind. He couldn't stop the flow and he grew as weak as she, holding her, and saying nothing for a moment as he tried to collect his thoughts. <i>"Forgive me...I....he tried to stay, but it couldn't be stopped."</i>
Morena pushed him from her and she shook her head not wanting to hear the words. <i>"Stop..."</i> she gasped softly between salty tears. How could she believe it? She couldn't, she still felt him so near. She felt closer to Breckt here at the pond than she had ever felt before since she arrived. It couldn't be true.. she wouldn't believe it.
It hadn't even occured to Morena that Verrik had used her name. Did she hear it? Crawling away slowly, she began to catch her breath. Turning, she sat upon the soft grass and looked at him. Part of her just wanted to run into Verrik's arms, arms that held her so gently like Breckt's arms did. Her mind became overcome with conflicting feelings and she felt a scream building up inside, just waiting to explode.
<i>"I'm sorry Morena, that was hardly appropriate of me,"</i> he said stiffly.
Morena? That was the second time he had used the woman's name. He looked to her, puzzled. When he embraced her he felt like she belonged within his embrace, belonged with him. Was this the woman Breckt talked about in his death bed. Was she the woman to the name he had spoken over and over? Why did it feel so right to hold her?
<i>"You are Morena...yes?"</i>
He knew the answer of course. Morena! His insides turned about themselves and he felt dizzy. He slumped from his knees onto his posterior and looked at her in silence.
<i>"How do you know my name?"</i> Morena's voice was barely a whisper as she nodded. Pulling her knees up into her chest, she hugged them tightly and watched him closely through flooded eyes. Breckt's name just kept repeating in her head and tried desperately to push the thought away.
<i>"I...don't know. It was just the name that Breckt said over and over before he finally rested. I figured it must have been someone he loved...and seeing you react like you did, I just thought you were she that he spoke of."</i>
Verrik felt mournful. He remembered Breckt's last words, promising that he would find her again. Now he was the only one that could testify to the man's existence and he was now here with the beautiful woman that had captured Breckt's eye...and his own.
<i>"I can take you to his grave, if you'd like..."</i>
Grave. The word echoed within her entire body. <i>"I can't... not now. I.. just.."</i> she couldn't finish as there were no words. <i>"Verrik? Is that your name? Tell me what happened... I need to know. I need to.."</i> Morena felt lost. More lost then ever before.
<i>"He arrived one day, bloodied and bruised. He only looked like he was forty. He said that his ship had been caught in a storm, and that he and his love Morena had been tossed off the vessel. Apparently he was attacked as soon as he arrived on shore and was captured by some bandits. Eventually he escaped, barely alive, and that's when some guards of the village found him and brought him under my care. I bandaged his wounds but I noticed a change in him. He was aging and although I gathered as many healers to his side as I could we couldn't reverse it. In the end, he died peacefully, but in the mournful way one would be if they had lost the thing they cared for most,"</i> Verrik answered, he himself feeling a few tears falling down his face. In his line of work he had seen a few people die, but none so tragically as that man had and seeing his wife here made him feel more pain.
Morena felt her heart pound in her chest and she placed her hand over it as if she could steady its rhythm so easily. Calming down a bit, she wiped her eyes and stood up slowly. <i>"I'm sorry I attacked you, but you must realize by now what he meant to me...and to know that he's gone..."</i> Morena choked up again. She looked down at her hand and fingered her wedding ring with her thumb seeing Breckt's handsome face smiling back at her. <i>"I suppose that my plans have changed.."</i> the statement made more for her own benefit than Verrik's.
<i>"I understand, Morena. I wish I could be the bearer of happier news, but all I can offer you is a place to stay if you need it. From what I understand you are far from your lands, and I can offer you a place to stay while you decided what you wish to do next." </i>
It wasn't much, but it was all he could offer.
Morena looked at him, stung by the eyes that looked back at her. With Breckt gone what was she to do? It seemed only natural that she agree. <i>"Aye..a change is needed. I've been staying at the nearby farm."</i> She looked around and saw the horse. <i>"I don't even know if I'm still on their land. The horse.. he brought me here."</i> How she hated that horse at the moment. It was as if all of the color had melted from her world, leaving the sky a dismal grey.
<i>"Well, if you'd like I can guide us there. We aren't too far away from the Church now,"</i> he said.
He stood up and offered her his hand.
<i>"I..I have my things at the cottage. I would need to get them eventually. And I owe them the honor of saying goodbye. They've done so much for me."</i> She looked up at the sky again before continuing. <i>"It's getting late and i don't even know how to get back. I suppose I should go with you for now. I'll bring the horse back in the morning."</i> She ignored his outstretched hand and turned, wiping away a fresh batch of tears as she reached for the horse's reins and urging him to follow her.