• Graded • Put your arms around somebody else

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The capital city of the of Rynmere, here is seated the only King in Idalos.
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Elyna
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It had been a long time since Elyna had slept, curled up beside someone like this. At first, she’d been so tired that she’d fallen into a deep slumber, but then the strangeness of being wrapped up in Malcolms’s arms had bought her back to her surface. She had continued to doze on and off, but sleep didn’t claim her again. Instead, she found herself listening to the steady beat of his heart, trying to remain very still so that her movements didn’t disturb of wake him. Carts rumbled past on the cobbles, she heard in the distances the market sellers strike up with calls, as she rested, head bowed against his chest.

His features softened in repose, it was unusual to see him asleep; though he must. She tried to think of all their travelling together with the crew, but had no clear memory of seeing him asleep. Partially because he rose so early, and if she’d had a late watch their paths had been unlikely to cross. Just thinking about sleeping out on the cold hard ground made her shudder. Lucky she’d not been sent with the Knights during Cylus, she hated the cold. The way the earth seemed to pull every last mote of warmth from her bones and leave her shivering. She pressed closer against his bare skin, her own shirt and cut-off breaches, combined with the cover’s he’d pulled over them, were more than enough to trap warmth. But the sensation that emanated from his skin was glorious. Her mind, drifted to cold winter nights and the pair of them curled up together. Her heart skipped small beats and she closed her eyes, praying silently to the immortals that she wasn’t just a naïve fool. She wasn’t giving her heart to someone who had no care for it.

He had declared so much, offered to sacrifice so much of himself for her sake and the Skyrider was painfully aware that she remained unworthy of such devotion. Yet, she would cling to it and she would try and protect him from the world and his own sense of duty. There was something enticing in watching him sleep, and no wonder he tended to withdraw from the crew as they rested because, he, like everyone else, looked as though he could almost be vulnerable if he woke; and she didn’t want to wake him. When had he last slept? In trips between the infirmary and home, the late night the trial before, when had he rested? So much for him telling her to rest…did he look after himself?

But the day was advancing, breaks trickled by into morning. Birds chirped behind the curtain, and the chill from the window draught went its way around her neck. Elyna nudged his chest with her nose before pressing a soft kiss against his heart. Then with a much-suppressed streak of mischief her fingers moved gently down his spine before forward, trailing them over the fresher scar on his shoulder, then the wound on his neck. He had said he wouldn't kiss her, but his warning seemed distant and far less important than her painstaking exploration. With soft touches followed by kisses she sought out the marks on his body, as though she could fix the wounds she’d caused on his flesh. Her own heart started to thump in her throat, pulse quickening. Careful to move slowly she shifted enough to press a kiss to the silvery line along his ribs, thumb curling around his hip as she pressed a final kiss to his waist and looked up, tilting her head to one side, “good morning,” the words were heavy on her tongue, her voice still thick from sleep.
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Malcolm
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It was a kind way to wake a man and Malcolm felt fortunate that he had been able to wake next to Elyna. He opened his enough just enough to see her in the dimly lit room, dusty light filtered through the curtains and cast against the wall in waves below the windowsill. He could see the orange-yellow light of early dawn, chased away by the promise of a blue sky. Malcolm lifted his free arm up over his head to fold his pillow and prop himself up a little, the other arm, which had gone dead, having been trapped below the woman for the last few breaks, tickled as the circulation returned, allowing his fingertips to feel the bare skin of Elyna's hip below them.
Good morning, she had greeted him, words met with a lazy smile as if part of him still lingered in the realm of dreams. The mistake of closing his eyes again cost him, as Malcolm drifted only to be pulled back by Elyna's touch, the kind that covered the skin down the lengths of his arms and across his chest with goosebumps. His shoulder felt cold as if it had been exposed all night, coaxing him to pull the covers up and enjoy the last few moments of peace he would get before the day would summon him to his feet. "Half a break more," he murmured, his voice husky and hardly his own.

With a look he would ask how the woman slept, fingers pushed through her hair to comb it back from her face. Elyna looked a lot better this morning and the visible change in her health was apparent, her face had some of its colour back and her eyes looked bright, and warm, and... Malcolm closed his eyes again, a dangerous thing to do with head still heavy against pillow it seemed.
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 323
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Elyna
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The young woman stifled her laughter and made a cautious return to lay beside him once more. Elyna checked the covers were fastened over his shoulder and settled down to watch him, biting back the smile that threatened to steal her entire expression. He reminded her of a youth instead of a man, reluctant to wake. But she couldn't blame him, it was clear that the last cycle had taken it's toll.

Aside from the fresher scars and scratches, he too had been the victim of poison, of the bruises she had carried and then the ill effects of his abilities. She reached up, pushing his hair back from his brow before she pressed a single kiss to his cheek. Sleep as long as you like, Elyna thought and meant it. Her mischievous impulse temporarily curbed as she settled, part dreaming, part telling herself stories of the past. She remembered the one Malcolm had shared and glanced at him again. The raid on the Krom lake, he'd shared the tale so vividly, almost as if he had been there. Elyna swallowed and searched his face for a sign of ancient age, and found none. The raid had been over two hundred arcs ago- her own ability to remember exact numbers was limited. Surely though, he couldn't be that old?

Elyna finally nestled against him, letting out a slow and contented sigh. Her fingertips circled his skin in careful sweeps, edging over his abdomen before she rested her palm flat against his hip and closed her own eyes.

The angry rapping at the door below was an unpleasant shock and she jolted, sitting up.
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Malcolm sat up, wide-eyed and blinking, pulled from sleep so quickly it took him a moment to adjust to the idea of being awake; had someone really knocked downstairs or had it just been his imagination? A second drumming against the front door by too-keen a fist saw the man escape the covers, pulling his bare foot from the corner of the sheets where they had wrapped about his ankle like a snake, as if attempting to stop him from leaving the bed. He grabbed his shirt up off the floor and wrestled into it before starting down the stairs, only to stop and turn, eyes fixed on Elyna. Malcolm scratched his fingers through his hair to first mess it up and then flatten against his scalp before he whispered. “I’ll get rid of them.”

The captain took the stairs slowly and opened the front door to find Heather and Benjamin standing outside. “What?” He yawned.
Heath pushed past him to walk into the house and Benjamin followed. “Morning, Captain!”
“Next you will ask me to feed you,” Malcolm smiled and pushed the door closed.
“We are worried about Elyna,” Heath admitted, plonking himself down at the table.
“Oh?” Malcolm moved over to the fireplace and found that it had gone out, “what have you to be concerned about?”
“Kathryn went to visit and couldn’t find her at the Infirmary so she tried her place at the barracks and the girl in the room across from hers said she hadn’t been home in the last few trials,” Benjamin explained.
“So we sent a letter,” Heath added.
“A letter?” Malcolm looked at him, perplexed, “where?”
“Her family of course, to make sure she got home all right, I mean we assume that is where she went, right?” Heath pressed.
“Right,” Malcolm nodded, “that makes sense.” Four hundred and nineteen arcs on this earth and he was still such a terrible liar.

The two men looked at one another and the captain watched as his comrades exchanged a doubtful glance. Malcolm turned around to look through one of the cupboards in the kitchen as if going about his normal routine, hunting out something to eat for breakfast. “Sorry, men, I would offer you some tea but the fire is out and my wife took most of the cutlery with her,” Malcolm stared into the empty cupboard. “We still have a break or two until our patrol, was there anything else you wanted to report?”
“The mission went well,” Benjamin smiled, “we got all the way to Venora and back without any more trouble.”
“Thanks to our man, Ben,” Heath grinned.
“And of the captive?” Malcolm inquired.
“We did what you asked,” Benjamin told him, “Strung up and gutted for all would be bandits to see.”
Malcolm was silent but nodded.
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 481
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Elyna watched Malcolm go, but not without regret that their peaceful interlude had been so rudely interrupted. She drew up her knees, wrapping her arms around them. It wasn’t long though before her natural curiosity got the better of her and she slipped from the covers herself and padded, silent over the floorboards. She rested her back against the wall, listening to the conversation below.

When they mentioned the letter, her heart sunk through her stomach and she slid down, till she was sat on the floor. Head tilted back and eyes closed. They’d sent a letter to her family? Or had they just sent it to her, at the family home? At home in Andaris, or in Burhan? Either way, it wasn’t good. Elyna forced her fingers through her hair and let out a soft groan. How was she going to fend this one off? If her Father read the letter, no doubt he would also pay a trip to the barracks and the infirmary. She could imagine it now, Baron Burhan stomping around demanding the whereabouts of his daughter. If it went back to Burhan, then how long before her Mother dispatched missives of her own; and they were back to Pavoo raging like a wounded bull.

“She’s alright then?” Ben exchanged another glanced with Heath.

“Lady Elyna,” Heath wanted to make it clear, he studied the Captains expression, “only last we saw was you two riding off together, did you make it back without any problems?”

“The bandit wasn’t going to last long,” Ben added “whatever hit him, hit fast and we barely got him to the ‘Rest”

“Nasty stuff,” Heath agreed and paused. The concern was evident but his gaze traveled towards the stairs, taking in the Captains form of undress, “sleep late?” The enquiry was casual, but it was unusual for Malcolm to rise after dawn, in their experience.

Ben nudged him in the side and focused his own gaze above Malcolms head.

If Elyna had any chance of preventing parental interference, she had to find out what was in the letter. She wondered if she’d rather die than go downstairs. But then, if her parents, or worse, grandparents found out where she really was – then….who knew. It wasn’t as if she had much reputation to loose, but surely this would do it? If she couldn’t mis-direct them. But how could she do that, if she didn’t know what was in the missive? But to find out about the letter, would only give Heath and Ben evidence that there was something to suspect. They would be right of course, but suspicion was different to confirmation…and what if they went to her parents instead? Elyna found her feet with care, unsteady after the effect of the poison.

Would they do that do her? Maybe. To Malcolm? Less likely, they had an incredible amount of respect for their captain; and he deserved it. Elyna lingered at the door way. If she tried to save her own reputation, wouldn’t she totally destroy his?

“Captain,” Ben finally broached the silence, “Katheryn suggested that the Lady might be recovering with you,”

“We don’t know why she would have said as such,” Heath added quickly, pulling at the already loose neck of his shirt, “we never thought anything of….we’ve never mentioned that we saw Elyna…socially.”

Ben fixed his companion with a hard stare, “If Elyna has returned to Burhan, then I couldn’t help but wonder if you’d told her…”

Elyna dragged her fingers over her face and decided to make herself known. She was dying upstairs, she couldn’t lie, Malcolm couldn’t lie. They were both of them, hopeless. Though Benjamin had caught her interest, it was Heath she fixed her gaze upon as she came carefully down the stairs, one hand balanced against the wall. Her skin was still pale and she watched both men’s expression turn to surprise to see her, barefoot and clothes hanging loose.

Still, she folded her arms over her chest and tried to study them in turn, “I don’t know what you’re both trying to accuse Captain Krom of,” she said archly, fingers trembling as she did, “but thank you Ser, for trying to salvage my reputation…” she swallowed, “as I’m sure you can see, I’m not quite recovered but I will be well enough with time,” she risked a quick glance at the Captain.

“Captain Krom was kind enough to offer me a room…as it was recommended that someone be available to care for me, and I am unable to return to my familial home at this time,” it was a minor lie, “but I am grateful for your concern. It’s good to see you both, I’m glad you’re home safe…can I ask what correspondence you have sent?”
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Elyna came down the stairs and both men at the table shuffled to their feet quickly with the lady now present. Benjamin looked especially guilty after learning that the Skyrider had overheard them talking. He stitched his fingers together behind his back and stood up straight, gaze lowered. Heath on the other hand wore a wry smile. "I'm sorry, my lady, there was no letter," he admitted, "we were merely teasing Ser Krom here."
"A most distasteful joke," Benjamin piped up.

Malcolm folded his arms and shut his teeth together tightly as if to bite his tongue, a horse drawn cart outside stealing his attention for but a moment before he pointed it at Heath again who must have felt the burn of the captain's gaze, as his shoulders lowered significantly and he looked down at his hands before apologising.
"I'm sorry, lady Elyna, I didn't mean any disrespect."
"We are just happy to see that you well and on your feet," Benjamin added.
"Well, men," Malcolm interrupted, "I will see you both at the southern gate in two breaks."
"Ser," Benjamin nodded and made his way to the door, offering Elyna a warm, but guilty smile before taking his leave.

Heath lingered as if he wanted to add something but a sidelong look from the captain, one Malcolm intended to cause discomfort, saw him acknowledge Elyna with a nod before following his friend out. Malcolm went to the door after that and made sure the key was turned to keep anyone else from letting themselves in and peered out the small kitchen window to make sure both Knights were gone before he turned to the Burhan noble and offered an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry about them," he murmured, "they mean well." He closed the gap between them then and put his left hand on Elyna's right shoulder, she had seemed rather worried about the idea of written correspondence taking place between the Knights and her family and though Malcolm knew it probably wasn't his place to say anything, he thought if Macus or Vaughn had gone through the same, he would like to know. "You should go and see them."
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 376
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Elyna
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Elyna hoped it was another nasty effect of the poison, but she felt dizzy when they made their admission. But then, the sensation of losing control of the world was something that was becoming commonplace during her association with Malcolm. She managed to keep her head up, leant against the wall as though it was too heavy as she watched them make their exit. There was something almost gleeful in their retreat and she sighed. Bad decision, after bad decision, when would it end? She looked up at the captain, pressing her own cool fingers to his hand. It would end, when she managed to walk away from the man before her. She swallowed, searching his expression and resigned herself to the fact that it wouldn’t be anytime soon. She’d better get used to feeling as though she’d lost her mind, until she was willing to lose him; would that ever happen?

“I’m sorry for coming downstairs,” she admitted quietly, feeling somewhat defeated. She sank down on the bottom step of the stairs and rested her elbows on her knees, her chin in her hands. She studied his barefeet, “they knew I was here,” it was obvious. They’d been trying to draw her out and she’d played right into their intentions. She’d overstepped and put Malcolm in a difficult situation.

She dragged her gaze back up, trying to disguise the hopeless sensation that tugged at her shoulders and stomach with a half-smile, “I’d rather get poisoned again, then go back to Burhan,” she admitted. But, even if Heath and Ben hadn’t sent a letter, it was inevitable the Pavoo and Cealan would find out soon enough. If she had dodged a summons back home earlier in the cycle, there was no doubt that this would call her back. She tried smoothing down the fabric of her trousers, tugging at the hem to pull it tight against her shins. There was no denying that her parents and grandparents loved her dearly. But what was she in Burhan? She wasn’t a Skyrider, she was a pawn of political advantage.

“You’re on patrol today?” She peered past him at the door, “I suppose I’d better visit the lodge and see what duties they’ll line up for me,” she grimaced, imagining a stack of paperwork to read through, sort, file, letters that required response. Her head hurt just thinking about it, and what would be worse? Ledgers, accounts, ordering transcripts; she shuddered.
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Powerlessly he watched as Elyna sunk down to sit on the stairs, as if the world were suddenly too heavy for such slender shoulders to bear. Malcolm felt far away himself, his thoughts going with Benjamin and Heath. It wasn’t like he suspected that the two of them would say anything, but having always been such a private man, it was difficult for the captain to accept that sometimes it wasn’t always possible to keep secrets, especially the kind that were this big, obvious, and all-round wonderful. He looked at Elyna then, why couldn’t he keep her to himself, and why was the world so hell-bent on making trouble for them?
“I do have patrol today,” he admitted, “but perhaps… you can convince me to stay?”

Malcolm almost never took time off and he felt Benjamin and Heath probably owed him after that visit. He was sick of the rules, if it wasn’t an outside force keeping them from each other’s arms, they seemed content to make their own trouble and set impossible guidelines for themselves. The captain held his hand out to take Elyna’s and helped her to her feet, it appeared a little distraction wouldn’t go amiss and as Malcolm pulled the Skyrider to her feet, he trapped her form against the wall with his own and kissed her whether he had permission or not.
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 244
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Elyna
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Her mind had wandered when he admitted he’d need to leave, so his following comment flew, uncaught over her head. Feeling more than a little sorry for herself, she accepted his hand; her thoughts already trapping her in a nightmare of curled yellow scrolls, pencils and dust. Suffocating dust in the air and the letters dancing before her eyes. She was therefore shocked when she was pressed without warning against the wall, but her body seemed to know what her mind hadn’t recognised and she returned the kiss. How could she refuse?

All thoughts of work and light duties fled. In their place rose the questions and the doubts. What if someone saw? But how could they? What if the Knights came back – but why would they? What about what Malcolm had said, why this moment – why now? She curled her arms around his neck and rose onto her toes, trying to lessen the distance between them, and those thoughts also scurried, finally silenced by the press of his body against hers.

Shocks of intense pleasure moved to all the right places, but it wasn’t enough. Her fingers slid beneath his shirt and the warm skin beneath before she gave up, pushing it up as far as she could reach to wrestle him back out of it, only to pull him back again. Finally, his comment sank into her consciousness and a slow grin spread over her features as they broke for air. She trailed kisses down the line of his jaw as she’d done so many nights before, but then nipped the soft, fleshy part of his earlobe.

“But surely nothing is more exciting than patrol,” she exhaled, teasing, “I couldn’t deprive you of that...”
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Malcolm
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Malcolm loved the energy they shared, that push and pull, acceptance with just a little fight, and enough resistance to keep them both on their toes. Perhaps being caught had done them well, if it was out in the open and there was nothing to hide anymore, Malcolm could stop trying to convince himself that this was wrong. Elyna closed her teeth against the lobe of his ear and there was a delicious tightening in his belly, as if he had swallowed something warm that he could now feel spreading through his form to settle in all the right places, those pressure points that drove a man wild.
Quickened by the gesture, the words that followed took some concentration to take in, was she really bringing up work at a time like this? The tall mortalborn smiled and lifted Elyna’s shirt up over her face without peeling it from her arms, so that her sight was impaired, but mouth revealed through neck of shirt. Again he kissed her, bodies pressed, with his Aukari blood burning beneath the skin. Slowly he raised the woman’s arms, removed her top and quickly bowed to throw her over his shoulder, taking her up the stairs with a smug little grin on his face. “Let’s find out?”
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 223
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