Elma and Lucil Ch. 02byVampLover69©
Life as a Chocobo Knight was a litter harder than I'd expected but having grown up around the large yellow birds, I felt right at home. Even though I was second in command of the unit it did take me a while to earn the respect of my subordinates. After two months they finally seemed to have accepted me among their ranks, thanks in no small part to the numerous times the captain had stood up for me. At first I couldn't understand why they would want to bring in an outsider for a position of leadership but as I watched them practice day after day I realized that they were a very tight knit group. To promote one out of their ranks and make them their superior officer would have been almost cruel.
Today was a fairly light day, as far as my duties went. The soldiers were on an independent training exercise. Captain Lucil was a brilliant commander but she didn't want her troops to depend on her too much, so she would occasionally send them off on training missions specifically without her, in case she were to fall in battle. Sometimes I would accompany them on these missions and some times I would remain behind as well. It was those few rare occasions when the captain and I had the camp all to ourselves that I had begun to treasure. There were times when I wondered if she didn't specifically set up that training exercise to give us time to ourselves.
Unfortunately, Lucil seemed to be in a very foul mood today and I'd forced myself to temper my excitement. I didn't want to get my hopes up too high, only the have to wait another full month's rotation to have her to myself. Also, an inspector was arriving today to check the condition of the Chocobo stalls while they were empty. Which meant that my chances of getting a bit of... quality time, were slim to none. It was already getting late and the inspector still wasn't here yet.
"Elma." A quiet voice caught my attention and I turned from my aimless wanderings of the camp to the HQ tent. Lucil stood in the entryway, one hand holding back the thick cloth that served as a doorway. "You know a courier came by the camp this morning." I nodded, even if it wasn't really necessary. "The inspector requested that the camp be completely empty in anticipation of this arrival." The edge of worry to her voice left no doubts that this strange message was the source of her foul mood. Why did he need the camp to be completely empty...? Well, it wasn't really my place to worry. Though, it was Lucil's place and I could tell that she had been worrying. "I'm going to reconnoiter the southern cliffs. Would you care to join me, lieutenant?"
I saluted, though mostly out of habit. Lucil was a stickler for maintaining protocol, with the exception of when the two of us were alone. She favored me with a faint, amused smile and disappeared into the headquarters to retrieve her sword and a few other supplies needed for a scouting mission. Realizing that I probably should do the same I made my way back to my own tent. Following Lucil's advise of two months ago I now carried a small stock of elemental spell items with me whenever entering a possibly dangerous situation, as well as several potions and cures for various status ailments. While the base here in the Calm Lands didn't have a Fiend Run for us to practice at, there were enough fiends roaming across the plains to give us plenty of exercise. I didn't really feel any need to hurry as I made my way to the Chocobo stables. We had set up camp in the gorge for the time being but the Chocobo Knights were a mobile group and we could be ordered to back up and move at any time. In fact, rumor had it that a large operation was in the works and the Knights were going to be asked to help out. I couldn't help but wonder if this mysterious inspector had something to do with that rumor.
Lucil still hadn't made it to the stables when I arrived so I began to saddle our mounts. Since joining the unit I had made a few changes in my armor to suit my new mounted battle style. One thing I had added to my armor was a wide brown leather headband to keep my hair out of my eyes. Also, I had gotten rid of my old full chest plate in favor of a half plate that only covered my upper body. I understood now why Lucil favored a more flexible leather jerkin over plate mail. Trying to lean down low over one's Chocobo in order to reach a full gallop could be almost painful with a full metal plate digging into your stomach and sides. The only knight who did still wear full mail was our newest recruit, Clasko. While he did have a good way with the animals he was a very inept warrior. He struck me as the type that would be happier raising Chocobos than fighting astride one.
I felt a light touch on my shoulder and then a hand trailed along my lower back. I turned to have my chin captured in one gentle hand and I felt warm lips pressed against mine. I closed my eyes, melting at this unexpected affection. A moment later she was gone, however and I opened my eyes to see her calmly leading her Chocobo out of the stables. I shook my head faintly, wondering if I'd simply imagined the brief contact. She stopped and looked over her shoulder at me, frowning slightly. I nearly jumped and realized I was supposed to be following her. I grabbed the reins of my own mount and lead it as well out of the stables.
She had already mounted her Chocobo by the time I made it out of the stables and I hurried to follow suit. As soon as I was situated on the back of my war bird, Lucil set off without a word. I followed quietly, by now I was used to these periods of pensive silence. I knew she cared deeply about her troops; that was part of what made her a great leader. However at times I couldn't help but wonder if maybe she didn't care too much. Each and every one was special to her, the loss of but one would hurt her gravely. If she had heard the same rumors I had, or perhaps some top secret official word...
We rode out of the gorge and out onto the plains. I had never been to this place before joining the Knights and I remember being over awed by the large rip in the ground. It was a sobering reminder of the massive power of Sin and the Aeons used to battle it. Ever since I was a small child I'd always respected the Summoners, and just as much so those who guarded them. I had actually considered becoming a guardian myself, but I simply didn't think I could undertake a Journey with a summoner. To go through all that... and know that ultimately you would fail to save them....
We rode across the width of the plains to the western cliffs before reaching the bank on the other side, where we followed the southern rise all the way to the exit on the other side. It was slightly remarkable that we hadn't met any fiends but today seemed an oddly calm day. Even the weather seemed slightly subdued. Lucil kept riding past the exit to where an odd bridge had once been, now broken. She dismounted without a word and tied the reigns to a shattered post and then simply stood with her back to me. I climbed off my war bird as well and tied my reigns to the second post. For a long moment I simply stood uneasily, not quite sure what to do. The sun was starting to set now, it had take a good hour and a half to cross the full width of the plain and it had already been late in the day when we had set out.
When she still didn't say anything, I walked over to stand beside her, gently laying one hand on her arm. She seemed to become aware of me then and turned to face me, one hand coming up to lightly caress my cheek. I smiled brightly and brought my hand up to cover hers. She leaned down to kiss me but the kiss was light and distant, broken all too swiftly. I frowned slightly and gave a small sigh, then cheered back up almost immediately. She might not have been in the mood for anything serious but I'd be damned if I wasn't at least going to get some snuggling from our private foray. I took both of her hands in mine and urged her down to sit on the grass. While most of the time I was still a bit overawed by the captain's quiet but imposing presence, I had become a bit bolder around her in private. While I knew she cared about all her soldiers and students I couldn't help but believe that I held a special place in her affections. She resisted for a moment, then went along with my insistence and took a set on the soft grass.
As soon as she did so I scooted over to sit close beside her, sliding my arms around her waist and snuggling down into my now familiar niche in her side. For a long moment I thought she was going to remain just as cold and distant as she'd been on the ride here but I felt her relax and put one arm around my shoulder. I let out a contented sigh, allowing a mischievous grin to touch my lips before sitting up and planting a swift kiss on Lucil's jaw. She glanced down at me, eyes guarded as normal. With her face turned towards me I took the chance to give her an equally swift kiss on the lips. Something sparked in her eyes but faded away too quickly for me to judge what it was. Still feeling quite playful I waited for her to turn away again, then sat up to nibble her ear teasingly before settling back down in my spot with a lighthearted laugh.
She turned to face me again and I could have sworn I saw a playfulness to match my own shimmering just behind her mask. Deliberately I tilted my head back and licked the very tip of her nose. Amusement flashed openly for a moment and she shifted to place one hand on each of my shoulders, pushing me gently onto my back before proceeding to kiss me thoroughly. I returned her kisses gratefully, not even realizing until this moment just how much I'd missed them.
After a moment she paused, simply resting her face close to mine, eyes half closed. I brought one hand up to caress her cheek, enjoying her warmth and nearness. The times we had together were all to short and all too far apart. I could still could them on one hand. She gave a low chuckle and shifted to regard me steadily.
"You are good source of stress relief." She stated calmly, though a hint of a smile tugged at her lips that made me think she was teasing.
I couldn't help but blush a bit and steal another kiss. "Glad I can help..."
With a glance at the falling sun, she turned back to me and kissed me once before stretching out beside me on the grass. I stretched out as well and rolled over so that my back rested against her chest, leaving us both facing the setting sun. She wrapped one of her arms around my waist and pulled me just a bit closer to her. Even in the short time we had been intimate she had already figured out just how much I simply enjoyed being held. It was a pleasantly warm day and with the beauty of the crimson sun's painting, gentle lullaby of the wind in the valley and the comforting presence of Lucil behind me I actually found myself drifting off to sleep as I lay there.
"Elma." My lover's quiet voice called me back from near slumber. She didn't say anything else right away, so I shifted under her arm to face her and planted drowsy kisses on her lips, down the line of her jaw to the small part of her neck exposed by the high collar of her armor. She made a small sound that might have been a sigh or regretful moan and pulled away. "We need to go back." She didn't say anything else but reached out to run one hand through my hair, eyes silently promising to make this up to me later. I couldn't help but feel a bit of a chill as we both rose and untied out mounts. I would have given anything at that moment for just a little more time in her arms.