Behind Green Eyes Ch. 06byElenia26©
Originally I had intended to e-mail this to people who wanted it, and a few people did ask me for it. Then I thought, why not just publish it? So here it is...a happy ending to my story "Behind Green Eyes".
I pushed the door open to the Inn, and stepped inside. I pulled my hood over my head, and headed for the counter.
In eighteen months' travel I had never trusted another person. I didn't even answer Jenna's letters, knowing there was nothing I could say to her to make her feel better. I hadn't even read her letters, they lay untouched at the bottom of my backpack. I hadn't seen or heard from Tiradon in all that time, either. I had, however, heard that the son of the great Mekorig was getting married. The news was like bitter gall in my heart and my heart burned all the more that I should even care.
I was lucky that I had not gotten pregnant from our encounter. I dreamt of it often, unconsciously and unwillingly, and it still affected me in ways I did not like to admit.
When I first left, I had wandered aimlessly. I went through my stores of money without realizing it. I still had my inheritance pouring into a bank vault—it was 18000 gold now—but I didn't want to touch it. Enough men had betrayed me that I never wanted another man's money. First my own father, then Tiradon. When I first become destitute, I had sold the horse, preferring to walk on foot anyway. It was just me and Jasper now, a dog I had purchased in the last year, and he was ever-faithful.
The first thing I noticed when I came in was a whole table full of Knights of the Rose. They were mostly male, but two were female, and they were all wearing the distinctive insignia. I wondered what so many knights were doing in this area.
I took a table near them and ordered something for myself and Jasper to eat. I cocked my head and listened, setting my bow across the chair next to me.
It seemed they were in the area to hunt a dragon! Apparently they had heard reports of a red in the area. They had stopped by the Inn to see if there were anymore like-minded, good adventurers willing to come along.
I considered, and as I ate my food, I managed to discern where their room was. When they left, I paid the waitress, picked up my bow, and followed them upstairs.
I sighed, standing outside their door. Truth was, I didn't want to get involved with a large party of men, but a dragon would mean a great deal of money, and I needed to be solvent on my own. I reluctantly knocked on the door, hood still up.
"Who is it?" came a deep voice from inside.
"Please open the door," I responded. "It's not really something that can be discussed in the hallway. You needn't worry, I'm all alone."
The door opened, and a handsome young man stood in the doorway. I judged him to be in his mid-20's. Thankfully his eyes were blue. I hated green eyes on men now.
He blinked, and then bowed respectfully. "Please come in."
I nodded, and stepped in cautiously. One of my hands was in my cloak, clutching a dagger carefully.
I looked around the room. It was a large party room, and there were about eight knights sitting around, doing various things. I assumed the women were in another room.
The knight who had opened the door closed it carefully. His eyes flickered to my hand, but he didn't mention it. Instead, he said, "Greetings, Miss. I am Sir Valamir. And you are...?"
He was very polite. I answered softly, "I am Elenia."
"Pleasure to meet you, miss. How may we help you?"
I looked at him. "Who is in charge of your expedition?"
He gestured. 'That would be Sir Aramar, over there, at least until our captain gets back."
I walked a little further into the room and faced Aramar. "I'll get right to the point. I came up to ask if you need a good bow-woman on this journey."
He blinked, and then glanced around at his compatriots. He looked back at me. "Well, Miss Elenia, you should know that before we can bring you along you'll have to submit to a number of tests."
I interrupted him. "I know. I will go through them. But I will have them administered by the females in your group." He nodded, as if that were expected. "Well if that's the case, then we may as well start right away, if you are prepared." I nodded, and he stood up. "Well, come this way then, Miss. I'll take you straight to the women."
The testing went easily enough. It was some simple questions, designed to put a bead on my personality and alignment, a "detect alignment" spell, and a test of my bowmanship. I did my best, and they said they would inform me in the morning. I told them which room I was in, locked it, and put a chair behind the door.
The next morning someone knocked on my door at 7 am. I had been awake for an hour already, and packed for half of that. Jasper was eagerly wagging his tail at the door. I opened it carefully. It was one of the female knights, the younger one, not the one who had administered the tests. She looked about 21. "Are you ready? My name is Kalina. It's nice to meet you, and nice to have you along. Our captain is downstairs."
I answered, "So I pass your tests then?" She tried to smile, but I had no smile on my face or in my heart, and her smile faded. "Of course you do! You'll sign a contract...um, here it is."
I read through it carefully. It was very short, and easy to read. I signed both copies, and handed one back.
"Who is your commander?" I said, as I picked up my backpack.
She smiled. "Why, Sir Tiradon, of course."
My heart stopped. Be reasonable, I told myself. There could be lots of Tiradons in the world.
I followed her down the hall and down the stairs, heart thudding. The knights were gathered in the front of the inn, and in the middle of them there was one very familiar-looking man. The other knights gestured, and he turned.
It was him, all right. There was no mistaking those green eyes, that scar across his cheek. I ground to a halt a few feet away.
"You," I hissed.
The other knights were looking back and forth between us. He started say something, closed his eyes briefly, and started again.
"Don't say my name." I spat back.
His face grew noticeably cold. "Very well then, miss. I hear you have a contract with us?"
That brought me back to reality. I wasn't about to break a contract with a group of knights. Word would get out and no lawful parties would ever work with me again. I steeled myself and raised my chin.
"Yes, Sir Tiradon, I do. If it's all right with you."
His teeth ground together but he looked away. I saw the other knights notice this, and murmur amongst each other.
"Well shall we then?" said one of the other knights. I followed them out the door, then mentally slapped myself when I saw all their horses. I spoke softly to Kalina. "I forgot. I don't have a horse."
She looked askance at me, as if she couldn't understand how someone could be poor enough not to have a horse. "Oh, dear. You'll have to ride with someone." I nodded, and she said, "You can ride with me if you like."
"No." said a loud voice. It was Tiradon. "She rides with me, or no one else. After all, I am the leader here, so she is my personal responsibility."
I gritted my teeth, and nodded. "Very well."
He had the same stallion I recognized from before. I couldn't help but notice that his bridle was frayed, and not in such good repair, although lovingly polished. Tiradon's clothes were also travel-worn and stained, also hand-repaired.
He mounted up on his horse and held his hand out for me. I ignored it and pulled myself up behind him. I heard him sigh, and then they turned and headed out.
Loudly, he spoke. "The cave is three days' journey. We'll be camping on the road. I trust that will be all right with everyone?"
We had a party of fifteen people, the ten knights, Tiradon, a couple of adventurers, and me. I put my hands behind me onto the back of the saddle rather than hold onto Tiradon, and leaned back. Jasper ran along joyfully on the grass.
We did not travel hard that day. It would have been unreasonable to, with such a large party. We stopped once for lunch, and I jumped off almost before the horse had stopped moving. I didn't want him to touch me. At night, I watched where everyone else pitched their tents, then pitched my tent just a little away.
I took dinner from the knight whose turn it was to cook, and sat apart from the party with my back to everyone. In a few minutes I heard someone sit down next to me. It was Tiradon.
For once I didn't feel like yelling at him. I put my plate down and looked at him. "Yes?"
"Elenia. I've missed you, you know."
I looked at him in surprise. I hadn't expected that start. I looked down at the ground bitterly.
"I went looking for you. I've been looking for you ever since. But every time I came to a town you were in, you had just left."
"Elenia, listen to me."
I looked away.
"Elenia. I miss the one night we had—"
He never got any further, for I had gotten to my feet, eyes blazing. "How dare you mention that, you bastard?" People stopped eating and stared. "Do you have any idea what you did to me?" To his credit, he didn't even seem to notice the people. He was on his feet, too.
"You never gave me a chance to explain!"
"Some people do their explaining before they take the step you did!"
"I only did it because I loved you!"
The words rang out, effectively silencing everyone, including me. They echoed through my head. Loved you, loved you, loved you. I heard it over and over again.
I stepped forward and brought my fist around and sucker-punched him, hard. I was quite a bit stronger than I used to be, and he wasn't expecting it. With a surprised "oof" he fell over and I was on him in a second.
"You bloody bastard!" I screamed. "You liar!" I was pounding on his face, sobbing in rage and frustration. I wasn't pulling my punches, either. I got one more good sock right into his eye before he grabbed my wrist and twisted it behind my back. "You bitch..." he said.
I didn't know what he was going to do next, but he never got a chance to. The knights were on me and lifted me bodily off him. My hood had come down, and my hair was loose around my face. I noticed more than a few admiring looks in the company. I turned and kicked the ankle of the knight closest to me. He dropped my arm and grabbed his leg.
"Let me go!" I yelled. Nothing doing, though. Tiradon was standing up, wiping blood away from his nose. His eye was already turning black and blue.
Surprisingly, he grinned. "Still as feisty as ever, I see? Tell me what would you do if they let you go?"
"I would break your face!" I was twisting and turning, desperately trying to loose their grip.
"Let her go," he said.
The knights looked at each other and then at him. "But, sir..."
"Do you really think she can break my face? Let her go and let her vent her rage."
They let me go, and I stepped forward. I kept my eyes fixed on his face, cocked my fist...and kicked him, hard, right between the legs. He went down instantly. The knights grabbed my arms again, but I was calm now and let them.
He looked up at me, face pale. "That was unfair."
"You deserved it for telling that lie about love."
"It wasn't a lie...I meant it." He lay, curled up for a few more minutes before he painfully got to his feet. He strode toward me.
"Lady Elenia." He bowed. His voice was grating. "Perhaps we could continue this in the privacy of my tent?"
I blinked in surprise. I had just kicked him...well, you know where...and he still wanted to talk? I nodded, slowly. The knights let go of me, cautiously.
I shook my head. "No, after you." He nodded. The knights looked at him questioningly, and he nodded. He limped painfully into his tent, and I followed him.
He turned once he was in and I let the flap drop. He sat down carefully.
"Please, sit down." I did so.
"Elenia." I started to open my mouth and he cut me off. "Shut up."
I blinked, and sat there sullenly.
"You never let me talk. Not once. I listened to you. Now you shut up and let me talk.
"What I did was cruel, Elenia. I know what I did to you. You were young and innocent and not ready to deal with it."
"I also know you haven't spoken to Jenna since then." I looked up, and he nodded. "I've been getting a few letters from her, wondering what happened to you. She's very worried."
"What did you say to her?"
"Nothing, except that you had left." I nodded.
He walked over and sat down on the floor of the tent in front of me. Without touching me, he looked into my face. I raised my eyes to look at him.
"I meant what I said out there, Elenia."
My mouth twisted in a sardonic smile. But before I could answer he put his hand up.
"I loved you, my dear. Not only that, but I still love you now." I looked quickly up, but I could see no deception.
"I went about it the wrong way. I was stupid, and ignorant. I even thought about getting married again to forget about you, but I couldn't. Here, wait."
He reached into his shirt, and withdrew a chain with a tiny ring on it. I recognized it as one my own. I had been missing it for some time and hadn't thought to connect it with his home.
"I wanted to be with you. I moped around the house when you left. My father finally couldn't stand it anymore, and told me if I wanted to earn you back I should go do something to earn your trust. So I joined the Knights of the Rose.
"It seemed I had an affinity for it. They made me captain of an itinerant band of knights. I looked for you all the time."
I looked up at him, tears in my eyes. "I almost loved you too, you know." His eyes softened. "I was fascinated by you. But you were so cruel to me."
"Can't we make it better?" he whispered. "Won't you let me try?"
I turned my face. "I-I don't know. I need time to think about it."
His face fell, and it truly seemed as though his world were crumbling. In a broken voice he whispered, "Don't make me wait too long, OK?"
I looked up at him. I remembered the handsome youth that had made me feel so beautiful. I remembered the lover that had made me cry out in agony and ecstasy. And I remembered the devil he had seemed the next day.
Here then was another facet to be added to this man. If his feelings were real, if he was truly capable of love, then he could not be the monster I had made him out to be.
I didn't know if I was ready to face that, though. I stood up slowly, and walked toward the flap. At the door I turned back, and said softly, "You should put some ice on that eye. It's going to swell up."
And I left the tent.
Outside everyone was deliberately looking away. I went back to my tent, called Jasper, and hugged him tightly with the tent flap tightly closed. The tears fell from my eyes all night but I made no sound.
Two days later we confronted the dragon. The fight was long and arduous. Two knights died, and Tiradon was badly hurt. Not fatal, but enough to send him home to his keep for a long time. They were discussing who was going to take him home, when I stepped forward.
"I will take him home."
Kalina looked shocked. "You, Elenia? But..."
I interrupted her. "He and I have some things to talk about. Please."
They hesitated, then nodded. He was loaded onto a griffon, as well as my things and Jasper. I sat near him.
He had had a leg broken, and had numerous cuts and scratches, as well as a long burn across his back. I sat next to him on the griffon as it took off. He fell asleep almost immediately, so I thought about what I was doing and where I was going.
I slipped my hand gently into his. It clasped mine tightly.
We arrived at his keep in the late night. I awoke the servants to help unload him. They carried him up, grimacing with the pain. I had them undress him down to his shorts, and bring me medicine and bandages. Then I dismissed them.
I washed his wounds tenderly. He had more scars on his body then I remembered. The tiny ring around his neck glinted in the moonlight. It was the only decoration he wore. He had fallen asleep, so I put medicine on and bandaged him.
I laid my head gently on his chest, and closed my eyes. After a few minutes I heard him resume his soft breathing. Soon I fell asleep myself.
I woke up to a hand gently stroking my hair. I opened my eyes and looked straight into his.
"Good morning," he whispered softly. "I was surprised to see you here."
I shrugged. "I don't know why I stayed."
"Did you take care of me?"
I lifted my head off his chest and considered. "Because you needed healing."
He stroked my cheek. "Why did you come back with me, Elenia?"
I ran my hand lightly across his chest, noting with interest the sharp intake of his breath. "Can I ask you a question first?"
He nodded. "Of course."
I scraped my nails back across his chest. Very softly, I said, "Do I really affect you this much?"
For an answer, he put his hand over mine and drew it to his heart. I could feel it pounding underneath his skin. His skin was cool to the touch, and his hand was a little trembly.
He whispered it. "Because I love you."
"Your turn," he said.
I nodded. "Why did I come back with you, Tiradon? There's a lot of reasons, not the least being that I feel guilty you got hurt—that maybe your mind was on me rather than the fight.
"I have to tell you -- I was wrong, too. It wasn't all your fault. I just got scared.
"But most of all, I came back because...whether I hate you or...not...no other man has ever made me feel the things you make me feel. I don't know what love is, Tiradon. But I know I feel very strongly about you."
He sat up, painfully. "Does that mean you'll let me try to win you?"
I hesitated, then nodded.
The change in him was perceptible. His whole body relaxed. "Then at least let me fix one thing."
He lifted my chin, and pressed his lips to mine. My whole body tensed, and at first I had to fight the urge to push him away. But he was infinitely tender, and I relented.
He kissed me so sweetly; I couldn't help but enjoy. I held him gently, mindful of his injuries. He put his arms around me, and held me tightly.
"Shh..." he said. "I've been missing this and worrying for so long I would never experience it again. I love you, Elenia. I promise to do better by you."
I hesitantly lay down next to him again, my head on his chest. I didn't know what was in store for us. I knew I had to see Jenna again. Why, she was almost 20!
Without thinking about it, my hand strayed down his chest, to his belly. My fingers lightly caressed him. I turned my head to see him watching intently. My fingers stroked across his waistband and he caught my hand.
He looked at me questioningly. I hesitated, then twisted my hand out of his grip. "Shh," I whispered.
I slid my hand back down and lifted his waistband. I slipped my hand in, keeping my eyes locked on his. I found him easily, he was hard, and I curled my fingers around him. He groaned.
"I want you to know something, Elenia."
I looked at him questioningly.
"I haven't been with any other woman since you left me. I swear it. And you know I don't lie to you." I nodded, and whispered, "I haven't let any man near me, Tiradon. I didn't trust anyone." He looked pained. "I'm sorry I did that to you, my love."
I gently freed him from his shorts. I sat up, and looked down into his face. I realized that I did care for him a great deal. I didn't know if he was truly the man for me, but I knew he would try hard to be. And I could not deny I had enjoyed the one night we had.
With these thoughts in my head, I bent over and took him in my mouth.
He moaned in surprise. I slid my mouth down the length of him, then back up and off. He was huge, and it was difficult, but I wanted to.