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Rated: ASR · Serial · Fantasy · #813208
"He realized she was taut beneath his touch and his kiss" Set in Forgotten Realms
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Nine years later...

The folded parchment scrap felt like it would melt in his hand if he didn’t give it to her soon. His heart pounded as he crossed the frozen courtyard where the monks would practice. There she was, making scraping war on a wooden dummy. By Ilmater’s wounds, she was so pretty.

Benge crept behind the furious form. She had not broken the dummy yet, but he didn’t want to think about what it would look like if it were a real person. A stinking, theiving goblin, yes, but not a person. He tried to keep his two handaxes silent at his sides as he approached, but he doubted she had heard him even though he had been noisy coming up.

In one determined fist, he held the carefully folded words. He didn’t know if she had really gotten the last two he had left for her. He had wanted them to surprise her, pushing one under the door of the room she and her mother, Sister May, shared after dark and the other boldly slipped into her favorite tome in the library, The Nature of Fiends and their Slaying.

His stomach had ached all that week. He put so much work, so much feeling, into what he’d written to her. Queens would have swooned at his words. No bard he’d ever heard had equaled his mastery of expression.

But she did nothing.

She did not even see him. He watched all week as she continued through her routine, as if nothing was different in all the world.

But the world was different: Benge loved Lanka. And she was going to know it.

Lanka finally calmed herself. She didn’t remember why she had been so mad, why she was always mad. But it didn’t matter now, something had paid the price. She looked down at her hands, bloody from clawing the wooden dummy. Mother would remove the splinters and they would be healed. Lanka gnashed her teeth at the thought of having to share with her mother why she had bloodied herself again. She was always pressing; she always needed to know why Lanka did every little thing. Lanka just didn’t know, and she didn’t care. She swiped at the dummy again across its stupid, mute face.

Lanka turned to see one of the young boys running away across the courtyard. Lanka grinned, something primal in her taking pleasure in his fleeing. Then she saw the folded parchment on the snowy ground. As she read its short lines, the girl put her claws through the damp paper.

“Dear Lanka, In case you did not get my other leters, I want you to know I love you. Your the prettyest girl in the whole monestarey. Please meet me behind the big oak tree after dinner tomorow. I love you. Your seacrit admiror.”


The trembling boy waited behind the snow-cloaked oak tree. It was getting colder, but somehow Benge felt hot. He wondered for a moment what he was going to do if she did come this time. Could he really sweep her from her feet and coo to her all those things great heroes would say? Could he stand it if she never came?

But there she was! He was sure it was her. No other raven-haired form could step with such resolve, such grace. She was like an elf maiden, but an elf maiden with strength and force. There was no one else like her anywhere ever. Mother Prina had said so, and Benge knew it in his heart.

The devil-spawn of the Monastery of the Yellow Rose stamped through the snow toward the tree. Benge scrambled to his feet as she came close. Her blue eyes burned into him, her hot breath shot out into the dimming air in beautiful clouds. Benge could hardly breathe; this was as close as he had ever been to her.

He looked down and saw his note in her hand. No, all three notes! She had gotten them! Perhaps she could only now come to see him. His heart knocked in his chest like a flailhead. She had come to see him. She had read the letters. She already knew what he was thinking. Excitedly, he rushed his hands onto her shoulders and kissed the lips of his beloved.

Clasping her in his grip and shivering, Benge could not believe his position. Then he realized she was taut beneath his touch and his kiss. Maybe she’s as surprised as I am? he thought.

The girl then burst into motion. Her clawed hands snapped out between them, ramming him back. She saw his stupid face twist in shock as he lost his footing in the snow, allowing himself to fall foolishly into the tree. She heard a sharp snap as she turned away from the boy and ran back toward the temple. Lanka wanted to laugh at the idiot boy who made himself look so stupid. She did not try to understand why she shed tears as she ran away and chose not to think about it ever again.

Benge held his broken arm as he tried desperately not to cry. Despite the pain, he quickly contructed a lie about falling from the tree as he limped through the snow; he couldn’t dare let Lanka get into trouble. She was a special girl, just as her mother, Sister May, had said. He still needed to tell her just how special he thought she was, and, Ilmater preserve him, he was going to do that no matter the pain.

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