Prophecy's Child: Cold Winds
- --by Gospel Lightfaith
Author's Note: A year has passed since "Endless Horizons" and "Cold Winds". During this time, Gospel Lightfaith was quietly betrothed to an upstanding paladin named Rheyl Veracus. Yet, shortly after their engagement, Rheyl disappeared without so much as a word, leaving Gospel behind in bewilderment. The young paladin threw herself into her work, becoming more withdrawn, so recluse did she become that rumors of her death soon circulated on Stormwind's streets. Yet, there was one who held hope, one who stood waiting like a beacon to light the way through the Darkness...
Chapter One: Guardian in the Night
Menethil Harbor: 2:00am
Gospel lay in bed, staring at the hardwood ceiling of her room in Menethil, to her right, Rheyl was breathing slow and steadily, enveloped in his dreams. Had he really spent all this time, the better part of a year, simply to fetch her a ring? Part of her couldn't help but wonder. She ran a hand over her silvery hair, sitting up in bed, though making sure not to disturb Rheyl in his slumbers. She rose from the bed, moving to the window that overlooked the harbor. She placed her hand against it, looking out over the night-darkened sea as a heavy sigh escaped her.
For two years, she'd wanted nothing more than a symbol of Rheyl's affection, some outward sign that he cared for her and truly did want to marry her. For nearly a year he was gone and upon his return, he came bearing the ring for no other reason than to 'return the favor'. Almost a year apart, and he'd shown her all the affection of a lamp-post. She pressed her forehead against the cold glass, closing her eyes tightly against the tears welling in her eyes. She shook her head, gathering her cloak from the back of her chair, she swept it around her as she walked out of the room and out of the inn.
The sea-born zephyrs played around her, whipping the cloak about her lithe form as she walked along the docks. Everything was silent, save the gentle creak of the wood as it was caressed by the waves. Her bare feet made hardly a sound as she walked to the end of the dock, where the ship from Auberdine was usually expected. She stood there a long while, simply letting herself be caressed by the wind and allowing the sounds of the sea to soothe her restless soul. She regarded the cold, round orb of the moon, her heart-shaped face pale as alabaster in its light.
"Is this what you want for me?" she murmured quietly, "This life of lonliness and sorrow?" She pushed back the cowl of her cloak, the moon's light shimmering through the silver strands of her hair, giving her an almost ethereal look, "I refuse to believe that, even of you. I deserve to be happy, don't I...?"
She gathered her cloak about her as she paced back along the dock, then continued along the shoreline. She closed her eyes, breathing in the salty sea air as she reached to a thin silver chain at her neck. Suspended from it was a small black gem with a crack down it's center. She caressed it gently with her fingertips as she raised her dark green eyes to the moon overhead. A single tear slipped unheeded down her cheek as she breathed a single word. A single name.
She looked over her shoulder, her cloak ebbing around her, her eyes wide in disbelief, even as her brows knit together in confusion. He stood there in his resplendent glory, the moonlight shimmering off his plate armor, his blue eyes regarding her with such love and concern. She compressed her lips into a thin line, half-turning even as she reached out to him with her right hand, "It can't be..." she whispered.
He took her hand in both of his own, his mail gauntlets strangely warm to the touch, "Yes, it can," his eyes fell to the Black Diamond at her throat, "You called me..."
"Immortis!" she said with a heartbroken sob, leaping forward to wrap her arms around the paladin. He eveloped her in his embrace, his arms around her tight and protective as he caressed her silver hair with his left hand.
"Oh Gospel..." he murmured, his voice touched with sorrow, "What has he done to you?" His lips grazed along her hairline as he spoke before he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. He closed his eyes, pressing his cheek to her head as he held her all the more tightly.
"Nothing..." Gospel replied, "I gave him my heart, my love, I even offered to marry him... and I've gotten nothing in return..." She kept her eyes closed, taking comfort in Immortis' strange warmth as it wrapped her in a coccoon of solace.
"Oh, my angel..." he breathed, reaching down, he touched his fingers to her chin, turning her tear-streaked face up to his, "How he doesn't deserve you..." With that, Immortis pulled her to him, pressing his lips to hers in a gently passionate kiss. Gospel blinked a moment in surprise, but in the next she melted against him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders as she kissed him in return. It seemed as if the kiss would last a lifetime, but in a few heartbeats he pulled away, "My love..."
Gospel looked up at him, all the love she'd left unspoken shimmering in her pale green eyes, "My heart...?" Immortis reached down, caressing her silver hair, letting it slip slowly from his fingers, "Vivian needs your help first, dear one," he said, "And for that, I will lend you my strength." He kissed her forehead again, but this time it burned with an unnatural warmth sending a thread of fire thrilling through her veins. She looked up at him, her green eyes blazing with Power, "But..." she began.
He placed a finger to her lips, "Shh, we'll be together soon, but this you must do first. When you are ready, seek me in Northrend..." He stepped around her, looking back over his shoulder at her, "Remember that, Gospel. Northrend."
"Immortis...? Immortis, wait!" she cried, extending a hand toward him. She was suddenly blinded by the light of the rising sun glancing off the water as it rose over the horizon, "Immortis!"
Menethil Harbor, 6:00am
Gospel sat up in bed, gasping against the aching pain in her heart, she looked around herself wildly a moment before slowly coming to the realization...
"A dream..." she murmured, "Nothing more than a dream..." She sighed, disheartened, as she hugged her knees to her chest, pressing her face against them. A knock sounded on the door, and the chamber maid called out, "Lady Gospel? Ye asked fer a wakin', I 'ope I'm not disturbin' ye..."
"No," she replied, glancing to the still-slumbering Rheyl, "Not at all." With that, she rose and began her day. She washed her face briefly in the tepid water in the wash basin, then dressed with the quick efficiency of an old campaigner. She pulled open the door to see the serving maid still standing there, so she glanced back to Rheyl on the bed, "See to it he's not disturbed, he's had a long, difficult journey, it seems..." The maid curtsied, "As you say, Lady Gospel."
Gathering her cloak once more, Gospel left Rheyl to his dreams and hailed the gryphonmaster for a ride to Stormwind.
Chapter Two: Ray of Light
Stormwind City, 7:00pm
Her search in the library had been exhaustive; she'd spent hours upon hours poring over antiquated tomes with the librarian trying to find some clue, some small fragment that would tell her where they'd taken Vivian. She passed her hand over her light-wearied eyes, the pages of the book on the table blurring in her vision. A hand on her shoulder pulled her attention away as she looked up at the weary face of the librarian, "It's already well past sunset, Lady Gospel, I think it is time you rested your search for now." The man's demeanor and face were kindly enough, but Gospel realized she'd probably more than overstayed her welcome, if it were past sundown.
She rose to her feet, nodding, "Thank you, I'm sorry to have kept you," she picked up the book from the table, "I'll be taking this one, but I'll return it in the morning." The librarian nodded his ascent, noting her name in a large book near the doorway and which book she was removing. She bowed her head in gratitude again before departing, sighing a bit in weariness.
She'd been in Stormwind since that morning, but had yet to pay her respects at the Cathedral. As little comfort as the place brought her these days, she supposed she should at least keep up appearances. She mounted her warsteed as the stableboy held the reins, which he then passed up to her, "Pleasant evening, Lady Gospel," he said cheerfully.
A pleasant evening. How long had it been since she'd had one of those? She couldn't genuinely remember; only nights spent fighting for her life or healing those around her. She couldn't even remember the last time she'd truly laughed... Spirit flicked his ears backward upon hearing her forlorn sigh, the faithful battlecharger nickering as he nudged his mistress' knee with his nose. She smiled faintly, patting his proudly arched neck, "I know, boy, time changes all things," she mused aloud.
Her awareness was brought back to the present as Spirit stopped before the Cathedral. She looked up at the tall edifice, wondering when it had taken on such a feeling of emptiness, or perhaps it was her own emptiness she felt, whenever she walked its hallowed halls. Somehow, she didn't feel right here anymore, she hadn't for quite some time.
"Now there's a face I've not seen in a long time," a voice interrupted her reverie. It seemed familiar, something whispered, flitting at the edges of her consciousness. Familiar. She looked over her shoulder, her eyes alighting on the paladin behind her, resplendent in his gold and black enameled armor.
Corran. Memories surged through her; drinks at the Jester, idle conversation in the Trade District, many evenings spent in his company. Courteous, gallant, yet filled with a gentle warmth for those who could see beyond the battle-worn exterior.
Gospel smiled, nodding her head his direction, "A long time, indeed, Master Corran..."
His usually stoic countenance broke into a smile in return, "I'm glad to see that you are alive and well." He nudged his wartiger forward, the great beast padding forward, even as Gospel turned Spirit toward him, closing the gap between them.
"Likewise, to be sure," Gospel replied, "It is good to see a friendly face again, I see so few of them these days." This much was true, the past few times she'd been to the city, she'd found hardly anyone at all. Not even old enemies. Just hundreds of unfamiliar faces; it made coming home all the harder, to not even be welcomed with a single smile.
Corran nodded his agreement, "Yes, it is, especially a face as friendly and fair as yours, Lady Gospel."
She blushed pleasantly at his compliment before reaching out to place a hand on the gilded surface of his shoulderplate. The metal was strangely warm beneath her fingertips it made her feel oddly welcome and at ease, "Truly, it is good to see you, Corran..."
He looked to her hand on his shoulder, his hands tightening around the reins of his battlecat, "It makes me wonder where you've been all this time." He looked up at her, his eyes seeming to search her face for the answer. Gospel caught and held his gaze a moment before she lowered her own eyes.
"If you're ever bored some night, perhaps I'll regale you with the tale; I'm afraid it would be a long time in telling." A long and unbelievable story, indeed, not many understood her journey, and fewer still ever believed in it. She wasn't even sure she did anymore. It's like it happened a lifetime ago, to some other person.
Corran reached out, placing his gauntleted hand over hers on Spirit's reins, "Well, I have some time now, I'd like very much to hear about it all, perhaps over a drink?" She regarded his hand quietly a moment. I shouldn't. Rheyl wouldn't like it. I should go home...
... but I'm so lonely.
She looked up at Corran, her eyes meeting his as a smile once again crossed her lips, "Well, if you have the time, I suppose I can tell you the tale."
He beamed at her, "Excellent!" With that, he pulled his hand away and they both steered their mounts toward The Park.
Stormwind City, The Park, 9:00pm
Corran and Gospel sat in Calithos' bar, though, amusingly, neither of them could recall if it had an actual name. Cal greeted them pleasantly enough between yelling and chasing a young rogue off his bartop. Gospel settled into a chair with a cold mug of cider in her hands as Corran unslung his greatsword to set it aside. She watched him in mild amusement as he settled comfortably into the chair in full plate armor, she shook her head, "I don't see how you do that, I never could."
"Years of practice," he grinned. He took a drink of the dark ale he'd gotten from Calithos, turning his eyes toward her, "So, drinks... now a story."
Gospel nodded, "I suppose it all started the night after I conducted the wedding of Dasri and Zylvia..."
With both Calithos and Corran listening, Gospel told them of her adventures in the Maelstrom, of the loss of the Prophecy, and later of the loss of Vivian. She hadn't meant for the subject to come up, but eventually, she found herself talking about her engagement with Rheyl. She spoke of how distant he was, how he'd always been, if she were honest with herself. To her, it seemed to take a lifetime, but the telling, in reality, only took an hour or so, "... I suppose it's not that long a tale, after all," she finished lamely.
"I'm sorry that you've been through so much, Lady Gospel," Corran said, setting his ale mug off to one side, "To treat one as you so coldly..." the paladin shook his head, "If it were done properly, you would still be reeling from the affects of his return home..."
Calithos burst into laughter behind the bar, Corran chuckled impishly. Gospel looked at them both, smiling wryly as she shook her head, "You are both incorrigible."
"I've known Rheyl for a long time," Calithos observed, "And yeah, he's always been kind of distant, untouchable... but his conduct with you is cold, even for him." The priest scratched at his chin, "Maybe I need to give him some lessons on how to properly treat a woman..." Gospel looked up in alarm, not really thinking Rheyl would take too kindly to attempts at being 'taught'. Fortunately, Calithos was distracted well enough by his own wife, Remia, walking behind the bar.
"Failing that," Corran interjected,"There are plenty of fish in the sea, Gospel. Some of them might even be paladins, like yourself," he took a drink of his ale with what sounded like a sigh, "Ah, to be twenty years younger..."
she smiled at Corran, "Well, I don't seem to have much luck with paladins; Immortis, Darthal, now Rheyl? It seems to be ill-fated," she absently turned her cider mug around between her hands, swirling the contents, "But you don't look a day over thirty, in any case!"
The discussion would have continued, were it not for a cat making some great racket down in the basement, which caused Calithos and Remia to run downstairs to set things to rights. Gospel took this as a sign to make good her escape, lest Calithos offer to give Rheyl some hands-on training or something just as out of the question. She rose to her feet, setting a few extra silvers beside the empty glass on the table. Corran looked up at her, "Turning in for the night?" he asked.
"Oh no," she replied, "I think I just need to go outside for some air." She smiled at him and waved her good-byes to Calithos and Remia, who bid her farewell and mentioned how much they'd like for her to return. Promising she would, Gospel turned and went out the door.
The night air was cool against her skin, the Park's green and growing things filling the air with their fragrance. She took a deep breath of the air, closing her eyes a moment as she let everything just fall away. No worries, no troubles... just for a moment.
"I was glad to have come across you, Gospel," Corran's voice came from behind her, even as he stepped up beside her, regarding the stars overhead, "Ever since the Dark Portal opened, I'd worried for you. No matter how hard I looked; no orders, no missions, no briefings even mentioned you."
Gospel turned her head, her silver hair falling to frame her face as she regarded the older paladin curiously, "Worried...? About me?" Her heart skipped a beat, but she quickly gave herself a mental shake.
Corran nodded simply, lowering his gaze to the grassy lawn beneath the ledge, "I'd lost so many people I cared about in the Outlands," he looked up at her, "I didn't want to lose you, too."
Her breath caught in her throat as she looked anywhere but at him, "Corran..." It's not what you think, don't overreact. It's just friendly concern...! Instead, she calmly replied, "Well, thank you..."
He arched a brow, "For...?"
She drew a deep breath, only to let it out in a sigh, "I'd almost forgotten what it felt like for someone to say they were worried about me... that they cared..."
The older paladin reached out with a gauntleted hand, placing it to her cheek. Again, the metal was strangely warm, "I've cared, Gospel, for a long time. The time just never felt right to tell you..."
She placed her hands over his, her green eyes meeting his, "And the time is right now?"
Corran sighed, lowering his hand as he clenched it into a fist, "No, not when I might cause a lover's quarrel, but I don't want to go the rest of my life without telling you how I've felt."
Gospel's fingertips brushed over her cheek where the night wind was already cooling the warmth left by his touch, "To cause a lover's quarrel, Corran, one would first have to be a lover, which I am not, and to quarrel would require the other party being present, which he rarely is."
Corran tugged at his gauntlets, regarding the grass yet again, "Then that leaves me no other real options," he mused, "except to fight him."
Stunned at this announcement, she could only momentarily stare at him in disbelief. In a matter of heartbeats, she found her voice, "Corran, no, I can't let you do that! What if he hurts you?"
The paladin shrugged his shoulders confidently, "If he does, he won't escape unscathed," he looked at her, his eyes filled with the strength of his feelings, "There are some things in this life worth fighting for... and you're one of them," he shifted the greatsword on his back, an amused grin crossing his features, "Besides, you'll be there to heal me."
Gospel placed a hand on his cheek, her eyes filled with concern, "I haven't even done anything to deserve such loyalty."
He reached out, tendering grasping her chin in his fingers, holding her gaze with his own, "You did," he said quietly, "You came back." The two of them stood together, heedless of the world around them, until Corran broke the silence again, "If Rheyl is as cold as he seems, he may not even care, so all this worry is for naught."
Gospel pulled her chin out of his touch, looking to the ground, an overwhelming sense of guilt filling her heart, "I don't know what he would do, to be honest..." But Corran was not easily dissuaded, he reached out, grasping her hand in his own, "Then we'll cross that bridge when it comes, Gospel."
Menethil Harbor, Midnight
Gospel entered her room in Menethil, firstly making sure that Rheyl was not in it. Assured that she was safe and alone, she bolted the door shut, pressing her back to it as she closed her eyes tightly. Light! Why do I always get caught in this venemous trap? Is my heart really so fickle? She let out a sigh that was half a sob, covering her eyes with a hand.
Is it really so wrong to want to feel loved? Love that goes beyond mere words? she thought to herself as she paced across the room to the bureau. Absently, she picked up the brush, stroking it through her hair to release what few tangles had mussed it on the gryphon ride from Stormwind. She looked at her reflection in the mirror as she continued smoothing out her hair. I look tired, and I'm not even thirty yet. Eyes that have seen too much pain and anguish. A spirit that bears too many scars. I just want peace now and love, but it seems like I'm doomed never to have either.
Immortis. Darthal. Rheyl. And now Corran. All paladins, all men of sworn faith to the Light, and, except for Corran, all men who had broken her heart in some form or fashion. Was she truly as ill-fated with them as it sometimes felt? She set the brush aside, placing her elbows on the bureau she buried her face in her hands.
"What do I do now...?" she whispered, feeling all the more lost and alone as ever.
Chapter Three: Prayers by Shadow
Stormwind City, The Cathedral -- 8:00am
The soft, sibilant hiss of robes of a variety of materials swishing across the marbled floors were all that greeted the ears at this hour as the acolytes and brethren of the Cathedral of Light went about their morning business. The morning light shone in the many windows, sending scattered fragments of colored light dancing across the walls and floor. Many who came here this early were both comforted and cheered by this, but the effect was lost on one this morning. Off in a small, candle-lit prayer alcove a lone paladin knelt in the shadows. Her silver hair fell in a smooth line down to her shoulders, one side falling in a feathery curve down her right cheek. The flickering shadows cast by the candles playing about her face amidst the amber glow. Yet, her eyes were closed, her lips moving in a nearly inaudible prayer.
"Light, please, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."
Serenity. Gospel opened her eyes, staring into the candleflames, searching the waving blue flicker at its very heart. Almost as if, within that blue-white flame, she could find the answers she needed from her own. She rested her hands on her upraised knee, one absently brushing the back of the other, almost as if she could feel the ghostly touch of Corran's lips on her skin again. She had very nearly resigned herself to the distant, almost professional, relationship she'd come to foster with Rheyl and in so doing, had nearly forgotten how pleasant real affection could be. It seeped into the cold and reserved places of her forlorn spirit, bringing a sense of warmth and comfort.
Courage. Gospel rested her forehead against her knee, her face hidden in the halo of her arms. Could she continue live this loveless existence with Rheyl? Was she willing to wait another series of years for him to finally open his heart to her? She'd fought marauding bands of the Scourge; battled for her life against a Prophecy that wanted to end it; hundreds of battles fought with her courage shining like a beacon to all those around her. Yet, when it came to the matter of her own heart... did she have that kind of courage?
She lifted her head again, once more regarding the flickering candlelight. The amber glow weaved in her vision, but she saw not the flame, instead she saw the golden hair and welcome eyes of Corran. He cared for her, that much was plain and something he took no efforts to hide. She held him in high regard, that much was true and she cared for him in return, but could she sacrifice two years of her life for him?
Two years of what? her conscience twinged, Two years of a love that was more dutiful than passionate? Two years of being held at arm's length, never getting any closer than to be held briefly in his arms before he walks away?
She looked back upon the day of Rheyl's return, turning the memory of it over and over in her mind like a faceted crystal. She'd been shocked to see him standing there so calmly after having been gone for nearly a year, the day after Vivian's disappearance. Compounded with her grief and regret at her failure to protect the young priestess, Gospel admitted she'd reacted badly. Even in spite of that, however, he offered her little to no comfort, merely cold accusations that she was making it all up. That had left her feeling chilled to the very core of her soul.
Then he'd presented her with the engagement ring she'd waited two long years to receive, but the words that came with it spoke of how little love it actually came with. He spoke of it as if it were nothing more than something to barter with, as if he were doing nothing more than returning the favor. He'd said it was a token of his devotion, but never had words of devotion been so devoid of any actual warmth or feeling. When she could only stare at the ring in disbelief, Rheyl pocketed it saying that perhaps it had been a mistake to begin with. Had her will been weaker, Gospel might have collapsed right then from the anguish, but she was too proud for that, so she'd wept instead.
Even then, his comfort was dry, platonic like she were some stranger crying on a street corner. It just put more stress on the already fragmented crevices of her breaking heart. Yet, no matter how she tried to distance herself from him, he would not leave her. Even when they were alone in her room in Menethil, nothing. Nothing!
Gospel was suddenly aware that she was sobbing quietly in the prayer alcove, one of the Brethren standing off to one side behind her as he offered her a handkerchief, "I'm sorry, Lady Paladin, I could not help but overhear your weeping," he said politely, "You seem to bear a heavy burden."
She looked up at the kindly man, accepting his kerchief with a wavering smile. She dabbed at her eyes and cheeks before drawing a deep breath of composure. She passed the kerchief back to the priest as she rose to her feet, "I'm sorry if I disturbed you, Brother," she said, "But thank you."
"Perhaps, my lady, you could tell me what the matter is? I doubt I am as worlds-wise as you, but it may be that I could still give you an answer your noble spirit seems to crave," the priest offered.
Gospel blushed slightly, more discomfitted by the fact that she'd been so obviously read, than by the nature of the matter itself, "It is nothing, truly, Brother, merely a matter of the heart that is torn betwixt two good and noble men."
The brother smiles, "Ah, I see, well, it is understandable for so beautiful a lady to be so coveted. The only thing I can tell you, my lady, is that the heart won't lie. It knows where it belongs and will tell you so; where it feels warm, welcome, and comforted. Where it has no fear and no pain." He folded his kerchief, tucking it in a pocket of his robe, "Love, my lady, will always make your spirit soar," he looked to the alcove behind her, where the candles were guttering out one by one, "Not make you pray in shadows."
Chapter Four: Games of the Heart
Stormwind City, The Park -- 8:00pm
Her knees were drawn up into a makeshift desk, the fingers of her right hand stained with ink, as she kept a small bit of parchment pinned against her legs. Her face was a mask of thoughtful concentration, the pen in her hand moving with neat concise strokes. For all that she seemed calm and at ease, the writing on the page told a far different story.
I cannot begin to say how much it grieves me that I simply do not love Rheyl as I once did. Over these past two years, I have done my best to love him, be devoted to him, to be his equal in all things... Only to have him return them in the form of ash. Sometimes I wonder if he is truly capable of bringing me into his heart, or if I am doomed to live forever as this empty husk that stands devotedly by his side.
Why do I stay? A wiser woman would have left long before now; what hold does he have over me that I feel obligated to remain when all others would have left? He does not need me, as he has shown this past year; I don't think he truly needs anyone. I'm little more than a tourney trophy, to sit at home on the mantle gathering dust until such a time as he needs to show me off to his colleagues.
A year ago, that realization must have hurt, but it didn't now. It just left her feeling somewhat cold and empty inside. She closed her eyes, trying to make the ache in her heart subside, but a sudden commotion in the moonwell caused her to look up.
A periwinkle-haired gnome floundered around in the water a moment before finally sitting in the shallows; the cheerful little face looking altogether miserable. It dawned on the paladin that she knew this waterlogged gnome, so she smiled, folding the parchment in half and setting it aside, "Are you quite all right, Purloin?"
The diminutive rogue slicked back her wet hair, blinking blearily in the moonlight, "Lady Gospel, is that you?" Purloin dog-paddled her way across the moonwell, "Sorry if I'm offending any Gods with this or anything..." she mumbled as an afterthought. Once she reached the other side, Gospel reached down a hand and helped her out, smiling a bit as the gnome flopped on the stone, putting a hand to her head with a groan.
"I don't know what I did last night," Purry groaned, "But I never want to do it again." Gospel regarded the gnome sympathetically, but glad for something to distract her from her dreary thoughts. She walked on her knees to get closer to the bedraggled rogue, "Let me see if I can do something to help. Please, hold still."
Ever-trusting of the lady paladin, Purloin held as still as her inebriated form would allow. She wobbled back and forth as Gospel placed a cool hand against her forehead, pushing her hair back until the paladin's hand rested on her crown. She could hear Gospel's slow breath, and the softly murmured words, "Light, heed my call, you who are my Master..." The little gnome could feel a pulsating warmth flow through her, even as a soft glow emanated around her, stemming from the paladin's hand on her head.
Purloin winced a bit at the sudden light, but when it was over she felt worlds better. She heaved a sigh of relief, flopping over on her back as she looked up at the silver-haired paladin, "Thank you, Lady Gospel!"
The young woman smiled, turning slightly to pick up her quill and paper once more, looking at the words contemplatively. Purloin tried to peer over the edge of the page, "What'cha writing?"
"Just trying to organize my thoughts about...certain things," Gospel provided evasively. The little gnome, however, was not fooled; she grabbed her own feet, rocking back and forth in amusement, "Didn't seem like you needed much organizing last night!" Purloin giggled mischeviously.
The paladin smiled faintly, recalling the events of the evening prior--with Corran. She remembered him in days past, always a pillar of strength and courage, yet, even in those days, she couldn't recall him laughing, not like he had last night. She had to admit, the sound had been music to her ears... the sound of someone enjoying her presence. With a few simple words, he'd made her feel more cherished and valued than Rheyl ever had in two years of their togetherness.
"I know, Purloin," she said at length, breaking her reverie, "Things are just...complicated."
The gnome scoffed, "How complicated can it be? Here, let me give you a little test; it will tell you everything you need to know!" Purry beamed at her brightly, waving her hands expansively.
"This sounds like a trap," Gospel said with an arched brow, "But all right."
"Close your eyes and relax. I'm going to ask you a question and you tell me the answer straight-away. No taking time to think about it, deal?" the little gnome ordered.
Gospel nodded, "Answer straight away. No thinking. I think I got it."
Purry grinned knowingly to herself, "Okay then! What is your favorite color?"
Behind her closed eyes, Gospel could see the cool blue seas at night and answered, "Blue."
"And how old are you?"
"Who has made you laugh and smile more in the last few days than in the last few years?"
Memory came to her; laughing softly at his gentle jesting, his green eyes filled with merriment like an impish schoolboy... She froze, her throat constricting tightly as she was overwhelmed with the feeling of guilt. She opened her eyes, looking at her folded hands in her lap.
"Well?" Purloin insisted, eyeing her, "Saying it aloud won't make any demons pop out and devour your soul, Lady Gospel..." she said kindly, "What is it you paladins always say? 'The truth shall set you free'?"
Gospel closed her eyes, the ache in her heart already subsiding as the truth she held so dear welled up from her noble spirit, "Corran..." she breathed.
Purloin nodded in satisfaction, "And who has treated you with the love and respect you deserve?"
She could almost feel the touch of his lips on the back of her hand again; the warm sound of his voice, filled with concern for her when he'd thought she was lost to him forever, "Corran..."
"Who has shown more care for you in the past few days than in two years of waiting, Lady Gospel?" the little gnome asked finally.
Gospel closed her eyes as the truth welled up from her soul. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it was brilliant and beautiful, setting her heart aflame with its glory. A single tear slipped down her cheek as she opened her eyes to the night-strewn sky, "Corran," she said with assurance. The little gnome looked positively like she was gloating, but she said nothing. Yet, even as Purloin watched, she saw the light in Gospel's eyes die as the shadow of guilt overwhelmed the paladin once more.
"It's so much more complicated than that, Purloin..." She said as she hugged her knees to her chest, resting her chin atop them. Her silver hair was radiant in the moonlight lending her the appearance of calm that the paladin didn't feel in the least, "I've loved Rheyl for so long and only gotten the very rare glimpse into his feelings for me. I've merely understood that he loves me, but..." she sighed, "Just understanding isn't enough anymore. I want more to my life than waiting."
Purloin rose from her place on the stones and leapt upon the paladin, hugging Gospel tightly, "If it's not enough, then it's past time to find something more, isn't it?"
The lady-paladin looked over her shoulder affectionately at the gnome, "You are wise for one so seemingly young, Purloin. Thank you."
Purloin and Gospel adjourned from the moonwell and went to The Laughing Jester to get the gnome something warm to drink and a change of clothes. She obtained a mug of hot cider for Purry and a cold one for herself. They sat exchanging idle pleasantries when they were joined by Alech.
As the warlock took a seat, his fel-fire green eyes alighted on the gnome, "What news, little one?" he insisted.
Purloin grimaced slightly, "Well," she fussed with her cider mug, "My operative said that the document looks like it was written by a stoned-drunk elf...so I guess that's not much help."
Alech made a sound that was half-sigh, half-growl as he folded his arms over his chest; his mouth, the only part of him visible beyond his cowl, twisted in a grimace of annoyance, "I detest this waiting game."
Gospel sipped at the cold cider, her jade eyes looking helplessly at the wooden table, "As do I, Alech, but there is not much we can do until we are called, as Vivian instructed."
The warlock heaved an exasperated sigh, clenching his hand into a fist, "I hate this 'not knowing'; is this an enemy we face, or an ally? Vivian does not seem to be in any danger, but if that is so, why the need to kidnap her like that in the first place?"
"Well, what do all the circumstances have in common?" Purloin asked, taking a small bit of paper out of her pocket and taking notes, "We have elves, elementals..."
"A strange blue cat," Alech interjected.
"...a strange blue cat," Purloin added it to the list, "This is definitely interesting..." she said, flipping the page over and jotting down a series of math equations. "Add one cat, take away one priestess, divide by the number of gophers it takes to dig a trench..."
"Wait," Alech said frowning, "What do gophers have to do with anything?"
Purloin giggled,"Oh, nothing. I just like people to think I'm actually deducing something from all this," she gestured to the random hobble-de-gob of math equations and scribbles, "But I do like a good puzzle."
She looked from the paladin to the warlock and back, "I think it's time I took a vacation." Alech boggled at her, his fel-fire eyes flaring angrily, "A vacation at a time like this?"
"I've always heard Darnassus is nice..." the rogue mused, scribbling on the parchment for her own amusement.
Chapter Five: More to Life
Stormwind City, The Cathedral District, The Cathedral of Light
Scattered pages lay strewn across the oaken desktop, battlemaps intermingled with supplies invoices, and books lay open to dog-eared pages, noting the names of nobility lost in the war efforts. To one side was a sterling silver tea tray upon which was the remnants of a bowl of stew and some harvest bread along with the half-gone contents of a glass of cider. A shadow fell across all these, causing the occupant of the desk to raise her silvered head from her work, "Bertrem, I'd asked that I not be..." she looked up, her voice dying in her throat.
"Disturbing you, am I?" his voice intoned, seeming to echo with a hollowness in the small room.
"Rheyl..." she whispered, placing her hand upon her chest, "I wasn't expecting..."
He waved a hand dismissively, "Yes, I know. So, tell me, how long were you going to wait?" His voice was hard as stone, as his passionless eyes gazed at her, boring into her soul with no remorse.
"I was going to tell you," she murmured, "But you've been gone...again..."
"So the moment I'm away, you go carousing with Corran the Lightsworn?" he sneered, slamming his fist on the table, "I'd expected more out of you, Lady Lightfaith. Or is your vitrue so easily obtained?"
Gospel looked up, her green eyes flaring, "Of course not. Not that you would know, having never attempted to obtain it!"
"Ah," Rheyl said flatly, "So, that's all you wanted?"
"I wanted something more than this right here, Rheyl!" she cried, squeezing her eyes shut against the tears that threatened to spill. It was true, she'd wanted so much more than this, for so long. It was unbearable to love a man who was so callous and cold, giving her only brief glimpses of a happiness that should be hers in every waking moment.
"Why didn't you tell me you'd become so...detached?" He paced to and fro before the desk, the greatsword on his back clanking with every step.
"When, Rheyl?" she said, glaring up at him from the chair as she pressed her palm against the desk, "I've not seen you in the past week and prior to that not the year before. When would I have had the opportunity to tell you?"
He shrugged indifferently, "I don't know. Before now. Before I went to all the trouble..." he placed a hand over a pouch at his belt. Gospel had a feeling she knew what it contained. The day he'd returned he'd brought her the ring he should have given her two years ago. Something he'd later come to term as a mistake. Strangely, thinking on it now did not hurt her as much as it had then. She regarded him with her jade green eyes, I am moving beyond his power to hurt.
"Just go, Rheyl," she said quietly, "Our time is done; it has been done for quite some time." Gospel leaned forward to pick up the battlemap for Northrend, with her head bowed, she never saw the blow coming. The back of Rheyl's plated fist met with her right cheek, and she fell to the floor in a flurry of papers and maps. There was a general outcry among the acolytes that served Gospel as pages, and all she could see were scattered papers and the hems of white robes.
"It was an accident..." she heard Rheyl say quietly, "I'd never hurt her..."
The acolytes stood around her in a protective circle, some of them muttering angrily, "I think you'd better go, Veracus..." said the eldest.
"Gospel..." Rheyl said, his voice anguished, "I didn't..."
Gospel stared numbly at the floor, the papers fluttering idlly amidst the shuffling of the acolytes. There, beneath the map of Northrend, were two rings; one the silver-braided band she'd given to Rheyl the day she'd asked him to marry her, the other the emerald-topped band of gold filigree that Rheyl had brought home from his travels. Gospel looked up, but the acolytes pressed around her, helping her to her feet, "Are you all right, Lady Lightfaith?" one of them inquired in concern.
"Yes," she said quietly. Even softer than that, she added, "Good-bye, Rheyl."
Chapter Six: Little Thief
Menethil Harbor -- 8:00am
Gospel stretched out across the bed into the patch of sunlight that streamed in the window. She sighed as the sun warmed her skin, running a hand through her sleep mussed hair. She closed her eyes, relaxing in the sunlight as a soft smile crossed her features. Her heart felt light within her, the dark and dusty places in her soul filled with light and warmth.
She'd spent the evening previous with Corran; he had been livid with anger when he saw the bruise left on her cheek by Rheyl's gauntlet. Yet, there was such tenderness in his touch when he placed his palm against it, healing it with a small glimmer of his power. After that, he'd taken her away from the city, away from all her worries and they'd watched the sun set together.
It was so many small things that endeared Corran to her, things that she'd never had or seen in any of the proud men she'd had in her life before him. The way his eyes lit up whenever he saw her; how his smile quirked his mouth, but still managed to reach his eyes; the gentle way his sword calloused hands touched her, with such infinte care and concern. She'd known Corran for a long time, longer even than Rheyl. Theirs had been a casual friendship, because at every point in their lives when they'd met, they had had other partners. Yet, Corran had always been there for her, no matter who was a part of her life at that moment in time.
He'd listened, been solicitous and caring of her welfare; always the strong, gentle presence that seemed to watch over her from afar. Time took hold then and she'd disappeared into the Maelstrom for months, only to come back and have the war in the Outlands practically come crashing down around her ears. She'd had no time at all to seek out Corran, though, this entire time, he'd apparently been searching for her.
Fate, as Corran had said, brought them back together again, with an opportunity to have what each of them had sought, but could never find. Last night, in the circle of his arms, Gospel listened as he'd given her all of himself; heart and soul. Of course, he'd called her a thief when he admitted that.
Gospel giggled softly to herself, hugging her pillow to her chest as she relived the memories of that night. A little thief, he'd called her, for stealing the heart of an old man. She scoffed mentally, Corran was anything but old, not that his age mattered to her in the least. He was everything she wanted; warm, caring, a solid presence in her life, ready to laugh with her, or make a fool of himself to make her laugh. To her, his heart was open and he shared his emotions with her readily. She knew, even now, that she would trust him with anything, even her life, if it came to that.
Many of her friends were bemused, that she could fall for a man so quickly, at least to them it seemed quick. As Purloin had pointed out to her the other night by the moonwell, the heart knows where it belongs. Perhaps her heart knew, from the day they'd met long ago, that they were meant to be together. Being with him certainly felt right and brought her an amount of joy she hadn't felt in years.
They'd talked most of the evening, but after the trying day she'd had, Corran gently shoo'ed her off to bed to rest, promising to spend more time with her later. She'd agreed and flown to her rooms in Menethil so she could arrange for passage to Auberdine. There was still Vivian's mystery to solve, Corran or no Corran.
"Well, I certainly won't get anything done lying abed," she said, tossing the pillow to the other side of the bed before sitting up. She stretched languidly before starting her day with her morning ablutions.
The day dawned bright and clear, much like the lady-paladin's heart.
Menethil Harbor -- Noon
Pages ran to and fro in the parlor room of the guest suite of Menethil's highly prized inn, the rustle of pages, stamp of feet, creating a chaotic din. In the middle of it all stood a graceful young woman, her silver hair shining in the light that shone in the open windows. Her intelligent green eyes watched the flurry about her as she called out orders. She pointed to one red-haired page, "Make sure those dispositions get to Inuuro on Quel'Danas, he'll want to be kept abreast on the medical supplies we'll be sending next week!" The boy nodded, bolting for the door with the missive in-hand.
Another young man, perhaps of fifteen, approached the lady paladin, his young eyes regarded her with a certain amount of hero worship, but his tone, while respectful, commanded the paladin's attention, "Lady Lightfaith," he said, holding out a robe for her, "You are scheduled to be on duty on Quel'Danas this afternoon, so we had best get you into your battle regalia."
Gospel blinked a moment, looking down at the boy with a smile. She laughed softly, reaching out to toussle his hair, "What would I do without you, Allegro?" The boy could only smile in return, pleased to hear the lady-paladin laugh again. For the past year or so, Gospel had been so reserved, so quiet. It had worried the boy, shaking him to his young courageous spirit. Gospel was his superior, but also a gracious and noble lady, it had rankled with him to no end as Rheyl Veracus corrupted her bright soul.
Yet, now, Allegro watched her, humming to herself as she gathered up her things into neat piles. So bright and beautiful, he smiled faintly to himself,and finally happy. It was no less than she deserved. The young page broke out of his wool-gathering enough to yelp at her, "Lady Gospel! Leave all that, the pages will deal with it appropriately!"
The silver-haired lady looked at him with those soulful eyes, smiling at him, "Of course, Allegro," she said, turning to him, "Lead on and I'll put on the dreaded, clanking suit of doom!"
He looked at her, stunned, then confused. Had she just made a jest? He quirked a slight grin, his brows furrowing as he digested this new development,"Lady Gospel..." he said, shaking his head as he started to laugh. Together, the lady and the boy giggled and made their way into the rearmost chamber where her arms and armor were kept.
Allegro shoo'ed the other pages out, intending to help the lady into her regalia himself. Usually, Gospel had a body servant to assist her with her armor, but she'd sent the man off to tend to his wife, who was expecting their first child.
"Allegro is almost a man grown," she's said to the manservant, "I'm sure he's more than capable of taking up your duties while you're away. Your wife and new babe need you more than me and my armor." The body servant could not argue with the lady's charming smile and generous demeanor. So, hastening away, swearing he would not be gone long, he departed to see to his family.
It was things like that, just little things, that made all the people who served and aided Lady Lightfaith adore her. She was kind, gentle, faithful and devoted; moreso than most left in this world. She had faith in those who served her, though she never expected anything of them that she would not she herself do.
Allegro came to himself and went to fetch the Lady's armor, hauling it down off its stand as she went behind a changing screen to put on the light leather padding that kept the heavy metal from chafing her fair skin. The young boy watched her silhouette against the mesh, his heart feeling like it had taken up residency in his throat. Lady Gospel was in excellent shape due to her frequent trips to the battlefront. Her form was trim with all the soft curves in the right places. Allegro shut his eyes tightly, gripping the Lady's shoulder armor so hard that the inlaid dragon's teeth bit into his palms.
Inwardly, he cursed Rheyl Veracus for a Nether-born fool; the man had been utterly blind to the Light-born woman he'd had in his grasp. Allegro scowled a moment, recalling his own rage when he'd heard that Veracus had had the utter audacity to lay a hand on the Lady! Had it not been for the level-headed youth, Gospel's pages would have formed a lynch mob against the lone-wolf paladin. Allegro had reminded them of their duty, however, "Lady Lightfaith would not want us to abandon our duties for the sake of revenge; she would want us to forgive Rheyl Veracus his sin and move past it without anger in our hearts." The acolytes had begrudgingly agreed and gone about their business. Allegro tossed the armor on the bed. It didn't mean he wouldn't sock Rheyl Veracus one, if he ever had the ill-luck to cross that paladin's path.
Now, though, if rumors around the training yard were to be believed, the source of the Lady's newfound joy was in the form of one Corran the Lightsworn, a Justicar of Stormwind. Allegro knew enough that Corran was fairly important in Stormwind, even Lord Bolivar valued Corran's presence. Among the trainees and pages under Gospel's tutelage, it was agreed that Corran was vastly superior to Rheyl, in terms of how the Lady was treated and how it was reflected in her demeanor.
The difference was astonishing, Allegro had to admit. It was as if the Lady were a rose that had been dormant and desolate through a long winter, and now it was spring and she was unfurling her petals in their full beauty. The young man sighed wistfully, it was no wonder Corran was already well-smitten.
"Allegro?" The boy startled as the Lady called his name and he straightened up, scrambling for her plate armor, "Yes, my lady!" he squawked. The only answer he got was Gospel's joyous laughter; for him, for all of them, it was the most beautiful sound they'd heard in a long time.
Thank you, Corran, the boy thought in passing, as he assisted Gospel into her armor, Thank you for giving us back the Lady we love...and the one you do as well, apparently!
Chapter Seven: The Past and a Future
Silverpine Forest, Lordaeron
Side-by-side, the two heavily armored warsteeds stood atop a hill overlooking the shadowed crennels of the ruined city of Lordaeron. On their backs, two paladins sat, each taking comfort in the other. The taller of the two, his dark blond hair ruffling in an errant breeze, sighed quietly, "I still cannot believe Thrall lets this pass and protects them..." A campaigner of many years, he still remembered the bitter battles fought over this very soil.
His silver-haired companion looked across the hill to the broken city, "It is best to appease an enemy and make them an ally, than to risk having them at your throat, I suppose..." Her voice had an almost melodic quality to it, soothing to the older paladin's war-torn soul.
He shrugged lightly beneath his heavy plate-mail,"I still think he did it for a presence on the Eastern Continent."
The young woman unconsciously mimicked his gesture, shrugging as well,"Perhaps that is so, merely another move in an endless game of political chess." She looked up at him, feeling the weight of his concerns, knowing she could do little to assuage them.
"Aye...Allies at war," he observed,"Strange way to live." He continued on, seemingly losing himself in his concerns, "A time of peace.. yet we fight them in the Gulch to protect the forest... Fight them in the Basin to keep the Forsaken from expanding into Arathi... and fight them in the Valley over ancient relics..."
The silver-haired paladin tightened her hands around the reins of her warsteed, "Indeed, especially if the rumors you're hearing about Northrend are true... We shall be allies more than ever. If -he- wins, there will be no life left... for any of us." That was true enough, if the grip of the Lich King extended over all of Azeroth and the Scourge ruled the earth all life, all hope, all Light would be lost.
"Arthas!" The older paladin spat distastefully, as if he'd tasted something foul. "I was north of Brill when I got the news the King had been slain... by the time we could muster the City was all but purged and these hills were crawling with Scourge..." His tone was a near growl, his jaw clenching reflexively with the force of his anger. His companion could only look at him with quiet sympathy.
"It must have been hard for you... all of you..." she says quietly, shifting her gaze once more to the once-beautiful edifice.
"From there it just became a chaotic withdraw. We did our best to keep it organized, but with the grain poisoned... you just never knew. With each group of refugees we came across, there was always the lingering question of whether or not they'd turn."
The lady-paladin shifted in her saddle, suddenly discomfitted by the memories of those days. She had none, really, she remembered so little. Only her Mother constantly drawing the drapes of the carriage closed, or urging the driver to move faster. She remembered wondering what was going on, but every time she'd asked, Mother only gave her a slap on the cheek and called her impertinent, "I was protected from most of the horrors of that nightmare. My father was wealthy, my betrothed powerful... between the two of them, I was spirited away, when all others suffered..." Her hands tighten around the reins of her warsteed, the metal of her gauntlets hissing slightly.
The older paladin let out a long, slow sigh, "I've made my peace with it--as best I could at least. I think what hurts the most of how perfect things were before the Fall. The land was green... the people were euphoric after our defeat of the Horde.. Hell, just -being- a paladin made you a hero in those days. It felt like we'd banished evil forever. That we'd be content to live our lives out in peaceful harmony, the only reminders of the struggle would be the annual celebrations remembering the Battle at the Portal and the Fall of Lothar."
Yet, as he listened to her, he smiled at her warmly, "I'm glad that you were so well-protected, Gospel. Else we may have never met."
Gospel looked at Corran, her green eyes filled with her remorse, "Perhaps, but I have never known suffering as you or anyone else. Perhaps," she looks back to the city, "that is why I chose to walk this path, so I could atone for being 'safe' when all others were in peril."
Corran smiled thoughtfully at her. "I think you chose it for many reasons; that one included. But I'd say the biggest reason is that you have a tender heart and a strong soul. I've said before that you remind me so much of a paladin before the Fall. Not guarded, but open and caring.. There for the people and the King. As much a servant as a warrior."
Gospel blushed slightly beneath his praise, lowering her eyes to stare at her warsteed's ears, "You honor me with such words, Corran. Especially since you knew what paladins were like then... to place me as their equal..."
He smiled resting his hand on her shoulder. "I'd be honored just to call you my Sister in Arms. A shield for the people. The fact that I get to call you -more- than that...just sweetens the pot."
She looked over her shoulder at him, placing a gauntleted hand over his, "I care little for being a hero, and even less about being remembered. However, the path I chose led me here, to you... for that alone, I will be eternally grateful. I would walk any path for you, Corran, no matter how Dark or Light-filled. And with me, you need never know solitude again."
His smile was for her alone, but it quickly darkened as he spied a Blood Elf paladin riding toward them, "Let's go..." he growled, "I despise elves."
Western Plaguelands, Uther's Tomb
They did not return directly to Stormwind as she'd expected. Gospel was surprised when Corran reached out, grasping the reins of her steed and leading her down the winding path to Chillwind Camp. Her brow furrowed, wondering what business the paladin could have in the Western Plaguelands, but she did not question him. She would never question him; she would follow him into the depths of the Nether if he but asked. They rode up to a small dirt path, lined on either side by braziers that, even now, burned with bright flames. She looked up the path, a feeling of welcome coming over her as her eyes took in what she saw. Uther's Tomb.
A holy place, sanctified by the Light, it had played an important part in her own rebirth from the Light. Corran took her hand gently, pulling her along with him as he strode slowly up the path. The older paladin said nothing, their ironshod boots resounding against the stone as they mounted up the steps to the shrine proper. They nodded courteously to the caretaker, who smiled and moved a respectful distance away, familiar with the many pilgrimmages paladins made to this sacred place. Hand-in-hand, the two of them strode to the large room at the end of the path. Halo'ed in a shaft of light, the statue carved in Uther's likeness stood eternal vigil over his resting place. From whence the Light came, none could say, but it was always there, always bright, always burning.
Gospel looked up at the statue of Uther, a soft, almost wistful smile crossing her features. Memories of her rebirth as her Younger Self came to her, how she'd come back from death on these very stones to be greeted by her beloved friend, Finnel, as well as the other members of Knights Errant. A faint smile crossed her features before she looked to Corran, her smile warming even further at his touch, her hand tightening around his.
"He would be happy for us Gospel," Corran said softly, a certain fondness apparent in his voice, "He was tough as orc hide when he had to be and as gentle and loving as a grandfather when he didn't..."
Gospel nodded quietly, "It is my loss that I never knew him. I knew -of- him, who didn't in those days? But I never knew him, not as you know him..."
Corran shook his head. "You know him. He's part of you...and part of me. And he'd want to be part of this... " Corran knelt before her, his eyes lowering slightly as he took her hand, a bright shimmer in his other hand, pressed between his thumb and forefinger was a diamond ring. "Gospel Lightfaith, I wish to share the rest of my life together, with you. Will you be my wife?"
Her heart leapt up in her throat as her eyes came to rest on that shimmering ring in his hand, Her left hand went to her chest, just over her heart, as tears glimmer in her pale green eyes. She reached out, touching her fingertips to his chin, tilting his head up so that her eyes meet his, "Yes, Corran... You have always been a brilliant light, ready to soothe the splintered parts of my soul. Now, here with you, I feel completed. It is my honor, my privilege... and the utmost desire of my heart to remain at your side, now and always. Yes, I'll marry you."
Corran's features broke into a wide grin. His stomach fluttered and he suddenly felt weak, overwhelmed. Regaining his composure he gently slid the gauntlet off her left hand, leaned in and kissed the top of it softly, before sliding the ring onto her finger. "I love you Gospel Lightfaith... my little thief."
Gospel smiled brilliantly at him, her heartfelt joy apparent in her eyes even through her tears. She draws him to his feet before throwing her arms around him, heedless of their armor, "Oh, Corran... I love you, so very much. I think I always have."
Corran hugged her tightly. "And always will, I hope," He smiled and pressed his lips gently to hers. Gospel, with her arms around him, kissed him in return; her soft tears of joy slipping unheeded down her cheeks. They stood like that for several heartbeats, each enveloped in the love of the other. The light drifted down, shining on them with an odd warmth. After a moment longer, Gospel finally broke the kiss, "Always, Corran..." she says, looking up at him radiantly, "For as long as we both shall live...and longer," she reaches up, caressing his cheek.
He smiled at her gently, his thumb ever so gently wiping a tear from her cheek. "And I you... " Corran squeezed her hand gently, looking up at the statue, "I told you... he'd want to be here."
She leaned into him, comfortable and comforted in his presence, "We are truly blessed, then. If a love such as ours can endure in these dark times, then there is hope yet in the world..."
Corran pulled her closer to him. "We'll make our way through it. Together."
Gospel chuckled quietly, resting her forehead against the side of his neck, "Well, at least one thing will be easy..." Corran looked down at her, arching a brow at her laughter, "I won't have to change my signature much."
They laughed together, their joy in each other echoing around the deserted tomb, "I suppose that's true," Corran agreed. He moved, holding her close as he regarded her lovingly, "What do you say we head back to the city and have a celebration drink...er, cider?"
She could only sigh contentedly, cuddling against his side as she continues holding his hand. She chuckles, "For this, I'll upgrade to wine!" Corran mock-gasped at her in surprise, knowing the young paladin rarely drank, "Just not ale," Gospel continued, "-Antyhing- but ale." She laughed quietly, and finally Corran stepped away from her, the air cool around him as he stepped out of the warmth of her embrace. He moved to start down the path to the horses, when he paused, looking back.
Gospel stood at the foot of the statue, looking up at the carved face of his once-superior, "I'll take care of him, Uther. You have my oath," she said quietly. Corran smiled with love and admiration for her, holding out his hand to take hers as the walked down the path, now, as they always would, together.