Everything was spinning, but she had the firm knowledge that she was lying on her back. Vibrant colours swirled around her, sounds buzzing in around her head. It was all so unreal.

Draeka slowly moved a hand up from her side and staring at it, she realized she was melting. Her fingers slowly started to droop and blow away in the strong wind, followed by her hand. She felt she should scream, but there was no fear; only calm. In the swirling about her, she knew she was the eye of the storm, she was safe.

She felt the colours swirl in and out of her body, travelling in her ear and leaving through the mouth, leaking out and quickly getting picked up by another gust. Suddenly, in a deafening silence, everything stopped. The buzzing of the colours swirling through her mind suddenly dropped to the back of her skull, the pinks and oranges and blues swirling into a tiny reservoir in her skull.

The wind… or was it the colours… whispered one last thing before waking her with a start, sweat covering her body and causing her to shiver.

“Grot.”

When Jumwa would come later in the day, all he would see was a letter on the door, written in a hesitant scrawl.

Jumwa,

I have something to do. I’ll contact you in a few days.

Blood and thunder,

Draeka

The ends of the sentences trailed and smeared into one another, making it almost illegible.

Draeka inhaled the sharp, winter air, looking about the land with an expert eye. She had lived here for many years and knew the slopes of the earth and where the wild life roamed.

She was also intimately aware of the location of a small hut, Night Elven in structure, far from the outside world, and it was to there she tromped, determination on her steely face.

She brought a leather-gloved hand to the door and knocked hard, waiting for a response.

“He tried to strangle you, you know?” something in her ear buzzed.

She furrowed her brow in confusion, making a sour face. Immediately after there was a gush of warmth and calm went through her body, soothing the buzz as though it were an itch being treated to by ice, and her body relaxed, her face revealing her relief.

Hearing something, Gromth raised his head, suppressing a grunt. Turning, he brushed off the dark brown fur gloves he wore for warmth, and peered around the corner of the house, placing a hand on the edge. Before he even saw her full body his eyes widened, he muttered “Kali…” speaking up louder, nearly shouting, “Draeka!”

Draeka jumped a little as she heard his voice, looking around for the source, her heart already pounding hard against her chest. Again, the calming blue colour swirled through her, massaging her body with tender inner-caresses and her heart slowed its quickened pace as she moved towards the direction of his voice, trying to let out a gentle smile.

Gromth stepped out from behind the corner of the building, standing straight, his mouth agape as he stared at her. He mumbled, “I searched for you… everywhere… came back here…” he sounded as dumbfounded as he looked.

They lay in bed, spooned into one another, entrails and blood the only things covering their bodies. Contentedly, they sighed in unison; their lust was satiated for the moment.

She looked at him, all the words that she thought she might say failing her until a new colour crept through her innards, replacing the blue and causing the calm to slowly be replaced.

As though her lips, mouth and throat were working on their own, they opened and spoke, in an uncharacteristically soft voice; a voice filled with affection and warmth, “I forgive you, Grot…”

Draeka paused for a moment, letting the words hang in the air as she slowly realized that pink was the colour of her compassion… it was forgiveness.

Gromth’s heart was stuck in his throat. He couldn’t say anything, instead of words only a hiccupping breath came out of his mouth, until he realized he had tears streaming down his cheeks into his beard. He reached out a hand, as if groping in the dark, for the side of the building, grasping it to stay standing. In the dark he was quickly becoming, as his vision grew into a narrow tunnel. It was like with the happiness from her words came the crushing full realization of what he’d done.

She simply stared, a blank look on her face, unsure of what to do. She shivered only slightly against the breeze as she watched the broad orc on his unsteady legs. Staring at his face and eyes, she slowly licked her lower lip, leaning in and speaking more quietly, “Grot?”

The forgiveness crashed through her body, careening over her insides, coating everything in a warm sugary substance, as though it were protecting her from harm. She could almost hear her ancestors speaking to her.

Gromth’s lower lip quivered slightly as he raised his hand up, brushing the dark fur back of his glove over his face, wiping away some of the tears. “I was… looking… for… y-” he cut himself off, looking up at her. “You forgive me?”

She watched him still, unflinching, unmoving but for her eyes as she scanned over him, the blue eyes flecked with red drinking him in coolly, as though it was taking a moment to process just what she was witnessing.

Slowly, she nodded, another smile creeping to the corner of her lips, crinkling her eyes and forehead in the tiny crevices that would one day become her wrinkles. She moved in closer, her footsteps crunching down the wet snow.

Gromth jerked backwards, his feet crunching into the snow, raising his hands as if about to try and keep her away. His eyes looked away, sadly, still filled wetly. He was lost there, a young whelp in a grown orc’s body.

Draeka stopped and tilted her head to the side, still looking on slightly stupidly, the smile caked on her face. Slowly she took a step backwards, looking down, shivering again in the cold, “Gromth… Grot…” she mumbled, once more using his childhood name.

“Grot, remember our bunny?” she smiled again.

The sky was a bright yellow, too bright to be real. She stood and looked down on three orc children playing on a bright green forest floor, a vibrant blue lake in the background. Everything was hurting her eyes and she shielded them, knowing the scene that was being played out. Afterall, she was one of the children.

It was one of their rare happy moments, and a tiny bunny shared in it.

Gromth’s face contorted, his brow furrowing as he looked on. His lids flickered shut a few times, to clear the wetness from his eyes, “Draeka… are you… dabu, I… I do.” He brought his two dark fur covered hands together pensively, trying to force his eyes to stay on Draeka.

Draeka smiled back at him, trying to ease him into the idea of seeing her once more, keeping her voice even and warm, almost motherly, “I don’t remember his name… I wish I did… Do you remember?”

He shook his head and looked down, rubbing his two hands together. “N-no… I don’t. That was… so long ago. So long…” He shifted in the snow slightly.

She nodded, looking almost sad as she struggled to recall the name, shaking her head and looking at him once more, unsure of what else to say. Instead, she stared, shivering everyone once and a while before finally asking in a low voice, “how are you?”

Pulling off a glove he raised his bare green hand to his face, touching the scar that marred his eye, almost looking like he was about to claw at his own face as he looked up through his fingers, “Glad I found… we found each other. I was worried.” His voice stronger, more fluent.

Smiling, she nodded and watched him carefully, curiously inspecting his scar for a moment.

“I’m not back for long… I’ll be leaving again soon. I just thought you should know. I forgive you,” she repeated, a little louder.

He looked up at her through his fingers again, crouched over more and nodded firmly, “Dabu… of… of course. I just wanted to make sure… make sure you’re alright.”

The past few months of her life had been spent in a wash of tears and sorrow and pain that was so deep she hadn’t a proper way to describe it. She wasn’t alright.

“Thank you,” she spoke softly, smiling once more and nearly bowing, “that means a lot to me.”

Hunched over more, his face turned from her slightly, he gazes at her from the corner of his view, unblinking from between his fingers. “If… you ever need my help…” He trailed off, swallowing hard from nervousness.

“Grot…” she paused for a long moment, watching him, “are you okay?”

Without moving any more, he just nodded sharply, almost frozen into his position, watching her with his red, strained eye.

She frowned and backed up another pace, looking hurt, “you… want me to go?”

He shook his head abruptly, then paused, quiet again. After a moment he broke in with his deep croaking voice, “I’m sorry.”

She watched him again in her currently quiet manner, rubbing her forehead slightly. Blackness was replacing the pink forgiveness and she had started to feel very tired, the smile dropping off her face. “I shouldn’t be bothering you…” she frowned, looking behind her to the snowy trail she had left, wondering if she should turn back and forget she had ever came.

Turning back to him, she frowned, “I’m not here to hurt you.”

He shook his head sharply, lowering his hand, “No! It’s not that! I just… I did… so wrong… I hurt you… I’m so sor-… sorry!” He pressed his cheek into his shoulder away from her, “I wasn’t expecting you to ever… forgive…”

She inhaled slowly, trying to think of the words and struggling to form them, “it was a long time ago. A lot has happened since then.”

Lowering his hand slightly, he nodded, “Dabu.”

“I…” she paused, looking at him, leaning in a little further, “Gromth… have you been keeping track of what I have been up to?” she paused half way through the sentence as though unsure if she should continue, but her body was weary and she needed to rest.

He shook his head very slowly, “No. I tried to come save you now… but I never knew.”

She nodded, looking almost sad, taking a long, deep breath, her voice cracking slightly as she blurted out the words, “I found someone new, but he was killed.” She choked back the invisible tears and shut her eyes for a moment before reopening them, nodding in affirmation.

Nodding, he looked down, “That much I knew, dabu… sorry.” Some hint of genuine empathy for her passed on his voice. “Oh…” she paused again, frowning. A long, silent moment passed between them before she spoke again, “I wish things had been different for you.”

“Things were… my own doing.” He admitted, a lump in his throat.

“I’m… I think I’m going to retire… Away from the Horde and the Tribe and…” she trailed off, the stern frown on her face not leaving. “There’s nothing left for me.” He lowered his hand from his face and peered at her, “Retire? You? You tried that before… you’re not to be defeated like that.”

She nodded slightly, slowly bringing her eyes to meet his, “Gromth… Grot… Grotmth…” she slowly grinned, a pained, forced expression, “going back would just hurt the ones I love. They want me to… they have expectations.”

Gromth shook his head, “You are a proud warrior. You live for honour. Expectations are nothing in the face of that.”

She stared at him, her eyes skipping over his face, studying his bald head, red eyes, turned up nose… “Gromth…” she paused again, fighting the quiver running through her lower lip, once more meeting his eyes, not speaking further.

He stared back at her, and then nodded slowly, “You do what you must.”

Slowly she nodded, turning on her heel and walking quickly away, rubbing away some tears that escaped from the corner of her eyes, overwhelmed with the need for rest, leaving Gromth there staring at her blankly, a bit dumbfounded for some time.

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