Kaesa whimpered softly, instinctively grabbing at her side and rolling over, Jumwa’s large arms holding her tightly. His hand had begun growing back, but was still bandaged and little more than a stump, and the bandage chafed against Kaesa’s bare skin. She opened her eyes slowly, looking around at the dark room, letting her eyes adjust.
They had fled to an elven outpost outside of Silvermoon, renting two different rooms under aliases, then she snuck in to be with him after freshening the dressing on her stomach. Jumwa had worked some of his magic on her to help it heal, but it was still sore and open.
The room was smaller than they were accustomed to, though adorned with the crimson and gold that was so common in elven rooms, the blankets soft and comforting. Jumwa pulled her closer to him, whispering in her ear, his voice low and rough, “can’t sleep?” She shook her head slightly, rubbing his hand, frowning, “Tired, but just keep wakin’ up.”
He nodded and hugged her close, kissing her neck gently, “Ju want to get up, hm?” he mumbled, to which she nodded again, turning over and kissing his throat before moving to stand, walking to the washroom slowly, grimacing with each footstep. He turned and sat on the edge of the bed, inspecting his wound, staring ahead for a few moments before calling out, “Kae,” looking towards the door.
She came at his call, standing in the door way, leaning against the frame and holding her bandaged side, watching him, “Jes, lover?”
“Get ready, we’re going for a walk, get dressed in somet’ing comfortable,” he commanded, turning away from her and walking to the dresser, pulling out a robe from the dresser as she nodded, turning back to the bathroom, getting ready.
It was still dark in the forest as they walked quietly into the depths of the woods, barely speaking to one another. Kaesa was acting slightly odd, looking up at Jumwa every few moments to try to judge his face, which was as cold and expressionless as stone. Eventually they came to a clearing and he stopped, staring down at her with hard eyes.
She looked up at him, meeting his eyes easily, still uncertain of why he had asked her here and mildly frightened at the idea that he might assume she had had something to do with the ambush. Quickly, the troll’s arms were around her, lifting her from the ground in a hug, kissing her hair gently before setting her down in front of him.
They watched each other for a few more long, silent minutes before he leaned in, brushing some of her hair away from her face.
“I don’t want to be dat close to losing ju again,” he started slowly, speaking just above a whisper to her, staring straight into her eyes, “I still have many more plans for ju and I, lovah.”
She looked up at him, a soft smile returning to her lips as she nodded, mumbling “I don’t want to lose ju, Jumwa’jin.” He nodded, obviously not needing her to have spoken, continuing on, “and I want d’at to be proven,” he continued walking, her hand grasping onto his sole one, rubbing it lovingly with her thumb, remaining silent as they left the relative peace of Eversong Woods and crossed into the Ghostlands, moving closer to the Amani settlements.
Curious, though not doubting his actions, Kaesa continued on beside him, humming softly under her breath. Jumwa spoke without looking at her, his eyes watching the terrain sharply as the broke out of the trees, “what is d’at jour humming?”
Kaesa paused before responding, as though just realizing she had been doing it, then looked up at him and shrugged her tiny shoulders, looking back to the path ahead of them, “somethin’ I picked up from the humans; a lullaby, I t’ink,” she replied slowly, rubbing her thumb against his palm again.
He nodded and looked around at the war torn and diseased land, finally finding what he was looking for, heading to the entrance of a dark and deep forest. The morning light was starting to show behind them, but inside the forest was blacker than night, odd noises emanating from within. Kaesa flinched as he guided her to a small opening in the trees and vines, motioning for her to enter.
“It’s safe?” she looked up at him, slightly concerned, her fears not altogether satiated about the possibilities of what the immortality seeking troll may have in store for her. He nodded at her and she obediently squirmed through the opening, brushing at her hair for invisible bugs, squeaking slightly as a twig prodded at her tender side. Jumwa stepped in behind her, letting a tiny magical flame ignite in his hand, sending it ahead to guide them through the dark.
It felt as though they were walking forever, Kaesa’s legs failing her several times, Jumwa hoisting her onto his broad back, carrying her through the twists and turns. They slept several times, eating the berries and catching the wildlife, Jumwa cooking them up for her. The journey took days, the two talking back and forth as they moved, cutting into the penetrating silence of the dead forests before he finally squeezed her hand, kissing her forehead and waving his arm, gesturing to where they were. She narrowed her eyes, looking around at the outline of rubble, graves being pushed up by the trees and plants, ancient.
She looked up at him curiously, then back at the ruins. Little flickers of magic flame jumped around with little rasping sounds, lighting the area and exposing rotting and destroyed huts. “Welcome to de village of Jumwa’jin,” he smiled, talking quietly, proudly as he looked around the ruins, eyes wide with what seemed to be reverence.
Kaesa gasped and stared, wide-eyed as she took in her surroundings, falling instantly in love with the cursed ruins, mumbling, “I can feel jour work all around,” she smiled up at him, jumping into his arms and kissing him, panting in excitement as she jumped down and began running around, rubbing her hands across the deteriorating rocks, tracing the words carved on makeshift grave markers.
Jumwa stayed back, watching her excited reaction with a quiet smile on his lips before moving slowly to the north, motioning for her to follow, the flames skipping ahead of him to light their path. Another mile in was a large building that at one point must have been grand, the rocks too sturdy to have caved in over the decades of disuse.
She giggled wildly, moving forwards quickly, shivering in her excitement, looking back at him, “home?”
Jumwa nodded, smiling back at her, and then looking up to the castle, “Jes. Home. Or what’s left of it.”
Kaesa stood in awe, shaking herself out of it as Jumwa started walking ahead, guiding her with his hand, “d’ere is somet’ing special I left here,” he smiled, walking up the rickety steps, motioning her to follow.
The doors had long rotted away, but the inside was still beautiful. It smelled of old, trapped death and the silence screamed with the lives lost within the walls, crying out for vengeance. Jumwa was silent, as though breathing it all in with an exquisite, pristine joy, taking pleasure in remembering the victims of his experiments. He held her close, squeezing him to her and she shivered at his warm embrace, her eyes hungrily taking it all in.
Slowly they made their way up more stairs and into a large parlor, through more door arches into what Jumwa explained used to be his room, into a nook behind the stone wall, accessed by a special chant spoken in troll. Inside the room was as though it had never been touched by the hand of time.
Kaesa gasped at the chill in the air, taking a step back before immediately moving back in, eying everything up and down. A large slab of black stone sat in the middle, coated in still wet blood, relics and talismans hanging above it. The walls were painted a deep brown and covered in ritual masks, ceremonial robes and blood. On the ceiling was an elaborate painting of the stars and moons, almost glowing in their realism. There were several large tanks around the outskirts of the room, several containing a thick, yellow liquid with a troll body part contained within, floating and glowing eerily.
She stared with fascination, almost certain she saw one of the lifeless fingers twitch, obviously in awe, drinking it all in.
“I haven’t been here in a long, long time,” he mused, lost in his own reverie, inspecting the tanks with a studious look, moving towards each of them in turn before finally returning to her side, smiling down to her, waiting for her to speak. Slowly she raised her eyes to meet him, shaking her head from side to side with a raw smirk on her lips, “ju brilliant troll.”
He smiled at her and kissed her forehead once more before moving to the wall and grabbing a wooden mask with slits cut out of the eyes and tusks, painted in white and red, grabbing the matching robe next to it, beginning changing immediately as he looked at her, “ju can take a seat,” he spoke with a smile, nodding to the centerpiece.
Kaesa hesitated slightly before nodding and solemnly sitting on the black slab, her bottom and hands immediately consumed in the crimson blood, a slight buzzing sensation overcoming her. She stared at him, her heart pounding in excitement and fear as she licked her lips softly, her breathing heavier than normal.
Jumwa walked over to one of the benches and began flicking through a dusty tome, before finally coming to the page he was searching for, reaching for a glowing dagger beside the book. In loud troll he began to chant, and the blue glow of the dagger grew, shimmering, tiny white lights flashing around it like tiny stars.
Kaesa sat quietly, her eyes closed as she listened to him chanting, and odd sensation overcoming her at his words, a familiar warmth traveling up her limbs. Though she couldn’t explain why, she knew all was okay and no harm would be done to her, her limbs relaxing almost to the point that she fell over, teetering back and forth in time to the rhythm of his chant.
Jumwa stopped suddenly and walked over to her, facing her with the dagger in his hand, his breathing heavy and deep, almost lusty, as he looked her over, eyes still closed as she swayed, the Tribal noise still deep within her body. Jumwa lowered the blade to his newly grown hand, digging it in until it scraped bone, holding it there for a moment before grabbing for Kaesa’s hand and holding it in his palm.
“Wake up,” he spoke in troll, watching her as she obeyed, smiling up at him excitedly, not flinching at the sight of his blood, nor the knife pointed at her hand.
“Do ju understand what’s happenin’?” he questioned quietly, reverting to orcish, and she nodded, unsure of how she knew or why, but knowing, deep down, the meaningfulness of the moment that was about to transpire.
“I do, jes,” she answered, licking her lower lip before biting into it as he stabbed down, cutting clean through her flesh. She looked at the wound in confusion as the enchanted dagger sliced through her skin, the expected pain never reaching her. She flicked her eyes up to him, his face covered by the mask, as he placed the blade to the side, grabbing her bleeding hand with his, holding them together.
“Ju are de mate I have been looking for for a great many years, de one who could love me for de real Jumwa’jin, and love me all de more for it. But above d’at, ju are de only one who could inspire de same feelings in d’is heart. I will not lose ju, an’ ju will not be taken from me,” he paused, looking at her as she breathed headily, her eyes partially closed, nodding at his words, “Ju are mine. I want ju to carry a new name into de rebuilt Tribe. A name d’at will mean somet’ing,” he paused again, looking at her.
“D’ere is a word, a name. ‘Anjasa’,” she stared back, not breaking his eye contact, “Death’s mate.”
She inhaled sharply as the warm buzzing in her blood screamed, closing her eyes in her ecstasy, a tiny moan escaping her lips as he removed the mask, pressing his lips to hers. The singing blood waned for a moment, and then cried louder, her body overcome by inner warmth. He quickly pulled his bleeding hand from hers, his wound already having begun healing around her pink flesh, their blood mixing in their veins.
They curled into one another, nude, the buzzing in their veins satiated for the moment, as Anjasa hummed her human lullaby, exhausted by their consummation. “Reborn into somet’ing greatah. As I was,” he murmured deeply, “Anjasa Vilelight” he whispered softly into her ear as she hummed, a wide smile forming on her lips; first and last name now his.
The two of them drifted into a deep sleep, feeling finally at peace in Jumwa’jin the Vile’s house of horror.