Always Return Part I

Water always returned to the sea. In rain, in sleet, in rivers and streams it flowed. Through impenetrable bedrock and packed earth it bored, patient as time almighty. Past boulders and forests and cities it burbled. Always maintaining one mistress in mind… the great salt ocean that cradled each drop sweetly, before allowing it to ascend the heavens in purifying evaporation.

At times, I felt as insignificant as a single raindrop. Despite the confident gleam in my eyes, despite the steely muscles in my body, despite the godlike powers that waited on my whims… I could be a lonely bead of moisture on the canvas of a sweat-tent in Fallien. I could be a minute mouthful drunk by a Dur’Taigen from a river in the Red Forest of Raiaera. I could be a molecule on the bottom of the ocean, kept from ascension by the pressing weight of water above. She made me more… the immortal and indomitable she, the lady of the sea… my goddess, Am’aleh.

The last words she’d spoken haunted my memory as I lay in bed next to McKinley Parish. My mortal lover slept soundly, her auburn hair in disarray around a beautiful cream-colored face. Her innocence attracted me, her need of a strong man stayed me at her side. Her hunger for me electrified each pore of my skin, and her trust and devotion made me proud. Even so, she could not claim my whole heart… a part of me forever belonged to my goddess.

Always return to me… Am’aleh’s voice, as soothing as drizzle in the treetops, echoed in my mind. Weeks had passed since last I felt her endless embrace. In that time my connection to the Eternal Tap dwindled, and my affinity for water and ice magic failed. I felt like a kinked hose. Power flowed into me with each breath, and lingered, finding no release.

Sitting up slowly, I kissed McKinley on her forehead. The young woman’s lips parted slightly, and then she rolled over, still deeply asleep. I slid out of bed and padded silently across the room, naked and comfortable in my lover’s cottage. I drew on a pair of black sifan pants and a matching shirt, fastening the buttons with fingers that moved faster than eyes could follow. I stepped into my black metal boots… the Breaker Boots, given my namesake by the alchemist who created them. They whispered over the wooden floors as I approached the back door. McKinley’s dire wolf always slept by the front.

The breeze plucked at my clothing and ruffled my short brown hair as I closed the door. Stars stared down from the sky in imitation of the moon’s silver light, a thousand fractured fragments from a thousand ethereal mirrors. I rubbed a callused hand through the stubble on my chin and over the Y-shaped scars on my cheeks. I could smell the ocean on the wind through the forest’s earthy aromas. The scent of salt called to me like a lover’s curled finger.

I walked through the meadow surrounding Kinley’s cottage, haste urging each step to carry me faster and further. I broke into a run as I reached the woodland path, loam crunching beneath the Breaker Boots, leaves and motes of dust swirling in my slipstream. I raced through Concordia like lightning lancing through the night sky, grounding with every step. Soon I could hear the crash and roar of the ocean… never silent, never restful, always waiting.

Always return to me… Am’aleh’s words filled my mind, forming a desire as singular as any addict’s cravings. I kicked my boots off on the beach and dove into the surf, tasting my lady’s salty sweetness in my nose and mouth. Her arms surrounded me, her touch a gentle but steadying caress. Her love lifted me, buoying both body and spirit, until I surfaced some hundred yards offshore. The waves and currents had a soft feminine voice that spoke for my ears alone.

You stayed away longer than expected.

Read the full story here!

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