[size=18]"Ferrox, don't do that again." Those were among my last words before the sneeze that was to hold us all captive. Perhaps I should start a little before that sneeze though to help you better understand how we got here. You see, it started something like this...
"You know I don't want you to go,? His hand was trailing along my upper arm and shoulder as we spoke, sending shivers along my spine. I knew his feelings on the matter, and understood the reasons why. However, my own instincts, intuitions, whatever you wished to call it, told me that this was the path I had to cross. Now I know you will probably think me crazy, but there has always been this gentle voice I could hear deep in my thoughts. And before you smirk and turn away, understand this "voice" I hear isn't my own. She's much more motherly than that, like someone standing just over my shoulder always watching over me. Since I can?t ever remember a time when I've been lead wrong by this voice, I had no reason to mistrust it, or her.
Even so, there were few who knew of this voice that directed my paths. Fewer still knew that she was truly the reason I was able to do what I did. You see, being a ranger is more than just being able to read a trail. Anyone can be taught to do that. To truly be able to do this well, though, one has to have an instinct, a knowledge, that goes beyond what can be experienced with their five senses. Sometimes, it's a feeling that tells you to go right when everyone else wants to go left. Yet it also goes beyond that. It's also about being able to inspire the trust in others to follow the path you set for them. Few will follow those they feel are insane or overly zealous. Trust me, holy men of the church are great for confessing your sins to, but they don't really do much in the way of guiding people along woodland trails.
In the hours following my meeting with the dwarf, I spent time telling my lover the details I knew about the job, and putting the things together that I knew I would need. It was then that the arguments began. The dangers, the protests, and the demands that I tell them to find another. Still, while my lover can be infinitely stubborn, he knows that I can be equally so. He is one of those few who actually knows about the voice. So it came as no surprise, when, as a last effort to dissuade me from embarking on this journey, he asked if she had given me any direction on this. When I acknowledged that she had spoken and confirmed that I was to go, he finally gave in. It's one thing to go up against one female voice, but two could be daunting even for him. Sometimes I almost felt sorry for him having to deal with that.
Now here we were, simply standing there in front of the fireplace watching the flames dance while his words rang over and over in my mind. He stood just behind me, arms wrapping me in his warmth, taking consolation in the moments we still had before my journey was to begin. Then as if he knew this would be our last moments together, he slowly and gently began unfastening the ties that held my leathers in place. Within moments he was exploring every inch of my body as if to commit me to his memories and hold me imprisoned there. My lover could be both attentive and demanding all at the same time. This moment was no exception.
His fingers had a way of setting my flesh on fire and making every inch of me tingle with anticipation and desire. Tonight was different, however, more so than any other time before. I could feel even his breath dancing over my skin, warm and enticing. When I finally turned in his arms, all of my desire had been fanned into a flame of their own, and we were soon entwined in each other?s arms riding one wave after the other until we were both sated.
When we woke the next morning, the blaze in the fireplace was once again just smoldering embers. As before, he voiced his protest, "I truly wish you would stay."
"I know, but you also know that I will return. Then we can share the tales of both of our adventures."
That brought a smile to his lips finally. Though, when I looked into his eyes, they still appeared to be haunted by his fears.
Perhaps I should have listened to them. Now though, as I stand in the middle of this room, knowing that there is no way to prevent what is to come, my instincts telling me one second too late that we needed to be anywhere but here, I again hear her voice, "Don't be afraid, my child, I will always be with you." The sneeze, though, and not her voice, was what caught me by surprise. Somehow, he must have known all along that I wouldn't be coming back to share my tales this time.