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Soteria
#1
[[Following on from Caerus and Interlude, and connected to the creature in Paradise of Pleasure]]

She trailed her feet through the frigid water, murmuring the beats of a song that haunted unknown words to her tongue. Rocks slipped underfoot, making a game of balance, arms outstretched as she tumbled into a strange sort of dance. Water sprayed and speckled her skirts until its arms captured her laughing, down into freezing depths. When next her shining head surfaced the fjord rolled out in unnatural waves, beholden to her playful whim. She spun with it, hair fanning out, the frozen petals tucked into her braids slipping free to bob in the currents.

A lonely game.

If she squinted she could see the shine of a red-painted door in the distance, but she did not often traipse the path to the cottage and basalt stone above, lest the great wolf chase her off. She did not know if Tristan kept his promises, or even if he could.

With a sigh she sank, letting herself unravel.

Down and down and down

Her eyes opened curiously when she suddenly felt the presence of another; a shadowy brush dripping against the shell of her foot, and the agile curve of something slithering along her shoulder. The ancient one’s body flickered as she circled, the beautiful colours of her scaling gleaming in the watery light. Human enough to dream. Wonder followed her swift trail. How many of the old things were beginning to stir! But when Nim’s lips parted to smile, bubbles zipping joyous from her mouth, it was blood she tasted; bright and sharp in the water. For something was very wrong.

Nimeda’s hand outstretched into the cold, unsure what had drawn her. Then her insides shuddered with a deluge of memory; old and indistinct. The trembling tiptoe of sneaking mischief, a realm beyond her own, yet she usually found welcome even so. Wide-eyed rapture. The rippling scythe of fins.

The vengeful sea.

A snag at her ankle jerked her down. A frenzy of bubbles clouded her vision.

He will not find you! she said. An echo of another dream pierced the mirk, stinking of death and the horror she had hurled at the grimnir for his callousness. They did not deserve to die!

But the creature could not hear, caught in the mania of her dreaming, phasing in and out in the murky light. The cold edge of a spear nudged against the skin at Nim’s side and she squirmed, falling deeper. Distress churned. Nim tangled for a moment in the squeezing rush of tentacles, caught a sliver of the female’s expression; lip curled and sharp teeth bared. Then she passed around again. Circling.

Rage. Oh the rage.

And fear.

Nim finally looked down to the pull of a heartbeat below. Her eyes widened. Oh no no no no. She dare not drift closer, and with a push and a flicker her head burst from the surface of the lake. 

She was no longer in Ice Land though. Sorrow weighed the heart in her chest like an anchor, and waves lapped at her neck as she stared at her new surroundings; tried desperately to emblazon the curving basin to memory. A wet palm brushed tears from her eyes. The dream rearranged to deliver her to the shoreline, feet already running. Sodden skirts tangled her legs, and she tripped her way a few stumblings steps, grappled forward again in desperate need -- and found her hands flat against red-painted wood. Vánagandr. The name beat a steady rhythm in her skull, her head presently pressed against the door to catch her breath. Water rolled great droplets down the planes of her face, or maybe tears. Her mind sought outwards, to discover if the kin of wolves ran in the dream this night. “Tristan?”

--------------------------
@Tristan @Sierra
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#2
[Image: 49679186_402932550451133_3860079414955089442_n.jpg]

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Wyldfire the wolf-man sat squat a rocky ridge overlooking a distant fjord. He was panting from the long run up the mountain, though deep down he knew the panting was unnecessary. There was something freeing about a loose tongue and heaving chest. It was life. Freedom. He devoured such things greedily.

Alongside sat on his haunches a wolf that ran with him this night. The two sat side by side, thoughts and images swirling between them like sand caught on the wind. Neither spoke. The only sound were their distinctive breaths.

Suddenly, a piercing darted through the world of the wolf dream. It stuck in his head like an arrow thunked into a tree. There was urgency, need. Wyldfire growled, teeth bared slightly for the wrongness. The wolf sensed it too. Ears prickled straight. Its nose pointed into far distance, but they both knew.

With a push, Tristan shoved himself from the cliff, hurling himself in an arc of emptiness to the cavern floor hundreds of meters below. His feet hit the ground running, and with each bound, he leaped great distances with only a streak of color to be seen in the motion.  

He came to a stop suddenly, ears flat, teeth bared for a fight. A red-painted door stood erect, and he reached cautiously forward to open it.
"Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way."
Rognar Lothbrok
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#3
   

The door opened from the other side.

The world around them heaved like the land was breathing, bridging two impossible distances, but Nimeda pulled back, and like the wild abandon of a waterfall leap everything sped to rearrange itself. She deposited them nimbly in the surroundings of her own choice. 

The suspended doorway opened now, not to Tristan’s cottage or to Ice Land, but to the scooping basin of land from which she had come.

Such maneuverings passed in a blink. She went to grab for his hand before she recalled what he was, and reared back as if expecting to be stung. Or perhaps bitten. Not from fear so much as a brief flicker of disappointment that swept away to leave a pause of confusion in its wake -- much as she sometimes remembered on the cusp of action that the grimnir did not care for her affectionate manner either. By the wide guilelessness of her eyes, she was unsure of her reception. 

“Vánagandr,” she murmured to herself, like a talisman. Her bare toes scrunched in the scrubby grass. Out of consideration for the discomfort he had shown before, she thought the sleek fall of her wet dress to an appearance of dryness, though it felt no different to her. For a moment her scarred palm curled over the reminder of a small pebble, and it’s weight spread her through with calm. But Noctua could not help with this; his was a realm too human, and he would not understand -- or if he did it would not move him, just as her distress over the Wheel’s new turning did not move him. When her hand opened again, the stone was vanished safe once more.

“I think you are the only one who will understand.”
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#4
[Image: 49679186_402932550451133_3860079414955089442_n.jpg]

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A yank dug claws into his soul and wrenched.

He tumbled, paws swiping at anything of purchase, finding his face dug into the grass. With no lack of embarrassment, he hopped to his haunches. His beard clung to grass clippings, and probably some sort of smudges across his face, distinctly less orderly than the war paint fastening his brow with purpose.

She spoke the name that summoned him, though he did not recognize it upon hearing it with human ears. “Nimeda, it is you,” he said. Her dress fluffed suddenly from sodden and sticky. The curves of her bare skin beneath caught his eye, likely emboldened by the heated flames of Long Eye’s passion when last they met an honorable man averted his gaze. Nimeda was modestly attired soon after, but Tristan remained shirtless, the hair on his chest thick and warm. The paints scrawled like hawk-feathers wrapping his shoulders. In this world he was muscled with the might that lived up to monstrous legend: a figure cut from the shards of myth everlasting.

“What is the need you have of me?” His question settled in his bones, certain to answer the call.
"Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way."
Rognar Lothbrok
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#5
She was about to plop cross-legged into the grass alongside, since he appeared to prefer it down there, but presently he found his feet. Amused, Nim's thief-marked hand reached to steal a blade of grass from the thicket of his beard, and for a moment she was thinking about the Grey Lady's new spring shoot sticking tremulously from the scorched ground. The grass wriggled like a vine, growing in a long curl around her finger until she imagined it blossomed into the stem of a flower. She'd seen many such wondrous specimens in the grove of Tuuru's home, which was perhaps why she thought of it to look that way. Nimeda grinned and tucked it into the braids at her crown, snug alongside other such botany, including less beautiful if no less treasured sprigs of leaves and twigs.

Her thoughts flooded loose at the Grey Lady's memory, and she did not answer quickly. Rather, she spent a moment working doggedly through the current of more recent memory elicited now by his presence. For he was Tristan, not the name she had called him by. On rare occasions she still returned to his remote home. In fact despite that the great basalt stone never acknowledged her, sometimes she even still spoke to the remnant of his uncle, as though the ritual had become yet another touchstone to mark her passage through this world. Only when she was lonely though, when even dead things contented her more than silence -- and when she was willing to risk the old wolf's vigil. Mostly she only returned to that icy shore to seek the Grey Lady herself though. It ended ever in vain, hence her sometimes babble to the stone.

She wanted to ask Tristan if he had discovered what he sought since she had seen him last, though she could not quite put her mind to the words the hidden one had imparted to him. Such things mattered greatly to her, especially when they spoke of new beginnings. Not the tendrils of prophecy, though they mattered too, but the sense of someone's peace. A wolf grown in the shadow of a troll was no natural thing, and it had troubled him back then. But she supposed it must need to be that way, for a normal wolf would care nothing for a creature who found her home under the waves.

Which of course circled her back both to his question and to her reasons for calling him.

“Words are like stones tied about my ankles,” she murmured, half to him, half to herself. Then: “But I can show you, perhaps. If you will trust me?”

She teetered on the edge of a pause, almost as though she awaited an answer. But either she chose to assume his consent, or she did not wish to hear the hesitation of doubt. “You’re a strong swimmer, I remember that. Though I believe you lost the race.” She tapped a finger against his chest with a grin, then scooped up the boulder of one of his hands to urge him to follow. “Promise me you will not show her your fearsome teeth, Tristan! But it must be a real promise this time, for I do not know what she will do if she thinks you mean her harm, even dreaming!” She called out the words in a breathless rush of air as she pulled him along -- the long way, running over the rock and grass, so that he might have a chance to realise where they were going and prepare himself. Few did not panic to be plunged into the depths of water they must travel, and wolves were creatures of land.

As their feet began to splash, the waters rushed up to meet them like the wide flung arms of an embrace. A little unnatural, granted, but it hastened the journey. Then they were under, the surface but a hazy smear of light far above them. The hair writhed around Nimeda’s beaming face, and for a moment she was distracted with the sheer pleasure of it. Noctua would not swim like this, and she was not sure Mara would see the point in it. Most casual dreamers did not tolerate the deeps Nimeda made habit to explore, caged by the expectations of a reality that did not apply to this world. She wondered if Tristan would be so silly as to try and hold his breath.

Her bright gaze found him, to make sure he was okay however he decided to negotiate the challenge of the waters, and once assured of that she turned with the sleek agility of a fish; for, while she clearly revelled in their new surroundings, it was not why they were here and for once Nimeda did not fall prey to the delights of her own whim.

“You should follow now,” she told him. Her mouth did not open for the words, yet she said them nonetheless. A strong kick of legs propelled her down. Bubbles streamed like tickles along her body, and jetted from her mouth as she played with the air that should not be in her lungs. She just willed it, and it was so. Of course, in the same manner of thought she might have simply willed them straight to their destination, but she enjoyed the fast zip of the swimming and twisting between the playful under-tides.

Down and down and down she took him.

After a while she finally slowed, and then hung there, suspended in the deep nothingness. The current made a lazy exploration, her hair and clothes and limbs in lethargic motion. She could feel ripples now from the creature’s endless vigil, and she turned to check for Tristan’s reaction. Nimeda did not believe him easily scared, but he was a creature of instinct before thought, and she could not imagine he did not sense the presence with them. His soul was old, but they were never quite the same between the turnings.

“Old things wake,” she said. Fondness laced the words; the same great wonder she felt upon her first glimpse of Tuuru. It was shared with all the thrill of a secret, but she did not know if he would really understand that great joy. She supposed it did not matter. “We should not get too close. She dreams, and I do not think - so long as we are quiet - that she will react to us. But she is agitated.” She pulled herself closer, and then a nimble touch reached to angle him a little better, so that when she pointed a slender arm, he would see what was below. “Do you see? Do you understand?”

The creature stirred closer, the iridescent stripes of her scaled markings glowing softly in the murk; a body almost that of a human woman above the waist, if a woman’s skin could be coloured so. As before she seemed mostly unaware of their presence, though the wriggle of her tentacles curled about their limbs in passing. A little enchanted, Nim revolved in a curious circle to follow the monster’s passage, letting Tristan absorb what she showed him nestled far below them -- though she would stop him, if he indicated any interest in drifting closer. Surely a man who called animals kin would know better though. After a time she hooked a hand on Tristan’s bicep. Well, tried to. Her grip had to slide all the way down to his elbow for any purchase. Then she pulled and in the next breath their heads broke the lake’s surface. Nimeda’s bobbed sleek as a seal. “Do you see?” she repeated earnestly. “Do you understand?”
"A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth  through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
Roderick Haig-Brown
[Image: nimthallethe.jpg]
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#6
[Image: 49679186_402932550451133_3860079414955089442_n.jpg]

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The banks of a lake formed around his feet. The water was glassy, the surface still as an empty dream. “I trust you,” he told Nimeda, entwining his hand with hers. The flex of his arm may crush her bones, though only with little consequence in this place. The reminder of swimming sparked the smile of a dare, and he accepted the warning with a nod. The water swallowed him shortly after.

Perhaps it was his natural inclination for the swim or it was the invitation from a water-native that put him at ease. For some reason, just as he could run from the peak of one mountain to the next in a step, the sudden descent through the water was not disturbing.

Nimeda’s hair swarmed, and from Tristan's toothy smile erupted a stream of bubbles in return. Meanwhile, his eyes brandished gold in the dark waters as he sought awareness of their surroundings. Wolves may not like to swim, but Tristan spent his summers surfing the infamous Icelandic crests. It was with a playful nip that he tumbled and twirled in ways unknown on the land. The wolf did not traverse great waters, but the pups would play excitedly in temperate ponds. He played while he could. Laughed, even.

Downness rushed up soon after. He was a willing follower, but so also had he been when taken to Mara’s tower. Instinct rushed after the natural enemy of the wolves upon that arrival, chasing the shadow-biters known as the pets of the dark princess. When a flicker and flash in the water warned him they were not alone, curiosity streamed his gaze to follow. A scent did not tickle the nose. His arms did not pebble with warning. No threat perceived, Tristan was a passive witness to what came next. Though a slithering upon his skin made him want to shiver.

He finally caught a glimpse of the creature long enough to believe, if not yet fully understand. It was clearly female, with the curvaceous torso of shoulders, breasts and hips. Luscious lips snarled and pursed. In place of hair streamed elegant tendrils, like the feelers of a jellyfish. She was agitated as Nimeda described, but from the tilt of her eyes, Tristan saw fear. Dozens of tentacles, strong or slender, floated in her wake. Propelling her trajectory in bending arcs and flexible darts. She was elegant, powerful, yet afraid. With some coaxing, Nimeda lured his attention elsewhere. A shadow nestled on the lake floor, and finally, he seemed to understand.

A sadness crept into his chest as he floated, sadness for what was lost in this beautiful creature. On the heels of that emotion another pulsed. Arousal soon warmed his bones, one that hummed attraction to the old things Nimeda spoke of, or perhaps it was for a heart that sensed a discarded kin. He was awe-struck, almost willing the female to see him. When she paused, his hope was sparked, but the squeeze of a hand on his arm broke the connection, and two human faces broke the surface.

Drips poured down his face as they bobbed in the free water. His beard was flattened, though the war paint on his face was undisturbed. Nimeda was there, clutching his arm, nestled close to his chest. He blinked, nodding.

“I understand,” he said as the previous sensations fought being washed away. And for reasons he didn’t understand, but did not fight, he leaned to kiss her.
"Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way."
Rognar Lothbrok
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#7
His enchanted reaction to the lake’s guardian clearly delighted her. Nimeda’s beam was effusive above the waves tickling gentle at her neck, the eyes above that bright with the promised shine of another secret to unearth -- for such wondrous creatures had not been created with those gifts such as she showed him in mind. On the contrary, it was not what they were built for at all. Yet like shoots from barren soil, mother nature’s was always the stronger claim. Men would crush that monstrous unknown right underfoot in their discovery of it, as they already had for one of the creature’s brethren -- not just to claim glory over their ferocity, of course, but for what they possessed. But Tristan understood.

A brilliant smile danced for the affirmation, though it seemed in the same breath that the wolf had been speaking of something else entirely. Surprise softened Nimeda into curiosity at the way he leaned in, for she usually had a keener sense of such needs in others. Perhaps it was only that Tristan’s emotions were so suddenly moved by the great buffeting of tides swept in from the things she had shown him below; a passion born from the single crest of a moment. She did not much question it, and when the tremor of those waves came to lap against her own shore it was to a natural and inquisitive welcome.

His lips were cold from the frozen depths, and tasted of the clean freshwater beaded along their surface. Warmth blossomed in her as quickly as one of Tuuru’s blooms seeking the sun, alongside a hum of laughter as playfully charmed as her initial sink into the lake’s embrace. She considered the thrill of a chase -- he’d laughed on the journey down and down and down. But distraction only slipped her arms up the landscape of his wet skin, finding an anchor behind the wide chords of his neck. She pulled up and close, allowing herself to feel the nip of cold so that she might draw into the captivation of heat. The tribal drum of his heart beat against her like he swallowed the heavens inside; sun-moon-stars-all, claimed in fierce and ancient retribution. The threads of her were pulled in by the rhythm, the resonance shivering her through and met by the hunger of her own lips.
"A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth  through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
Roderick Haig-Brown
[Image: nimthallethe.jpg]
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#8
[Image: 49679186_402932550451133_3860079414955089442_n.jpg]

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Nimeda’s touch melted the frost clinging to his Icelandic bones. He sank into her spindly arms, but while the passion he knew with Sierra sparked fire, Nimeda’s soothed the inferno, simmering and stoking the wild flame into something contained. When his lips parted hers, he cupped her cheeks in his hands and smiled, peering into her water-slicked face flushed with desire. With that, he clasped her hand and pulled her gently to the shore.

On dry land, he remained a soggy mess. The beard so carefully groomed otherwise, was stuck to his throat. Though clothed only below the waist, which otherwise bulged with eagerness, he shivered no more than a wolf slightly perturbed by a muss of fur.

It was toward the lake his golden gaze pondered. The creature that they saw was not of this world, but he found her mesmerizing.
“She is Vatnavættir^. I’ve never seen one in all my years, though I have had encounter with álfar*. That means you found Álagablettur**. A place of power and importance. I will help her.”

The only problem was he had no idea where they were in order to find the Álagablettur in their Other World.



^A water spirit that guards a specific watery domain or something important within.
*True name of Huldufólk, the Hidden People/Grey Lady, also called elves.
**Reference to specific places of power or enchanted spots. Typically this is a concentrated area that connects the real world with the hidden world of the Huldufolk.
"Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way."
Rognar Lothbrok
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#9
Where he led she followed easily, both curious and willing. On dry land the great disparity of their height brought her at eye level with the broadness of his chest, and her palm reached to splay flat against it as he pulled her dripping beyond the water’s embrace. Like an anchor dropped through the heavens of time, she was still dizzy with its rush, the secrets she showed him below the lake distant from thought. "It beats so ferociously," she confided softly. Enchantment flushed her warm, the words a breathy discovery, “and in too small of a chamber." 

Tristan was built as tall and wide as a cliff looming over the sea, but she did not mean it to be a wry joke at his size, and nor did her tone suggest it. She had touched him like this once before, to comfort what she had thought at the time to be unease over the worthiness of his tainted blood to the wolf’s call, but she did not perceive that now. The polarity of his birth made him something else, not less, but like most unnatural unions it was likely to bring pain into the bargain of its gifts. 

A little sadness swept in, the echo of something long past -- not entirely clear, even to her. Men so often destroyed the things they did not understand, or bound them away to rot. A heart fierce as his might resound like the threatening drums of war in ignorant ears, his only sin that he felt too much. “I wonder that no one ever paused to hear it clearly.”

She shivered in a way that had nothing to do with the cold, then. Nimeda's soul had ever been a wild thing, too inquisitive to truly tame even when her loyalties were beholden. Ally and enemy were labels used by others, and she disregarded such rules with the cheerfulness of water slipping through cupped fingers when they were imposed upon her. It was why her friendship with Mara sustained even across ages, despite His disapproval in each turning he was her father. No cage ever kept Nimeda out, not even one gnawed upon by the bristling shadows of nightmare. Or the stronger bars of time.

Yet she had never been the one bound.

Her thoughts blurred softly with the burden of old memory, frayed by desires she’d given into freely, and now strangely diffused even within the confines of her own shell. When Tristan spoke of the lake and its mistress, her attention shifted slowly at first. She peeled away from him, lulled back down into the welcome of the surf like she might be about to dissolve into nothing but seafoam upon its glassy surface. He used words she would not have chosen herself to describe this place, and they twirled like plucked treasures as she considered the call of the water’s clear depths and the creature within. The cold glided up her legs at the descent, its current tugging at the skirts swirled in its playful grasp like it would pull her deeper. The wonder charmed, and she let it sweep through her unabashed. Tristan’s awe was quiet and reverent, and it moved her.

"She is hunted for what she possesses," she agreed, watching the sparkling ripples stretch out to the horizon like the covering of a blanket. "I heard her distress from afar. I hear it still. This world is filled with such secrets once you learn how to listen, and I have had plenty of time for practise.” In fact, on the very same current that snared her here, the Need delivered the only other soul who might also heed the call of such a creature with enough passion to seek her in the Waking world. The Grey Lady first revealed Tristan’s home for reasons that seemed unrelated at the time, yet the pattern ever cinched its knots. Nim rarely paused to reflect on such things. She saw too much already of the endings soon promised, and Tristan had told her himself of the Huldufólk’s prophecy.

Her hands trailed the water like she might slip deeper and away from such thoughts, but in the end she only watched it rush over her scarred palm as she lifted it, thinking briefly of the grimnir’s promise. Her trust in Noctua’s offered protections soothed any fear for her own well-being; it was not Grim’s threat to her she considered now, but how her memory of these creatures had first bubbled up with the horror of realising his callous slaughter of one of them. He was ruthless, but he was not evil. Would it give him pause to know the impossibility of what this one protected? Or would he see no more than an animal to slay for the second trinket he desired? She did not know, and she would not risk giving him the knowledge of where the Guardian could be found in order to find out. Perhaps in that ignorance he would yet be distracted by his pursuit of her Other, to first reclaim what was stolen from him. What she had stolen from him.

In that small way she might help. Yet she feared the grimnir was not the only hunter.

We,” she amended absently to Tristan’s vow, to include herself in the promise. Then she turned and began to wade her way back to shore, arms outstretched for the nimble game of keeping her balance over the rocky pebbles shifting under her toes. Her gaze sought him like she finally remembered he was there, and she smiled warmly to discover his ponderous, gold-eyed solemnity. Her own mood lightened with the surety of his words, and she did not hide the rush of her delight for his sincerity. "I do not know what they call this place in the world beyond. It’s had many names,” she told him, though he did not ask her the question. Probably he thought it a futile one, and usually he would be quite correct. Unlike the ephemeral unknown of the cities that rose and fell around Mara’s prison though, this lake was something ancient and immutable, and for that reason it was something more intimately knowable for her.

Mischievousness edged her smile, and the shine of the epiphany lit her up, though it was the sharing she enjoyed now, not the muddied discovery of the knowledge itself. “The long dive down was not an illusion just because I like the swimming, though I do.” She laughed, and might have levelled the accusation back at him, for he swam not much like a wolf at all. “I know of nowhere else that stretches closer to the earth's heart, Tristan. It’s the deepest lake there ever was, or is, or ever will be. That’s where she will be found."

Ice tickled down her back as she came to stand before him, a diversion she might have made a laughing game of in the absence of other curiosities. Nimeda rarely adjusted her appearance as other flickering dreamers were wont to do to reflect their comforts. Tristan was similarly soaked through, and the last time they had met he’d persisted in a charming ritual of warming them with towels in his small home. He looked now like a man accustomed to the bite of cold and little affected by it, not one choosing to ignore its chill touch without bothering to erase its evidence.

Mirth tilted her head. Droplets rolled down Nimeda’s own cheeks like whispers, not icy claws. She did not shiver at all, though her skin paled almost as deathly white as the cast of her sodden dress; colourlessness that made wet river stones of her wide grey eyes. Her appraisal of him was as open as she was unselfconscious of herself, the returned proximity reminding that he had leaned to kiss her not long before. His arousal lingered, sudden realisation of which warmed a reaction through her own body. She found him strange in a fascinating way. People were inherently full of surprises and contradictions, and Nimeda considered them things to embrace rather than judge. She didn’t question. Tristan seemed a man particularly contradictive though, which perhaps explained the fond amusement of her expression now. 

“I have shown you the trail,” she said, pleased to have remembered his own words to offer them back now; the advice must have filtered somewhere deep. She smiled and reached a finger to chase the snaking run of a water droplet on its journey down his abdomen. “But you must tread the path.”
"A river is water in its loveliest form; rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth  through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
Roderick Haig-Brown
[Image: nimthallethe.jpg]
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#10
[Image: 49679186_402932550451133_3860079414955089442_n.jpg]

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Nimeda’s hand stoked embers deep within. Much more and the fire may spark out of control. She spoke of things that cast his golden gaze toward distant horizons, but he did not deny her assessments. The war within his own blood was simultaneously softened and enflamed in this place. The domain of the trolls were closer, but his control over their dominant forces was also tighter. As a wolf, he was an enemy to his bloodline and as the carrier of trollblood, he was a danger to the wolves. To humans, he was a monster as both. Perhaps that was why he surrounded himself in the love and embrace of those few who accepted him: Long Eye and now, Nimeda.

His hand curled around hers, swallowing the fingers, and pulling both their hands tight to his chest. The waters dripped from his hair, but he liked the sensation, allowed it to persist.
“The deepest lake that ever was,” he repeated. That would be enough to help him find it. Once beholding the pictures of the lake-scape, he was sure he’d recognize it. “We,” he also repeated, entranced by Nimeda’s correction.

Where her hand trailed, he shivered, but not from chill. The chains on his willpower broke, and he wrapped his arms about her once again.
"Don’t waste your time looking back, you’re not going that way."
Rognar Lothbrok
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