Creaks and groans echoed. Not one living entity seemed to inhabit
the dark forest: not mouse, not an
insect, not even a blade of grass. The trunk of every tree had deep wrinkles, the
bark was heavily tanned but had no grain. It resembled old, stiff leather
rather than wood. Not a single one of them bore any leaves, and instead seemed
to grow the purest, silver cotton that covered its branches, little tufts of
this ‘fur’ sprouting from the trunk as though it were a fungus.
The sun now shone, grass a vibrant green and flowers were
just starting to bloom. A woman laid on her back on the ground, staring up at
the sun, with her armor at her side for once. She basked in the sunlight, taking
in the scents that surrounded her, almost asleep when a crinkle made her ear
twitch. Senja raised her head just in time to see a striped bobcat jump on her
stomach, a variety of colorful flowers gripped in her maw. Her hands snapped
out in time and caught the large feline mid pounce.
It attempted to speak, but all that attempt accomplished was
to cause flowers to fall from its mouth.
“What is it, Vanessa?”
The bobcat’s form
started to shift, bones cracked and Senja winced at the sound. A lithe woman
replaced the feline, though the flowers were still tucked in her mouth. She
spat them out and crossed her arms, frowning at Senja.
“How did you hear me?” Vanessa demanded.
“You stepped on a twig. Again, what is it? Are we in
“I brought flowers,” Vanessa answered, holding up
the chewed bouquet she gathered. “Thought you’d like 'em.”
“Mm.” Senja still held Vanessa aloft, and gently
moved her over to the side so she could sit up. “And the pounce?”
“To see if you’re okay.”
“I…am,” Senja answered, grimacing at her awful
attempt at a lie.
“Yuh huh, and I’m an albatross,” Vanessa snorted. She
leaned over and attempted to meet Senja’s eyes. “Senja, what’s
Senja refused to look at Vanessa, and stared off to the
side. She folded her hands atop one another and thought of how best to phrase
her thoughts. How could she explain herself? “What we did…”
“You did nothing wrong,” Vanessa interrupted, eyes
narrowing. “They attacked, we defended. It-”
“I didn’t, mean that. I…”
Vanessa circled about and attempted to angle her face to
look at Senja to no avail. “Senny, did I do something?”
“You did nothing,” Senja affirmed with a shake of
her head. “You didn’t. I don’t-”
“It’s because of what I said, isn’t it?”
“It’s-” Senja started to say, but the knight knew
there was no reason for her to lie. “Yes. It is.”
Vanessa winced, bit her lip, and sat down in front of Senja.
She swallowed a ball of nerves, and said, “I-I don’t, take back what I
said. It’s true.”
“So what’s wrong?”
Senja’s shoulders quaked, she shut her eyes tight and said,
“I have turned against my comrades…I turned away the teachings of the Weaver,
I’ve…I’ve committed sins in the eyes of the church-”
“Who cares about the church?”
“I care,” Senja snapped. “ I am of the church
and I am the blade of the Weaver, you will not
“Blasphemy?” Vanessa snorted and rolled her eyes,
“You’re saying their will is the
Weaver’s, then? That the Purifier is who you are?”
“Maybe.” Senja bowed her head and buried it into
her knees. “I do not know.”
Something was tucked behind Senja’s ear, followed by thin
arms encircling her and holding her in a tight embrace. The knight’s nose told
her that it was a daisy
“Doesn’t mean I’ll love you any less,” Vanessa
cooed. “If that’s what you want to do, I’ll follow you.”
“And how can you say you 'love me’?” Senja barked,
but made no attempt to break the embrace. "What if I don’t love you?“
Vanessa laughed, her breasts pressed against Senja’s back
with every breath she took. She nuzzled the back of her knight’s neck and
cooed, "Won’t make me love you any less. You don’t need to love me now, or
ever. I just want to be by your side.”
“But you…you said you love me.”
“Doesn’t mean you have to say you do,” Vanessa
said. “You have your Weaver, I have you.”
“Then punish the heretic,” she giggled, rocking
Senja back and forth. “Go forth and purify the nonbeliever.”
Senja finally looked up, looked over and shot Vanessa the
most disapproving glare she could muster. Her eyes could freeze one’s soul.
“Don’t make light of inquisitions.”
“What are you going to do about it, mm?”
Vanessa pushed Senja over with a sudden burst of strength and
mounted the woman’s stomach. She sat there, grinning and drumming her fingers
on her knight’s sides. “Lo and verily, the heretic has laid low the
knight. What awful things does she have planned for her captive now?”
Senja’s breath quickened. She reached up and grabbed
Vanessa’s shoulders but did not throw the woman off of her. She froze mid
action, unsure of what to do now.
“Senja? Did it bother you that much?” Vanessa’s
grin wavered. “Should I not have said I love you?”
Senja swallowed her nerves again. What she would have given
to be facing down an army rather than deal with something as mundane as
this.“I don’t know…If I can say, the same to you.”
“I don’t care if you don’t.” Vanessa reached up
and started to stroke Senja’s calloused right hand. “I’m fine if you can’t
say it. I just, want to make you happy. What can I do? What should I say?
Should I have lied to you, to me? What can I do to make this better?”
Senja shook her head once more, “I don’t know. I just,
need more time. I need to think, Nessa.”
“Take all the time you need. I can wait.”
“And if it never comes?”
“Then it never comes,” Vanessa snorted.
“Won’t change how I feel about you.”
“You are making this difficult.”
“Love’s meant to be difficult.” Vanessa smiled, but
her fingers trembled, “But that’s what makes it worthwhile, isn’t it? It’s
hard, but you overcome it, and you become happy, right? No matter the
“I do not know if I can live with the
consequences,” Senja admitted.
“Consequences? What consequences can I not deal with?
What consequences can you not overcome?”
“Breaking your heart.” Senja moved her right hand
from Vanessa’s shoulder and cupped her cheek. “I do not want you to wait
for something that may never come. I do not want to hurt you, Vanessa. You are
making it difficult, because the more you trust me, the more I trust you, but I
do not know if I can love you the way you want me to.”
“ I’ll deal with the consequences as they come.”
Vanessa pushed past and pressed her lips against Senja’s forehead, kissing her
gently. “I’ll love you to the end of time.”
Senja did not resist.
She laid there, not sure what to do next.
Vanessa swallowed her own nerves this time, lowered her head
and kissed Senja’s cheek. No resistance still. She hovered over Senja’s lips.
“If you want me to stop, just say the word.”
Senja pulled Vanessa in closer.
An ancient entity raised her head. Her silvery hair
blanketed her back, rippled across the dead earth and penetrated it. It was the
only clearing in the thick forest. Her eyes squinted at the sunlight that
managed to pierce the nearly-impenetrable veil of treetops, shining down on
them. She cast her gaze downwards, and looked at the armored skeleton laid across her lap. Daisies grew in between
the ribcage, a bed of lively grass cushioned both the skeleton and the entity
that held it. Her hand came up and stroked the top of the bleached skull’s
head, and she crooned, “To the end of time.”