"Twist of Fate"

Nandaine peered through the churning smoke that tainted the night air. She shook her head in disbelief; the charred remains of monks were lined in rows. She reached the entrance to the monastery and was greeted by nothing but dismembered beauty. The once pristine white hall was charred with black streaks, chaos inside told the tale of the invasion. Broken glass, tattered curtains, ash lined the marble floors, furniture that did survive the blaze was disfigured by fire and strewn across the rooms. She crept through the cringed monastery searching for any signs of life. The grit of the smog clung to her clothes; black soot stood promptly on her pale cheeks. She wasn't sure why she sent here, only that her Liege instructed her to leave Fay at once and travel to Antonica to the monastery, and seek a woman monk who had been inquiring about a prestigous member. "You will know her upon glance." he said. Nandaine Bowed before her lord, "As you wish my lord." a look of concern passed his normally cool features, he spoke carefully, "Nan, if my suspicions are correct, guard thee heart and pray for strength." A mildly puzzled expression passed over Nandaine's face, but lasted only a second before she dashes out of the room and began packing for the trip.

Nandaine sighed to the barren room, and steadily walked across silent halls into more rooms. "If she is alive." she spoke aloud. She listened attentively but was greeted only by the sound of her boots creeping across the broken debris that lay upon the floor. A Sudden moan and light cough caught Nandaine's attention she turned quickly towards the noise. Lying in the corner of the room was a body; Nandaine quickly hurried her pace to the fallen. The woman's eyes fluttered open, a gasp struck Nandaine ability to breathe. She shook her head in denial. The woman's golden eyes met hers and with a sunken heart she knew it to be true. The woman reached her bruised arm out for her, and gasped trying to speak, "pleaaasee you must get word to my husband. He believes me dead." Nandiane's eyes welled, she knew this woman, had seen a rendition of her once, a sketch of perfect portions. Nandaine bit her bottom lip and knelt beside the woman. "Ssshhhh M'lady your husband is fine and well. Let’s tend to you first and I will personally go retrieve him myself." Nandaine ignored the knife that pierced her heart and quietly called upon her goddess for strength. Quickly she recited a few words and laid her hands upon the battle torn woman and healed her major wounds then tended the small ones by hand. Before the woman lost consciousness, one name escaped her lips. "Azifar." and she fell into a fitful sleep.

Nandaine retrieve a few blankets from her pack and covered the woman. She sat beside her sleeping form. Yes it was her there was no doubt in Nandaine's mind. She happened upon her portrait in Az's hunting cabin shortly after they were married and enjoying their honeymoon. He slept so soundly she dared not wake him; instead she crept quietly from their bed taking only a thin blanket which she wrapped around her body. She knelt beside his sleeping form and kissed his lips lightly. Gently she stood and glanced around his room. So unlike her own marbled floors chiseled to a startling perfection. The flowers that bloomed beneath her bedroom window scented the air. She smiled inwardly though she would not admit to him she liked this rugged cabin. Coveted in the treetops, with the sky embracing you and the shifting lull of the leaves tousled by the wind rocked you into sleep. Wolves and bears that often stayed near the tree cabin whether guarding or waiting for their ranger's approval she could not tell. But the site often warmed her heart. She tip toed around the room, searched in Az's draws for a shift to slide into. She noticed a rolled up scroll. She glanced at Az's sleeping form once again and pondered if she should unroll it. She did, drawn on the parchment was the delicate face of a human, her eyes painted golden, deep brown locks framed her soft features, she looked tranquil while she posed from the artist inspecting eyes. "Nandaine" his voice was gentle. She turned and smiled at him. "Who is she?" she asked. Azifar sat up in bed taunt muscles gleamed on his golden skin. "Bring it here." he smiled gently as Nandaine shuffled across the floor with he portrait in hand. She curled along his side as he held the portrait in his hand. A small frown crossed his face. "I’m not sure how to tell you this, but know it bares no weight on how I feel for you." he said. Nandaine nodded In my youth I met this woman, we fell madly in love. My family frowned upon our affection for each other as did hers. Elves and humans are not suppose to love outside their race. We stole away one night and returned married forcing them to accept our love. " He hesitated slightly with much grief in his voice continued. " she was called away shortly after, called to complete a quest for her guild. The journey was to be perilous this she did tell me, but did not tell me just how dangerous. She was to send word upon her arrival in Freeport, but alas I never got any word, so I sought her out. I searched for months with a heavy heart, fearing she had met her demise, I asked her relatives and those close to her but none had laid eyes on her. I stumbled upon a dwarf who heard that it was rumored her party had met hard times and they did not survive the peril. I believed her dead, for years I vowed not to love, to not care for anyone as I did for her." His voiced softened "But as fate would have it I would fail to keep that vow as I met you, and have been taken into the arms of bliss ever since."

His voice slowly faded from her mind as she watched over the sleeping form, her beloved husband’s first wife. Part of her wanted to scream that selfish aspect wished she had never happened upon her. There was the other voice, the one that spoke of miracles. She had not decided which one was louder, but it mattered not she had to get this woman to safety and return to her, she stumbled for words, she must return to Azifar and tell him. She did a quick summons and contacted Dragons his face was masked in concern, "Nandaine, have you found the monk woman I spoke of? " " Aye I have M'Lord, the woman," she hesitated to grant her a tittle, "is in stable health." He frowned slightly. "And you?" Nandaine hesitated it should not surprise her that he knew of this woman, and her ties to Azifar yet it did take her off guard. " I will be well M’Lord, shocked but well. I think I should be the one to tell him," she paused. "Is it feasible to send in a replacement to attend to her until I have spoken with him?" Dragons nodded in grim silence, "One is on the way to take her to a place of safety, they should be arriving in moments." His voice was met with concern; "you know why I chose you don't you?" Nandaine nodded "Aye I do, I have seen her face before and you know me too well. I would not of believed it until I seen it with my own eyes." He spoke again. " I had received reports of a woman inquiring but I was not positive, but I feared they may be true the news is one of bitter sweet. Safe travels Nandaine I will expect news soon." His image blurred in a cloud of smoke. Nandaine was left alone with her thoughts.

As promised back up did arrive and carried the woman to safety. Nandaine over saw her safe keeping content that she was in good hands she started her journey home. She arrived at the cabin in a whisk of smoke and was greeted by silence. She walked around the room, comforted by the familiar smells of tree sap, as fall was upon the air was thick with damp fallen leaves. She touched trinkets that brought her to fond memories. Azifar's bows hung up a rack in the corner. She through open the shutters and glanced at the flowers, flowers taken from beneath her bedroom window and placed along the windows edge. A gesture from Azifar to make her more comfortable and at home. She smiled inwardly if only he knew how accustomed she had become to his home and grudgingly admired the simplicity of it. There was a pound of feet on the steps she quickly adjusted herself. Azifar gracefully ducked in the door, a warm smile greeted his features. "I knew you were here!" he swept her into a whirling hug. Nandaine chuckled and kissed her husband's cheek "OH and how is that your critters let you know?" He placed his hands on his hips and nodded "as a matter of fact they did. That and the shutter was thrown open and I can't think of anyone who enjoys the smells of those flowers but you." Nandaine gave him a soft smile and nodded "probably true, they are an acquired smell." He frowned, "What is it Nand? Normally that comment would have had me flogged and wrestled to the ground."

Nandaine stood and paced the white pine floors. "Sit Az, I have news for you." He backed up slowly to the bed and sat patiently. " I do not know how to tell you this, or if my heart will even allow me to, but I must." Nandaine eyes teared, "It is both joyous and tragic," she stopped to catch a breath she strode to the window and sat in front of it looking outside over the hills of lesser Fay, trying to drawn strength from earth that has always been a silent witness for the most terrible of blood shed and heartaches. "Az I was sent to Antonica to a monastery a few days walk from the city. I came upon devastation and destruction to monastrey; I went seeking a woman who had been inquiring, " Nandaine paused trying to let Azifar absorb the blow that was surely coming. "A monk woman, who was asking after your whereabouts." she stopped and faced him. He was staring at her blankly, she could see he was twisted between wanting to understand and denial. Nandaine moved towards him and knelt beside him placing a hand along his face. "Look at me, for you won't believe me until you see it in my eyes to be the truth." He met her eyes she saw confusion. "It is true my love she lives, your wife lives. I tended to her myself and stayed with her through the night until I could move her to safety Dragon has her hidden away awaiting her recovery. She is making good progress, doing well." Nandaine continued to pour forth her report, minus her own thoughts on the matter. She watched the confusion build as the truth sunk in. Nandaine lifted to her full height, knowing she would attempt to lessen it somehow. "Az you must go to her, out of honor her and your love that you had once, you must go." Nandaine watched as protest formed on his lips. "EH, no you must. She has spent a small lifetime loving you, and you her. Go now." There was slight hesitation in his poster hands wrung together, but he rose from the bed and began gathering items and packing. Nandaine turned to the window wrapped her arms around herself, she had known what this meant from the first moment she laid eyes on her, but the shock of it sent her reeling. There was a gentle hand on her back she turned to meet his eyes. "Nan I could not of," he stumbled for words "I would not of. I mean I do no regret giving myself to you, my only regret is this burden I have seemingly laid on you." Nandaine turned to him and placed a small kiss upon his cheek. " Az its a twist of fate, a lesson that love is only a thing we lease, we have each other for but a small time to cherish and adore. But I do not regret it, not for one moment! Regret has no place in the realm of love. Now hurry you have long journey ahead of you." Nandaine graced him with a reassuring smile and slipped his pack over his arms. She grabbed hold of him one more time running her hands through his hair. She laughed though her heart was wrenching "Go you before I am forced to kick your butt out the door." She playfully threatened him with her boot. He tossed the pack readjusting the weight and headed out the door. He carried his weight, but in his form she could see that it was heavy. She understood what he must do.

Nandaine stood in the window watching his form retreat into the fog. She leaned over and plucked the dew cover flowers from their soil. He was a man of honor she loved him for that reason. To deny that would have caused her greater pain to know she stood between two people twisted by fate then brought together again would have nipped away at her. No she could not be selfish though her heart wanted to be, she knew that if the remained the burden of what could of been between the 2 lost lovers would of plagued her. She mustered the last bit of conviction she had took one flower and placed it beside the nightstand. Glanced around the room. With another few words she summoned another portal and returned to her marble city, to spend time adjusting to the cold white marble, and to being alone.
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