Chapter 75: Confession

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What are words? They are sound, but more. They are symbols on a page, but more. What are words? They are a conduit, a connection between the miracles of our minds and our souls to others' minds and others' souls. They pin down ideas, and give them a body. They are the incarnation of thought itself.

Marcus Arverius, Musings.


Kyra Tiranai Solstael.

The name buzzed in his head, intoxicating as fine wine. It spun in his head, tracing delightful thoughts as he lay in the bed. Kyra Tiranai Solstael. It was the name of the most beautiful woman on earth. The name of the daughter of one of the most powerful men in Saefel Caeld. The name of the young woman who slept a few feet away. The name of the woman he was deeply, desperately in love with.

Why her? He had wondered many times, as he stared up at the flickering light of a campfire reflected off of a cave ceiling, as he watched shafts of moonlight dance across the ceiling of the inn he lay in. Why had he fallen for her? Had God chosen her, had His hands selected her, a fine rose -no, an orchid, exotic and beautiful- from God's garden, and planted her in the heart of a soldier?

She wasn't unattractive. By all means, she was ravishing. Laidu had seen many a rich, wealthy lady neglect health, trusting in the powers of cosmetics and riches to sustain their attraction. Their faith was sorely misplaced. But Kyra was not among them. The way she walked betrayed her beauty, an ephemeral feminine sensuality that Laidu loved to watch, a delicate grace in her features, in her warm eyes, in the tresses of her long, beautiful hair.

But it was not just her body that enchanted Laidu. It was her soul. She was calm for much of the time, bewildered and stunned, but there was a spark in her. A fire. After all, Laidu was a creature of fire, a dragon. Or part dragon. She had the resolve of a warrior, and courage he had not seen before. Sure, she had shown fear, but she had overcome it. It was courage, after all, that let her face a bandit in combat. Skaria was used to it, Indra was...Indra, and Laidu didn't want to know what was going on in her head, but Kyra...

She was beautiful, one of those God had fashioned with extra love and care. He wanted to hold her, to simply hold her, to feel her lay against him and know that he loved her. To run his hand through her soft hair, to feel her breathe against him, to feel the rise and fall of her breath, to feel her live next to him.

Why would she want to do that? Do you not remember what you are? A monster. A freak of nature, an aberration even by the standards of the Changed. He could hear the venom in Kasran's voice. The mocking hatred. The sneer of disdain, the cruel vanity and glee he seemed to get from Laidu's tortured mind. What are you? A monster! A freak!


It was the Warden who spoke, with a single word that broke Kasran's despair-inducing monologue. Laidu was a freak. Sure. He was a freak in the same way an athlete was a freak. He was different from everyone else. 

He stopped and sat up in his bed. Emotions, as lovely as they were, clouded his head, obscured his reason, and tainted his judgement. Emotions were part of life, yes, but sometimes they had to be set aside. He shifted so his feet were crossed at the ankles, rested the palms of his hands on his knees, and closed his eyes.

He inhaled consciously, not just letting his lungs expand, but his diaphragm too, making his entire chest expand. And then, for a second, he held the breath, before slowly, with control, released it. Inhale, and fill oneself, and bind the emotions to the breath. Exhale, and let them drain out.

Soon, he was settled down. What would he do now? What were his next moves? Which would be rational, and which would be disastrous to do? He pondered, for a moment, and laid out his options.

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