Chapter 125: The Question

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Today is the day for feasting, the day for dancing and celebration! Skinstealer is dead, and may his brothers and sisters join him in death! May he not rest lonely in the grave, but be joined by the living abominations that call themselves immortal. Now we celebrate, as the Soul of Elysion is closer to redemption! Celebrate, that the dark and nameless powers tremble at our joy!

***

It was dark when she entered. Skaria had warned her that the owner of the house might be asleep, and the old woman needed her rest. So as Kyra stepped into the house, she kept quiet, as it would be rude to awaken her for no reason.

She walked through the house, wincing every time one of her footsteps coaxed a groan or creak from the floorboards. Sneaking away from her father had been much easier. Then again, he had been preoccupied with trying to cover up the damage that a certain individual had inflicted on the honor and image of house Solstael, the very individual that she was to visit tonight.

Kyra climbed the staircase, heart heavy. There was some bad news to share, news that laid heavy on her heart. Each creaking stair made the weight worse, but at last she reached the top.

And there he was.

He looked different. Laidu wore that human disguise, save for his eyes, which still glinted gold. His face was lit by a crackling fire, casting strange shadows across Laidu's new face. He turned, and his face lit up in excitement. "Kyra," he breathed.

In two strides he was over at her side, his arms around her. But he must have felt her hesitation in returning the embrace, and he let go of her. "Is something wrong?" he asked.

Kyra nodded. "You look different," she said.

"You don't think I look good?" Laidu asked. "Indra said I did. In a clinical, non-attracted to me way, I should add." He seemed tense.

"It's... You're handsome like that," she said, "but I didn't fall for the prince Tanazhar Aldrakul. I didn't fall for someone with a title and money."

"None of which I presently have," Laidu said.

"I didn't fall in love with a prince. I liked Tanazhar Aldrakul, don't get me wrong. But I didn't fall for him." Laidu looked confused.

"I fell in love with a hero, not a prince," she said. "I fell in love with a warrior with a compassionate and empathic heart. I fell in love with someone who saw me, Kyra, not Lady Solstael." She paused. "I fell in love with Laidu Tsung, and while that face is handsome, it's not the face that I fell in love with."

Laidu closed his eyes, and his skin began to glow and shift like it had before. She watched as the face that she had known for the past months, and stared up into his eyes.

"You'd choose this over the other one?" Laidu asked.

"In a heartbeat. You know," she said, stroking his face, "despite what you seem too stubborn to stop believing, you're not repulsive. You're handsome like this. But it's a different beauty. A more dangerous one," she said. And then she kissed him. His arms wrapped around her again, and this time she returned his embrace without hesitation.

"There is something," she said. "We need to talk."

***

"What's wrong?" Laidu asked.

He still held the jeweler's special delivery, the thing he had commissioned while under the sway of the new madness, now the only madness, and that item seemed to weigh so much more.

"Well I have some good news and some bad news," Kyra said. In the firelight, her skin was luminous. She toyed with her hair in a way that made Laidu smile, a way that was a small but sweet thing about her. "The good news is that I managed to get my father from charging you with things like trespassing and assault."

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