I woke up after only an hour or two of sleep. After sitting up, I remembered where I was. I was in Byorne's room, and he was in a coma on his bed. I got up and made sure that his heart was okay, and I gave him some water. After watching him a bit, I headed downstairs to the tavern to find something to drink.
I ordered a warm milk, and I saw Ellie sitting at one of the tables with her own glass of milk. I went over and sat down to talk with her. Apparently, she couldn't sleep because she was worried about Kippen. I talked with her some about him, and I asked her if she wanted to be with him in the future. She's not sure what to think of it...she's confused and naive, but not in a bad way. I can tell that she wants to, but doesn't know where or when to start. After a bit, Kippen came downstairs and joined us. We soon went outside, at my suggestion, to walk under the stars. It was amazing; the sky was clear and the moon was beautiful.
We came to a huge old tree, and Tobias flew up into it. I followed, climbing up the tree's branches higher and higher. I called down to Kippen and Ellie, and they soon followed me up. We got to the top, and just looked at the view...it was great. I listened to the tree, I felt its age and I knew that it was glad to have our company. Then, Kippen pulled out his flute and began to play...it was beautiful. The tree sung along to the song, and I couldn't have been happier. I was lying down on a branch, staring at the sky, and remembering my forest back home. I missed it. I just wanted to fall asleep there, in the tree, but I knew I couldn't because I couldn't leave Byorne alone. Ellie did fall asleep for most of the time we were up in the tree.
I talked to Kippen while Ellie was sleeping. We talked about Byorne, speculating about his behaviors and why he might not want to get close to anyone. I told Kippen how Byorne makes me feel...I'm both deathly afraid of him and drawn to him. My feelings about him are constantly changing, and I think the times that I'm drawn to him are the times that I know he can't hurt me...like now, when he's in a coma and his mind is shut down for the time being. We also talked about Elftown, and how I would bring everyone to meet my family. Kippen mentioned that he will be scared, since he isn't exactly comfortable around half-elves. I tried to talk to him about that, and about how we're not that different. I'm not sure how much got through to him, but I'm hoping it's enough so that he won't go crazy if we happen to go through there.
Speaking of that...we might be going through Elftown when we're in Shendar City. I really would like to, in order to see Silaqui and Talas again. I want them to know that I'm still alive and well. But I'm also afraid of showing our living quarters to the group...it's nothing compared to what they're used to, or the inns we sleep in. I'd be kind of embarrassed, even though I know I shouldn't be. We're lucky to have what we do.
After I talked with Kippen, Ellie woke up. We decided to head back inside, but before we did I said a prayer for the tree. I thanked it for letting us rest in its branches, and I wished it a long and healthy life. I felt its thanks, too.
We went back inside and Kippen and Ellie went to bed right away. They are really cute together, and I'm glad that I helped them realize that they love each other. I also hinted to Kippen that he should talk to Ellie about them living together in the future...I know that they both want it, but neither of them really wants to bring it up.
After they went to bed, I went into Byorne's room. His heartbeat was normal, and I gave him some more water. I decided to say a prayer for him, to help him on the road to recovery. After I rested my hand on his forehand and said the prayer, he looked visibly more comfortable and relaxed. That made me happy to see; I knew that I was helping him. After considering for a bit, I decided to ask Byorne the questions that Kippen told me I should ask. I put my hand back on his forehead to try to get to his mind, and I asked him why he can't get close to anyone, and what was he afraid of? I prayed, trying to reach his mind, trying to awaken him for just a moment. All of the sudden his whole body jerked and he gasped, and I jumped back. I was so scared that I did something wrong, that I hurt him, or worse...I put my hands back on his chest, regulating his heartbeat, praying that he would be okay. While I was doing this, his eyes flickered open and he spoke. He was talking to Eraia, and he told her not to take him yet, that he wasn't ready because he hadn't atoned. I replied to him, telling him not to worry, that Eraia wasn't coming for him yet. Then, all of the sudden he looked straight at me and said, "Anilla, thank you." He then slipped back into the coma, and left me standing there next to him.
I was crying at this point, though I didn't notice when I started...I was so scared and worried that I wasn't paying attention to the tears. He was okay, and I was so thankful for it...I gave him more water, and I was shaking. Afterwards, I just watched him for a long time...I didn't know what to think. I thought about what he said. What did he need atoned? Why did he thank me? Was the answer to my question somehow hidden in what he said? I thought about it for a long time.
Eventually I calmed down a bit, and I went over to my rug on the side of the bed. I stood there a moment, and then looked at Byorne again. I stared at the spot on the side of him...there was room for another person to lie next to him. I thought about everything that had happened on the previous days, about how I'd always been so afraid of this man who lay before me. He was harmless now, just a breathing body. But still, I was so scared, so afraid of him. I felt the fear, and I knew that I couldn't just go to sleep feeling that way. I knew I had to overcome it...I like him. I like him and yet I am so deathly afraid of him. I stood there for what felt like forever. I finally just gave in and almost fell onto the bed, and I lay down next to him, on my back. I was touching him, but just barely. My heart was racing, and the tears returned. I was so afraid, and I thought that I wasn't going to be able to do it, to stay there...I thought I was going to have to get out of his bed before I went crazy. I kept praying to the Mother, asking her, begging her to help me, to give me the strength to overcome my fears. I knew I couldn't live like this forever...I can't live in fear of men just because of what happened...I needed him, I needed him to help me get over my past. Even if he doesn't like me, even if he'd never want to get close to me...I needed him. I wanted to be close to him, and I knew that I need to be close to him in order to make it work.
I kept talking to myself, and praying, and thinking all of these thoughts...my head was a whirlwind of fears and thoughts and confused emotions. Eventually my tears stopped and I started to breathe normally again...but it must have taken a long time, it felt like I was lying there praying forever. I just lay there, staring at the ceiling. I had gotten this far, I knew that I had to keep going. I had to make one more step to ensure that I was no longer afraid of him. I picked up my hand, which felt so very heavy, and found his. I rested my hand on his hand. I didn't hold it, I just put it there, so that they were touching. I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders right then...I closed my eyes and thanked the Mother for helping me overcome my fears so that I could express my true feelings. I felt Byorne's hand under mine, and knew that I was no longer afraid of him...at least, right then, at that moment, I did not fear him. I loved him, if for no other reason than because he helped me do this.
I know that he will never take me. I'm going to force myself to accept that. That's not what's important, anyway. What's important is that I am able to let go of my past and love a man.
I fell into a calm, deep sleep, right there next to him, my hand on his.