“Auri wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “Why? Why does the land react to them?” “It is part of their legacy, their gift. They are the caretakers of all of the beings that walk upon the lands. They have certain gifts that allow them to fulfill their responsibilities.” “And the elves? What do they do?” “They are the caretakers of the land itself,” he said quietly. He sat down in front of her on the rug, and stared at her with bright, intense eyes. “Once, we worked in tandem, dragons and elves, working together to care for Terradin and its people. And then the dragons split amongst themselves, causing a deep fraction in the land. After the war, the rift of the land grew deeper, allowing the poison to seep in. Allowing the hollowness to begin.””
“Silence for another mile or so. “Liran?” “Yes?” “How long?” She was amazed and yet not, that he understood without her needing to expound. “A long time,” he said quietly. She swallowed. Her eyes burned. “What about me?” He stopped and turned. “You may not want my friendship, Auri. I’m quite a bit older than you are.” She glared at him, the moment of tenderness completely gone. “I, am not shallow.” His lips twitched with the ghost of a smile. “No. I guess you’re not.””
“He tilted her head up with his index finger, until she was looking him in the eyes again. “What about the love of friends?” His voice was husky, the mist going into his mouth and out with each word he spoke. It was mesmerizing to watch. She forgot where she was in the conversation again. “Friends?” she said dully, staring at the mist clouding his mouth, and blowing out again. His lips parted even more. He was breathing roughly. She jerked her eyes up to his. His eyes were brighter now, glowing incandescent in the encompassing white that surrounded them. She didn’t think about it, she just moved. She felt his body tense before her lips touched his. She drew her lips across his, grazing them slightly. He stood like a statue. She moved her hand up past his clenched fist on the rail, up to his chest, and nestled it there as she leaned in again. “Don’t,” he whispered harshly, cutting her off. His eyes, his whole being, was clenched tightly. “Please, Auri. Don’t do this.””
““Am I . . . unattractive to you?” She heard a small hiss of exhale from him, as though he had been punched in the stomach. “No,” he said, his voice strained and thick. She finally turned back to him, the tears still dribbling down her already mist dampened cheeks. “Uninteresting? Unintelligent? Unkind?” He shook his head slowly. “Then what?” she asked in mounting frustration. “What is it?” He looked back at her. And whether it was the mist, or something else, a slight sheen thickened around his eyes, like water coalescing over a smooth surface. She swallowed at the hollowness that was more blatantly visible in them. At the dead pain. “I,” he rasped with difficulty, “am not the right person for you to love.””
“She rubbed the hand that he had just zapped with her thumb and pointer finger. “Please don’t, Liran. There was no time. And besides, I didn’t want any of you with me, putting your lives in danger.” “Except for the brute.” “Wolf or Nachal?” His eyes glinted mischievously, though there was something deeper lurking in their depths. “Wolf, of course.””
“She knew what she had to do. She reached up to touch his face; he jerked away from her, out of her reach. “Don’t,” he said harshly, angrily. But his eyes, his eyes were terrified.She ignored him and leaned further forward. “Don’t,” he said again. A plea now. “Please, Auri. Just don’t.” “Too late,” she said softly as her fingers made contact with his cool cheek, as something ignited deep within.”
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