Min had failed. She had given herself only one responsibility. She needed to protect her Vessë. Yet Aria’s burnt corpse laid at her feet. Min had allowed herself to be kidnapped, and in the intervening time the woman she had come to love was killed. Min hadn’t been there for her.
Upon defeating Denova, Min had leveled up. It was a rare occurrence, but some believed that experience wasn’t delivered simply by defeating something. The battle itself could earn experience. Since the effects only manifested after the battle was over, this lead some people to wrongly assume that there needed to be some finishing factor. It appeared like the academics were right in this respect. Suffice to say, shortly after Min collapsed, she had woken back up to the suddenly influx of a level.
And since Min had leveled, she had been given yet another skill. A unique skill that allowed Min to notice the presence of her vessë at all times. So, Min followed that presence, and as it didn’t lead back to the castle, but an obscure mansion outside of town, Min became more and more worried. Soon, she had to use all of her skills to hide and sneak. Fortunately, the mansion was surrounded by forest, and forests were where she was most comfortable.
When Min found the body, it took her quite a while to accept it was Aria’s remains. A burnt, broken form, still smoldering from the flames. Min burned her fingers as she checked for any sign of life. There was none. She ignored the pain as she lifted up the body. The body of her loved one burned her to touch, but she didn’t care. She had to take Aria… somewhere.
She didn’t know how she was able to get out of the range of the mansion guards as she dragged the form of Aria home. She had wrapped Aria in her own cloak. Min shivered as the icy cold air blew against her fresh burns. Her eyes were blurry, and she couldn’t see where she was going. She didn’t know how long she walked, or when she was able to get back into the town. She had no clue where she was going, she just knew she had to take her vessë there.
That was when she found herself in front of the shop of Sandor and Pratter.
“Who is it at this hour?” A grumpy sounding Sandor opened the door. “What? Min? By the Gods, you look like death! Pratter, get down here, fetch a wash basin and some herbs!”
Min was dragged into the warm building. Upon feeling the warmth, it was the first time she realized how cold she had gotten. Her entire body seemed like ice. She didn’t know what she looked like, but the men grew uneasy at the sight, so she imagined it was something fierce.
“I’m not great at healing magic. I’m an enchanter, not a healer, but perhaps giving you a little mana might…”
“No… her.” Min pushed away the cloth he was trying to dab on her body, pointing down at the sack she had carried in with her.
“Huh? Her?” Pratter gave Min a cautious and confused look before opening up the bag. “By the Gods! What is this? No… it’s not possible!”
Pratter took several steps back, his hand covering his mouth.
“I-is it her? A-aaria.”
“Sandor don’t look.” Pratter embraced Sandor, tears running down his eyes as he tried to hold the other man back.
However, between the two of them, it appeared like Pratter was handling it worst. He seemed to be barely standing, Sandor holding him up as he looked over his shoulder with a stoich glance.
“Fix… her…” Min forced the words out.
Pratter looked up from Sandor’s shoulders with a pitying look full of tears. “My dear… even the best healer in this nation couldn’t fix this. I’m sorry, only an intervention from the gods themselves could change her fate.”
Min knew the words. Of course, she knew they were true. However, a part of her just couldn’t accept it. They fought back against the harsh reality. Now that Pratter said them, reality started to win.
“No… no… no. no. No. No. No!” Min fell off the seat, stumbling over to Aria corpse still on the floor. “No, please, no!”
“I’m so sorry.” Pratter went to grab Min and pull her off of Aria, but Sandor put a comforting hand on his chest and shook his head.
Pratter sighed and nodded, still fighting back some tears.
“I’ll make some tea.” Sandor said and pulled away from Pratter, moving to the kitchen and starting some hot water.
“That girl…” Pratter said to fill the silence. “She was… something amazing.”
“Not… dead…” Min muttered. “Can’t die. Promised… rise from the ashes. She promised.”
“You promised me!” Min’s voice rose, breaking through the quite expressionless façade for the first time since her mother died. “You promised me!”
Her face was contorted with anger and sadness. She gripped onto Aria so tightly that it dug into the ashy skin. Some of it came up and ripped away. Min shouted in shock as her fingers slipped, tearing away a small piece of Aria’s desiccated flesh. Pratter took a step forward in concern. However, before either of them could react, their eyes locked onto the area exposed underneath. Perfectly pink and unblemished skin resided underneath. It took Min a while to realize what she was looking at.
As if to punctuate the thoughts running through their minds before they could voice them, there was a sudden gasp. Min jumped as Aria’s body buckled, a deep single breath being drawn in as he eyes opened wide. It was a sight that was both terrifying and perhaps the happiest Min had ever thought she could feel. A sudden crash occurred behind them, drawing Min and Pratter’s eyes behind them. Sandor was standing there with wide eyes, the freshly made tea had cracked on the ground, exploding into a puddle of steaming liquid.
“By the gods, she’s alive.” Sandor said.
“Can’t possibly be…” Pratter started, but he trusted his eyes, and they were telling him the impossible.
“Mm… alive!” Min’s heart burned as she said it.
By the time they checked on Aria again, her eyes were closed and she wasn’t moving. However, Min could see her chest rise and fall. She was breathing. They put Aria up into a bed quickly, and Min pulled out a basin of water.
Min had doubted her vessë. Aria wasn’t simply just a woman. She wasn’t simply her wife. Vessë was a hero of all ages. As Aria’s faint breath continued to strengthen, Aria didn’t just gain Min’s heart, she gained her undying loyalty.
“I’ll never doubt you again.” Min whispered, kissing Aria’s head.
She began to peel away the ashes. When her ring suddenly slid off as Min tried to clean her fingers, she looked down at the strange thing that had kept vessë in a prison all of this time. Aria was now free, and Min would be there to protect her. She wouldn’t fail again. Never again.
They fled the city not shortly after. That was when Min began training. Min had thought she could fill the roll of a housewife. Her mother had taught her to clean, cook, sew. She could support the hero, she could support her wife with these simple chores. However, those skills weren’t the support she needed to provide for Aria to survive. Aria was using her body to fight, so Min must dedicate her body to protecting Aria.
She needed to become a better fighter. She needed to be able to save Aria. One day, Min believed Aria would be leading armies. However, before that day came, Aria would need to survive long enough. It was up to Min to make that happen.
Her heart? Her Love? Her support? Those things weren’t enough. Aria was a woman who rose from the dead and crushed kingdoms with a wave. She had defeated the third class Denova who had nearly killed Min herself with ease. She barely believed it when Aria had cut off his head. Her strength, her power… it gave Min shivers. Yet, this was the same Aria who was burned to death and captured by Denova. She was continuously getting in trouble.
How terrifying would Aria become when she reached second class? Min didn’t know. However, Aria wasn’t leveling and they were running out of options.
“The succubus… if my powers are like a succubus… then perhaps I can get their help.” Aria said casually as she snuggled up next to Min on one particular night while they were still fleeing the nation.
“The cambions…” Min responded in disbelief.
Most people lived in absolute fear of monsters like the cambions. Min’s tribe had often spent springs nearby a cambion colony. She had grown up hearing horror stories about how they raped and murdered little elf girls and boys. They were cautionary tales to ensure children never left the colony alone. The fact that every spring one or two did go missing only added to the fear and anxiety. Min couldn’t even stop herself from shuddering at the thought. Yet Aria held a look of excitement in her eyes. She casually mentioned these beasts, never once considering that they might be more than she could handle.
This was Aria’s journey. She had to reach second class. Min would protect her, even if that meant marching right into the cambions. Even if that meant coming dangerously close to home…
And so… the journey continued. They crossed the sea and entered the human territories, but when they tried to get into the demon continent they found themselves cut off.
“North, we’ll have to go north.” Aria said confidently with a smile.
Min had come to a similar conclusion. It seemed like the fates were bringing her back home. After nearly two years of running, Min finally returned. She didn’t feel afraid though. With Aria standing next to her, she felt invincible.
They had stopped at a nearby village. Min wasn’t familiar with the village. The elf colony rarely crossed into the human territory so she didn’t know most of the places nearby. This place was as foreign to her as it was to Aria. She decided to practice her sword forms again. If she wanted to protect Aria, she’d need to become the best she could.
Meanwhile, Aria was perfecting her own craft. As Min danced in the pleasantly chilly afternoon, her sword swinging in various forms, some she had learned and others she had invented, a wry smile reached her lips. Of course, practicing her craft meant having sex with random men. In Aria’s defense, she had offered Min to join. Min had politely declined. She loved Aria, but even Min couldn’t keep up with her sexual nature. She had long since come to terms with it.
Plus, the guy in question was male. Most of the people in town thought Min was a man too, so he probably wasn’t up for that kind of threesome. Strangely, Min didn’t really see herself as a man. She had made the change for Aria. She had thought it would make their relationship smoother. However, sometimes she felt like it only made Aria uncomfortable. Or perhaps it was Min who was uncomfortable trying to be something she wasn’t. Jenai openly acted like herself and their relationship seemed to be fine.
Don’t think about Jenai! Min growled in her mind.
She didn’t really hate the woman. However, the woman was entirely too close to Aria. It frustrated Min that Jenai could so easily form a lesbian relationship with her wife, while she felt like she had to hide behind a penis to properly satisfy vessë.
“Hello, mistress’s concubine.”
“I’m wife!” Min responded before she even realized the woman she least wanted to see was standing right next to her with a cocky smile on her face.
Jenai gave a throaty chuckle, her barely-there coverings which would have frozen her nipples off in this cold if she wasn’t already dead heaving in a manner that inflamed a piece of Min’s jealousy. Jenai could certainly never pull off being a guy.
“I know, I just like to see you riled.”
“Why here? Threesome, I refuse.”
“Mistress Aria is in trouble. Our threesome will have to wait.”
“Where?” Min said sharply.
Jenai pointed off in a direction towards the village and Min immediately went into a sprint without waiting.
“I’ll be parting then. Think about the threesome, love!” Jenai called after.
Min ignored the obnoxious woman with large fat things on her chest and continued forward, watching warily. A sudden shout caught Min’s attention. She had to squint through the light snowfall, but she quickly realized that their was a naked woman trudging through the snow. Worst, behind her was a large crowd that could only be described as an angry mob. This was hardly trouble, this was a catastrophe!
“Kill her!” shouts were being raised from behind.
Of course, the woman was her wife. She had only left Aria alone for two hours. How had it devolved into this so quickly? Min settled her nerves and pulled out her sword. If she was going to keep Aria alive, she’d need a lot more practice.