Dinner was a surreal experience. She never imagined her parents being in town and being able to introduce them to those around them. They of course had to sit outside and the sat within sight of everyone who was walking to and fro the market. Edithlyn was the first to spot here and it went downhill from there. Her parents loved it because they got to listen to everyone brag on her. Mien, another piece in the moment sat, smiling in silence. He truly seemed to enjoy himself, because not a lot of attention was on him. Of course, her father had questions for him after everything settled down. However, Mien, was nervous. He didn’t reach out for the bowl of spices resting in the center of the table. He kept lifting his cup to his lips, but never took a drink. Her parents kept him talking. It was probably the most he spoke in a single setting in a long time.
After dinner finished, they parted ways. She got warm hugs from her parents. Mien got a hug from his mother. She really took to him well. Her father, well Tad shook his hand so there weren’t too many bad feelings there. Mien then took her hand and the two of them walked through the back end of the market. The stalls were all shut down at that point. Merchants had their families to tend too, coin to count, and the next day to prepare for. The only life was the smell of smoke from of one of the towns blacksmiths. The ring of a hammer beating on metal, was all they heard. Mien let out a long exhale.
“That was fun,” he stated breathlessly.
“I warned you they were a lot,” she said.
“I know, I know,” he muttered. “I guess they like me. Or at least your mother does.”
“Pa likes you, well grudgingly.”
“Don’t mind him.”
“Seems like the opposite advice I should be taking,” he stated and took her hand so he could give it a loving squeeze. “It’s been a long day and that was draining. I don’t know if I have the energy for anything else.”
“I don’t think I have the time. I need to go talk to Jaron about Brother Lorthan’s condition. I felt chills from him earlier. Not strong chills like he was going to pass soon. Just, you know, the same ones that go in and out.”
“Then I guess this walk is our time alone together,” he said.
They then strolled together in silene. However, Kiao’s worries go to her.
“I don’t know what to do anymore,” she blurted out.
“What do you mean,” asked Mien as he kept his gaze forward.
“I don’t know what to do anymore, priestess wise,” she admitted. “I was trained to become the head of the infirmary and now I’ve been cut from the pass. With Brother Lorthan dying, I don’t know if anything will change even more. That they will not respect his wishes and just oust me from the order.”
“You are too valuable to oust,” said Mien. “And the Patriarch will have a fit if they did. They still have to respect him.”
“But if not the head of the infirmary, then what am I supposed to do here? What could I possible pursue? Become the best priestess? They already think I’m a terrible one for liking a boy.”
“It doesn’t matter. The two of us are like the sun and stars. Part of the same sky, just night and day,” he said trailing off. He squeezed her hand tighter and looked like he wanted to say more.
“You know, a better comparison would be the sun and moon,” she said laughing and regarded him to hear his thoughts. Instead, he looked perturb with his face red staring in front of him. “Mien?”
The pressure around her hand became tighter.
“What is it?”
“Nothing,” he said assured unconvincingly. “Well, to answer your question, maybe that’s what you need to do. Become the best priestess. Be the best that you can be.”
“That’s not a tangible goal. That’s a given. I mean it’s like becoming the best monk. However, you can make a goal for second or first warden. However, there is nothing for priests. You make it to cantor. Everything else is just based on age.”
“Remember what Brother Oli used to say. The order was never about age. It used to be about doing. And maybe, that’s what you need to do, show them how far you are willing to go. I’m going to the university to benefit the order. Maybe you should figure something out. It’ll give you something to do while I’m gone.”
“But what can I do. What more can I do for this order? I heal their wounds.”
Mien shrugged. “I don’t know. But I know you can find something. You are beautiful and smart. I love those things about you…I love you.”
Kiao came to a dead halt. Mien stopped, keeping hold of her hand. The sun was at the horizon, bathing everything in a golden light that reflected in his irises. A crocked nervous smile lifted his face.
“You don’t need to return it. I just wanted to tell you that,” he said. And once again that gentle note in his voice resonated in her mind.
“How odd,” she observed while the girl inside of her was hyperventilating with excitement and terror. What had she done to be loved by him?
He tilted her head at her. “Excuse me.”
“It’s nothing,” she said and then realize he would get worried if she didn’t explain it. “Well, it is something. It just an observation. All today, your voice sounds interesting.”
“Interesting,” he said sounding confused.
“Yes,” she said. “I like it.”
The grin on his face renewed its brightness. He took her other hand into his. “So, you’re saying my voice is remarkable?”
“This is only the first day. My hearing your voice like this is something I need to experience again and again to say if it’s remarkable. It isn’t all the time,” she said.
He laughed at her. It was musical again.
“Stop laughing at me! This is the way it works with me,” she said putting her hands on her hips. “I don’t even know how you decided that you love me.”
“It’s not something you think about. It’s something you know,” he said, pulling her to his side. “And I know you’ll figure it out. You just have a process, and you must follow it. This,” he said kissing her forehead. “Needs to make it logical for you to understand.”
She envied him. He was close to his feelings. She needed so much time to observes and to figure things out. He always seemed to fall and drift into things. Especially when it came to them. Then again, she also knew how much he could brood about something. She didn’t know if he brooded on what he told her. However, Mien wasn’t spontaneous either.
He took her hand again and they walked. She studied him in sideways glances and a thought came to her mind. He was an amazing individual. He was an excellent battle chanter. He was smart, probably even smarter than she was. Though, he was getting formal education and she wasn’t. She was, at that moment, just a healer. And she loved healing and wanted nothing more than to help others around her, but it wasn’t it enough. It hurt that it wasn’t.
On arrival to the infirmary, no one greeted them. Though, the last person there, had lit the light stone glowing in the sconces where a candle would be placed. There was no one resting on the beds. One of their screens was in place but, no one was behind it.
“We’re alone,” said Mien.
“We are,” said Kiao trying to tuck her gloominess in the back of her mind. Mien then took her hand again and positioned her as if they were dancing. “Mien really.”
“Yes really. We’re alone and I have to think of creative things to do when we’re alone. Normal elves canoodle,” he said softly. “We can’t do that.”
He then bowed his head, likely trying to hide his embarrassment of that fact.
She then did one of their replacements for a kiss and that was press her lips on the side of his mouth. “You know kissing on the lips is overrated anyway.”
“But I want to though,” he said. His irises were amber. “Besides, I can’t get used to it if I don’t try.”
He leaned forward until she felt his breath on her lips. She was supposed to be the reasoning one and should have pulled back or stopped him with a finger on his lips. Instead, she leaned in too in hopes that if just with practice, that would make everything okay. For a brief instance, it felt as if time had stopped, and she was floating in a warm breeze. Then Mien jerked away with a gasp leaving her cold.
They shouldn’t have done that.
Timbre sensitivity cause a lot of issues for a chanter who had it. It all surrounded a heightened sense of hearing. Their mind was full of different channels for different timbres. Mien told her he had many. One for normal voices, for chanter voices, for natural timbres, for wards, for drass beasts, and the most demanding, for the chorus of the world. With the training he received, he could open and close them at will. Without that control, he would be bombarded by sound. And had been frequently as a boy when he come into his abilities. Whenever they kissed, he lost all control of that, it was like he was a boy again, overwhelmed.
He didn’t look as if she had bitten him like the first time they kissed. That kiss was a lot more and the repercussion from it was worse. Now, his entire head was red. His eye looked to be pools of black.
“Mien,” she hissed softly and then felt the channel between them open. She braced herself, however, there was no influx of emotions. He at least stopped that. Well, a little. She could feel embarrassment that wasn’t her own.
Mien tugged at the high collar of his shirt to open it as wide as it could go. She expected him to pull both it and his jerkin off. Instead, he, walked over to a bed and sunk down. Kiao could do nothing. She couldn’t touch him or really speak to him. However, she needed to get him into a quiet room so he could recover before someone walked in on them. It was then the door opened and the worse person appeared there. It was Jaron’s lean form that walked in. He was wearing a white and red open vestment that flowed behind him. There was only one reason why he would be wearing such a thing. If he had been talking to the family of someone who died instead of the white smock they wore in the infirmary.
“There you are,” he said. “You stayed longer…what’s wrong.”
Kiao’s felt the tips of her ears get warm. They had the worse timing. The girl inside her became mortified. She didn’t want to tell them what was happening. When it happened the first time, she and Mien were alone. Now they had an audience.
Mien brought his hands to his face. “I’m fine,” he croaked.
His ears were still a bright red and maybe Jaron would’ve interpreted that as anything between embarrassment or anger. However, it was the rhythmic tremor of his body and distress written across his face made it clear it wasn’t. Jaron took a step forward towards him.
“Just leave him alone,” she said. “I mean it. You can’t touch him right now.”
Jaron frowned with concern.
“Seriously, leave me alone,” said Mien, covering his face. “I’ll getting over this. I’m fine!”
“I’m not planning on touching you,” he answered and proceeded onward. He knelled in front of Mien. He didn’t do anything other than study him.
And as expected, Mien pushed himself back on the bed and scooted away. “Look, I’m fine.”
The older chanter stood up. “People don’t just break out in cold sweat and are racked with chills for nothing,” he said.
Kiao stepped in because she felt Mien’s distress leaking into her mind. “Jaron, please. He’s just needs a moment to calm down. He’ll be better if you just give him space.”
Mien managed to scoot on the other side of the bed. “I’m going back to my room,” he said.
“Is it quiet enough there right now,” she asked.
It wouldn’t be at all. It was nearing the end of dinner and was probably the nosiest point in the day.
Mien paused. “Fine, I’m taking the room in the back. I’ll leave when I feel well enough to walk,” he told her.
Jaron watched him leave suspiciously and told her, “We need to talk he said and motioned for Kiao to follow him outside.