Falling Short of Heaven

Light streamed in through the windows of the tiny inn room, beams marching across the rotting floor boards like solders preparing for battle. Rhianon sat on the edge of the bed, head in her hands. The stupor of the liquor was beginning to wear off, leaving only an aching head and heart in its wake.

What had she done?

She shivered despite the fact that it was summer – and perhaps one of the hottest summers Thelsamar had seen yet – and crossed her arms over her bare chest, swallowing hard. The fire that had been pulsing so hard in her mind and heart when she had crossed over the burning coals had faded away now and she felt lost…empty. Not even the cool embrace of water remained to soothe her.

“Are you okay, nesham?” The Draenic term of endearment startled her out of her moping and she felt Ludovik reached over to touch her arm. Rhianon shrugged him off. She heard him sigh and lay back down in the bed. “You should have said it was your first time, nesham. We could have waited.”

“It’s…it’s not that,” Rhianon stammered. “It’s nothing to do with that. I…I’ve…I’ve done something very wrong.”

She twisted herself around so she could look at Ludovik. He was resting on the bed, nude save for the blankets artfully covering his privates, and looking at her, expression concerned. There was absolutely nothing wrong with him at all. If anything, he was an ideal specimen of Draeneic manhood – well-muscled, but lacking coarseness, smooth dusky skin and a sharp, inquisitive visage. She had enjoyed the time they had spent talking in the tavern downstairs – and she could see herself looking forward to more time at his side. Why did this have to happen? She had been going through life so very well up until this moment.

“Wrong? You?” Ludovik grinned at her. “I find it hard to believe that you could do something very bad.”

Rhianon shook her head. “No…no…you see…” She reached up and touched the beads at her neck. They felt dead. “There’s — “  Rhianon bit her lip. There wasn’t any easy way to put it. “There’s someone…I care about her…”

Ludovik raised an eyebrow at the “her” but let Rhianon continue. “She’s very dear to me. This…what we’ve done here…what I’ve done…it will destroy her. She won’t understand…”

He nodded, pursing his lips. “I see. So, you have a…a lover already then?” When Rhianon hesitated with an answer, he said, “I think then – what you are saying is that you have someone that you care about. Who believes that you care for her as more than a dear friend. And yet…you have willingly…”  He gestured to the bed.

A tear trickled down Rhianon’s cheek and she nodded, wiping it away. Ludovik sat up in bed, inching up towards Rhianon. He rubbed her cheek, smiling. “Then I guess you have some difficult thinking to do, no? To figure out where your feelings are.”

“Maybe it was just all the drinking,” Rhianon blurted out. “Daci is still Daci! How could I do this? It had to be all the drinking!” Yet, as she spoke those words, she knew that there was a truth that lay beneath what she was saying. Daci was still Daci, yes.

But Rhianon was no longer that Rhianon.

And she could not deny that she had enjoyed the thrill of Raksasha’s subtle flirtations, the occasional come-ons of the Argent soldiers she worked alongside – or the recent entanglement with this handsome Skybreaker mechengineer. Even now, as her mind traced back along the paths of these memories, her body tingled at the thought of his form against hers, strong arms, gentle touch.

She rested her head on Ludovik’s shoulder, whispering, “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“Well, nesham, whatever you decide, you know where to find me.” He traced a finger down her neck, stroking her collarbone. “Below the deck of the Skybreaker, covered in explosive dust. I would very much like to see your pretty little face down there.” Ludovik laughed. “Not covered in explosive dust, though! I’m not sure that would be becoming for you, little shaman.”

Rhianon flushed and raised her head up so she could look at Ludovik. “I don’t know. Maybe I would like it.” She turned a deeper shade of purple and added, “And aftewards, I could always go to the hot springs to wash off…and if you wanted…”

Ludovik grinned and nodded. “I’d rather not partake of the springs myself — explosive dust is rather fashionable on an engineer, you know — but I wouldn’t mind helping you clean up.”  He ran his fingers through her loose silvery hair. “You know, now it will be your fault if the Skybreaker falls out of the sky. I won’t be able to keep the thought of you appearing under deck out of my mind. How can I concentrate on my work when the lovely draenei I always watched fight on deck is considering visiting my workplace?”

She giggled and leaned in closer to his body, wrapping an arm around his thick waist. “Do you think…we could…once more? Before I leave for Dalaran?”

“Of course, my little shaman,” Ludovik murmured in her ear. “Anything for you.”

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