Our final fight against the Reaper Gang was as rapid-paced as I expected it to be. In the beginning, we were standing on the bottom floor of a two-story structure with a large pit standing in between us and Kalona’s team. Zen, Cade, and I waved at them before the fight started and Kalona, Falana, and Kaloz waved back. Once the fight began, we raced up the staircases to the second floor, I blocking one of the staircases on the other side with a mess of thorns and spikes, as we readied ourselves to attack. Soon, they funneled through the open staircase on their side and the fight truly began.
Falana seemed to be focusing her attention on me as she attacked, which was alright because I was doing the same. Cade and Zen were trying to do some damage control as the wolves dominated the battlefield. I lost sight of Kalona for a while until I saw him being dragged behind Dogmeat around the arena where he stopped just a few feet ahead of me. Falana raced up the stairs to the twin towers that stood over the second floor, I followed her, standing across the bridge that connected to the towers from her. She fired a few arrows, which I dodged easily, before I returned fire, Beacon rushing up towards her. My aim was true before she ran away, Beacon on her heels, as I started to support my team mates from above.
To my right, there were multiple Kalonas fighting with Zen, her cat, and Dogmeat, and a black dragon wyrmling had entered the fray from somewhere. Across the way, Beacon knocked Falana out and Kaloz was casting spells from under the bridge. To my left, Cade and Faerroth were engaged in a fight. This is where the fight started to look a little dire. The black dragon made it’s way up to me, biting me. I fought it for a little while, landing a couple good blows before it disappeared and Kalona staggered his way up the stairs. He smiled at me for a moment, before trying to hit me with his longsword. His attacks went wide and I retaliated, which caused him to fall. With two of their party down, there was only two left.
Across the way, Beacon shoved Kaloz into the pit as Cade struggled with the dragonborn. After a few moments, Kaloz reappeared on the second floor as Cade rolled, dragging Faerroth with him, and he threw the dragonborn over his head and into the pit. The dragonborn was able to catch himself, but Cade stepped on his fingers and Zen, in her owlbear form, pecked Faerroth’s hand, causing him to fall. After that, our focus turned to Kaloz for a while. It wasn’t long until Kaloz was looking really rough and turned into an owlbear himself and by that time, the bridge I was standing on was hit with a spell and fell. With a shriek, I landed safely on the ground near the pit as I noticed Cade go unconscious. After getting Cade back up, it was time to end the fight. It wasn’t long until it was over, Kaloz being the last one of their team to fall.
The crowd began to cheer and I hugged Cade, stunned that we actually won as the clerics started to enter the arena. I rushed up to where Kalona fell and knelt beside him, placing my hand on his chest. I healed him the best I could and when he opened his eyes, I smiled at him before whispering that he was going to walk out of this arena with me. He smiled at my comment, thanking me, as I helped him up. With his arm over my shoulders, I walked with him out of the arena and to the cleric’s area.
The clerics were talking about how amazing our fight was as they healed us, telling us that there was going to be a lot of celebrations happening soon but that we should take it easy, at least for tonight. We spent some time talking with them and the Reaper Gang, making plans to go out and get some drinks afterwards when Mr. Ward walked in, congratulating us on our victory. He explained to us where we could find our prize, a dragon’s hoard, located in the Dragon’s Vale Woods. I had a few questions for him but I didn’t want to ask because there was something extremely unsettling about him. All I wanted was to be done with the conversation as quickly as possible.
With that over, we decided to go drinking. Well, Cade and I went drinking with Kalona, Kaloz, and Falana. Zen didn’t want to go and went home instead and Faerroth’s hand was really messed up and needed further healing. There, things were very tense between Falana and I, which made everyone at the table uncomfortable. I don’t even remember what she initially said to me, something about me being slow on the battlefield probably, and I retorted with something along the lines of, “Well, I was going to compliment you on how well you shot, but none of them actually hit me so they really weren’t that great.” That pissed her off, which caused a little bit of bickering between us, and eventually Kaloz left. Cade and Kalona were whispering for a while before both Cade and Falana left, leaving Kalona and I at the table. Kalona smiled at me, asking me if I thought them leaving us alone was intentional. I said it could be and we talked for a while as we finished our drinks.
He thought that Cade, Zen, and I worked very well together. Cohesive, he called it. He mentioned that his group, while strong, didn’t get along as well as my team did. I asked him about the situation with Faerroth and he said that they found out that his patron was Asmodeus, which concerned me. I told him to be careful and to get rid of him as soon as possible. He admitted that they were going to try but the time needed to be right. Eventually, we finished our drinks and he walked me back home. It was a nice night and a lot of people were out and about enjoying the festivities. I couldn’t help but glance at him as we walked, hoping that someday he’d give me a sign to how he felt about my letter more than the message he wrote to me. I think he noticed my staring at times but he didn’t pay attention to it. Once we reached my house, he told me good night and when I thought he was going to leave, he kissed my cheek and walked away.
Dumbstruck, I put my hand on the place he kissed me and watched him as he strided away, not looking back. There was so many things I wanted to do in that moment but I was locked in place, my mind halted. After he stepped into his house, I finally went inside as well, smiling before I saw that Zen was still up, reading one of her books. She asked me where Cade was and I told her that I didn’t know. Cade and Falana left about the same time and I hung out with Kalona for a while before we decided that it was time to get some rest. She asked if I questioned them about where they were going and I said no, because they left separately and that Cade would show up eventually. She agreed and with that, I went to bed.
In the early hours of the morning, Cade came home, knocking something off of the table in the living room and stepping on Dogmeat’s tail, causing him to yelp. I asked him if we was alright and he said he was. After a little bit of talking, we all went to bed. A few hours later when it was properly morning, Cade came up to me and told me that he had sex with Falana last night. I remember looking at him, a little hurt, but understanding as I told him that I wanted to break up with him. It wasn’t for what he did, but for the fact that I was still in love with Kalona and wanted to be with him. He seemed hurt by my words, it hurt me too, but I knew it was going to be for the best.
After a little while alone, giving me some time to think, I made my way to Kalona’s house and knocked on the door. Falana answered it, smirking when she saw me, and I asked if I could speak with Kalona. She told me he was in is room and told me which one was his. I thanked her and went to his room and knocked on the door. It opened in a few moments and he smiled as he saw me. I returned his smile and asked him if I could talk to him. He let me in and closed the door behind me, locking it. I was forcing myself to not get carried away, because I was finally so close to what I’ve wanted over the past few days. He didn’t make it any easier for me to keep my desires at bay as I told him that Cade and I broke up. He was teasing me, and I could tell it. He’d move closer, as if to kiss me, but then moved away just as I was about to give in. It went on for a while before eventually I did give in.
When his lips met mine, I no longer hurt. Everything that I felt washed away and I was left with the satisfaction of finally being with him again. By gods, it felt like an eternity since I’ve been with him but the feeling of this right now was worth every second of waiting. His hands cradled my face as he deepened the kiss, his fingers toying with my hair as I moved into him, wanting the closeness. I felt him smile between kisses and I opened my eyes a little to look into his face. I could tell he missed this just as much, if not more, than I did. I shut my eyes again and pulled away slightly, which caused him to stiffen as I buried my face in the crook of his neck. He wrapped his arms around me, holding me close as I exhaled, feeling better than I had in years. “I’ve missed you, Kalona,” I whispered as he gently rubbed my back. “I didn’t realize just how much I did until now.”
We had lunch together in one of the taverns. It was really nice. There was finally no tension between us and I could tell that he was happy. I was too. It was hard for me to imagine the amount of time that I had been away from him in that moment, because everything seemed so perfect. I don’t know how I lived without him, but that brings up a question in my mind. Was I actually living without him by my side or was I just surviving? For how much my demeanor had changed in the course of a few hours, I knew the answer. It was going to be difficult to leave him again and lose this feeling.
After lunch, we grabbed a bottle of wine and some finger foods and set out for the outskirts of the city. I wanted to be away from the town for a while and just be alone with him. He thought it was a wonderful idea. We found a hillside a little ways outside of the city and made ourselves comfortable in the grass. It was a gorgeous day and it was nice to lay out with him and get some sun. We talked about a little bit of everything. I honestly don’t even remember what we actually talked about because I got a little too drunk for my liking, but so was he. There was a few moments where I laid there in his arms, his fingers slowly combing through my hair, and neither of us said a word. In those moments, the wind rustled through the grass around us, the sun warmed our skin, and I lost sight of everything I thought I wanted in the world. In those moments, I knew all I wanted and all I needed was him.
However, it was short-lived because when Kalona and I were talking, Cade found us and explained to us that Zen had been arrested and we needed to go get her out of jail but first asked us why we were talking about the weather. Kalona and I responded simultaneously with, “We really like talking about the weather,” which freaked Cade out. We then proceeded to tell him that we talked about other things too, Kalona listing off rivers, mountains, and animals, while I listed forests and grasslands, before we both ended up saying, “the ocean” at the same time. That didn’t seem to help Cade’s suspicions. He didn’t need to understand the language Kalona and I made up all those years ago.
Anyway, knowing that this was going to be a long story, I poured myself another glass of wine and listened, bracing for the worst. Cade and Zen had went to the Black Market to try to find the ring stolen from the king and things didn’t go as planned. Zen accidently killed two people and was arrested, but Cade managed to get the rings. He showed them to me. There was four of them that could possibly be the ring. One of them was poorly made and I threw it over my shoulder. Another was a little bit better and two of them were nearly identical. I told him that we’d have to have someone look at the two of them to be able to tell which is the real one.
Figuring that we should go get Zen out of jail, Kalona, Cade, and I made our way to Lord Allen’s house. Kalona explained to us that Lord Allen is the leader of the town and that he’s dating the leader of the Black Market. The wine headache was finally getting to me as I knocked on his door. He was a scholarly-looking young man, not much older than me, and by scholarly-looking, I mean the dorky type of scholarly. I tried to talk to him, but my headache was getting to be too much so Kalona took the reins and laid on the charm. Zen’s bail was set at 10,000 gold, which was too steep for us to pay at the moment, so Kalona talked him down for us to pay 500 gold. With the debt paid, we were able to get the key to go free Zen.
Zen, however, didn’t want to leave the cell but we got her out eventually and I asked if she could do anything for the headache I was having. I’m not sure what she cast on me, but the headache was gone and so was any hint of that wine I had. I didn’t really want to be completely sober but oh well.
As we headed back to our houses, we could see smoke in the sky from the direction of them. Zen told us that she invited the druids to Kalona’s place to have a party, which he told us that Faerroth would not be happy about. We rounded the corner to see an explosion of flame from the house as the druids made their way out onto the street while clerics and others rushed in to put out the fire and heal the injured. Turns out, something like this usually happens during this tournament. Cade and Zen went to our house while I stayed with Kalona, healing those who were injured as he helped his team move to another house for the time being. After that was done, he told me there were a few things he needed to do, but he’d come to my place later. I knew what he was referring to by the smirk on his lips and I couldn’t help but blush a little.
I returned home, talked a little bit with Zen and Cade as we ate some dinner and then went to my room to wait for Kalona to come over.
The candlelight danced across the pages of the book in my hands as I absent-mindedly stared at the words before me. I made no attempt to read them. I was too busy with the thoughts rolling around in my head. The day I had with him was wonderful and for the first time in many years, I felt content. However, the day was drawing to a close as the sunlight slowly faded from the room and I worried that the day would end without me seeing him again. I let out a sigh, gently shutting the book and tossing it next to me as I laid back on the bed. I felt like I was waiting for an eternity.
Outside my bedroom door, I could hear Zen and Cade talking in the living room. I didn’t really pay attention to what they were saying but I heard the mention of my name a few times in their conversation. Other than that, things were quiet. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t upset me a little.
I hadn’t realized that I had drifted off to sleep until I heard a soft knock at my window. I got up a bit too quickly and rushed to it to see him standing in the alley outside with a warm smile on his lips. I returned his smile and as quietly as I could, I opened the window. “Took you long enough,” I remember whispering with a slight smirk.
“There were some things I had to do,” he retorted softly as his silver-blue eyes met mine. He asked me to step back, I did so, and quickly he made his way into the room. I couldn’t help but watch him as he brushed off the front of his white shirt, standing before me. I thought I had already fallen for him but no one ever told me that it was going to be a continuous plummet. I went up to him, cupping his face in my hands as I tenderly kissed him. After a few moments, he pulled away, his eyes glimmering with the confidence I was so used to seeing within them and there was a soft smile on his lips. “If you’d give me a few moments, I need to take a few things off,” he said, leaning a bit closer to me, his mouth almost touching mine once more. I blushed hard as I bit my lip, glancing down briefly as he stepped away from me. Carefully, he removed the sword from his back and took some time to get out of his shoes.
In the other room, Cade and Zen were still talking to each other, but it was a bit easier to hear them now. They were talking about Kalona. They mentioned that they liked him and were throwing around the idea about asking him to join our group. Kalona was listening intently to their conversation as I went over to the bed to pick up my book. Soon, the sound of footsteps came towards my room and there was a knock at my door. Glancing over at Kalona, he was already darting under my bed. “Give me a second,” I said quickly, making sure that Kalona was hidden. I opened and slammed my book shut, placing it on the dresser near me with the rest of my things, before going to the door.
Cade stood before me; there were a couple bruises I hadn’t noticed on his neck and rope burns on his wrists. He looked pretty exhausted too and even though he didn’t mention anything, I had a feeling it was because of Falana. He told me that they wanted my opinion on something as he glanced around my room, his eyes fixing on the book, before returning his attention to me. He asked me what I was reading so I told him and asked him what he needed. They wanted to know if I thought Kalona would join our group and I explained to them that I hadn’t talked to him about it but that it was probably a possibility. He asked me to ask Kalona about it sometime. He stayed at my door, looking at me. All I could think about was Kalona hiding under my bed and the desire in my heart at the moment. I asked him if he needed anything else, which he said there wasn’t and wished me good night. I shut the door and waited for his footsteps to return to the living room.
With a sigh, I went over to the bed and laid across it as I looked under it. To my surprise, I couldn’t see him there. “Just like Frostford,” I breathed as he made himself visible and slid out from under my bed. He mentioned something about Cade not being as frightening as my mother and I saw him stiffen slightly at his comment. He watched me carefully but I gave no reaction. I hadn’t been able to openly talk to him about my mother ever since her death without anger and hate towards him or his family and he seemed to realize his mistake. However, things are different now. I told him that I never understood how she always seemed to know when he was there, which caused him to relax a little. He asked me if I was alright, still sitting on the floor before me.
It’s been four years since I’ve been alone with him like this and while things had changed around us and we had changed as well, time hadn’t diminished the way I felt about him. Today had been a confirmation of that. The distance between us had been closed, the barriers we put up for ourselves in the past few days had fallen, and this time there was no one here to pull us apart. In this city, it didn’t matter that I was a Grayson and he was a Fletcher. It didn’t matter that our families forbade us from being together. In this city, it felt like we were finally free from our past. In a way, you could simply say I was alright, but I was so much more than that.
A mischievous smile grew on my lips as I told him that I wasn’t alright, before saying something along the lines of, “You’re still on the floor when you should be on top of me. It’s been four years, Kalona. The anticipation is killing me.” He chuckled softly, a small smirk on his lips as he stood up. I sat up as he moved closer to me, looking down at me as his fingers brushed slowly against my jaw. “Well, maybe we should fix that,” he exhaled, his fingers stopping under my chin, “but I think you need to wait a little longer.” I scoffed, gazing up at him as I noticed the sparkling in his eyes. He was still teasing me. I should’ve expected it since he’s done it to me so many times before.
“You’re a jerk.”
I rolled my eyes as I stood up, grabbing the sides of his face as I pulled him into a deep kiss. His breath was hot in my mouth as his arms wrapped around me, his body pressing firmly against mine. I felt myself smiling in between the kisses, my fingers working at the buttons of his shirt. He pulled away from me slightly, my hands rubbing his chest as I kissed his jaw, and let his shirt fall from his shoulders. The intensity of it all was intoxicating as his hands eagerly pulled at the laces of my bodice. My head spun as he pulled away from me for a moment, allowing enough time for me to slip the garment off over my head before his lips were on mine once more.
I was already breathless when his hands found their way under the skirt of my dress. His mouth was at the base of my neck, sucking on my skin, as I tried to stifle the moan that wanted to escape my lungs. Each touch was electric, each kiss was maddening, and I was already addicted to him. He just seemed to know exactly what to do to drive me wild.
Before I realized it, I was grinning as he laid me down in the bed, completely entranced by him, but he paused. His breath was a little heavy already as he stood next to the bed and there was a smile on his lips, but he wasn’t paying attention to me. I said his name, sounding a bit more pleading that I actually intended. I was confused by the sudden change in his behavior but he returned his attention to me. I asked him if anything was wrong. “I never thought I’d be with you like this again,” he admitted. “I needed a moment to take it all in.” I understood what he meant because I felt it too. It was almost like a dream and at the moment, I couldn’t fathom that it was actually happening.
He soon laid down beside me, gazing into my eyes, as he whispered, “I love you, Klara.” I touched his jaw and replied, “I love you too,” before his lips met mine in a tender kiss as he moved onto me.
Held lovingly in his arms, I listened to his heartbeat as my head rested on his chest. I was dazed but in pure ecstasy, trying to find the words to say to tell him how thankful I was that he was in my life once more. He kissed me on the top of my head before I looked up at him. He moved a strand of my hair out of my face, a smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. The look in his eyes was similar to how I felt. “Kalona,” I said, my voice low. He asked me if everything was alright. “This has been the greatest day of my life. I’m so lucky I was able to share it with you.”
He considered my words for a moment, his arms wrapping around me a little tighter. “I feel the same way and there will be more of these days to come. We just have to be patient.” I kissed him on the cheek, knowing that there was one last thing I needed to say to him. He seemed to know that there was something else on my mind.
“I forgive you,” I said warmly, “for everything. I just wanted you to know that.” He exhaled and pulled me closer to him, holding me tightly as I wrapped my arms around his neck.
The next morning, he left too soon for my liking. I tried to get him to stay longer, but he swore that he needed to get back to his group and couldn’t be convinced otherwise. I watched as he dressed and gathered his things, keeping his shoes off in hopes to be quieter. Before he decided that it was time for him to leave, I kissed him goodbye in one last attempt to get him to stay. It partially worked, for even when he was crawling out the window, his lips were still on mine. However, this caused him to not judge the height of the drop properly and he fell flat on his back, letting out a groan. I bit my lip as I looked down at him, clutching a blanket to my bare chest as the windows to Cade’s and Zen’s rooms slid open. Kalona laid there, asking them to not judge him for what happened. Cade replied with, “I’m not judging you,” while Zen replied with, “Well, I am judging you.” He sighed as he got up, brushing himself off, said his goodbyes and went on his way. I stayed there at the window for a while, waiting until I lost sight of him to finally shut my window.
I emerged from my bedroom to find Cade and Zen were already making breakfast. They asked me if I asked Kalona would join our group, since he was here last night and I told them that I really wasn’t thinking about it at the time. When they questioned me about it, I told them that I kind of had something else on my mind. Not satisfied with my answer, they handed me a plate of food and told me to go see what Kalona’s opinion was. Begrudgingly, I did as they asked.
Standing at the door to his place with a plate full of food was a little awkward, but was more awkward was that Falana had once again answered the door. I knew she knew what happened last night by the way she looked at me. I asked her if I could see Kalona and she said that he was in his room again. Just like last time. Anyway, he seemed a bit surprised to see me again so soon, but I told him that Zen and Cade insisted that I bring him breakfast and ask their question to him. He told me that he’d like to join us eventually, but there was a few things that needed to happen before then. He explained to me that he’d want Falana and Kaloz to stay with him, but he needs Faerroth and Atlas dead before he can join us. I agreed, because I wanted the same things too. I think my answer might have puzzled him a little.
The final thing I left him with before I walked out the door was that him and I needed to start talking about his father and making plans for what to do to defeat him. For the first time in my life, I finally felt like I had a chance against Atlas Fletcher and I wasn’t going to let this conflict continue to brew. For Kalona and I to be together and to be happy, the conflict in Frostford needed to be resolved.
There’s much work to be done.