Dance of Wind III
A Melody of Hope
Mareina smiled when she heard him say that, even if she thought it was impossible. Still, her heart was filled with hope and yet another crystal re-grew on her wing. "Thanks for everything, Ezreal... I know I'm a pain in the ass, but I really do appreciate what you've done for me so far. Even if... even if I can never go back..." her voice drifted off as she became troubled with a disturbing thought.
"Don't be that way," Ezreal scolded her. "The route to Crescentglade is nice and safe once we get out of this desert. After we leave the Edelon Cavity, we'll soon arrive in a place called Tiengea Valley we'll be out of Evendian territory once we leave that place, meaning we won't have to worry about the King or his meddlesome crusaders anymore."
Mareina tilted her head, "Tiengea Valley...? What kind of creatures live there? What country will we be going to?" Ezreal chuckled, "You're an inquisitive one, aren't you? The country we'll be going into after we leave Tiengea Valley is called Faoi. The only inhabitants of the valley are tree and wind spirits faeries, if you will. They are harmless, but definitely mischievous."
"I see..." Mareina murmured as Ezreal laid back down on the blanket. "I'm going to try and get a little more sleep before we continue; I'm exhausted." He yawned and closed his eyes and Mareina laid down next to him, "Sorry for waking you up... I won't do it again." she apologized. Ezreal opened one of his eyes and grinned, "No problem, but next time... you might want to keep your clothes on, okay? Hahaha..."
Mareina blushed and he closed his eye with a snicker. "Humph..." she grumbled. Ezreal... damn it, I didn't want to get close to you like this, but now I can't bring myself away. She raised her hand towards him, wanting to caress his cheek as he slept. If I really can be cured... will you let me live the rest of my life at your side...?
She spent the rest of the night watching Ezreal sleep; she felt happy to gaze at his peaceful face. I feel almost normal now... is it because I drank Ezreal's blood? A few of my crystals grew back as well, so one of my wings is almost completely full of them again. Heh, Ezreal, you really are something else, you know that...? When the sun began to rise over the horizon, she covered her eyes, annoyed. Damn sun burns my eyes like hell... I don't remember it ever being this bright. Ezreal began to stir as the first rays of light shone on him; he opened his eyes with a yawn and stretched out on the blanket.
"Are you awake?" Mareina asked, covering her eyes with her hands. Ezreal sat up and looked at her. "What are you doing, playing hide-and-seek?" The girl groaned, "No... the damn sunlight is killing my eyes. Doesn't it bother you? It's SO bright, like a... a... really bright... thing." Ezreal chuckled and pulled out a pair of sunglasses from his pack, "I brought a pair of sunglasses... I don't use them, so you can have them if you want," he poked her hand with them and she put them on. "Sweet relief!" Mareina exclaimed. "But why would you have sunglasses with you when you already have a pair of goggles to protect your eyes?" Ezreal shrugged, "In case I ever go to the beach. Gotta be prepared, you know?" he smiled.
"Well, I'm glad you're resourceful 'cuz I'm sure as hell not, haha. Anyway, we'll get out of this stupid crater today, right?" Mareina was eager. "Yeah, then we'll head north for a bit and should reach the Tiengea Valley by tomorrow evening." Ezreal replied, standing up and offering her a hand. She took his hand and he pulled her to her feet, and he stretched again. "Ready to go?" he glanced to the north. "Yeah, lead the way, oh wise explorer!" she giggled. "Is that what you're going to call me now? Hmm, what should I call you... how about the stripper in the night--" Ezreal chuckled and Mareina hit him on the shoulder, blushing. "YOU SAID YOU DIDN'T SEE ANYTHING!!!"
"Maybe I lied," he winked and ran off when she tried to hit him again. "Grrrr, get back here you pervert! I'll kick you in the head until you forget what you saw!" Mareina cried, chasing after him. "If you can catch me!" Ezreal exclaimed in a sing-song voice. "You're so slow though, so I think not!" The girl pouted and used her wings to lift off of the ground and she flew at him, but it was too hard for her to fly without crashing into something, or someone. She flew directly into him and tackled him into the sand just before he turned around to look behind him. "Oh, you got me..." Ezreal breathed, gazing up at Mareina. "Now what?" He wrapped his arms around her waist and smiled, "Call me that again."
"You're SO weird!" Mareina cried, and Ezreal let her go; they both stood up and went on their way again. In the momentary silence that followed, another crystal regrew on her wing and she felt happier. Her shards seem to regrow whenever I-- Ezreal wasn't sure enough, so he decided not to jump to conclusions. I'm just glad I can help her somehow. When she smiles, I feel...
"You spacing out, Ezreal?" the girl poked him in the ribs. "A little. Come on, let's pick up the pace a little bit, maybe we can get to Tiengea Valley faster! Heh heh, I'll race you, but you aren't allowed to use your wings! Ready, set, go!!" Ezreal sprinted ahead, and Mareina snorted, "Whaaat! WAIT FOR MEEEE!" she ran after him. They spent the entire day running, but Mareina never could catch up to him he was much more in shape than she. Night fell and the pair was finally almost out of the Edelon Cavity; they had to walk up a steep path to the surface, but when they reached the top, everything was green as far as the eye could see.
"Wooooow! This sure beats that crappy, desolate desert..." Mareina gasped. "Of course it was desolate, it was a desert," Ezreal laughed, trying to make a corny joke. "What?" the joke went completely over her head. "You know, a desert... deserts are desolate because there is nothing there. Isn't that why you said it? It's funny because you said desolate desert, even though a desert is normally by definition desolate--" he paused. "Well, there was that oasis, so it wasn't completely desolate..." The girl blinked, "Oh, ah, I think I get it..." Ezreal rubbed the back of his head, "I guess it wasn't funny," he sighed. "Anyway, the valley is up ahead, see that big depression in the ground in the distance? That's Tiengea Valley."
"Sweet!" Mareina exclaimed. "Let's go, go, go! I don't wanna be a damn vampire FOREVER! I'll die if I have to drink blood again, it's so... so..." she nearly lost her balance when she thought about it. "So delicious and sweet." Ezreal touched her shoulder, "Try not to think about that, Mareina. If you do, your Thirst will start to drive you crazy again. The more blood you drink, the faster the vampirism will take you. Don't forget that, okay...?" Mareina nodded, "R-right! I feel like I'm a lot more resistant to it now though, ever since I've gotten most of my crystals back. I-I'm starting to think that we might actually be able to pull this whole thing off after all, Ezreal! It's... it's all thanks to you, though."
Ezreal smiled, "Don't thank me until you're better. Come on, let's go; Tiengea Valley is just ahead!" They ran off together, towards the valley. Mareina was becoming more and more hopeful now. I remember when I first met Ezreal, I was so miserable and I wanted to die... but now I feel like... I feel like my life is worth living, because of him. I-I feel like there's hope that I'll get to see my family again. I won't let anyone stand in my way! I'll definitely get to be with them again, and... Ezreal will be with us, too.
They reached Tiengea Valley in the middle of the night; after a while of walking they came to a small clearing between a few trees. "Want to rest here, Mareina?" Ezreal glanced behind him at the girl, who was still wearing sunglasses. "Mareina... the sun set a while ago, you know? Don't you like the moonlight?" Mareina took off the sunglasses and gazed up at the crescent moon, "Ahhh yeah, it's beautiful!" the light was soft on her eyes and looking at it made her feel rejuvenated and peaceful.
Ezreal shrugged and brought out his blanket and placed it over the grass. "I'm going to have a snack; you want some?" he sat on the blanket and brought out two canteens of water and a bunch of fruit. Mareina stood, staring at the fruit, but it didn't look slightly appealing to her. "Nah, I think I'm okay." she replied, sitting opposite of Ezreal on the blanket. So it seems like most of her human needs are gone, Ezreal thought, taking a bite out of a fruit. I have to keep a closer eye on her from now on... Next time the Thirst overtakes her, I might not be able to bring her back in time.
Mareina eyed him as he finished the fruit, she noticed that he was lost in thought. "Hey Ezreal, what are you thinking about?" He smirked, "I was thinking about you." The girl was curious, "What were you thinking about?" He stared at her with amorous eyes, "Hmmm... what do you think...?" he winked, and Mareina blushed. "Wh-what?! Y-you're mean!" she hid her face in her hands, dying to know what he was thinking. Maybe he was thinking about when he saw me naked! Ugh... I guess I have to get over it. He did save me, after all. This whole time... he's really been watching over me, and even letting me drink his blood... I wonder why he is so kind to me?
She looked at him again, he was eating another fruit. "Sorry... I don't really mean that." Ezreal chuckled, "I was just teasing you. You're so cute how you get so worked up over little things, haha." Mareina pouted, "Humph..." she blushed. It's cute how I get worked up? "Hey, do you hear that?" he was looking around in the trees there was a faint sound of leaves rustling. "Yeah, it's just the wind... right?" the girl felt a bit nervous now. Is there something in the trees? "It's them," Ezreal said. "They've come to greet us. Look."
He pointed into the treetops and dozens of tiny, glowing faeries fluttered down and landed on the blanket. There were maybe two-hundred of them, but they were only about as big as dimes; however, they could change their size if they wanted to, but they preferred to stay small and unseen. There were a two larger green faeries who spoke to in unison Ezreal and Mareina their voices sounded like chimes and whistling wind, but for some reason the pair could understand them perfectly.
"Welcome to Tiengea Valley!" they exclaimed in their high-pitched voices. "It has been ages since we last had visitors like you." They buzzed around Mareina, "It seems you've been cursed, but we can tell you've got a good heart! Won't you both stay with us for our grand celebration? You could be our honored guests! After that, we'll give you our blessing, marking you as an eternal ally of the Fairy Clan." The two faeries floated over their kin, who were cheering too quietly for Ezreal and Mareina to hear.
A grand celebration...? Mareina was a bit curious what could these tiny creatures possibly celebrate? "I don't think we have anything to lose, right Mareina?" Ezreal stared at her. "It will be nice to have some allies in this world; maybe they will help us later. How long does this celebration last?" One of the bigger faeries replied, "Only tonight, and it will only last a short time. It will be beautiful, though! However, if you plan to attend, you must dance the Dance of Wind along with all the Tiengean Faeries!"
"What's the 'Dance of Wind'?" Mareina inquired. "The Dance of Wind is the special dance created by our people," the other larger fairy answered. "It can only be carried out by a pair... think of it as a victory dance that binds two soulmates together it can't really be explained in words. The element of wind binds with your body while you are taking part in the Dance... it is absolutely wonderful! So, so... tell me, will you join us in the Dance?"
Ezreal and Mareina were blushing a bit. Are we soulmates...? They wondered. "U-umm... but what if we aren't soulmates?" the girl asked. The two greater faeries laughed, "Of course you are. It is written in the grass and the leaves and the wind sings your melody. Let the celebration begin, then! We will leave you in your peace, but the Wind shall soon come to dance." Then, all of the Tiengean Faeries disappeared without a sound, leaving the pair alone together once again.
"Th-the wind is coming to dance...?" Mareina was a bit frightened. "What's gonna happen, Ezreal?" He shook his head, "I don't know, but they seemed pretty serious. I don't think they are trying to trick us, but be careful anyway." The wind began to blow fiercely across the clearing, and Ezreal held onto Mareina. "What's going on!? Is there going to be a storm?!" she cried. "It's... it's coming for us..." Ezreal's eyes widened he had never experienced anything like this in his life.
The faeries of Tiengea Valley watched from the trees; they looked like little glowing green grapes on the branches. As the wind circled around Ezreal and Mareina and moved their bodies like a puppet-master moves his creations, the faeries began to sing:
"Once lived a man,
a lonely man.
He'd lost his love,
in a great storm...
to a great darkness.
He never gave up,
he kept his hope.
And so he went on,
he never stopped,
he never slept,
kept pushing on;
He knew that
he'd find her again..."
At first they were dancing alone as directed by the wind as the sadness of the faeries' melody filled their hearts. "What's going on, Ezreal...? This song is... it's so sad..." Mareina muttered as a single tear fell from her cheek. "The song reminds me of--" It feels like they are singing about us... that's impossible, right? They have no idea who we are. Maybe it's one of their tricks. They are wind faeries after all, they're probably controlling the wind themselves... but why would they do such a thing to us? Damn mischievous little runts, wasting our time. Still... why does this song make me so sad? Why would it bother me if I... couldn't relate? Mareina wondered.
"Because there is nothing,
that could keep them apart.
But, he didn't know,
what lay ahead.
The darkness smiled,
Would he overcome?
Or would he fall?
There was no hope for him....
but he did not flee,
he overcame it all."
The wind lifted them off of the ground as the melody of the song became cheerful at last they came together as the breeze whirled around them. Ezreal held one of Mareina's hands and placed the other at her waist as the wind moved them to dance. "E-Ezreal... I can't dance, but look at this!" Mareina giggled as she blushed. Ezreal was silent as he gazed into her fuchsia eyes that glowed in the pale moonlight.
"He held her close...
he set her free.
into sweet light,
they danced with the wind,
together free at last."
Ezreal embraced her, as guided by the wind and smiled. "You look so beautiful, Mareina." he said cheerily. The girl blinked, "U-umm... do you really think so?" she felt her heart fluttering in her chest as they continued to dance again. "Yeah... I do." Then, all of the missing crystals on her wings regrew in a great explosion of blue light.
"M-my wings!" Mareina cried, feeling herself becoming more normal her vampiric features disappeared and she felt all of her humanity return. However, the curse did not fade... it was simply weakened by the crystals' power, for now. The wind slowly died down and lowered them to the ground as all of the faeries began to disappear from the trees; after they landed, they gazed at each other in silence for a long time. "I feel... so much better now, Ezreal. Those faeries were trying to help me, I guess. I wish I could thank them..." Mareina said with a sigh. "I'm sure they are watching somewhere," Ezreal encouraged her, brushing the hair from her face. "You've returned to normal, it seems. What pretty eyes you have," he grinned.
The girl's face flushed again and she backed away, her eyes wandering from him. "Y-you say such strange things, sometimes..." There was something on her mind a certain longing, a certain question that had been nagging her for a long time. "H-hey... Ezreal?" she asked, and he raised an eyebrow. "What is it?" Mareina stared at him shyly, shifting her weight. "Ummmm.... never mind," she laid down on the blanket and stared up at the trees. Ezreal sat down beside her and looked down at her, "You have to tell me now." Mareina couldn't look away. "Well... I wanted to ask if..." she paused for a while and then sat up and gazed at him, mustering all her courage to ask one simple question: "Could I... always be with you?"
Ezreal smiles warmly and does not immediately respond; then, he whispers, "Close your eyes, Mareina." Mareina blinks and her face reddens as she closes her eyes. He comes closer to her and slowly wraps his arms around her, pulling her against him. His eyes slowly fall shut as his lips come nearer to hers, and finally... they kiss a sweet, lovely kiss...
Their moment is soon interrupted by a dozen giggling faeries, and they pull away from each other, embarrassed. "H-hey! What are you little twerps doing here?!" Mareina cried. "Sir Ezreal should share his true feelings with Lady Mareina," the faeries combined their little voices so they could be heard. "The wind will protect and bless your feelings... don't be afraid to be in love!" After they had given their advice, they vanished again. His true feelings, what are Ezreal's true feelings...? Mareina gazed at him curiously, her heart thumping in her chest. "My true feelings, huh...?" Ezreal chuckled, "I think you know already, don't you... Mareina?"
When Ezreal spoke her name, she thought her heart was going to fly out of her; all of her senses doubled as she shivered a bit she loved the way he said her name. Mareina looked at her trembling hands in her lap as she tried to put her feelings into words, but Ezreal took her hands in his own and she looked up at him into his sweet green eyes. "I want you to stay with me, Mareina." Ezreal confessed at last. "After the Druids free you from your curse... we could run away from Evendia together and start a new life in Velion or even Faoi. Just you and I... we would forever be free from the King's demented rule."
Ezreal went on to say, "We could sneak into Thornwood and rescue your family and bring them with us. I'm sure we could come up with a plan to free them! Then... you would never have to live in fear or secrecy again, Mareina. You could be happy, with your family... and me..." He brought one of Mareina's hands to his lips and kissed it, then gazed at her. "Would you... would you like that, Mareina?" It was so much for Mareina to take in at once; she was so delighted to hear him say these things... but still, she was afraid that the King or would get in their way. "Ezreal... of course, I want that more than anything! But the King's greed is endless, he will never stop his crusade until all of Akandaea is under is rule! I-I want to believe that we could live in peace... but I am afraid, Ezreal. Not just for me... but for my family, and you... I would never forgive myself if any of you were hurt because of me. I would rather die before--" Ezreal put a finger on her lips, "Stop this talk of dying in front of me, Mareina. I'll never let that happen! Do you understand?" Mareina felt idiotic, "I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking..."