A Very Reluctant Parting

JP with Voah and Gonyaul

Voah’s desire to take Gonyaul along was selfish and dangerous and now he had dropped his mask of confidence or changed his mind for a more practical approach. Worry, concern, doubt? Either way, it was unfair to him to string him along so far.

Over the past few days of travel, she had struggled with doubt that what she was doing aligned with the true intentions of the Pillars. Whether or not converting Gonyaul to her faith was allowed… whether altering the tenet about witches was right…

For the first time since the Vroni clan, her open wounds had been healing at a slower, normal rate and she thought that surely it would leave scars behind. A true reminder that her faith had been wavering. Was it the Pillars or the Inquisition that she was concerned about failing? Everything she had done was questionable but didn’t feel altogether right or wrong. Perhaps that is why this decision had been so hard.

The Arbiter was dangerously close to sending the Vaux away forever, not out of hate, but the desire to protect him and all of his people. She would leave behind her broken piece, that foolish traitorous part of herself who thought she could lead some kind of different life, away from the Inquisition, away from the defined faith that was heavily instilled in her since childhood. She would go to the Purger and confess her failures, her transgressions, her weakness. And she would not ask for mercy.

But the Arbiter wasn’t in charge right now. Never had anything felt so true, so good, and so right, than a kiss from the sweetest sin she had known. She melted, wrapping her arms around him so tightly that it hurt and she bit his bottom lip.

As he returned the embrace, Voah hid the pain of her lingering injuries which he accidentally grazed as he caressed her, but suddenly sensed herself healing incredibly fast. She would move forward and lean into her new faith, wherever that took her…

While their upper bodies connected, Voah felt the seed necklace between them. Gonyual had told her that it was ‘a reminder of life. Make choice to push against odds and do best to rise. Bears the sweetest fruits to enjoy.’ This notion aligned with her belief to face the storm, together. And she found a new faith in this man that believed in her, that had given her new perspective, new potential. He had made her heart once dormant, blossom again.

Voah would continue forward again with a confidence that she had lost, believing that the Pillars would speak through her and if it felt right in her heart and mind, it was what the Gods intended…

And right now Hoi was telling her to let her beau go, wherever that would take their lives after this moment.

She pushed him away and put a key in his hand. Facing the storm didn’t necessarily mean heading directly into a bolt of lightning.

“Leave me. And take the Odsier with you.”

Gonyaul didn’t understand her rejection completely. On the one hand the logical side of his brain understood the reason behind her pushing him away and asking him to go; it made sense for both their safety based on her account of the Purger. On the other hand he could feel that she did want him deep in his heart.

After such a tender embrace and kiss, where both were authentic in melting into one another, he stupefied in his things changed so swiftly. It took him a second, but eventually he could see she was being serious. His expression grew sad and deflated.

He took a few deep breaths looking into her eyes to find any traces of her changing her mind, but found absolutely none. She either hid it well, or perhaps the entire time had been an grand illusion she painted as long as it suited her.

He shook his head slowly trying dismiss that last thought. ‘No, it couldn’t have been a lie. It was real.’ He said over and over again in his mind till he had enough room to think anything else. Next, he looked down to the key. He would take care of this now before she changed her mind again.

Gonyaul stood and bowed respectfully. “Be right back.” His voice sounded caught in his throat.

He took a waterskin and a portion of stew over to where the Odsier was being held captive.

Voah was crushed but had to hide it, what choice was there really? She didn’t stop him, didn’t say a word.

Considering the circumstances, Voah realized how infernally ridiculous she was being. She should not make him leave… instead, she would be the one to go. After all, he set all of this up and that would be an insult to keep it for herself. As Gonyaul went to feed her captive and set him free, she grabbed her sword and ensured that all of her personal belongings were still packed, leaving the tents and food supplies for Gonyaulf. He would need them. From here on out, she would ride swiftly, hide and rest where she was able, even if it meant no sleep.

The Odsier didn’t look pleased to see Gonyaul; however, that was about to change. Gonyaul disrupted the salt circle and ruins, carved in the dirt, with his foot and entered into the man’s personal space.

Gonyaul knelt down and presented the water skin and stew. He then presented the key. The latter of the three gifts changed the prisoner’s demeanor.

Voah could see Gonyaul was speaking to the man; however, was too far to make out what he was saying. Gonyaul proceeded to unshackle him and backed away gesturing that he was free to go.

The Odsier rudely took the water skin and stew and then began marching off into the night before his freedom was taken again. Once about twenty five yards away he flexed his muscles, like stretching the soreness out of his body. The ground beneath him shifted and he disappeared into the night, as if riding the earth like a boat through water.

Gonyaul signed and bowed farewell as the two me made their last eye contact. ‘At least he didn’t spit at me this time.’ That was progress.

Gonyaul gathered the shackles and returned to Voah. To his dismay she was already quickly packing up and not stopping now to acknowledge him even though he returned.

He spoke up before he would lose his chance. “Come with me instead.” If he could not go with her, perhaps she would go with him. Not to leave her faith, but to leave this job which caused so much strain in her life.

Voah stood by Litany with her back to Gonyaul, tightening the saddle and making sure the packs were on right. A feeling akin to panic closed off her throat and she very briefly, but noticeably paused. She didn’t know the extend of his proposal but she found herself unable to answer regardless.

“…I must see this through. If fortune and the Gods allow it… we will meet again… please be safe, my darling.”

Her words were bittersweet, giving the potential for hope but taking it away in the moment. This was obviously an important priority to her and it was apparent she did need to see this through for her own growth and healing. It did not make it hurt any less realizing this.

Gonyaul pleaded, “Perhaps one day you will go where I can follow.”

If his experiences had taught him anything, the chance of seeing her again was slim to none. He hadn’t seen his home and loved ones in a little over seven years. He conjectured he may never see Alexis, Islana, Hunter, good Wim and Tar Man ever again. The homestead that he was so happy to turn into a home he would probably never step foot on again. Gonyaul shook his head, he could feel pessimism and he brushed it off to just experiencing the moment and not thinking about the future.

He moved over to her. “No forget chains and key.”

She took the shackles, ensuring she avoided his direct gaze, and mounted the saddle.

“I have to figure some things out.” It wasn’t the whole truth, she had it mostly figured out, she just had to get this meeting with the Purger done with so that she could put a seal on those things.

Then she swiftly rode off.

‘Go back… go back you fool! For Hoi’s sake! Call me back!’

The wind streamed droplets from her face as the horse galloped into the night in the direction of the coast.

He watched her ride off and called to her,

“Ihsataw aw atana o usamietihsia, nezna in etihs iasaduk!”

He thought about riding after her, but struggled getting Amu ready and realized by the time he got on her, voah would be long gone.

As she faded completely from view he stared off into the night hoping she would change her mind and re-emerge. The stars ticked by and consoled him that she would not be coming back.

He had never experienced a pain like this before. Gonyaul collapsed to the ground and wept.

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