Campaign of the Month: July 2011
Sins of the First Age
As the first rays of sunlight began to fill the room, Zuko awoke alongside Scarlet in their treetop flat. He silently slid out of bed and wandered outside. It had been three days since they left Mnemia with her people and returned to the Workshop for some much needed R&R.
Smiling towards the leaf-filtered sunlight, Zuko silently thanked Creation itself for bringing Scarlet back to him. He watched the manse and local village begin to hum with life as it awakened and reflected on his journey to Luthe and back. He wished this period of inactivity could last awhile longer, he didn’t feel the need to go about being the hero again, and wasn’t sure if that is what he had really been up to recently.
“Zuko? It’s still early what are you doing out here?” Scarlet’s voice pierced the quiet and almost startled Zuko from behind him. He chuckled to himself that she was still able to sneak up on him, some Night Caste he is.
“Just thinking, there’s been a lot going on recently. Are you feeling… properly relaxed now? The last three days have taxed even a Solar’s endurance.”
“HUMPH!” Scarlet pouted, slugging him in the arm, “I hardly heard you complaining. Besides, the last few years were-“
“Ssshhh, we’ve discussed what that filthy practical-Linowan Leviathan put you through. You’ve told me what you feel comfortable telling me, and I hope to one day hear the rest. Just remember, I’m proud of how you handled yourself and even happier to have you back.” Zuko sighed, wrapping his arm around her and pulling the Lunar close, “I was growing afraid of what I might do to get you back Scarlet. You know, ever since I saw that vision of our past together, I was troubled with what could possibly have made my past self do such things. To ignore the laws of common decency and abuse you in such a manner, it just defied all logic.”
“Now who is busy bringing up past troubles we’ve already discussed? That’s not you anymore. That’s not the Zuko I know”
“That is what terrifies me, my love, I’m not completely sure that couldn’t be me. As the peril you were in continued, Mnemia and I, well mostly I, came closer and closer to simply using force to get our way. Instead of helping people out of a bad situation, I framed a man, blackmailed another, and was willing to destroy an entire city to see you freed.”
Scarlet leaned in against Zuko’s frame , tightening her hold on his arm. “These past events were bad for us both, we had to endure what we didn’t think we could. Besides, it was you who inspired me to stand up to Leviathan like I did. You’re a better man than you think, Zuko, I wouldn’t love you if you weren’t.”
Zuko looked down at the feisty Exalt on his arm, she was soft, yet incredibly strong. He could hardly believe how Miss Fuzzums had changed these past few years. She had simply been a Sa-beast friend of his, a loyal companion who traveled the forest-roads with him, joining him on his raids to Linowan. Like a beloved pet, Miss Fuzzums had been a strong and steadfast friend, which only made his current thoughts towards her all the more confusing. Then again, Zuko had to admit that there had been little that wasn’t confusing about his life since he left Halta.
“Scarlet, have you been happy since we left Halta? I know you were instructed to simply keep an eye on me, and I must admit I like that you’ve kept more than that on me.” Zuko jibed as he broke their embrace and simply held her hands in front of him, looking into her shining eyes as she blushed a little at his comment. “But have you truly felt it all worthwhile? I’ve put you in such danger, we are constantly on the move attempting to fix this or that, dealing with whatever latest ancient knowledge Kadon seeks, or rallying another army for Mnemia. I love you deeply and am overjoyed when you are around, but am I worthy of this devotion? Wouldn’t you be happier back home? Or travelling with Saychelles?”
With a shiver and slight strain, Scarlet shifted into her, now more muscled, squirrel totem war form. With her increased height she now looked evenly into his eyes and nearly growled as she spoke to him matter-of-factly. “This is who I am, an Exalt of Luna, my place is with you and I’m happy to be here. So stop being so silly and self-concious. I’m stronger than you think, and I intend to stay right here.” Then, to make her point more final, Scarlet head butted him playfully, almost knocking the Night Caste off his feet.
“So…” Zuko thoughtfully replied, rocking back on his feet, “then do you wanna get married?”
Suddenly the various songs and calls of the birds in the area no longer existed to Scarlet. She couldn’t even hear the workers in the factory cathedral beginning their labors. Instinctively, she called out to her totem animal and shrank herself into a red squirrel resting in Zuko’s hands. Too stunned to twitch her tail in response to the cool breeze flowing thru the forest, Scarlet simply froze.
“Ummm, Babe?” Zuko chuckled “Is that an answer? Because as you are, I don’t think this will fit.” Zuko, using his foot, reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of rings. One Orichalcum with Moonsilver inlay, its twin simply reversed, the two rings glittered as Zuko presented them to the frozen squirrel. “If we were back home, I would have journeyed into the forest, and found a foundation branch for our home, but this seems to be how they did it in the old days.”
Zuko continued to nervously and describe the process with which he would have proposed were they in Halta. All the while standing on one foot, the other bearing rings, with Scarlet the squirrel resting in his hands and still completely taken aback. Suddenly, like an arrow loosed from a taunt powerbow, a red blur leapt forward towards Zuko’s neck and shifted into a woman tackling him to the ground in one smooth, powerful impact.
“You. Amazing. Thief. I cannot. Believe this.” Scarlet managed to giddily exclaim in between kisses to Zuko’s lips and face. Suddenly she froze and sat back on her legs, allowing the poor man to finally catch his breath and sit up. “Wait. Is this real?” Scarlet pinched her cheek and pulled hard, then knocked her knuckles on the top of her head, looking around the area. “This isn’t a dream is it?”
“You crazy little rodent, of course it’s real.” Zuko reached forward and took her hand, holding the Moonsilver ring in his own. “If that recent assault to my face and lips is an indicator of your answer, though, this is a dream come true.”
Zuko’s eyes locked with Scarlet’s, but not the typically gleeful eyes of a foolhardy acrobat, or the steely eyes of a rogue examining a mark. His brown eyes bore into hers with strength of determination and utmost seriousness. He began to slip the ring onto her hand as he continued to speak.
“Scarlet, if these recent events have taught me anything, it’s that you are the most important person in all of creation to me. You, who know me from my past, and have stayed with me thru the present, are the only one I wish to follow into the future. Be my wife and together we can continue into the greatest adventure of our lives.”
“OF COURSE I WILL!!” Scarlet squealed as she looked at the beautiful ring on her hand. Swiftly snatching the ring Orichalcum ring out of Zuko’s foot and began to place it on his hand. “I’ve been with you since before we left Halta together and there is no one I would rather stay with. I love you, and you’ve made me happier than I can remember.”
Scarlet tenderly held his face in her hands and kissed him passionately. Then, rolling beside her mate on her back the two simply rested there for a moment, holding each other and thinking about how this morning might change their lives.
“Zuko? Does this mean we get to have a party with cake?”