Nia strode through the wide hallways of the Orchid Bastion to the tempo of her own footfalls on the stone. Occasionally she’d hit a carpet and the rhythm of her march would be muted as she crossed it. The building had been some sort of apartment building for the ultra rich, and had probably been a city unto itself during the time of the builders.
A few centuries back, the weathered ruins had become home to the Order of the Orchid, and it was now as lively as ever. She smiled as she noticed a pair of new recruits hurrying past, their training weapons clanking as they ran. A lot had changed in the last few years since she’d arrived. Of course, what hadn’t changed was their inability to make a functioning fast transit system through the Orchid Bastion.
“This’d better be worth it Farden. Walking all the bloody way down to your lab is a pain in the ass,” she grumbled.
When she finally reached the unremarkable door that denoted where her friend’s lab was, she stopped and grinned as an idea came to her. Taking a deep breath, she allowed her form to become incorporeal. She swirled, a fog of starlight for a brief moment, before she coalesced back into solid form. Specifically, the form she had first gained when she arrived in this world ten years ago, scared, broken and alone.
Nia ruffled her feathers as she fully assumed her feathered dragon form, briefly inspecting herself. Her starlight studded dark feathers with their nebula colouring were still as pretty as ever she thought with pride, and eased the door open slightly to slip her currently 3 foot long body through the door.
She padded silently over to Farden and hopped up onto his shoulder. When she Farden jumped in surprise at her sudden appearance she felt her face tug up into a little smirk.
“Well? What is it?” she demanded, trying to contain her smug tone, “I’m pretty damn busy so I’d like to get back to stopping our world from being overrun by dimensional horrors thanks.”
“I’ve finally made progress! Look here! Do you remember that text document we discovered in that vault on Shale547-5?” he asked excitedly, forgetting about her prank almost immediately in his excitement.
“Yeah, the one that you couldn’t read because it was in the builder’s tongue,” Nia confirmed.
“Yes, that one. Well I discovered that it was accompanied by a second copy written in a dead Vassisian dialect. A very old one, but one we still have an understanding of. It’s from the last days before the builder empire fell! Do you know what this means Nia?!” he asked, his speech growing more excited with every word.
“It means we can start translating the builder tongue, that is incredible news. What did the document say?!” Nia said in wonder.
“See for yourself!” he said, indicating a piece of paper that an automatic quill was busy writing on.
Careful not to disturb the device from its work, she hopped over and began to read.
Dana was right. This hill was perfect. It was about three hundred meters in diameter, give or take fifty meters every now and then for the uneven shape. A good half of the hill was edged by a steep cliff of granite. It appeared that the whole hill was actually formed around this enormous protrusion of rock, the soil having accumulated around it over the eons.
When we scaled it we found an uneven but vaguely flat little plateau adorning the summit. Our only problem was no source of water up here, but we could journey down to one of the many streams when we needed it. And when we wanted to wash… that was probably the worst part of this “game”, washing in cold forest streams or tiny inn bathtubs. Well, the pain wasn’t fun either.
I sat on a rock and surveyed the area we were going to set up in. Some of the smaller species of tree had set roots down up here. Bushes and ferns fought over any space that was not overrun by the wild grass that covered everything. All in all it was a pleasant place, and I already had a flat patch of ground picked out to set down a foundation for our cabin.
The group had split to explore the full top of the place. All except me. I was sitting down and resting after my ordeal down below. I could see them all slowly making their way to me, having fulfilled their surveyor duties.
“Having fun there Syl?” asked Dana with a grin.
“Yeah, it feels great to be connected with solid ground again,” I giggled.
“I dunno, if the excited squealing was anything to go by, you were enjoying yourself up there,” teased Col.
“What?! I was not squealing!” I pouted.
“Well, not out loud…” he said conspiratorially tapping the side of his head, “but I could hear it anyway.”
I threw a pebble at him and threatened, “Don’t make me come down there!”
He laughed, “Oh no the midget is going to assault me!”
I pouted some more and growled, but I couldn’t hold the expression and a huge grin broke free on my face. I stuck my tongue out at him.
The others had arrived during our friendly squabbling, and Liam spoke up, “Alright, so the top looks good and clear yeah?”
We all nodded.
“Right, well I’d like to take us out into the plains… You know we really need a better word for these clearings/plains we keep coming across... Anyway, I’d like to get a better feel for the area around us so I think we should go back down and explore,” said Liam.
“Yeah, that sounds like a plan to me,” Amra nodded.
“Not for me sorry guys, I’m going to stay here and plan out the cabin if that’s okay. I need a rest from all this,” I said waving my hands vaguely around.
“I’ll um, I’ll stay. I need to talk with Syl and I don’t think it’s a good idea to leave her on her own,” Karen said before adding with a small smile, “She’s accident prone.”
“Oh my god, is it like tease Syl day or something?” I complained, but internally I was happy to note that she still felt like she could joke with me.
Liam nodded reluctantly, “Alright. Let’s set down the camping device then so if we die we can respawn here.”
Col took the device out of his inventory with a nod and set it down near the rock I was sitting on. Activating it caused a bubble of safety to spring up, and he nodded again in satisfaction.
“Alright, let’s go. Have fun you two!” said Col cheerily.
“Cya,” Karen waved.
When they had gone a small distance and it was just Karen and I alone, I suddenly felt shy and anxious. I didn’t really want to have whatever talk was coming, I was too scared about what she would say. To stall for more time, I began walking towards the site I wanted to build the cabin.
“Um. I’m going to go and check out the cabin site in more detail,” I told her.
“Oh, uh… sure,” she said, turning to follow me.
She trailed me without speaking until we arrived, and I got to work while doing my best to ignore my anxiety and my urgent need to run and hug her and never let go. I actually started to get lost in the work after a while. First I used sticks to stake out the cabin’s dimensions. I wanted to build a room for everyone, so I’d decided to built it as a long rectangle. The front door would open into a large common room with cooking facilities. Opposite the front door would be a hallway and six bedrooms, three on each side.
Karen stayed silent as I worked. When I was able to sneak a glance or two in her direction I found her watching me with a troubled expression. Seeing her with that look on her face made me even more anxious and I had to stop looking at her altogether. I had so many different scenarios going through my head. Was she going to tell me we couldn’t be friends anymore? Was she going to tell me she thought my being a lesbian was disgusting? Shit I was still getting used to the fact that I was a lesbian. This was all so confusing to me. Does that mean I used to be straight? But no I was into guys before. Oh man was life confusing these days. I actually kind of missed when everything was simple and slightly depressing. No I didn’t. I loved being Sylanna. Hush silly brain.
When I had run out of things that I could readily do to avoid the conversation I stood there in front of my work and rubbed my arm absentmindedly. Karen was sitting on a fallen tree not far away and I had my body angled so she was just in my peripheral vision. My emotional state was a mess, I really wanted to be close to her, but I knew she was going to be telling me to step back and give her space... or more.
“Syl?” she called, “Can we please talk?”
“Um… Sure… I guess,” I mumbled, unable to make eye contact.
I walked over and sat on the log a few feet away from her.
“So like… I guess you heard the rumours about us,” she said glumly.
“Yeah,” I breathed.
“My mum found out. Some girl told her mum who told my mum,” she said nudging a rock around with her foot.
“Oh. Is she not cool with… people like that?” I asked tentatively.
“Yeah. You know how I had that sister? She was transgender. Like you I guess, but she had to do things the normal way. Mum and Dad still don’t use her correct gender even. They’re not like… religious? They still hate it though... I don’t know,” she told me.
“So… I guess they aren’t okay with everyone thinking you’re a les… a… you know,” I stuttered.
“No… they threw a fit. Mum told me not to talk to you. She wouldn’t even listen when I told her it wasn’t like that,” she said sadly, her eyes beginning to water.
Without really thinking I scooted along the log and put my arm around her waist. She froze for a moment, and I could almost feel her calculating what type of hug this was meant to be. She must have decided it was platonic because she slowly eased into my embrace, leaning her head over to the side to rest on the top of mine.
“Uh. Sorry. I just saw you were going to cry and I wanted to comfort you,” I said quickly.
She hummed and pressed a little closer, “It’s fine. I appreciate it.”
We sat like that for a while and my brain was beginning to fry because of it. I had been craving her touch ever since the last time we had hugged. I was like an addict and my drug of choice was Karen. The warmth of her head on mine sent happy little pulses of calm through my body. The feel of her waist under my hand all warm and the movement each breath she took caused was lovely. I began to unconsciously rub up and down with my thumb on her side and she giggled and jerked.
“Stop! Oh my gosh no. That tickles!” she exclaimed with an involuntary laugh.
“Oh sorry! I didn’t even realise I was doing that!” I squeaked.
“It’s okay!” she laughed.
I laughed too, although mine sounded nervous.
“Um. Karen I should probably tell you that some of the rumour was true,” I said hesitantly, my mouth telling her things before my brain could fully process what was going on.
She stilled, “What part?”
“Well… I’ve realised that… well I’ve realised that I like girls. Like Romantically. I don’t know… I just suddenly... like when I changed...” I said, my voice quavering as my anxious mind caught up with my sudden truthfulness.
She sat back and I let my hand slip off her waist when she exited the embrace. I watched her face carefully, my mind hyper sensitive to any changes in expression as she stared into the space before her. Nervously I began to wring my hands as I waited for her to speak her thoughts.
“Syl… I don’t hate you or judge you for what you are. I also can’t give you… like a, a relationship. I just don’t like girls. I’m sorry,” she said, her voice more than a little unsteady.
“I know, I didn’t expect one Karen,” I said sadly, my eyes beginning to tear up slightly. This was what I had been afraid of. A definition on whatever was between us. A full stop. The Boundary.
“You’re really great though!” she exclaimed, turning to me, “I think you’re wonderful! You’re so fun to hang out with and you’re so cute and…”
She trailed off and stared down at me. She’d moved closer in her enthusiasm and I was acutely aware of that fact. I felt my face blush furiously at her closeness and her compliments, and try as I might I could not look away from her beautiful green eyes. I began tracing the little swirls and flecks within her irises, or what I could see of them in the fading evening light. I began to roam my eyes across her face, taking in all the parts that were hers and all the parts she had added. I loved the colour of her skin, it looked so warm. I shifted my focus to her hair, shoulder length and dark brown. A rich dark brown that was enticing and I had the urge to run my fingers through it, though I resisted.
I was so distracted by her beauty that I didn’t initially notice her lean forward and carefully, gently place her lips to mine. My mind went into panic mode, hot and cold flashes swirled over my body and it responded in waves of goosebumps. My mind ground to a shuddering halt was I tried to process what was happening. Vaguely I heard myself give a small whimper. She started to pull away and suddenly I felt my brain kick back into gear. I followed her incredibly soft mouth with mine, my arms going up to capture her head and keep it still.
I felt her grunt in surprise as I began kissing her back, the vibration of it carrying through my hands and lips. With a breathy noise of happiness she opened her mouth slightly, and I opened mine in response. With a start I felt her tongue play delicately across my lower lip, then my upper lip as she tentatively explored the boundaries of our intimately connection. I felt her hands come up and embed themselves in my hair, lightly digging her fingertips into my scalp. I couldn’t help but make a small sound of pleasure, somewhere between a squeak and a moan.
Our kiss became more energetic, driven by some deep need to feel each other more. I lapped lightly at her tongue with mine as our lips parted and came back together. Every nerve in my body was firing with small blips of encouragement, a standing ovation from an appreciative audience. My body was pressed to hers now, pushed against her by my own need for closeness and her insistent hands.
We finally had to come up for air after what felt like a day or two. I mean, we’d probably had opportunities to take a few breaths, but I don’t think we had taken them. I can’t speak for her though, but I had definitely forgotten about breathing. We sat like that for a while, my head resting lightly against her collar bone, her head resting softly on mine. I revelled in the feeling of our closeness, her body moving as it breathed in and out made me immeasurably happy.
“I…” she started.
“You,” I sighed, gently swirling a finger around on her back.
“I’m not a lesbian,” she said in a daze.
“Mhm,” I mumbled.
She needed to let her mind catch up with what had just happened. Hell, she’d kissed me. I was pretty damn surprised myself. I waited, a partially melted little fae girl in the arms of the demon girl I liked. She wasn’t breaking our embrace either.
“I mean, I’ve dated guys. Sure that was boring most of the time. I even kissed one guy,” she said quickly.
I hummed in response.
“Except… Shit. That kiss was amazing Syl. You’re amazing,” She squeezed me tighter against her.
I finally spoke more than one word in response, “I really like you Karen. I just like everything about you. You’re so nice. You protect me. You care for me. You’re funny. You’re smart. You have this way of calmly thinking something through in a conversation while everyone else is busy talking. Then you speak up with some incredible insight.”
“I don’t…” she started before she groaned and nuzzled her face into my hair some more, “I like you too Syl. A whole lot. I don’t know what this means for me. I’ve always thought I was straight? Does this make me bi? No that doesn’t work...”
“I don’t know Karen,” I mumbled, enjoying the feel of her name on my lips.
“But that was so much better than any guy I’ve tried to date. You’re so exciting to be around. You’re always moving around in some small way. You’re so happy and cute. You don’t even realise it but you always have this cute little smile on your face,” she told me wistfully.
I mumbled something unintelligible into her neck. Then I realised her neck was within kissing distance. I angled my head into prime position and kissed her lightly in a particularly soft spot. I felt her breath hitch and a little quiver run through her body.
“Karen…?” I said slowly, “Can we kiss some more? I really liked it.”
“Yeah that sounds like something I can get behind,” she said with a smile in her voice.
She pushed my small frame back a little and tilted her face down towards mine. Just like that we were making out again. At some point we slid to the ground, our backs resting against the log as we did our best to merge our faces.
A very long time later we were interrupted by a chuckle and the scuffle of feet. Karen leaned back to look at our recently returned friends, and I fell into her lap. My body was like completely incapable of holding me up. I was a completely melted fae girl now. I turned my head to look up at our friends from her lap.
“Soooo…” said Col awkwardly.
“Guess you finally caved huh?” Liam chuckled, his eyes full of compassion for his friend.
Dana stood there with a wide grin on her face. She was looking right at me bundled up in Karens lap.
Amra had a look like she had just witnessed a sacred ritual. Gosh she was a perv!
“Finally caved?” Karen asked in a small voice.
“Yeah. I’ve realised you’re into girls for a while now. I was wondering when you’d cave in and find a girl to make out with,” Liam said with a grin.
“How did you know?! I didn’t even know!” she cried in mock outrage.
“Outside perspective?” he asked with a chuckle.
“Ugh,” was all Karen said as she gathered me closer.
“So you two are a thing now huh?” asked Dana.
I looked up at Karen, “I guess we are…?”
“I guess we are,” she said with an apprehensive but happy smile.