Duir’s ears turned, the funnel shape absorbed the sounds of fabric that fell and patters of feet though the under grove of plants. In a huge effort his eyes, only mother of pearl in his youth, had only the slight shifting light of rainbow to their black gloss. They were excellent to take the human in, every inch of her foul appearance and increased his heavy heart for he what he must depend on. Her pink figure parted past the forest’s unmarked paths with ease made him curious, pondering the times she burned though his lovely forest unhindered and unchallenged. His arms were against his rib cage while his breathing had softened into a regular pace once more. No longer labored by stabbed pan of flameless fire rippled though his being, left him weaker than he had ever known.
It took moments, barely enough time to digest her presence, before her aid came, her lithe body stood before him. Why didn’t she kill him? Any human would find his antlers more than fitting to decorate their houses of stone or wood, even present it to the king of the land for a gift and well bearings, or to craft strong tools from even. Did she just like seeing him like this? Or did she truly pity him for what he had become?
Duir was a god, none could pretend otherwise but he was a fallen one. His wound should have healed over long ago leaving him free to trample off, the human forgotten in his sprint away. By all accounts she shouldn’t have hit him at all in the beginning. It seemed his forest was in far worse condition, much more neglected by him, and definitely dying from the humans in his land. Always poison, nothing more they could be. The words sounded less sure in his head even as he looked to the human, her face lit by surprise as a strange thought pranced in the light of his mind, didn’t she know the stories? His heart sank to his own amazement, the thin layer of ice cracked only for a moment.
Duir obeyed, his eyes wandered aimless upon his body noting the loss of luster, his pasty skin, even his hooves were becoming ashy grey. He was fading. There was no struggle or movement, his body still as stone he was born while he felt her fingers peel away the sticky rags. The moisture rewetted the dried remnants of her previous mending and a stinging of wine, amber in color, ran down his side into dirt beneath. Duir glanced to her clothes, flayed from the tears and shreds of his new wrappings. His mind was still weak and even with the change was threatening to take him once more.
It took moments, no minutes that seemed shorter, before he answered in a weakened voice,” Glade’s Stream…” he took his hard finger and pointed east, beyond where he pointed laid a meadow untouched but was empty of life as the rest of his forest. Despite its beauty, unmarred flowers swayed with the winds, it still was dying none the less. Beside it was the only clear stream lazily cutting the forest in half and out to the humans outside, the flow started from his woods only to end with them. Once more, his lids slid down over his sight leaving him blind to happenings to come.
She nodded her head at his directions and she figured it would be one of those places that she would just know when she saw it. Probably be some place really pretty. Some place someone like her shouldn't ever be. But she was going to be going there anyways. She had to, someone had to move him and there was no one else around to do it. She watched as he drifted off again, frowning some.
She stepped away from him, finding the things she needed to help move him. He likely wasn't heavy, but he was hurt and thus not as easy to move. Once she got long enough branches together off the ground, she used her own cloak to lay out and then she moved the god easily to it. He was so very light. Like he was fading away into nothingness. That thought pained her some and the frown increased more as she dragged the forest god away to the stream that he'd pointed to.
Her breath caught as she walked in, looking around at the almost pristine beauty of the place. The flowers, the water, the trees. And this was his. And she'd nearly killed him. The smile that had tugged up the corners of her mouth slipped and the pained look that was almost a mirror of his own crossed her face. Gods she was such an awful person. And that he hadn't commanded her death yet was impressive. She settled him back down in the untouched grass, hating that she had to stain the water with his blood to wash the bandages clean, but she had to. Taking a swig of her nice spring wine that she'd used to clean up his wound, she went to work while she waited for him to awake again.
His breath was steady, nothing disturbed his peace as everything came and went from around him as his lids closed. He wouldn’t be remembering much for long but he fought his feebleness nevertheless, luckily he didn’t have to see in his meadow to know what it looked like. Tall golden green grasses swayed with the wind, covered the fall and rise of the land in a small clearing. Trees of strength, oak and birch, clustered about making the edges dark and uninviting to any incautious intruders. In the middle of it all, among the splendor and glory that Duir fought to protect was a free flowing stream drained from the melting mountain peaks beyond to the human settlements on the forest edge. The only thing out of place from the nature was a small house like shrine, slanted peak and slowly left in disarray by the treads of time upon its door step. It was a sadden sight to say the least.
When did the humans stop believing? To Duir it seemed like yesterday, but in truth it was many years ago as his worships shifted into nothing more than stories. He didn’t even realize it had happen until many moons ago when he found his small shrine forgotten and crumbling. Now only a vague shape of its glory remained anymore. There it leaned against the stream, water rushed down the path made by smooth stones that cut into the land ever so gently. A symbol of how things could change in Mother Nature eyes so quickly and how cruel both her and humans could be.
His side continued to throb, even below the surface the fibers and muscle were twisted themselves back together, and slowly, painfully slowly his wound was mending. It would take a week at best for it to scar over and another half to vanish completely. Duir didn’t like to be depending on a human, even the less aggressive sex of the species, to care him in those long weeks and the more he lingered on it the more he wished her gone. What gain was there for her? Debt from a faded god? Riches she believed he had? Enjoyments from watching him die so much slower? Kindness?
The last thought surprised him, caught him off guard as he pushed his face in her direction. She was washing the dark red ribbons of thick tunic cloth in her hunched over position, the stream was too for her not to or would be swept away if she just let them sit there. Kindness, was this her idea of a joke? Humans didn’t know it, practice even among themselves half the time, or return it to thing outside their own kind. Could they? Duir didn’t like it one bit, he had steeled himself to loath her kind but for some reason, some confusion reason she hadn’t abandoned him to his fate. Why? WHY? The answer hid itself in under growth of confusion like a quail from the fox. His eye never opened as sought for one thing form the huntress, something to ease that tightness in his chest.
“Name…” his voice was weak, but he needed, no, he must know,” your name…”
She was a little too focused on her washing to hear him right away and it took a moment for he to process that he'd spoken to her. He'd asked her a question even and she should give him an answer to that question. Standing, she came and stood next to him before kneeling next to him to take a look at his wounds.
"Brianna," she said softly, looking at how much alone had leaked though the bindings around his middle. "My name is Brianna. But most people call me Bri..." She sighed,shaking her head. "Not that you probably care," she mumbled.
Standing, she looked down at him on her cloak down in the tall grass. She hated herself even more for not thinking that he even existed and she'd almost killed him. Putting down the cleaned bandages down on a rock near the stream to dry in the sun, hopefully before he needed them.
She looked up to the crumbling remains of his temple. Frowning, she walked on soft feet over to the vine covered stones half hidden in the tall grass. It must have been such a beautiful place in its prime. And her people had neglected it and let their worship slip away.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled softly into ve meadow as she knelt down in front of the temple, closing her eyes in a prayer she'd never spoken before in her life. She would never in back to not believing after this.
He looked but didn’t touch, much to his relief, as his back was nested in her cloak farther flatting the grasses behind his thin body. Duir couldn’t help but take her in; each detail was beginning to interest him as for the first time, the very first time he held her image. Despite her profession, the knowledge behind her race, there was an illuminating quality to her femine face. The jaw line was soft edge rounding it yet there was strength in it. Weaves of hair, red brown in color in the light, framed her face like a picture to admire. It the eyes, those orbs he wanted so badly to be nothing more than empty and hollow things that told him much more then he wanted.
Eyes always told the soul. Always, there exception but Duir never got close enough to one to actually look deeper than skin. His heart stirred once more as animal from a overdue awakening and now he questioned his point of view of humans, wishing he had never met her. The confusion she brought made his mind chaotic and weaker in his hate, the only thing that kept him going, now threaten him more than her presence. Was he wrong? Was the reason his forest died wasn’t humans but his own fault? Duir didn’t like this train of thought or where it led to.
The way she said her name was gentle, soft until she mumbled the last part which naturally, Duir mistook as arrogance instead of too much information. His brown eyes silted at her, his own pride filled the air surrounding him, while she placed the eyes to the ground. In his current expression the young stag god resembled a young sulking child. His jaw was set against the fact she believed her name was of little importance to him, his back slouched farther into cloak ignored the throbbed his simple action caused.
For once he just laid there, his ears pinned back in annoyance and even a bit the bottom of his lip, ignorant of it, at her simple human statement. Bri, yes, she didn’t have to share the shorter version of her name but to cast it way as if it wasn’t good enough for him to know or important…umff. He couldn’t help the glance from the corner out of his sight, the tunic scrapes taken from her clothes were draped upon a rock to soak up the sun, dried out the water form its wool base. It softened his face slightly to watch her.
He followed her path to the temple and froze. All the slow returning color had drained away leaving him the palest by far, terror washed over him like tides at her closeness to his birth place. Would she dare devastate it? Wipe it out of existence as well as him? His heart stopped, unable to beat with the claws of panic that tore at it leaving his lungs empty. Instead he stood dumfounded at what she did instead: a whisper of sorry and speaking a prayer he had yet to hear in centuries. What the…? His ear perked up in interest and his body was propped up on his side by one elbow, his eyes filled with a thirst for knowledge and his overall appearance was nothing short of childish appeal.
“What are you doing Brianna?” It just slipped out before Duir could stop it or even realized he had spoken. Worse yet, he had used her name as if it was the most natural thing in the world. What was happening to him?
She stayed there on her knees, reflecting as she prayed, not really knowing what to say and feeling rather awkward about it. Especially with the god she was praying to laying in the field right behind her. But she had to do this. She couldn't let it go without, even if he didn't like it and he didn't accept her prayers. That was his choice, she had to do this not just for him, but for her as well.
She heard him shifting and stirring behind her but she made no move to look at him. She kept her eyes closed, head bowed and hands flat out in front of her to support the weight of her upper body as she knelt in her prayer. She stopped when he moved fully, she could feel his eyes on her back, watching her, looking her over. Still, she said nothing when he spoke and just stayed there on her knees, trying to get her head back into her thoughts and prayers. But she couldn't. The feel of his eyes on her were too much and she had to turn, she had to look at his beautiful face and just remind herself of the pain and suffering that she'd caused him.
"Praying," she said softly. Sitting up and back on her feet, turning so her body still faced away from him, but also from his crumbling temple. "Asking for forgiveness I don't deserve," she said louder as she looked at him, her cheeks flush with her blush of shame and embarrassment for having to be in his presence now when he clearly didn't want her there.
But it didn't escape her notice that he had called her by name. That stirred something in her, a feeling in her that she couldn't quite explain. It was so strange to have him say her name when she didn't even dare say his. Aloud at least, but she'd said in her head a lot, every time she looked at him she said it. But she couldn't get it out of her mouth. It didn't feel right to call him that. She didn't feel worthy of that.
The temple stood there in wait, appeared as if longed for something long since denied, in Duir’s black eyes. In her silence, Duir followed the curve of her kneed body feeling a flutter of excitement in the presence of another, more importantly a female. Something gave away, despite his hatred poisoning him, he wasn’t meant to be alone and he was starting to realize this. He didn’t like it one bit.
For worship to work one had to feel connected with it, stringed to the very being they worship not out of guilt but just pure want. Brianna had to want, her posture was clear in her reaction to the old temple, to worship him, thank him for her success and long for his blessing. She had no such connection or desire, outside of guilt, and he knew it. It left an empty shallow feeling within him, one of pity and depression for her. What was she doing to him? She answered timidly, softly as if he scared her or… his ear twitched casting the thought aside. Totally ridiculous, completely. Gods do not, do not fall in love! Did they? He shook his head ridding himself of the notion and emptying it.
Her words caused him to frown, his nose cringle, and his eyes narrowed in. He was the one shot yet she claimed she didn’t deserve forgiveness, typical human to believe it was only her opinion that truly mattered. He snorted, hot breath escaped his nostrils in soft wisps and his eyes couldn’t help but roll at her silliness. Female human, she was so determined yet she hadn’t the slightest clue. He just wanted her gone before things got more complex, more hurtful when she did leave like all the humans. They always leave never to return.
“You are doing it wrong…,” he tried to raise, his leg once more and much more slowly slide beneath his body, his balance graceful if not unplanned. His knee pushed up from the ground, the grimace on his face as he stubbornly tried to move to her. Blood stained the bandages as his it had her calloused hands, his wound had a sharp needle of pain in protest against him as he struggled to remain up. Held with both palms upon the ground and his body twisted to one side, his knee opposite of his wound took the full weight while ribs heaved in laborious breath.
“Guilt doesn’t help…its weak and lacks… prop-,” a cry of pain and once more he was laying on his wounded side, curled in a ball with tears in his eyes. It was his own stupidity but what he felt was nothing short of hell. His eye filled with wetness as he was thankful that he landed away, his face hidden in his posture. He was weak and he hated it more than anything, to his greater shock, in front of her…
Brianna watched him move and she already was moving up to her feet to help him. She knew that there was no way that he would listen to her if she told him not to move. He was proud and stubborn and she wasn't even going to bother to try and say anything about it. So she would just settle for helping him after he'd hurt himself. Maybe he'd learn after he hurt himself enough. Hopefully he'd learn fast enough that he'd stop trying to get up when he shouldn't.
His cry of pain stung through to her heart, making it hurt more. Within seconds she was at his side, helping him back onto his not injured side. She settled onto her knees, not even thinking about it as she settled his head into her lap, brushing his hair out of his face. Like a mother with a child. Or one lover to another. "You have to be careful," she murmured softly.
"I'll learn in time," she went on just as softly, looking over her shoulder at the temple remains. "It isn't something I've ever done before. Let me have a learning curve, alright?"
It was such a strange thing what she was doing now. Everything that was going through her head right now was not anything that she thought that she'd ever be thinking. But she would be a liar to say that she didn't like what she was thinking just now.
His body, his own fault, pride and worse made him pay tenfold with each never ending wash of needles into his senses. Why couldn’t he just die, end it all and let the humans win. He couldn’t the same flaws that numbed his form into a crippled state, forbid it. This wouldn’t have happened if she…a guilt walled him from finishing the sentence in his head. It wasn’t her fault; it was his, halted and primed for a target just for her. The truth was bitter, like unripe berries eaten before their time in Duir’s mouth, filled his mind causing a frown upon his thin lips.
It took only a feeling of touch and gentleness to realize Brianna-the female, his teeth bit his lip even harder at the head’s mistake, rolled his body about to his other side. At one time, just once his black eyes met her moss green ones. His soul melted as their eyes locked and then it ended. The contours of her face were smooth, raise and fall like the very meadow they laid in, so natural stayed in his head. This contact…it was foreign, strange, and worse it tugged at his heart strings. Her hair was red brown like strong and towering red oak; every twist of the locks where it laid seemed to be free flowing in the mimic of its bark’s pattern.
Curly brown hair parted for her fingers, their path tracing though his bangs from the curves of his own face leaving tingles in their wake. It was an intimate act between the two of them. it seemed the meadow encouraged it, the wind whistled it’s song filling in the bird’s absence, flowers rubbed in harmony as their bright colors dancing with tall grasses, and finally tall sturdy trees stood close together to hide the scene from unwanted eyes. His body was calm in her lap, more content to just sit here, but he shouldn’t, it wasn’t right.
His ear flicked at the sound of her voice, timid and meek even as it seemed her heart broke at his birth place’s corpse. His own muscle was like stone, weighty and unyielding, sank into his stomach. Humans were vile, nasty, dangerous, greedy, and the words went on but none of it was half felt inside of him. He had to push her away but he couldn’t put life to the words he knew he had to speak. This road lead too many places, most unknown for him and frightening, yes gods knew fear regardless of what was believed, to tread upon.
“If you insist on doing this, I can’t stop and true fully,” his tongue curled about the words feeling the foul taste of each one,” I need help. An offering is one step, a token of devoting and a gift, a way to leave a part of you to forest for what you must take. There must not be any guilt on the gift itself or within your heart,” he twisted to his back nesting his head in the dead center of her lap as his eyes reached to hers, longed to see her looking at him without realizing it spoke in his gaze,” Now is too soon to be praying…”
It was too late to retreat now. His ears pulled forward eager to listen, his expression softened in acceptance ever slightly and curiosity at her next actions. It surprised him to just enjoy being in her presence, content and confusing to like this quiet moment between him. How long since he had been in company of another, a human even, while in the meadow?
His black eyes caught hers and she couldn't help but stare at him. She'd heard every word he said but for some reason, her brain was slow in taking that all in. Instead she sat looking down at his face looking up at her from her lap, so comfortable looking there. It almost felt natural the way the were sitting and laying just now. No, not almost, it did. Her cheeks colored at the thought and she had to chew at her bottom lip for a moment to get her head to stop thinking about how lovely his curls looked spilling over his forehead.
"Ahhh yeah..." she said after a moment, knowing her words were stupid, even by her normal standards and she blushed further. Her eyes closed for a moment, making herself take deep breaths in before she finally calmed herself down enough that she could speak with him without letting her mind wander. She hoped.
Green eyes flickered open to catch with his again, letting the easy smile come up her face without thought. The look he was giving her wasn't quite what she expected from him, but it was still nice, still made her heart flutter in her chest more than she thought it should be fluttering. "I understand," she said softly, hoping he'd forget the stupid moment before that one. She wanted to say that it was hard not to feel guilty right now, but she thought that he might already know that so she said nothing. "I'll do it again when it's not so soon..."
Her callused hand lifted again and she brushed his curls from his face again, smiling still, so happy that he seemed less angry with her now. At least he didn't shudder away from every touch now. She wondered how long he'd been alone. She'd been alone for a long time and she knew how much it hurt to have no companion. Maybe that was why he was so angry with her presence before. Because he'd grown so used to being alone that he couldn't accept that she was trying to help.
She looked up at where her fingers had slipped into his curls and saw the blood that still lingered up on her wrists where the water hadn't touched while she washed the bandages ad a slight frown crossed her face for a moment before she looked away from her hands and offered the forest god nestled in her lap a soft smile. She'd hurt him, and she didn't think that he'd ever forgive her totally for that.