Chapter 21: The Glade:

"How did you…" Arolei began.

"I can't believe…" Zen stated, at the same time. They both looked into the other's eyes and laughed. Troll and elf lay in a heap on the soft moss, quite worn out from the physical exertions of their reunion and the necessary venting of emotions. Arolei was draped half over Zen's chest, her head pillowed on his shoulder and his arm securely around her waist. Though the initial frenzy had passed, neither was yet willing to release their hold on the other. "Ladies first," Zen graciously offered.

Arolei smiled, not quite able to believe that she was currently ensconced in Zen's arms, that he no longer seemed to care she was a night elf, and that they had just passionately mated beneath the light of Elune. "I was going to ask how you found me? I mean, was it just an accident or had you been searching?" She looked away at that last question, unsure of what answer she sought.

Zen tilted her face back up to his with a finger on her chin. "I've been looking for you since the morning you left, you silly elf." His heart all but overflowed when she graced him with another smile, one that shone with happiness. Looking like that, she was more beautiful than he could have ever imagined, and he wondered what good he had done in his life to deserve such a thing. He slipped his hand up into her hair and pulled her down for another kiss, this one soft and gentle. "I've missed you," he whispered against her lips. She murmured her assent.

When she pulled back again, so as to see his face, Zen's tone became more serious. "I'm sorry. So, so sorry for what I did and what I said. If I could take it back… I was a stubborn fool. I should have listened, should have seen how upset and lost you were. Is there any way you can forgive me?"

"My foolish troll," Arolei replied with warmth, "I think it's rather obvious I already have. But how did you come to be here?"

Zen's face lit up with a happy smile of his own at her declaration. "Well, I searched for you in Ashenvale for a few weeks, right after you left, but I realized you didn't want to be found." Arolei frowned at this, but nodded. "I'll have to congratulate you on your skills. I never found a single sign of where you'd gone."

"I suppose I had a good teacher," she teased.

"I guess credit should be given where it's due," he replied in kind, receiving a light smack on his chest from a mock affronted elf. "Anyway, I spent time in Orgrimmar and Thunder Bluff, then went back to Senjin Village and the Echo Isles. Helped kick Zalazane's ass. Built myself a small place near the ocean. I was miserable though, pinning away for you." He was unable to read the look on Arolei's face. "So one day, my friend Brixa comes over and drags my sorry self out to go looking for you. We've been at it for six months, traveling all over the place. Came down here just a week ago. Wanted to get the Fel away from Garrosh and his insanity."

Arolei looked thoughtful now. "So it was just happenstance that you were at the auction?"

"Actually, I was just walking by and caught your scent."

"Really. I suppose the Goddess works in mysterious ways."

"And you? Where have you been hiding all this time?" Zen was extremely curious.

"When I left you, I went to Astranaar. It's where I'm from. I expected to find my family there waiting for me, but my parents are beyond my reach now." Zen stroked her back in comfort, concerned by the aggrieved look on her face. He wondered how they died. "They're in the Emerald Dream," she clarified. Zen had little understanding of what that meant, but for her sake was glad they were still alive. He knew the pain of loosing one's parents all too well. "I left for Moonglade as soon as I realized I could never fight the Horde raiders that were attacking the city. That's your fault, you know." She gave him a look that said she wasn't sorry for it.

"Yeah, I'm kind of useless in that department now, too."

"Well, knowing that, there wasn't really a place for me in Astranaar anymore, so I went somewhere neutral, and joined the Cenarion Circle. I've been doing nothing but traveling and training since then. That's why I'm here in Pandaria."

"It's amazing," Zen said appreciably, stroking her cheek with his free hand. "I feel like I know everything about you, and absolutely nothing at all."

"I suppose we'll have to remedy that," she grinned before turning serious. "I know you didn't believe me the first time I said it, but I really am the same person…saber. I need you to know that I never deceived you on purpose. I honestly didn't know I was a night elf. I only began to suspect after the arena, and even then, I didn't want to believe it, because I knew it would mean loosing you."

Zen didn't know what to say. She broke his heart and mended it all over again in a matter of moments. So he hugged her tight and hoped she understood when words failed him. They stayed like that for some time, each lost in thought, simply enjoying the closeness of the other. Finally Zen wiggled a bit and Arolei looked up at him again. "Can I ask you a question?" She was puzzled by the sheepish look he wore.


"What's your name?"

Arolei laughed aloud. That really was the last thing she expected. When she finally got control of herself, tears had formed at the corners of her eyes. "Arolei. My name is Arolei Windrhyme."

"Arolei," Zen repeated. It was a lovely name. "I like it. I'll still probably slip up and call you Luar-ke, though."

"I love that name. I'd be honored if you still called me by it."

Zen grinned. "In that case, it will be my special pet name for you, seeing as you were my pet." That earned him another smack, followed up by a kiss, which quickly deepened. Arolei slid her body up until she was straddling his hips, molding herself to him so tightly it wasn't obvious where lavender skin left off and blue-gray began.

Arolei gently kissed every inch of Zen's face, working her way down his neck and deftly maneuvering around his tusks. She halted with a gasp when she reached his chest, having found his pendant and the familiar charm on it. "You kept it!" She could hardly speak she was so overcome by emotion.

Zen wiped a tear away with his thumb before it could trickle down her cheek. "I would never part with it. Why did you give it to me, after how appallingly I treated you? You spoke at the time, but it was in Darnassian."

"You were awake?" Her shock at the revelation quickly gave way to another, more significant look all together. "I gave it to you because I wanted to tell you, hoped you'd understand, that no matter what you'd said, no matter where life took us or how far apart we were, I loved you. That I love you now and I'll love you always." She peered into his burgundy eyes seeking the knowledge that he felt the same.

Zen's heart tripped over the next beat. She loved him. He could see the truth of it in her glowing silver eyes. She loved him, despite all the wrongs he'd done her. She loves me. The words reverberated inside his skull. He sat up, her still on his lap. Grabbing the sides of her face, he kissed her with hunger; he kissed her with lust and love, his lips moving over hers as he trembled with the strength of his own emotions. He didn't even need to say the words. He loved her and he would tell her with every touch, every whisper, every laugh and tear. His hand on the small of her back pressed her into him as if he was trying to join their bodies and souls by sheer pressure and force of will.

This time they made love slowly, languidly, learning each other's bodies and responses. Zen rolled them over and covered her body with his. He lavished attention on her neck, her shoulders, her breasts. He took each dark nipple in his mouth in turn, swirling his tongue around the hardened peaks, all but drinking in the sounds of pleasure she made. He ran his palms down her legs, tickling the bottoms of her feet and enjoying her girlish squeals of protest far too much in Arolei's opinion. He slipped first one, then two large fingers inside her and her back arched off he ground. He worked her with his hand until she came again, with a long gasp rather than a scream.

Watching Arolei climax was one of the most dazzling sights he'd even witnessed. He hoped he'd have the opportunity many, many times again. Till the end of his days, if she was agreeable. When her trembling ceased, she pulled him up by his tusks and kissed him soundly, wrapping her long legs around him and pulling him in.

Arolei groaned shamelessly as Zen slid into her once more. It had hurt the first time; he was very big, and it had been a very long time, but it was a good kind of hurt. This time however, she was thoroughly ready and her body welcomed him like a long lost friend. He filled her fully and perfectly. She'd had lovers before. Alathdrus had not been the first. Though she'd enjoyed the attentions of all, nothing could compare to what she felt now. Is this how it feels when you're in love? She was swept away on another wave of pleasure before her mind could conjure an answer.

Zen took his time, drawing it out, wanting the experience to last. This was the first time in his life he'd made love. He'd been with many women, more than he could remember, most not worth bothering to. With every single one, it had been no more than fucking. Something to pass time and relieve tension. This was the real deal. He'd never known what he was looking for until he found it. He would not let it go again. Zen swallowed Arolei's scream with a kiss as her release crested, and when followed her a few strokes later, unable to hold out against the onslaught of her inner muscles, he felt as though his soul exploded into hers. He collapsed onto her, careful not to crush her smaller frame with his bulk. She, in turn, hugged him to her with arms and legs, holding him fast.

It was some minutes later when Zen surfaced from the haze of his climax and, with a nuzzle to her neck, rolled to the side, pulling his elf along with him. Once again she lay across his chest, staring thoughtfully at him with her chin pillowed on the backs of her hands. He reached up and ran a thumb over the ring of punctures decorating her shoulder from their earlier coupling. "You're a druid, are you going to heal this?"

Arolei, sat up a bit, propping her elbow on his stomach, and glanced at her shoulder. "No. I want it to scar. I want your mark on me." She poked gently at his own set of wounds, just over his heart. "Just as I won't heal this for you, even if you ask."

Zen grinned. "I'll gladly wear your mark, girlie."

Her attention migrated downward slightly and she ran a fingertip along the ridge of flesh bisecting one side of his torso. "How did you get this?" Zen sighed and dropped his head back to look at the stars. It was not a pleasant memory.

"I got it Northrend. We were on a raid. Some dungeon in Icecrown. It was not long before the final battle. Myself, Lar'ja, Raj'el and a bunch of others, I had several pets at the time too, were hunting Scourge. It was very dark, only had our torches to see by, and so fucking cold. We entered a large chamber and were immediately set upon by a host of undead and several abominations. A couple of our party went down in the first few minutes. The healers weren't able to keep up with the injuries. My pets and I were fighting this huge, ugly… thing. Don't know what else to call it." Arolei was transfixed, listening to his story.

"Anyway, we were actually making headway; had it backed into a corner, bleeding black nastiness all over the place. All of a sudden I was hit with this cold that wanted to suck the life right out of me. I've never felt anything like it, before or since. I turned and found myself face to face with an orc Death Knight. Big fucker. Had these glowing blue eyes that sent chills straight through me. I hit him with a couple arrows straight off, but he just laughed at me. Two of my pets jumped him, but the bastard ran them right through."

"You might not know it, but hunters form a mental bond with their pets, and we can see through their eyes; to some extent feel what they feel. It was one of those strange things about you that let me know you were different; the fact that I could never form that bond with you. Guess we know why now, huh?" He smirked before continuing. "I felt their deaths and I lost it. Went after him with a blade, which was colossally stupid. I'm good at melee for a hunter, but against an undead warrior? He swung his sword and just about cut me in two. Luckily he was distracted before he could finish the job. Raj got me out of there and back to camp. Trolls will heal from an awful lot that would kill any other race, but there was some sort of spell on that death knight's blade and the healers weren't able to fully put me back together. And so this is my momento from what turned out to be my last battle as a soldier of the Horde. I wasn't even healed when I received word about my family. I left for home immediately and never looked back."

He glanced at Arolei and saw her eyes glistening, as though she felt his pain. "Will you tell me about them?" She asked quietly. "Not right this minute, but… someday?" He nodded. He would tell her anything.

Arolei sighed and lay her head back down on his chest, turning her gaze to the stars as well. "What are we going to do now?" There was no way around the fact that their races suffered from ancient enmity, and that the war between the factions was headed for an epic showdown. She might be a member of a neutral party, but Zen wasn't a druid and couldn't simply join the circle. And it wasn't as though she could just travel the world at his side.

"I don't know, my Laur-ke, I don't know. But you can be certain that nothing and no one is going to take you away from me." He pulled her tight against his side and turned to press a kiss to her forehead.

I hope that wasn't too sappy...