A new direction (Sade)

Some one-thousand years into the future, Feila is now ruled by pop-crazy teenagers, computer nerds, and gun-wielding gangsters. This period is most like our present day Earth, specifically the 2000's, with the Internet, MP3 players, and towering skyscrapers. All natives are furry (Skin Avian are present here too). No native humans.
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A new direction (Sade)

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Freya opened an eye to the late morning night, and stretched languorously in the large luxurious resort bed. She laid there in quiet contemplation for a short time before sliding lithely from beneath the sheets, idly wondering just how long she had slept. She yawned, and rubbed her eyes as she shuffled her way into the bathroom and into the shower.

while she washed, she replayed events of the last few days in her mind. The search for the artifact, meeting Etienne, and Osborne. The old mogul had offered she and Etienne a vacation after their ordeal in the final leg of recovering the artifact, and she had never been one to turn down generosity. She had requested a full service resort in southern Yamaha, and Osborne hadn't skimped. The pair were currently sharing a multi room suite and she was thoroughly enjoying it so far. Her mind wandered back to the phone call with the university when she had requested an extension to her absence. The university had seemed quite eager to extend her time away, telling her to enjoy whatever project she was working on, and to take all the time she needed. The whole situation still seemed a little odd, but she pushed that aside for now. The whole purpose of the trip to the resort had been to relax, and that was exactly what she was going to do.

She eventually made her way out of the shower, and back into her room. She picked up the clothing she had left in a trail as she discarded it upon arrival, and after closer inspection decided that it was probably better off in the trash. Much of it had blood on it somewhere, and all of it was filthy. She wrinkled her nose at it before dropping it into the trashcan, and picking up the phone. She called down for room service, ordering a nice big breakfast for herself and Etienne. To that order, she added a bikini for herself as well as a change of casual clothing, and a swimsuit, and change of clothes for Etienne as well, anticipating that he probably wouldn't want to change into the clothing they arrived in either; she added the stipulation that the clothing arrive first.

A short time later, there was a soft knock at the door accompanied by the announcement of room service. Freya answered the door as she was, the male on the other side of the door gaping as she did. Freya had very little in the way of physical modesty, and briefly entertained the idea of lounging in the common area in the nude just to see Etienne's reaction. She eventually decided against the idea as she inspected the clothing, and slipped into the bikini instead. The food arrived a short time later, and she wheeled the cart in by a couch before taking a platter and flopping down on the couch and turning on the television. She contented herself with watching t.v. and munching while she waited for Etienne to wake. She didn't want to wake him, but was pretty sure the smell of food would have him up before too long.
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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Osborne was a cruel man. When the topic of a vacation came up Etienne’s first request was to opt out of it. After his mentor made clear his disapproval, he caved and suggested some place he would actually like to go, like Azalus, or any of a dozen other sites of ongoing scientific research and technological innovation. But no, Freya wanted to go to a beach resort and lounge in the sun and surf, and Osborne immediately agreed to that destination no questions asked. Poor, poor Etienne! his face had read. At least the canine wouldn’t be alone with the dragon… right? Oh of course he would, because, you see, Osborne was suddenly very busy and had to be elsewhere!

It seemed he basically had no choice but go on a vacation. He’d taken comfort that he could bring his laptop with him and get some work done himself, but Osborne had insisted he leave it behind. They’d argued for a while and finally the old man suggested a “compromise”: Etienne could bring the laptop but had to promise not to use it. Etienne had foolishly agreed, but he now realized this was even worse than leaving it behind! The computer called out to him, tempting him from its place in the hotel room desk drawer, but his own ethical character prevented him from breaking the promise.

Now he was stuck at an ultra-high-end resort with no means to accomplish any work and the maddening dragoness with her sense of humor and… other qualities… as company. What was he supposed to do with himself!?

The hairless canine was up and about relatively early, but he spent a longer time in his room’s shower than most would have. He was fastidious about cleanliness and yet his not-quite-pitch black skin hid most stains and dirt. Which meant lots of washing and scrubbing until he felt pristine. The rest of his routine also took time. He had to look perfectly well groomed. Except for his white hair, which he’d left wild ever since their escapades in the cave. For some reason it felt right this way. Osborne had pointed out once that the canine’s obsession with appearances and the time it took was completely contrary to his obsession with efficiency in all other actions, but then Osborne would point out such contradictions wouldn’t he. After all, Osborne is a cruel man.

Etienne wrapped a bath towel around his waist and opened his door in search of clothes, and found Freya there. In a bikini. His towel suddenly felt as small as a napkin. He stared like a deer in headlights. His skin did a decent job hiding his blushing, but not nearly as good a job as fur would have, and neither black skin nor the bath towel would hide his other reaction for very long. He turned too quickly, overshot, spun around, crouched slightly, froze again, and finally snatched the fresh clothes near his door and vanished back into his room, closing the door perhaps a little too enthusiastically.

Osborne? Cruel? Freya was the cruel one! The canine pressed his back against the door and ran hands through his hair. What was he going to do!? How was he going to survive this vacation a sane man!?

His nose twitched. Was that bacon?



After a few minutes of muffled fumbling, Etienne’s door clicked and creaked open, and the canine’s head peeked around the corner. Freya was still there in her bikini, near the food. Etienne was reminded of the mythical stories of dragons guarding their treasures, devouring any greedy trespasser. Why did a part of him find that thought appealing? After a few moments of silent pause he opened the door the rest of the way and made a halting attempt of nonchalance as he strode over to the table. He was not dressed for swimming, he’d donned the casual clothes, as distasteful as he thought of its style.

He opened his mouth, closed it, and opened it again to say “good morning” rather too late to have any hope of conveying confident normalcy. Oh well. He took a plate and loaded it lightly with food, mostly fruit. He was very health-conscience. Also bacon. Because… bacon. He lowered himself rigidly onto the couch. “Good morning,” he said again, grimacing at his mistake. He was usually so eloquent, suddenly he couldn’t string three words together! He cleared his throat. He just needed to pick up some momentum. “So, what is the plan for today?”
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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Freya had been eating a slice of bacon when she heard Etienne's door open the first time. She looked in the direction of Etienne's room in time to catch his deer in the headlights look, and his ensuing search for clothing. She nearly choked on the bacon as she tried to keep herself from bursting out in laughter. As it was, once his door was closed again she coughed several times, and began laughing quietly while she worked to pour herself a drink, and try to regain some composure.

When Etienne opened his door again, she was drinking from a steaming cup of coffee, and studiously watching some history documentary on the television. She tried to keep from listening in on the canine's thoughts out of respect, but couldn't help occasionally picking up on some. She just caught the shape of the one about dragons devouring trespassers, and it caused her to cock her head to the side a little bit, and cut her eyes toward him. She turned to him more fully as he approached to get some food, and looked him over before smiling and nodding to herself in a satisfied manner. Her smile widened as Etienne greeted her officially. "Good morning." She replied as she made room for him on the couch. "looks like I got the measurements right, or close enough at least." She commented. "looks good on you though." She said, nodding again and directing her smile at him.

She chuckled softly at the second 'good morning' from Etienne then responded to his question. "plan? Well, I had briefly entertained the idea of not bothering to get dressed, and just hanging out in front of the television all day." She raised an eyebrow at Etienne before she continued. "I decided against that for today though. I was thinking about going out and doing some snorkeling, maybe find a more secluded stretch of beach to just kick back, soak up some sun, and listen to the surf. I think they've got some band or other playing tonight...." She trailed off and looked at Etienne. "or we could just hang out and get to know each other better." a suggestive smile accompanied her last remark. "I'm always open to suggestions though...anything you want to do?" She asked as she finished her cup of coffee, and popped a chunk of pineapple into her mouth.
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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Etienne kept glancing at Freya, but he was having a lot of trouble keeping his eyes where they belonged, and he continuously redirected them back down at his plate, where they were relatively safe… until they refused to linger there any longer. He listened to Freya’s voice and also the sound of his racing pulse in his ears. The dragon’s comment about getting dressed sent his heart pounding. He made a futile attempt to assert the mental image of Freya in a nightgown, but the nightgown kept disappearing. He knew full well that they’d arrived only in rancid dirty clothing, with nothing else available till this morning. Certainly nothing they'd want to wear to bed. Freya’s bikini left a little to the imagination, but he found he resented the need for imagination in this case.

The canine’s tension was obviously. He looked as if he would stay in place in the upright sitting position even if the couch was pulled out from under him. He was trying with very little success to keep his eyes away from the dragoness beside him. Hunger kept creeping onto his face, but it was in no way a response to the mostly untouched food on his plate. Etienne found focusing on the food quite impossible. It was the less appetizing thing in the room by a huge margin. He did however keep a firm grip on the plate in his lap.

He tried telling himself that she was old enough to be his great-to-the-fortieth-power grandmother, assuming a generation interval of 30 years. It did not help. His eyes and heart and something else told him otherwise, and their arguments trumped his logic utterly. He suddenly realized that he didn’t care about any of that. In the face of this sort of teasing from another woman he would normally prove more stoic, but then, he’d never felt quite this way about another person… She made him so intensely uncomfortable, yet he could not bear the thought of leaving the room.

Snorkeling? Lying on a sandy beach? Listening to a band? Even under normal circumstances these things would not have appealed to Etienne. He had little use for distractions and luxuries, aside from his various styling and hair care products of course. At the moment though he felt as if he and Freya might be the only people places or things on the whole planet. Everything else was filtered out. Nothing else mattered. “G-get to know each other better?” he stammered. No, no, no, no, he thought urgently, this is wrong! But he couldn’t come up with any logical support for that assertion. Wrong, why? His position suddenly seemed hopeless in a paradoxically wonderful way.

“Magic!” He practically shouted the word when she asked for suggestions. “Yes! Yes, magic, of course, yes. You offered to attempt to teach me how to wield magic…” he repeatedly glanced sidelong into her eyes and back at infinity directly ahead.
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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After so long age ceases to be a relevant factor when choosing companions, for if she wanted companions only of her own age, she would find scarce few. This way of thinking left her quite unashamed of any kind of attraction between the pair, combine that with a long cultivated self assurance, and there was very little that could phase her. She found herself, as she caught his eyes wandering again, wondering just what the canine would have done had she not put on any kind of clothing.

She had started leaning closer to Etienne as he stammered out an initial reply to her possible plans for the day. By the time he came out with the word 'magic' her muzzle had been scant inches away from him. She sighed a little, and sat back. "well, if we're going to do that, I suppose I should put on something a little less...distracting" She said as she got up from the couch. "that or we're going to have to find a way to drain off some of that tension." This comment was accompanied by another suggestive smile, as she headed to the bedroom she was using. She didn't close the door behind her, and she took her time picking up the casual clothing she had ordered, and grabbing a bathrobe just in case, leaving ample time for Etienne to follow her if he decided to take the second choice offered to him.

If he didn't take the offer though, she would have returned to the couch carrying a bathrobe after slipping into a thigh length pleated skirt, and a t-shirt that left just a little bit of midriff showing. After a few moments thought, she began to speak, taking on the tones of a teacher speaking with a student. "the most common magic aside from the hedge wizardry and minor charms of the untrained is elemental magic. The elements used are: Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Ice, Light, and Dark. before we go any further, I don't want you getting stuck on any kind of moral affiliations with Light and Dark magic...they are elemental forces, any moral affiliation comes strictly from the caster, and not the elemental energy itself. There's nothing that bugs me more than the yahoos that think elemental forces have an inherent morality." She paused after that short rant as she got herself back on track. "The keys to wielding magic are strength of will, and the absolute belief that the results you will, will manifest. For example, I want that tray over there on that cart." As she spoke, the tray she spoke of lifted from the cart and floated to her. "the belief is likely to be the hardest barrier to break as the average fur in this age is conditioned nearly from birth to believe that magic is impossible, and the scientific laws of the universe are irrefutable. Even though you've seen magic, there is likely to be a resistance to the full belief required to manipulate it." She paused to briefly look around the room. "we'll start small" She said as a candle lifted off a nearby end table, and floated over to the table next to them. "lighting a candle. It requires very little in the way of energy, but will make for good practice on getting the state of mind needed for magic. Concentrate on the candle, put everything else out of your mind, set your will, see the flame on the candle, and will it into existence." She sat quietly and watched, she could have probably given him more instruction, but she wanted him to get a good feel for what it was going to take, that he had to drop all preconceived notions about the universes workings, not that they were necessarily wrong, but most of them did not mesh well with working magic.
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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His spirits began to sink as Freya moved away from him, tension replaced with mounting regret and a sharp edge of desperation. He felt as if he was being torn in half in a tug of war between the sensibilities drilled into him as a child of nobility and the liberalism he’d learned to cherish later in life. And also profound nervousness. And then there was the pure, undiluted desire surging just beneath it all.

When she returned more dressed instead of less so and began to lecture him exactly as he himself had requested, he felt as if he’d seen sunlight for the first time only to be pulled back into shadow. Nonetheless he tried to follow what she was saying, tried to find the logic behind it that he knew- or at least hoped- must be there. It was all so counter-intuitive. ‘Elements’ existed on the periodic table. They were made of protons, neutrons, and electrons. What she was saying seemed to lend credence to a fantastical notion: that the medieval alchemists had actually been right all along. And oh how little he managed to care about any of it! His mind kept turning elsewhere, roaming, touching.

He tensed when Freya levitated the tray across the room. As it moved towards them he felt a tingling along his spine and goosebumps on the back of his neck. If he’d had fur it would have stood on end. He dismissed it as surprise and wonderment… well, incredulity at least, at the sight of it. Yet when the tray came to rest the sensation diminished, only to return as she moved the candle stick. In another circumstance he would have asked about it, and he would at some point, just not right this moment.

Focus, he chided himself. She was asking him to try it out for himself- but what she was asking was impossible! The candle wick would not- could not spontaneously combust! “Put everything out of my mind,” he murmured. Etienne was good at many things; one of them was concentrating, manipulating his own internal state, controlling his thoughts and feelings- in most situations anyway. The canine slid off the couch to crouch as close to the candle as he could, bearing down on it with his gaze. And so, with something to focus on and a clear-albeit-impossible objective, he proceeded to empty his head of superfluous thoughts, to tune out everything of no consequence, quiet the nagging worries and self doubts, until just a single thing remained, a single desire, immutable, unmistakable, absolutely definitive.

It had nothing to do with the candle.

“This isn’t going to work,” he mumbled dejectedly. He push off from the floor and sat back down on the couch, much, much closer to Freya. “I was wrong,” he said still facing the candle and cart, visibly gulping, the black skin of his face darkening as he began to blush again. “This isn’t what I want.”

He turned towards her. He noticed for the first time so many details lost in the hectic events of the past few days; the graceful arc of her body as she sat on the couch; her tail beginning to coil around behind him; the bands of darker blue scales starting at the serrated tip of that tail and running along the entire length of her body; the way her scales shimmered as they caught the light; how very, very silver her eyes were, like still pools of water in the moonlight. He wanted to swim in those eyes. He wanted to know the touch and feel of her scales. All of them.

Etienne’s brow creased as the buried tension came flooding back, mixed with frustration, and then again with ravenous hunger. He did not attempt to suppress it any longer. Instead he moved haltingly closer to her. He put his hands on her arms; sliding his fingers between the tight fabric of the T-shirt’s sleeves and across the bare, smooth scales beneath; gripping her arms and squeezing gently. He could feel the tingling along his spine return with a vengeance and spread elsewhere, as if he could feel the power flowing through her, just under the surface. Before he even quite realized what he was doing he leaned in, paused for half a hesitant heartbeat, and kissed her. After mere seconds he pulled back and blurted “sorry!” while looking profoundly embarrassed, but he almost immediately pressed his mouth to hers again with ever greater urgency, his grip on her arms tightening as he pulled her closer.
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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Freya had been watching Etienne while she lectured, and his reactions when she used her power. His reaction to the initial moving of the tray piqued her interest, the slight tensing, and appearance of goose bumps had her wondering if perhaps the canine had some natural potential. The repeat reaction when she moved the candle had her almost positive he did. Perhaps I just need to paint a picture a little closer to his perspective, she thought to herself as he sat down to attempt to light the candle.

The fact that Etienne was unable to light the candle in his first attempt was not a surprise, but what came next was at least a little surprising. The admission that he was wrong, and that it wasn't what he wanted. She smiled as he sat down close to her. "what do you want?" She asked quietly as she noticed his tension returning. She got at least a near term answer to her question in the form of actions rather than words as he took hold of her arms. Her body thrummed with energy and anticipation as he leaned in, then hesitated a moment, but she was quickly rewarded as his muzzle pressed to her own, but he quickly pulled away and apologized. She didn't know why he was apologizing, she had been enjoying herself until he pulled away. A thought crossed her mind at that moment. The nervousness, and tension, she figured she might be a little intimidating but now she wondered if he had ever been intimate with a woman before; she wasn't about to bring it up though, especially as he closed the distance to kiss her again.

She returned his kiss with a burning passion, and decided to continue to let him lead the situation, it would be good for his confidence, not to mention she enjoyed it when a male she wanted to be with took charge in certain situations. She was both gentle and passionate, and thoroughly enjoyed herself.

some time later...
Freya ran a hand through Etienne's hair before releasing a contented sigh, and stretching languidly and looking at Etienne with a satisfied smile. "Now that's what I call some tension release" She said with some enthusiasm. "So..." She started with a wide smile. "now what do you want?" She asked with an impish grin.
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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As Etienne’s confidence had grown his clumsy eagerness had given way to curiosity and meticulous exploration almost to a fault. He’d spent a lot of time working with delicate materials, he had very precise control of his fingers, and his hands had wandered at their will, fingertips tracing teasing arcs across her body, slowing to an agonizingly soft, gentle glide at certain points of interest while tracing maddeningly fervent little circles and spirals at others. There had been a methodology to the madness running through his mind in the heat of the moment. He’d been worried about staying sane through this vacation. Clearly the best way to come out of it a sane man was to drive Freya crazy instead, and he worked vigorously toward that end.

Even now, after the act, his hands kept moving about. They seemed to have a mind of their own, but of course they didn’t; Etienne was thoroughly enjoying himself. He was like a dog with a bone. He loved the feel of her scales, her curves! His face on the other hand didn’t quite know what to do, alternating between blissful fatigue and quiet contemplation and presently, as Freya ran a hand through his hair, a shy grin. “Much tension has been released,” he agreed to a point. When she asked him what he wanted now, his expression closed into that pouty facade of faux-nobility he’d worn for so long till mere days ago. The only difference now was that he was wearing it for comedic effect. His hands slid up her belly towards two of their favorite new places to be as he pondered his answer with that look of mock-severity. “I want to kiss you,” he said at length. His expression faltered and nervousness crept back into his voice, “on the lips.”

On the lips indeed.
Though he had been poised over her muzzle he’d only favored it with a few pecks before he was on the move again, down the underside of her muzzle and along her neck, kissing as he travelled inexorably toward the destination he’d had in mind. He followed an intentionally circuitous path, but his double meaning soon became clear.

Though he had little direct experience, Etienne was an expert at the cross-disciplinary application of experience and theory. Even in this day and age, noble children were expected to learn to communicate precisely, both in terms of speech and diction. He’d had speech coaches like the rest to learn all the eloquent flourishes of his native Domusian. Long story short, the canine had incredible control over his tongue, and it seemed never to grow tired. His tongue moved and rolled and curled and coiled endlessly. It danced and danced and danced…

some more time later…
Midday was approaching. Etienne lay with his head on her chest, peering up at her, with the tip of his tongue lolling out. He looked a lot like a puppy, or he would if not for their knowing where that tongue had been. It was another intentional affectation. His lips kept quirking up into the beginnings of a grin before he fought it down. Puppies never grinned, they just peered up with that expression of innocence. Blissfully maddening innocence.

He rolled over in place and peered up at her upside down. His hands by now had finally run out of steam and rested on his stomach. “Nothing else comes to mind,” he murmured, answering again the same question she’d asked almost an hour ago. Vague annoyance edged into his expression, “except for the candle. I still don’t understand how I could possibly light it. It is like trying to use a muscle you never knew you had- and can’t be sure that you do. How can you tell that it is even there, let alone control it?”
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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Freya wiggled a little as Etienne's hands wandered, his earlier explorations had revealed all of her most sensitive areas, and Etienne seemed to relish exploiting all of them as often as he could. She chuckled a little as he adopted the expression of mock severity that now didn't seem to fit his face quite the way it had before. She gasped a little as his hands found a new place to rest. "I like the sound of that." She replied.

She was a little disappointed at first when she only got a couple pecks, but the disappointment didn't last long. The air between them was quickly filled with soft gasps and moans. She enjoyed every moment of maddening anticipation as he kissed, she arched her back as he neared his intended destination. She had to admit that Etienne had a very talented tongue, though the way she vocalized it was not so eloquent, it could still be sweet music to a lover's ears. She had a tendency to get louder too when Etienne did something particularly enjoyable, and her tail had a habit of curling a certain peaks.

After Etienne's performance, she grinned blissfully down at him while she waited for her legs to regain feeling. His puppy look was adorable, and she couldn't help but scratch the underside of his muzzle before she rested her hands on his.

She nodded lazily as Etienne brought up the candle. "When magic was the norm, a trained mage would be able to see natural talent, and spells could discern potential. Those with natural talent often could sense when another nearby was using power. Judging from your reactions when I picked up the tray and the candle, I'd bet you have some natural talent hiding in there" She gently tapped his chest with a finger before moving her hand to rest on his again. "Controlling it all comes down to a state of mind, the total belief that I told you about earlier. Though I think maybe an alternate explanation could help you grasp it a little easier."

Freya addressed Etienne's concerns, but this time she didn't take on the tones of a teacher, now she spoke in softer tones. "When I talked about the elements of magic before, maybe I should have explained them a little more in depth. I call them the elements, but they are more elemental forces. Energy attuned to air, earth, fire, water, ice, light, and dark. Think of magic as an unseen energy that surrounds our world, similar to something like the earth's magnetic field. Each element is like a frequency of that energy, you just have to tune in to it, and pick an amplitude."

She used her telekinesis to move a small bowl of some of the uneaten fruit from their breakfast. The bowl floated above them for a moment before eventually resting atop Etienne's chest. She plucked a strawberry from the bowl, and held it before Etienne's mouth, offering it to him. "I don't know if that explanation helps any. In the end, it will take practice, and determination to break down the walls that modern life has served to build in your mind that keep you from attaining the mindset, and belief you need. Don't get discouraged if you don't see results right away." Her voice was full of sympathy, she wanted Etienne to succeed, and she knew a way to ensure it, but it was more of a last resort sort of thing that she was still unsure she would even be comfortable doing at this point.
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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“The norm,” he murmured. The words sounded innocuous enough until you really listened to them. They hinted at a past much different than the histories in library tomes and school materials. ‘The norm’ was an entire society built around magic; practitioners of magic walking the streets; flourishing industries selling magically procured wares; magic providing form and functionality only recently recreated by modern technology. Of course they would have professionals to identify and nurture natural talents. It seemed the lives of many people must have depended on it. How had all this fallen out of the historical record? Surely not by accident, but suppressing this information for the generations it would have taken for memory to fade would have been a truly monumental undertaking!

Etienne tensed reflexively before the bowl even began to move. The sensation was like static electricity running up and down his spine and tingling in the base of his skull. It could no longer be mistaken for arousal- not after two hours of vigorous stress relief! Intellectually he realized she must be correct about his natural talent, but he had a hard time accepting that some fantastic ability was lurking just beneath the surface. He wasn’t exactly modest about his intellectual abilities, but magic? The notion sounded just a little too farfetched to sit right.

He flashed a quick grin when Freya held the strawberry poised over his mouth. He sucked on it for a second and then bit it off just shy of her fingers. And then he made a face. He didn’t like strawberries at all- he found them harsh, sort of like sour apples- but the gesture wasn’t really about the fruit, was it? Etienne didn’t think so anyway. He snatched her hand before she could pull it away and began massaging it idly- and insistently- as he processed her words. It all came down to the same problem. “I’m not one for believing things. I never have been.” He sighed, gazing up at her hand, simply observing it as he traced along her fingers, “I like to be able to see things and touch them, to see proof of something before taking it for granted. I understand things, I don’t believe in them… or I haven’t yet anyway.”

“I guess my question is, how do you practice something you can’t actually do at all until you’ve practiced? It isn’t like building a sand castle better each time. Anyone can try to build a sand castle and then look at it and decide how to improve their technique from one iteration to the next. But, if I’m understanding you correctly, I won’t actually know if I’m on the right track until I succeed. Trial and error, but with zero feedback…” Feedback. All he needed was a little feedback. With no feedback at all, how could one hope to improve anything they are trying to do?

Etienne was no stranger to applying feedback. Freya had given him plentiful feedback- blissful and loud feedback- just a short while ago. The canine smiled at the fresh memory. He brought her hand closer to his face and nuzzled it, pressing his tongue against her palm here and there and sliding it between her fingers. But he fought down his own rallying arousal. He sensed that it was time to devote his energy elsewhere, to this new challenge before him- toward that damned candle. He sighed again, blowing hot breath against her palm, before releasing her hand.



Transitioning to this new pursuit was the work of half an hour, tidying the room a little, showering. Etienne put his shirt back on, but he had to wear the swim trunks Freya’d procured for him. He could not, for the life of him, find his pants. Many of the suite’s windows were open to let the ocean breeze in; they may well have ended up outside for all he knew. The thought put a little grin on his face.

The candle stole it away. He sat by it again and stared. He stood and moved around it to look at it from every direction. It looked a lot like a candle from the front, and -surprise!- it looked a lot like a candle from every other direction. The canine’s face twisted and he scratched at his chin- it was where Freya’d touched him, he remembered idly. He didn’t really feel anything odd about the candle or the space around the candle or around himself. He didn’t feel the presence of any kind of energy like the elemental-atuned forces the dragon described. He knew, intellectually, of many forms of energy present in the room described by modern science, but that was different and entirely unhelpful.

“I feel ridiculous,” he said unhappily, abruptly moving back from the candle and looking to Freya. He was embarrassed- he was blushing again- but this time it was because he felt like a fool- trying to light a candle with his mind. “Could you do it a few times? Maybe if I just watch or… or feel it being done, I’ll have something- anything- to go on…”
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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Freya noticed Etienne's reaction to the strawberry, and made note of it, though his assumption was correct that the gesture wasn't really about the fruit. She enjoyed his touch while she listened to him explain his thought processes a little more. it made her worry a bit that teaching him magic was going to be more difficult than she had thought, despite the natural talent hidden within him. She thought about his question of practicing something one that couldn't be done without practice. Her train of thought derailed a bit though when he started using his tongue on her hand, she closed her eyes as thoughts of his last display of tongue prowess filled her mind, and she let out a husky sigh. She pushed the thoughts back, trying to stay on track, though he easily made it difficult to do so. She latched on to what he had said about wishing he could get some sort of feedback, and that started the wheels turning in her head.

She had watched his retreating behind with appreciation, and all the while contemplated following him into the shower. She ultimately decided against giving him that distraction for the time being, there would be other opportunities after all. She eventually got up and managed to find her own clothing. She decided that there would probably be less distraction if she wore it, despite preferring not to. She pulled the skirt and t-shirt back on, sans underwear, and sat herself back down on the couch.

She watched as Etienne set back to trying to light the candle. She watched closely, trying to get a sense for what he was doing as he tried. She could tell he wasn't dipping into his natural power, or tapping into the ether surrounding them. She frowned slightly as he expressed feeling ridiculous. "there's no need to feel ridiculous, an empire isn't built in a day." She replied sympathetically. She smiled as he asked her to light it herself. She nodded as she grabbed hold of him, and gently tugged him to sit down next to her, and gave him a kiss. She took hold of his hand. "contact may help you feel what I'm doing, or it might not, it's nice either way though." She commented with a grin. "ok, here goes" She said as she dipped into the deep wellspring that was her power. It happened almost instantly, and Freya did it without any thought as to the actual process. She reached out with her power to effect the wick of the candle itself, and excited the molecules to the point of combustion and a flame appeared on the wick. She gave it a moment and reversed the process, slowing the molecules to the point that the flame could not be sustained.

She looked at Etienne, and quickly realized that she had probably done everything far too fast. Her scaled darkened in an embarrassed blush. "sorry.." She said quietly. "I'll do it a couple more times." She repeated the process a couple more times, deliberately slowing everything she did to the point that the last time she did it, the wick actually smoked and smoldered for several seconds before the flame appeared.

"I don't know it that helped any." She said when she finished. "There are a couple other things we can try if it didn't. They both require you to trust me...absolutely, and I will not try either unless you are sure you want me to. The second I am not sure I'm even willing to try at this point, even if we have exhausted all other options. The first though, may work. I could create a psychic link. It is a very intimate thing, I will let you feel things from my perspective then, if you are willing and comfortable with the idea, I will guide you...your body through tapping into your power and the ether" She paused, her scales darkening in a blush again. "I understand if you're not comfortable with any of that. I can continue to try to guide you like we've been doing." She looked down at her hands. Most balked or were even disgusted by the idea that she proposed, it was almost impossible to hide anything when a link like she proposed was created. She didn't expect anything different from Etienne, and almost regretted bringing it up.
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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The hard edge of Etienne’s frustration melted when she pulled him close and kissed him. It was part of this wonderful power she had to first drive him up the wall and then sooth it all away from one moment to the next. It was with this thought and memories of their meeting- of the race for the artifact- that he interleaved his fingers with hers. She was right about one thing. He didn’t know if physical contact would help him perceive her actions, but it was certainly nice! The physical contact came with another kind, unnoticed. He was suddenly aware that she was not wearing underwear. It wasn’t that he was looking, it was like an intuition. He simply knew it was the case. He wrote it off as just another one of the special powers of the male gender.

Freya put his own attempts to light the candle to shame. The cursed stick might as well have been connected to a clapper- if she’d clapped her hands each time the wick burst into flame and then snuffed itself out the illusion would have been complete! Etienne wasn’t upset though. He knew how hard it was to dumb down a practiced skill for the totally novice trainee, having had to explain technical things to non-technical persons before. This was something she just did- she didn’t really have to think about it. He assumed.

Etienne didn’t say anything when she apologized. He just gazed into her eyes. When she returned to the task at a slower pace he concentrated on the sensations dancing along the length of his body, trying to remember them as they flashed in and out of existence. Perhaps the tingling was more than it seemed. He’d been thinking of it as a reception, like one through a receiver- a radio. If he dared push the technological metaphor further, however, a radio was not just a receiver; it was a transceiver. If he could find a way to induce the same sensations in the absence of Freya’s actions, would he cause the same result? This at least was something.

Again there was that sourceless flash of intuition. Freya was nervous about something. He got the sense that it went beyond mere concern for a student’s struggle, and his suspicion was confirmed when she elaborated on an alternative path forward. Etienne held efficiency very highly in everything else he did, including the learning of skills, and at first glance the mental link she proposed would offer the fastest return. Yet, he frowned inwardly, it frightened him. Everyone always claims to want to know everything there is to know about someone they care about, but almost nobody considers it from the opposite direction. He’d done silly, stupid things in the past, and while everyone else presumably had the same problem, he would feel so very small if Freya was to know about them all, all at once. And there was something else that bothered him about the idea. Efficiency was grand, but he didn’t want her to see him taking an easy way out. He wanted to impress her. And himself.

Freya looked profoundly… self-conscious, regretful. Etienne murmured, “I think you’ve done this before, with someone, and the results were not good. You thought you could trust him, or her, but all you got out of it was pain, and loss, and hurt…” he brushed a hand across her cheek, soft skin on smooth scales. Few feilans could ever feel so close, insulated as they were by thick fur. The canine turned her face to his and kissed her, and he tried to fill the kiss with all the empathy and sympathy and support he could. His skills with his hands and tongue did not translate well to such a kiss; he hoped the more awkward motions didn’t spoil it. “I don’t want to do that, not yet at least,” he admitted when they came up for air. “But not for the reason you think. I only have one chance to succeed at this myself for the first time. The moment you do it for me, through me, that achievement will be lost to me forever.” His hand continued back along her cheek and through her hair. He gazed into her silver eyes, and he could almost see his own reflection in them. Suddenly his own gaze shifted into the distance, “…but you have given me an idea.”

He reluctantly pulled away from her, took his hand from her hair, released her other hand from his grip, and he stood and took a few short steps to the suite’s telephone. “Room service,” he said shortly. “Bring me a laser thermometer.” There was a brief pause as the man on the line asked something. “No, a kitchen thermometer will not do. It lacks precision. I need a lab-grade, digital, infrared thermometer.” Another pause. He glanced over at Freya, his lips quirking with the hint of an amused smile, “don’t worry, I have the utmost faith in your ability to find one. Oh, I also need new pants… yes, that’s right… thank you.”

Etienne hung up the phone and sat back down on the couch next to Freya, “assuming the candle light is not magical itself- that it is just mundane fire- you must have heated the wick to the combustion point of the wax in the wick, right? Otherwise there would be no fire. Well, that is a pretty big step to take from no effect at all. It seems trivial to you, lighting a candle, but I don’t think it is. Not only does it require a shot in the dark on my part, but this shot in the dark must be sustained long enough to heat the wick to the required temperature. Even if I momentarily succeeded at… using magic… I wouldn’t know it if it did not produce enough heat for long enough to light the candle.”

He gestured at the table where the candle sat. “But a laser thermometer- the kind used in laboratories- is extremely precise and responsive. It will register even the tiniest and shortest lived transient heat increase in the wick.” When one boiled right down to it, this didn’t really change all that much. It still would not give Etienne any feedback on whether he was closer or further from harnessing elemental power, it would only give him faster feedback on the event if he succeeded. Still, it was something, and he wasn’t sure what else he could do to improve his own chances. He would allow Freya to help him in the way she’d described if he ultimately failed but, again, there was that desire to impress her. He wanted her to think highly of him. Little else mattered in the here and now.

Except for her neck. He spent some of the time waiting for room service focused on the candle trying to light it, but he was getting a headache, so he took his frustration out on her neck, licking it, nuzzling it, kissing it. “What was your childhood like?” he paused just long enough to ask.
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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Etienne's insight into her reluctance to bring up the psychic link hit close to home and brought with it a flood of memories, some good, but many ranged from bad to terrible. She nodded as her eyes misted up. "It is something I have done before." She replied softly. "More often than not, the results are not good." She didn't elaborated on the pain she had often felt before as it was a deep and private hurt. One would probably ask her why she bothered to try again after the first time she was hurt, and her response would be that the joy and wonder of the successes were enough to give her hope for future success, that and the fact that she had never been one to let pain deter her. When Etienne kissed her, she could feel every bit of sympathy and empathy he poured into it. Those feelings easily overshadowed any awkwardness, and Freya cried softly for a time, releasing some of her old pain and taking comfort in Etienne's arms, and the caring that he offered. Etienne was seeing her in a rather vulnerable moment, a thing that didn't often occur for her.

She nodded, and wiped at eyes with the backs of her hands when Etienne told her that he didn't want to try the psychic link yet. "That's understandable." She replied when he told her his reasoning for wanting to continue to try lighting the candle on his own for the time being. She looked into Etienne's eyes as he looked into her, but she was careful not to look too deep. She was quickly developing feelings for the canine that went deeper than a simple friendship with some fun, and she didn't want to jeopardize any possibilities by crossing any lines.

She was just as reluctant about Etienne's departure as he was. The conversation that followed with room service was enough to bring some cheer, and a smile back to her as she listened. She could easily imagine the profound confusion, and slight desperation on the face of the unfortunate fur on the other end of the line, and the image brought a chuckle from her. The request for pants, and the need for confirmation of that request turned her chuckle into a full laugh.

She smiled at Etienne as he returned to sit next to her again. She took a moment to actually think about what she did to light the candle when he spoke about the process. "sounds right." She replied with a nod, and continued to listen to his theory. She tilted her head a little bit as she thought about it. "I suppose that's true, it will at least give more tangible feedback." He wanted her to think highly of him, but she would think no less highly of him if he did agree to the psychic link. Where doing it on his own was proof of intelligence, perseverance, and the ability to break down preconceptions. Accepting the link was a feat of courage and trust, to bear your 'soul' like that to another. Regardless of how he did it, Freya just wanted to see him succeed.

Freya leaned her head back, and gave a pleased sigh as Etienne turned his attention to her neck. It took some focus to process his question, and even more focus to respond. "it was sadly short." She replied in tones that implied her mind was miles, and ages away as she pulled out the memories and held them for inspection. "I was actually born relatively close to where we found the magicapacitor. In the southern stretches of the Black Mountains. My parents controlled a large swath of territory, and we lived in a lush, secluded little valley. They were loving, but aloof at times. They started teaching me what I would need to know to survive in the black mountains at an early age. I learned to fly and did lots of exploring. I did some hunting, and played a lot by myself, but it all ended when they disappeared sometime during my tenth year.

I waited for them to come back until the stores of food started to get low, then I had to grow up quick and start providing for myself. I would say that's when my childhood ended in every way but physically. I provided for myself, and continued to live in what had become my valley, but I couldn't patrol all of my parents' territory, and eventually the avian tribes that lived on its borders realized that. The moved into the territory, and eventually got bold enough to chase me from my valley.

I found myself now not only on my own, but injured, and without any stores of food or water. I began searching for a new territory, and eventually ended up on the southern coast without finding anything suitable. I was hungry, tired and dehydrated." She shuddered before she continued her story. "I fell asleep, and that's when the slavers found me. I woke up chained in the belly of a ship. I was given just enough food and water to keep me alive. They would have violated me too, but gave up on that idea after I sank my teeth into a few of them, they turned to some of the weaker slaves for that" Her eyes began to tear again as she remembered that terrible time, the weakness, the pain, the cries of the other girls as the slavers had their way with them. She shook her head before she spoke again.

"we were eventually unloaded at the slave market in Edwin where I received my first fortunate turn of events since I was chased from my home. The duke of Norfolk purchased me, and took me to his home to be a messenger. While I was technically a slave, I was treated well in the Windsor household. I was educated, and trained in fighting techniques. I was even allowed to study, and spend time with their youngest son Gavin..." Her words trailed off and she smiled a little before she spoke again. "the rest of my physical childhood was spent learning, training, and carrying messages that grew in importance as I grew in age, physical stature, and competence." As she finished her story, she sat in silence, her eyes still far away as she realize that this was the first time in a very long time that she had discussed anything that far back in her life with anyone.
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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Etienne’s ministrations to her neck did not last very long. He’d been unprepared for the nature of Freya’s story because, yet again, he’d let the depth of her history slip from his mind. What began like a fairy tail devolved into a nightmare of slavery and abuse and rape in a time before the lawful order of modern civilization. The canine was taken for an emotional roller coaster ride, though he always kept in mind that it had to be far worse for Freya, having lived these terrible things herself. The mention of avians and their actions elicited a sneer, “they’ve always been opportunistic scavengers. They take what they can from the weak instead of creating something for themselves. It is no wonder they failed to develop a civilization of their own before we showed up.”

Things only went downhill. The canine had read about the slave trade of course, but historical accounts had a sort of cleanliness to them. A book might use the word ‘brutality,’ but the visceral experience was diluted to nothing by the gap of generations. He’d known intellectually that these sorts of crimes must have taken place, but he was not fully prepared to consider them from a personal perspective. The knee-jerk reaction would be to picture Freya as a damsel in distress, to think of her as weak. Etienne immediately saw the folly in this. She was still here. She’d survived that and- what else? 1200+ years was such a very long time. Earlier, when Freya had been crying into his arms and he’d held her tight, he’d failed to think of her pain from the perspective of centuries. She was not weak, she was not a damsel in distress.

He found himself gazing with wonderment as her eyes swept across memories of torment. She was like a diamond, forged in unbelievable heat and duress, indestructible in the face of… everything. Like a diamond. But he also knew this was an illusion. For all that pain, there must be happy memories buried somewhere behind those eyes.

Ah yes. Gavin. She didn’t have to elaborate further, it was there in the way her eyes twinkled, in the sound of her voice. Etienne guessed Gavin was probably the first, but he doubted he was the last. The canine’s cheeks and ears burned with jealousy. He knew it was misplaced, 1200+ years was a long time and even conventionally mortal furs could have many deep relationships in their short lives- or so he was given to understand- but at the same time, he was filled with doubts, about himself, and about what he could possibly bring to the equation that was unique.

“I- I didn’t mean to-” he stammered out a false start, looked away to gather his thoughts. “It wasn’t my intention to drag up such dark memories. I wanted to distract you from the painful memories of your past failures with the mind link… I’m not sure what I expected. A conventional childhood in a suburban neighborhood I guess. I keep forgetting…” He wanted to take her hand in his again, yet at the same time he did not like the thought of where her thoughts lay at the moment. With Gavin. Instead he just grunted unhappily.

A knock on the door; room service had arrived. Etienne sighed and pushed off from the couch, went to the door and opened it. The Yamahanese feline on the other side looked nervous. His eyes immediately darted all over the room, fell on Freya for a moment, fled- anywhere else. Etienne wondered why he was so nervous. Surely he had to do things like this on a regular basis. It was as if he’d seen something in an earlier visit that riled him all up. “I have the items you requested, sir,” he said with a modern facsimile of a bow, “they were not easy to locate.”

Etienne’s spirits lifted somewhat. “You couldn’t find pants?” The feline sputtered and began to stumble through a clarification when the canine waved him down, “I know what you meant. Where is it?” Another attendant appeared pushing a cart with what looked a lot like a piece of lab equipment… because it was. Etienne was impressed by how quickly they’d managed to come up with it- after just forty minutes or so. But then, this was a very high-end resort, and its staff were not totally unaccustomed to fulfilling unusual requests. The two men wheeled it past him into the room. The feline took a a few pairs of pants from the cart’s shelf and handed them over to him. Etienne shook his hand- discreetly depositing a tip in it as he did so, something he’d learned from Osborne. Some establishments discouraged tipping. Personally he disliked the thought of tips in general, but tipping did tend to guarantee that little bit of extra service and attention.

The laser thermometer looked a lot like a computer terminal from the 70’s, only white instead of beige. It was a squat, wide machine with a relatively small screen on one side and a protruding apparatus on the other, where the laser diode and sensing equipment was located. In truth, anyone could go and buy an infrared thermoment in handheld form for like 50 bucks, but there was no doubt that this machine would give far better results. Etienne took a few minutes to get the machine plugged in and set up. Just as someone good with computers can quickly find his way around an unfamiliar computer, Etienne had plenty of experience with lab equipment and was able to find his way around this particular specimen with just a short moment of inspection and cautious investigation.

“I can’t complain about my childhood, really,” he commented as he worked, “not after hearing yours. I always found it annoying. I didn’t like it very much- don’t like my parents very much. But they are still alive, they were excellent providers, and I know they care in their own way… we haven’t spoken directly in a long time…” He sighed, “I regret the way I behaved towards them in the end. They’re both artists of sorts, one is a painter and patron and the other runs a vineyard. I don’t like art. I don’t like wine- or any alcohol of any kind. I was disdainful toward them. I threw their love back in their faces. I believed that their pursuits were worthless wastes of time and I made this very clear to them on every opportunity…”

He shifted his gaze back and forth between the candle and the laser diode, tracing the path carefully with his eyes, and after a final inspection of the setup he reached behind the machine and flipped a hard toggle switch. An electrical hum filled the room, grew to a soft whine, and faded into the background noise. The green and black screen displayed a number with ten decimal places behind it, the later places rapidly fluctuating. Etienne covered all but the first two decimal places with a sticky note, “the rest is irrelevant. Random fluctuations in the room and noise from the instrument’s electronics. It’d just be a distraction,” he murmured.

Now that the machine was running and everything was set up properly he stood from the table and sat back next to Freya. “Anyway… I’m a nobleman- was a nobleman- still am I suppose; my parents haven’t disowned me or anything like that, and I don’t think they ever would have, even had I treated them worse, if that is possible. I was born in Aquilon, Domus, 28 years ago. It’s a beautiful city,” he said a little insistently, as if he was trying to convince himself of something he didn’t truly believe, “a center of culture… I’m the oldest of four, and I was expected to follow one of my parents into their respective fields. I wanted nothing to do with it. They pushed pretty hard, but eventually they gave up on me, so to speak, and turned their attention to my sisters. After that I left as soon as I could. I attended boarding school and then bounced between various small colleges and Universities, learning what I wanted to learn, which was everything I could.”

Etienne laughed an ironic laugh, “how stupid I was! I never could have imagined that everything I’d learned about the world was but the tip of a vast iceberg reaching thousands of years into a history nobody knows! Learning that the world was not what it seemed was difficult.” The humorless grin twisted with a hint of shame, “and then I met you, and I wanted to hate you- I did hate you, because I decided to hate you! You were the symbol of my ignorance. I could not stand the thought that I could be so very wrong about so many things, that the world did not work the way I knew it should.” He peered back into her eyes- those silver eyes- and he saw the diamond forged by all that pain and softened by all the moments of joy and happiness. She was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, he realized with a start.

Beauty. When he used the word one could tell that he was not talking about something so skin-deep as physical beauty. “You’re beautiful, Freya,” he said simply. “I was foolish to treat you the way I did. In the end I found hating you to be impossible. In fact… I-I... I think…” but he found he couldn’t go on. His courage ran this far, but no further. Exhilaration and despair danced across his features.

“I… think I should focus on the candle,” he asserted abruptly, skin turning deep black as he blushed ferociously. “Room service will be disgruntled if I don’t put this equipment to use after I sent them scurrying about to find it…” So many questions- so much uncertainty- how could he be sure what he felt- let alone whether she felt the same way. The canine slumped, looking into the space the candle occupied without actually seeing it, frowning deeply. “Yes… the candle.”
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Re: A new direction (Sade)

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Freya hadn't argued with Etienne's stated views on avians, her early experiences had colored her views on avians as a whole. She regretted mentioning Gavin as she could easily see the burst of jealousy followed by insecurity. She didn't want to incite insecurity or doubts in Etienne, but he would eventually know that she had romantic relationships in the past. He brought much more than he thought. He was a wonderful combination intelligence and knowledge with just enough naiveté mixed in to make it all charmingly adorable to her, and she loved his passion and drive for knowledge.

She chuckled affectionately when he explained that he hadn't meant to drag up dark memories. "it's ok, those events played a large role in making me who I am, dark or not they are a part of me." She replied. She had been about to pull him close for a kiss when the knock on the door came, and he pushed off from the couch, and headed for the door. She grinned and suppressed a laugh when she realized it was the same feline that had brought the clothes up earlier. She got up from the couch, letting her hips sway a bit as she approached Etienne from behind. She put her arms around Etienne, and gently nibbled one of his ears, the warm breath from her nose gently filling his ear.

She backed up a bit to let Etienne conclude his dealings with the room service representative, and watched as the laser thermometer was wheeled in. She watched with impressed fascination as he set to work on getting the piece of equipment functioning, all while talking about his own childhood.

She couldn't help but put her arms back around him when he paused in his story to check his work. "parents do have a tendency to show they care in ways their children can't understand sometimes. It sounds like you've grown a lot, have you considered seeing them again?" She nodded her understanding as he covered most of the thermometer's readout and explained why.

She smiled and continued to listen as he continued to talk about his childhood. "most parents would like for their children to follow in their footsteps, sometimes though it is best to let them make their own way." She commented out of personal knowledge on this point, having raised children of her own. She didn't tell Etienne that though, hearing about her childhood seemed to have put enough strain on him. She would tell him another time. "the pursuit of knowledge is an admirable one." She commented with a warm smile.

Etienne's laugh made her frown a bit. "it's not necessarily that the world doesn't work the way you thought it should, for the majority of the world that's exactly how it works. It's more like an underlying set of rules that if found and followed can bend and reshape the modern rules that have been placed on top." She shrugged, unsure if she was making any sense.

The look in Etienne's eyes as he looked into her own, before his next statement had her scales darkening in a blush that was made even deeper by his one simple statement that she was beautiful. He started another statement, but pulled up short, uncertainty keeping him from going any further, and he changed the subject. She shook her head as he tried to focus on the candle. "Not just yet." She said as she put her arms around him, and gave him a deep kiss.

As she kissed him, she allowed the slightest brush of mental contact, just enough to give him an impression of her feelings. There was an affection that burned hot and deep, like a banked forge fire waiting for the bellows, an affection that could easily be fanned into the burning hot flames of passion and love. The brief mental connection left little question that these were her feelings for Etienne. She eventually broke the kiss. "Don't worry too much about the memories I have." She whispered softly in his ear. "Instead, help me make new ones filled with joy and happiness." She chuckled affectionately, and gave him a wink. "now you can concentrated on that candle if you want. Do you want me to keep an eye on the temperature?" She asked with a grin.
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