About six months before Rose met Kaia…
Rose stood at the top of a cliff. It wasn’t a particularly big cliff, nor was it white and shining in the sunlight. It was, in point of fact, a rather disappointingly dull red rocky cliff overlooking the trickle of water that passed for a stream around here. Her boots kicked a few pebbles into the muddy edges and Furrbles whined plaintitively. Rose licked her finger and held it up in the air, testing to see which way the wind was blowing.
“It’s veering West, Rebel.”
Furrbles slinked around Rose’s knees, his bronze armour glinting in the afternoon sunlight. His ears suddenly pricked up, and he stopped suddenly then amplied the sound through his speakers for Rose to hear. Shhhhk Shhhhk Shhhhk
Rose slung her crossbow across her back and fastened a cape around her. “Furrbles, are you ready to run?”
They took off on foot, rushing away from the strange sounds. Feet echoing in thunderous rhythm on burning red sand as the sun started to slip below the horizon. “Did we outrun her, Furrbles?” Rose panted when they finally stopped for a few minutes. Furrbles sent his ears backwards and forwards a few time, then squeaked an approving sound before pushing his nose happily up into the air. He looked around for fireflies, but unfortunately there were none to be found just then and there.
“She’s going to catch up with me eventually, Furrbles. I’ll never be free of her.” Rose sighed as she rubbed her horns. “Argh! Why can’t she just Let. It. Go.” Furrbles made no reply whatsoever. He preferred to stay well out of his mistress’ romantic entanglements, as in his experience, if they didn’t start in blood they definitely ended with some. He had enough problems with rust already.
“I wonder if I should just give in, let her have the damned silverware back.” The silverware in question, a lovely set of antique teaspoons, sung very pretty lullabies and always seemed to know where the nearest source of fresh water was. How was Rose supposed to know that she’s be so mad to have lost the best? They were Rose’s teaspoons now, after all. She’d won them fair and square.
The words of Rose’s father came unbidden into her mind “Little one, you must…I repeat you absolutely must always be the better faun if you want to be a succesful lover. Always be a little bit kinder, a little bit wilder and a little bit better in bed.” Hargrieve spoke from experience, having been quite the follower of Pan in his younger days, and well-famed for it. Indeed, it was quite the feather in Rose’s mother’s cap that she had managed to settle him down. She was nothing like what would have been expected for Hargrieve either, being a slightly plain and plump sort of faun. But she was wild, in the way that truly strong women always are. It was always somewhat gossiped that she must have bewitched him, but Rose had her own theories on the subject, most of which related to her father’s love of Rose-Apple Pies, for which she was somewhat unsurprisingly named. Whether he had exchanged one vice for another could be debated, but what couldn’t be debated was that he gave good romantic advice.
For what felt like the tenth time that day, Rose sighed. “Alright Furrbles, send up the red beam.” Furrbles unlocked a panel on his back, sending up a red glow into the clouds that bounced off them. “Well, might as well set up camp for when she catches up with us.”
Rose managed to get a fire going and heat up some water for tea before Silviera arrived. The ebony-skinned vision of firey red and yellow robes crossed her arms in front of her and glared down at Rose. “And just where do you think you were running off to, you shameless, finger-flustered lover.”
Rose peeked up and pulled a cup from next to her with an offending teaspoon in it, offering it with two hands to Silviera she just whispered “Tea?” in a low and dusky voice. Silviera tsked and rolled her eyes before collapsing cross-legged next to Rose beside the fire. “You know it’s not winning a bet if you don’t let the other girl play?” Silviera said as she grabbed the cup with one dainty hand, the other reaching over to caress Rose’s hair and tuck a particularly thick lock behind her ear. Blowing furiously as steamy fragrance filled the air, Silviera kept glaring at Rose until the tension was too much to hold onto – then broke into a shining, glorious wide grin. Laughter and merriment filled the air, and Rose’s blushes were reddened many a time that night in the glowing embers of a warm fire and heart.
Furrbles tried to make himself scarce, but inevitably, there were still no fireflies to chase.
When the parties split away from each other the next morning, Rose had fewer teaspoons but a much lighter heart. Waving Silviera on her way back to town with a cheeky grin and a promise to meet up once more for tea, Rose faced the morning sun and continued on her quest. Furrbles slunk ahead of her…one day, someday soon, there would be fireflies.