Rise, Rise – Chapter Four

“I…what?” Xan’s mouth opened and closed, with nothing further coming out.

Saleena laughed and grabbed his hands.  She stood close and Xan could feel the power radiating from her in warm, calming waves.

“Maybe not married, but for how long we’ll have to be together?  We may as well be.”

Xan had smiled.  He couldn’t help it.  Saleena was intoxicating and like nothing he had ever encountered or expected.

Saleena bounced over to Xanthiilus; he had tossed the book onto the ground, giving it up as a lost cause.  He smiled up at her, and leaned forward to kiss her as she knelt down.

“I know that smile.”  Saleena laughed, flopping herself down into Xan’s lap and curling up.

“Just remembering our slightly awkward meeting.”

“Ha!  You mean awkward for you!”

Xan’s eyes opened wide in mock indignation.  “Well excuse me for not knowing how to handle an incredibly beautiful, and completely naked I might add, dryad telling me that we’re getting married!”

“Like you didn’t like it.”  Saleena snaked around in Xan’s arms and kissed him, gently pushing him onto the ground.

“Hmm, seems like something else I won’t like is about to happen.”

Saleena’s eyes gleamed in that familiar mischievous fashion.  The forest around them grew suddenly quiet and dark.  The trees shuddered, leaves folding back against the branches.  A soft hum filled the silence.  Saleena gasped and turned to look at her tree.  Xan stood up immediately, helping her, and they rushed over to her oak.

“So, they’ve made progress.”  Xan glared at the base of the tree, a hint of silver shining in his eyes.

The seal was implanted in the base of Saleena’s tree, and it was glowing faintly and quivering.  It suddenly flared a bright red, casting the entire forest in a bloody hue.  There was a loud, resounding crack and the light vanished.

Saleena gasped in pain and fell to her knees.  Xanthiilus knelt down beside her, and hugged her close.  He looked at the seal, a frown tugging the corners of his mouth.

“It cracked.  Small, but it’s a crack.  They’re starting to break free.”

Saleena took a deep breath, and her face relaxed.  “The pain’s gone now.”

Xan helped her to her feet.  “You should lay down for awhile.  I’m going to go for a walk, see what I can find.”

Saleena nodded and Xan guided her slowly to his bed.  They both knew what this meant.

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