Chapter 4: The Torment of Love

The smell of burnt wood was thick in the air, the cloying, heavy reak of it spreading away from the fire pit in which a nice faggot sat ablaze.

Renatus sat a short distance away from the fire, watching the flickering flames dance up and down the log. The remains of a meal sat in a small bowl on the ground, and now he gazed into the blaze, his mind drifting in time with the sizzle and pop of the log. He held a tressertag bracelet in his hands, turning it over and over again absentmindedly. He felt the memories of the sweet girl begin to spring up in his mind, moving to drown out the sadness that seemed to pervade his thoughts of late. Memories of true warmth and bliss.

Too often, his service to Benalus and the Church drove him hither and yon, testing the limits of his mind, body and spirit, but whenever he was granted some small measure of leave to recover, he always travelled back to Lethia where the small home he’d been granted. There, taking care of the home and its small affairs was a young woman whose smile always made the trip worthwhile. She’d been freed from a set of slavers he’d come across in one of his trips across the Throne, and he had cared for her and worked to nurse her back to health, as an atonement set for accidentally killing several of them in the course of freeing her. He’d never begrudged the atonement, and he’d come to care for the young woman… and even coming to love her. She was such a sweet woman, honest, funny, though she had a temper when she drank. He saw her as a pure soul to protect, and to one day wed.

On one of his infrequent trips back to Lethia, she’d asked for more, and he had had to turn her down. The sadness in her eyes was palpable, for he knew she wanted more. He had too, but he’d explained why he could not, not then in any case. And so began a romance from afar, nurtured in the mind through thought and hope, for both of them. Each year since, he’d held in his hand a tressertag bracelet, and he could feel the ache to want to be close to someone like that. He couldn’t though, not without feeling as though a betrayal of the love of a girl he yearned for from a world away.

With a loud pop, a cluster of sap burst from the heat of the flames, bringing him out of his memories. With a sigh, he gently threw the tressertag into the blaze. His heart ached, but he knew that he had ultimately no control over the future. Another year, another absence, and another silent prayer asking Benalus to keep them safe until he could see her again, hold her in his arms one last time…he prayed to be granted some peace from this torment called love.

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