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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

She’s The One

“Milady,” Vas managed again; started to go down on one knee, remembered the goddess didn’t like the formality of that, and forced himself, manually, to take the next breath. “I--I apologize for my discombobulated manner, I wasn’t expecting to see you here--”

“Does my presence distress you?” said Aerdrie, quietly.

“No! Quite the contrary, milady, I have been thinking of nothing but your presence these past sixteen years! I am but--overwhelmed...”

She shook her head in the way only a goddess truly could; bemused, sardonic, wise. “You may dispense with the flattering hyperbole, my sparrow,” she said gently, smiling on him.

“No hyperbole at all, milady, it has been sixteen years since I’ve said anything quite so sincere to anyone, I assure you.”

“Vas, you’ve been to bed with sixty-six women since last we spoke. The most recent was about twenty minutes ago.”

“Did--did you wish me not to?” Vastarin felt as if he’d been punched in the stomach, hard. “My lady... you spoke nothing of this! Had you asked me to wait for you in celibacy then by all that is holy I swear I would have done it.” His initial paralysis had subsided, and Vas could feel himself trembling. He put his right hand on his bow guard to steady himself. This cannot be Aerdrie truly, he reminded himself. The elven gods have not yet returned to Ataniel. This must be an impression of her soul... and it must be here to test my devotion. “Would you have me do it now?” he said, his voice quiet and serious. “It is a path my sister has been urging, and I resisting; but for you I would, my love, if it be your wish I swear there is no temptation I can’t overcome.”

“Oh, Vastarin,” she said fondly, and brushed his cheek with the back of her fingers. “Don’t you think it’s time you got over me?”

“Flarkin’ A,” muttered Asinus. “Can’t you just kind of go back to your fairy friends and pretend you had this conversation with me, Alphy old buddy?”

“That would not serve your destiny well,” frowned the jungle man.

“Look, Tarzan, I don’t mean to be bragging here or anything, but even as a flarkin’ donkey, I have not been having a lot of problems scoring with the chicks, you know what I mean? So unless my destiny is about you teaching me to use that oyster totem of yours, which I wouldn’t object to...”

“You are at a more serious crossroads than the simple need for more aphrodisiac assistance, oh lord of donkeys.” Alphred regarded the older man sternly. “Though I was not aware of this when I knew you on earth, your heart is in a most precarious place. You are in love--”

“--with another man’s wife,” Asinus finished, sighing. “Look, pal, she weren’t nobody’s wife when I met her, and I didn’t do anything poorly adjusted like having her husband whacked or breaking the marriage up or anything, and as if it’s any of your flarkin’ business we never even slept together, so unless you want to be the naked-dream police I don’t see as how you’ve got anything to be getting bent about.”

“I am merely your soul’s physical representation of its own journey, Asinus Paris. If you don’t think this travail of the heart is a very important issue to that path, perhaps you would not mind telling the Spirit Maiden about it?”

There were a few moments of silence, and then Asinus locked his fingers in his greying curls. “Flark,” he said quietly. “I guess you’ve got me there, huh?”

“As a wise treant once told me, oh lord of donkeys, ‘bent is as bent does’.”

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