And now, for the conclusion of Afterglow. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
I wanted to use more pics, but WMV was being uncooperative…
Though her basic survival instinct screamed against it, demanded she fight to regain her breath, Effraeti dropped her hands to her sides – feigning defeat. She mentally struggled against the lack of air, already her vision clouded with sparks of bright colors, and willed one hand to her totem pouch.
The warlock seemed intent upon watching the spark of life leave her eyes.
But Effy was determined today would not be the day she met her makers.
The totem more tumbled from her hand than was thrown, her grip weak from lack of oxygen. It thumped to the ground, and despite her slipping consciousness, the spirit of fire heard her silent plea and summoned forth an elemental of flame.
The Forsaken made a surprised sound and then shrieked as the fiery being before him grabbed him by the arm.
Effy crumpled to the ground, the warlock’s concentration broken, and gasped for air that burned her lungs.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lycaohn’s tooth-filled muzzle snapped at the demon again, a spray of saliva reaching what the worgen’s fangs did not and wetting his enemy’s face. Then, he wrenched powerfully at the axe-handle, spinning them both around, as the demon fought to keep its balance and not lurch forward and into the range of those sharp, jagged teeth.
Upon facing the other direction, nearby movement caught the worgen’s eye.
Effy! the reasoning part of his mind screamed. The feral worgen growled in response, both at the intrusion and at the sight of the draenei woman dangling from the warlock’s evil spell.
It elicited more than a growl, it sparked a deeper anger within him. It renewed his rage and gave him strength, and the worgen jerked the axe from the demon’s grasp.
Roaring, Lycaohn heaved the weapon into the far off darkness, and sprang upon the unbalanced demon. No thought followed, only feral instinct, and the sudden frenzy of claws and fangs hopelessly overpowered the weaponless creature before him. Lycaohn pinned the demon, tearing and slashing, and tore out its throat with his teeth.
Then, with a deep-throated, menacing growl ushering forth, the worgen turned back toward the warlock. Effy was gasping upon the ground, and the sight of her pained the man deeply buried within him, but the beast was all rage and fury.
Ignoring the fiery presence assaulting the warlock, Lycaohn made several strides on his powerful legs to close the distance. He hoisted the Forsaken from his feet and in the same motion tossed the warlock through the air to collide with the unyielding trunk of a mature tree many yards away.
Dropping to all fours, Lycaohn sprinted to the intruder and was upon him with another flurry of claws and fangs. All his rage, both feral and that brooding beneath the surface of the mourning man, played out on the creature that had released the beast Lycaohn had tried so desperately to bury.
Lycaohn felt Effy’s judging eyes upon him, but the worgen was beyond caring.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Effy watched in fascinated horror as the beastly creature she knew to be Lycaohn shredded the Forsaken beyond recognition of anything that had once been humanoid. Clothing, limbs, face – nothing was left unravaged even after Effy knew there was no conceivable way the warlock still clung to life.
It was several more minutes before the frenzy ended.
His rage played out, the worgen fell to it haunches and made no further movement.
“Lycaohn?” Effy dared to ask into the agonizing silence that had suddenly fallen upon the world.
The beast turned, and she was uncertain whether it was from recognition or merely the sound. He let out a breathy snort, and it took Effy a moment to understand it for what it was – a profound sigh. But he made no other movement, no other sound, just sat there, watching her. His eyes were a fierce orange, glowing in the dim moonlight, but there seemed to be no anger left in them, only a somber resolve. It was a strange juxtaposition to the blood and gore staining the light grey fur of his face, a stark reminder of the gruesome acts mere moments before.
Putting her hooves beneath her and standing, Effy watched the worgen as she took a few slow steps in his direction. She stopped, still several feet from him, gauging his response.
A pitiful canine whimper escaped him, and his long, tufted ears flattened back against his skull.
Mustering more courage than it took to face the warlock, that at least aided by the adrenaline of the moment, Effy closed the remaining distance between them.
Even seated, the worgen still came almost to her chest in height, adding to its menacing presence. The sheer size of him set her to trembling, uncertain of the logic of her proximity.
But it was Lycaohn.
She glanced at the torn remnants of the warlock and its doomguard minion at that thought, and shuddered unconsciously. Lycaohn whimpered again.
Her eyes met his. His eyes, usually so dark and warm and inviting, glowed a fiery orange at her, though they narrowed beneath the heavy and furred brows that furrowed under her scrutiny. There was none of the previous rage there, and they were filled with a deep sorrow.
She reminded herself again that within that beast was Lycaohn.
Kneeling beside him, Effy touched his arm, most cautiously. A growl assured forth from the worgen, but she saw in his face it was more a sound of uncertainty and frustration.
“I’m so… very sorry,” Lycaohn said finally, his voice more gravelly and broken than usual. He lowered his gaze, and would not look at her.
“I wish you had told me,” Effy admitted. “But you have no reason to apologize for who you are.”
“I am not this beast!” the worgen snarled, causing Effy to pull back.
He snapped his teeth together and exhaled sharply. “I’m sorry. It is so hard to… control my emotions… when in this bestial form,” Lycaohn growled, forcing the words out, and they seemed to come awkwardly to the usually articulate man.
He took her tiny, fragile-looking hand in both his clawed ones. His touch was light and cautious. “I don’t ever want to hurt you,” he said, his rough voice desperate. “I am afraid of this… creature I am.”
Effy’s forehead creased in sympathy. She was unsure how to reply.
“I am afraid of what I might do,” Lycaohn continued, and he glanced at the shredded warlock. “Most of all, I am worried what I might do to you.” He winced at his own words, and the piteous look on her face. His speech became less halting the longer he continued, more steady, but still in that deep, grating voice.
“I imagine the control has to be learned,” Effy finally replied. “But you cannot hide from it forever.” She squeezed his hands reassuringly.
Lycaohn nodded, his gaze still lowered. He studied their hands on Effy’s lap.
“Would that I could just bury the beast and not have to confront such things,” the worgen who was her lover lamented.
Effy steeled her nerves and wrapped Lycaohn in her arms. “Pity is not becoming of you,” she whispered into his furry neck.
He hugged her back, tentatively at first. Her nearness calmed him and his breathing slowed. Then, Effy felt Lycaohn inhale sharply and his muscles begin to twitch. He clung to her tighter as if fearing he might fall away as he began to change. She squeezed back, tightening the embrace as his form shrunk and he returned to his human self.
“I thought for certain I would lose you if you found out,” Lycaohn whispered into her hair. His voice and his body were back to those she found so comforting and safe.
“I am still right here,” Effy said, but she realized she knew not what that meant.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Upon returning to Stormwind, life went back to normal, though Effy was still unsure what normal even meant. Was their life of cooking and working and lovemaking normal? Or was it her life with Undying Resolution that fit that description? Or was it something else entirely?
She did not seem to know anymore.
Her daily routine with Lycaohn became monotonous, and Effraeti found herself eager to be called away for guild business – as infrequent as that was. She wished for some great evil, and chided herself for such foolish, selfish thoughts.
But real life had become too real.
Lycaohn seemed to notice the shift in her mood, but did not say anything.
As they went about their daily activities, Effy could not look at him without seeing the unbound fury with which he had torn apart the warlock and its minion – all teeth and claws and rage. She knew that creature was brooding just beneath the surface of the man mending fences and thatching roofs.
This man she shared a bed with.
Such thoughts did not keep her body from reacting to the close proximity of him, though. She realized this yet again late one evening when he came up behind her in the kitchen and enveloped her in his strong arms. The press of his body was irresistible. She both scolded herself for the weakness of her flesh and conceded to how much she missed his embrace in its absence.
Fingers gently swept her hair from her neck, and lips brushed against the sensitive skin there. Any remaining resistance crumbled when he began to bite softly at her earlobe, his hot breath tickling her there and making her moan and her heart flutter.
His lips wandered forward and he turned her to face him. As they kissed, he pressed himself tighter against her. Clothes fell away with barely a thought and Lycaohn lifted one of Effy’s legs and held it high against his hip. They both gasped and clutched more desperately to one another as he slid inside her.
As Effy’s body fell into a rhythm with Lycaohn’s, she lost herself in the moment. Her eyes closed and her focus narrowed to the two of them, and their movement. The world fell away. All that remained was breathing and the warmth all through her and…
The mental picture set her whole body rigid, an almost perceptible pain washing over her, and Effy gripped the shoulders in front of her in panic. The word – Lazheward – almost tumbled from her quivering lips, but she bit it back
”Are you alright?” a voice whispered into her ear, and it took Effy a moment to realize it was Lycaohn’s voice. It was Lycaohn’s shoulders beneath her clenched fingers. It was Lycaohn’s arms tightening around her, protectively. It was Lycaohn’s eyes, watching her’s opened, dark and full of concern. It was Lycaohn who was inside of her.
She nodded numbly, not trusting her voice.
“Do you want to stop?” he asked her, confusion lining his features.
Effy shook her head, and kissed Lycaohn deeply, needfully. He returned it with no less passion. He lifted her and put her other leg around him, carrying her to the bed as they continued to kiss. He laid her down, never once breaking their intimate contact.
As she cried out and Lycaohn’s voice matched her’s, Effy had to swallow down the other man’s name.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Perhaps Laz had left with no intentions of coming back. Or perhaps he was dead, for the world was a wide and dangerous place. Either way, Effy realized with more certainty than ever he was the only man she truly loved and her affair with Lycaohn was just that. It was an affair and a lie – mostly to herself – both selfish and deceitful.
She thought these things as she looked upon the sleeping man’s face, the sun breaking a small, determined beam through the drawn curtains to alight on his handsome and peaceful features. It lit his eyelashes and shown in the coarse but well-trimmed grey and black goatee framing his dreamy smile.
Looking upon him nearly crumbled her resolve and coaxed her back to the bed they had shared so many nights of late.
It broke her heart to think of hurting him, this man who had so opened himself to her, but she knew the pain would be worse were she to stay. Because eventually the lie would stand illuminated before them both, so like that rogue beam of sun lighting his sleeping face.
So it was with that thought Effraeti gained the strength to gather her belongings, of which many had accumulated in Lycaohn’s home over the months. She went about her sad but necessary work with all the silence she could manage. Dressed and standing beside the bed several moments later, a bundle folded in her arms before her, Effy said her silent goodbye.
Then, resisting the urge to kiss him once more or even to leave a letter, she stole from the room and from Lycaohn. Walking out took all her strength, and none was left to face him. Any further delay would have shattered her fragile resolve with her many doubts.
The irony of the striking parallels of Laz’s own abrupt departure were not lost on her.
THE END – for now
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The decided upon “theme song” for this story is Amo-tested and Amo-approved. 🙂
Heart – All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Note: Both this afterword and the last scene were written before I even finished Part 1 (like I have said before, I rarely write in order!), but I could not publish it until the story was complete. 🙂
Apparently my romantic mood is quite melancholy of late. All my current “love” stories are nowhere near completion or taking vicious turns into the jaded, breakup ending. Though, I knew that would eventually be the end of this story when the thought first came to me while writing “First Sight” – it is the only logical ending, given the remainder of Effy’s story.
I guess it took my mood now to finally write it.
The biggest stumbling block for this piece was how detailed and explicit to be with the relationship between Effy and Lycaohn. I was not sure whether to keep it short and sweet, a brief fling, or to go into detail of them being together for an extended amount of time. On top of that, I was not sure whether to keep Effy in the chaste representation that I have always portrayed in her relationship with Laz, or whether to branch out and show a contrasting relationship and representation here.
Honestly, I am not sure why I have always been so chaste with Laz and Effy. I guess it just seems like their love is deep and committed, but their personal life is still something they keep personal, not to intrude upon their saving of the world or their interactions with others. They have no need to flaunt it like newlyweds, considering Laz and Effy have been together for some inexact hundreds of years. It is about comfort and companionship and trust. I guess I have just never thought about Laz and Effy in terms of physical.
Not to mention, keeping it chaste, as opposed to this piece, makes it easier to post and not fret about whether I am offending or ostracizing my readers.
In the end, like with all of my Effy-stories, this one seemed to take on a life of its own and try and write itself. I think Effy’s character growth in this story was in part inspired by a comment from Amowrath. He mentioned that an Effy-fling could lead to some personal growth. As it turned out, she discovered some things about herself she did not know, and would later steer the course of her life.
The original title for this piece was “Girls’ Night Out,” but as it grew beyond the one scene that fit the title, I had to find something more all-encompassing. My only guide was to try to stay in the format I have been using for the majority of my Effy stories, which is twilight/sunlight references, and it was a bit of a hefty task to come up with another.
I finally decided upon “Afterglow” because of the wonderful double entendre:
Light or radiance remaining in the sky after the sun has set.
Good feelings remaining after a pleasurable or successful experience.
I am also proud to say I have once more attempted to slaughter the Russian language with a curse Effy proclaims during their fight with the warlock. “Proklyatiye fad-volshebnik” is probably a horrible, awful translation of “damn fel-wizard (warlock)”:
Proklyatiye meaning “damn”
fad meaning “fel” (I took ad which is “hell” and added an “f”)
and volshebnik meaning “wizard”
But I thought myself quite clever at once more using some Russian words (badly) to try and mimic what the draenei language might be like. Hey, it’s no worse than “moj solnysko” right?
BTW, my apologies to all my warlock friends. In game, I love warlocks and fel puppies, but c’mon, guys, you are like the epitome of evil. So a Forsaken warlock was a given! I was also tickled when “not-dog” sprang from Lycaohn, who has no idea what a fel puppy is – he’s a farmer after all! – and I had to use that as much as possible in a short span of time.
In closing, for those curious and who may not have read all my short stories or may not remember them all (heck, I often have to reread them when writing!), below I am including the very brief excerpt from “First Sight” that touches on Ly’s memories of his relationship with Effy and sparked the original idea for this story.
Hehe, Azeroth is a huge and tiny place, and I try and to ensure a tight-knit baseline for my stories and my characters by shrinking the Six Degrees of Separation as much as possible.
Excerpt from “First Sight”:
Lycaohn passed Mishka for what seemed the sixth time, the Draenei woman still assisting the wounded from both the Alliance and the village after the Sha attack. Her thick accent as she soothed those in pain brought back memories of another. Lycaohn flinched involuntarily and attempted to rebury the thoughts – memories that should not sting, but did.
You knew getting involved with her was trouble before things ever began, he reminded himself.
A snarl that instead turned into a sigh escaped him as his thoughts drifted.
The affair had been intense and brief, like a flashfire. Lycaohn snorted an abrupt laugh at that comparison. Playing with fire gets you burned, he mused bitterly.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This story is based on worlds and characters in World of Warcraft.
Awaiting the Muse by Jamie Roman AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.