Chapter 1.10: Hollow

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Lilith could see villagers on the beach as her ship came in. She gave one long, wistful look over her shoulder at the sea, then turned back toward shore. She waved excitedly when she saw Maru among the small crowd by the dock.

 

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As soon as her feet hit the sand, she threw herself into Maru’s arms, heedless of the onlookers.

Kaila Swift turned her face away, and Daniel Rivers looked on curiously. He wondered how long this happy little reunion would last, and if anyone would tell Lilith about Maru’s activities in her absence.

 

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The crowd dissipated after her belongings were unloaded onto the beach and the ship sailed away. Standing amidst the surprisingly large pile of trunks, baskets, and crates, Lilith pawed through a crate and came up with two bottles of nectar. “And I didn’t forget the nectar!” she beamed.

Maru took the bottles from her hands and set them down. “Thank you, we can sample these tonight. But you know I didn’t care about the nectar. I’m so glad you’re back,” he pulled her into his arms again.

“I missed you too,” she said.

 

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They started carrying her purchases up to her camp. It does feel good to be home, she thought.

“I swear it’s gotten colder!” she exclaimed, rubbing her hands together.

Maru lifted an eyebrow. “Well, you aren’t dressed for Ouroboros weather in that new little dress. Which looks enchanting, by the way, but we should get you out of it.”

Lilith laughed and slapped his hands away. “Later. But in the meantime, I will change into warmer clothes!”

She reached for another basket. “Look at all these grapes I brought back! Shane and I found–oh! I didn’t even tell you yet, I saw Shane in Champs les Sims, I was so surprised!”

Maru ignored the grapes she was holding out, and strained to keep his tone neutral. “Oh? And how did you two get along?”

Lilith wondered about his tone. “Fine. Good. Great, actually. It was wonderful to see a familiar face there. We fished, found all these grapes and other fruits. Oh and we went to the top of this tower–the view was amazing. And checked out some ancient ruins. Oh! And he taught me how to play chess, and I BEAT him! And there was this old abandoned nectary…..”

Maru was starting to see red, but bit his tongue and smiled anyway.

 

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That evening, Lilith, Maru, and other villagers were gathering at the little bar at the Community Center. It had started raining and was colder still, so Lilith decided to run back up to her camp for her outerwear.

Kaila Swift was downstairs with her little boy, and Lilith greeted her as they passed. Kaila didn’t say a word, but pinned her with a malevolent glare. Kaila’s eyes shimmered briefly, and she kept walking past. Lilith felt a shock run down her spine. What the hell was that!

 

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Later, back at the Community Center, she shared some of her adventures on Champs les Sims, and generously doled out nectar. Daniela Haven seemed to glow under the attentiveness of Daniel Rivers, and Lilith smilingly wondered if Daniel was finally being domesticated.

 

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Madonna – Rain

The more the others seemed to be enjoying theirselves, the more Lilith felt like withdrawing.

 

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The festive atmosphere just seemed a little hollow, or maybe she was just a little tired from the journey and the over-excitement of being home finally.

 

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Finally the party broke up and Maru walked her back to her camp. He was a little tipsy himself, and more than a little amorous, but she tactfully escaped his roving hands until he got the point. “What’s wrong?” he asked, a frown creasing his handsome face. She smiled faintly, staring into the fire.

“You know what, I think I’m just tired. Such a long journey, such a big day with so much going on, and the nectar…I’m just really tired. You won’t mind if I just go to bed and see you tomorrow?” She gazed up into his eyes, which were dark and stormy oceans at the moment.

“I understand, I can’t imagine how tired you must be. I’ll come find you tomorrow, we can get away for awhile to relax at the hot springs on the beach.” He tipped her chin up. “That sound ok?”

“Perfect,” she replied. She leaned up to kiss him goodnight, holding onto his jacket for support, and then he walked toward his camp in the rain.

She stood there staring at the fire a few moments longer. But goodness, it really was cold.

 

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She really was tired, but she didn’t know why she felt a little depressed. Probably all the rain, after the sunshine of Champs les Sims. She curled up into her sleeping roll and quickly fell asleep.

That night she dreamed of Shane, and of butterflies.