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A Series of Romantic Events

Chapter Text

Deep in the heart of the Crystal Tower existed a private sanctuary, the very room where G’raha had once slept away two hundred years of his life while the world outside crumbled around him. But now all of that was literally centuries in the past, and if truth be told, would never happen again. The room had always been his most private getaway, used less than the Umbilicus, but there were no places to sleep in there. Here is where he took his scant few hours of sleep that he required a month.

Sleep. And only sleep. That is what this room had been used for exclusively for the past three hundred years. But… now it saw an entirely more active use.

G’raha couldn’t stop the low moan that escaped him as his Warrior moved above him in ancient rhythm. Gods, how was it possible for him to be feeling far too much, and yet not enough at the same time?

She tossed her head back, giving him back an answering moan. Move, move, move. His body told him, and he did so. But far more than that, his heart was urging him to just look at her. To take in the sight of her straddling his waist, driving herself to ecstasy with his body.

Just like what he was feeling, the sight of her was almost too much. He could feel his orgasm approaching, and he closed his eyes against it, begging not yet… please, not yet. He had already cum once tonight, due to his sexual abstinence for the past three centuries, and she had not yet cum a single time. And, more than anything, he longed to bring her to completion from having sex with him. Maybe even just to prove to himself that he was not as old as he felt he was, that he could still be a good sexual partner.

And then, finally , just when he thought that he would not be able to hold himself back a moment longer, she leaned back down against him, giving him wild open-mouthed kisses and moaning louder than ever as she came. The sensations of her orgasm were enough to drive him over the edge as well, and for a moment nothing existed for the Crystal Exarch save the woman in his arms.

As the sensations faded away, leaving the two of them raw and breathless in the aftermath, she smiled at him and gave him a soft kiss as he sought only to catch his breath. “Are you doing okay?” She asked, still a little breathless, but not nearly as much as he.

He took a few more gulps of hot, sex-scented air before he finally answered. “Perfect. Better than perfect. I...” He trailed off, but then quickly found his nerve again. “I love you. So much.”

She gently brushed his damp hair out of his eyes, gazing fondly into his ruby-colored eyes. “I love you too. Oh, Gods, how I love you. How I’ve longed to share this with you.”

He gently guided her so that she was no longer sitting on his lap, but now laying down beside him. He turned so that they could face each other, their noses touching and their breath mingling. And then they kissed again, a long slow kiss during which they tried to pour everything they felt for each other into that simple contact.

In this private room, surrounded by the humid heat and scent of their lovemaking, G’raha suddenly gave voice to a desire that had laid in the deepest depths of his heart of over a century.

He held her close, and before he could change his mind, he whispered two words into her ear. “Marry me?”

She froze against him, as if trying to decide if she heard him whisper the words that she thought she heard. And then she pulled away slightly to look into his eyes, silently begging for an explanation.

“My dearest love.” He called her. “I could never put into words how much I missed you desperately over the last century of my life. If you would permit it, I would bind myself to you in every way. To never be...” And then he trailed off, his eyes going wide as he realized with horror what he was about to say. He suddenly felt sick. He pulled away from her, turning his eyes down to avoid looking her in the eyes. “I apologize. Please forget that I have said anything.”

But she knew him, she knew what he was about to say, and she knew why he couldn’t say it. “Raha.” She called to him. This was only the second time that she had used his true name after being given permission to use it just before they had come into this room together. “You have realized it too?” His ears were pressed firmly down on his head, as if he were desperate not to hear her words. She could understand. Saying the words was painful too. “I can’t stay here on the First. Too much depends on me back on the Source. All out war with the Empire is swiftly approaching, and the Ascians are still a threat to the Source and every remaining Shard.”

G’raha sighed. He had been about to say that the would never be parted again, before he realized that such things were far beyond his control. He could warp time and space at his command, but stopping the upcoming conflicts was beyond his abilities. And she would never abandon those people. It was one of the many things that he adored about her. But that same quality would inevitably pull her away from him. She would still love him, and he would still love her; but until the Ascians and all of their puppets were destroyed, she would never be free.

“Don’t cry, please.” The Warrior whispered, reached out to wipe a stray tear off his face. He hadn’t realized that he was crying. He looked up and met her eyes. She had tears in her eyes too.

“I’m so sorry. I never meant to cause you pain. I only wished to express the depth of my affection for you.” G’raha said.

“I do know the depth of your affection, my love.” She replied, wiping away her own tears and giving him a sad sort of smile. “Your actions since you awoke have proven that to me. It’s not just anyone who would bend time and space to his will to save the life of a single woman. And in my heart, I long to accept your proposal. But I cannot. The safety of the Source and all of the Shards has laid too large a claim on me, but I swear that everything that does not beyond to the worlds belongs to you.” She kissed him again, not a passionate kiss like the ones they shared earlier, but still filled with all her desperate emotions.

G’raha pulled away slightly, reaching forward to brush her hair out of her eyes before carding his fingers through it. She closed her eyes with a soft sigh of bliss, scooting forward on the sheets until she was pressed up against his body, wrapping an arm around him.

He gladly held her against him, skin to skin, and somehow this felt much more intimate than making love a few minutes ago. He pressed his nose into her hair, indulging himself in breathing in her scent, now mixed in with his own.

Perhaps… he couldn’t have all of her, but he could have this, at least. And, perhaps, that was enough. “I’ll wait.” He said simply.

“Hmm?” The Warrior hummed against his neck.

“However long it takes, for you to fulfill your destiny to save the Source and all of its Shards.” G’raha clarified. “It will probably take years, I know. But I can wait. I have all ready waited a hundred years for you. I can wait once again.”

“I hope that you will not have to wait another hundred years.” The Warrior said, kissing his neck. G’raha let out a soft sigh. She pulled away slightly so that she could meet his eyes. “Are you really willing to wait?” She asked.

He smiled. “I have done so before. However long it takes, I am willing to wait.”

She placed her hand on his cheek, gently guiding him down so that she could give him a kiss. She pulled away from him with a smile. “Yes.”

He opened his eyes, giving her a slightly confused look. “Sorry?”

“The answer to your question.” She said with a small and quiet laugh. “When the Ascians are stopped, I will join you here on the First, and I will marry you.”

It felt like G’raha’s heart was going to burst out of his chest from sheer happiness. He pulled her into a deep and hard kiss, showing her just a fraction of how happy he was at that moment. “Then I suppose that when you return to the Source, I will have to make the preparations for our wedding.” He said.

“This could take many years, you know.” She reminded him.

“I have every confidence in your abilities.” G’raha said honestly. “It might take a normal person fifty years. You will accomplish this same thing in less than ten. I know it.”

“I hope that I can live up to your lofty expectations.”

“You’ll meet them… and exceed them.” G’raha said. “You managed to save the First without my sacrifice, did you not? For a hundred years, I believed that this feat was beyond even you, but you proved me so wrong. And I’m glad for it. So I have learned to never underestimate you.”

“Don’t put me too high on that pedestal.” The Warrior cautioned. “I never want to be out of your reach.” A few quiet moments passed between them, before the Warrior spoke again. “What will your people think?” She asked.

“They will be pleased.” G’raha answered right away. “They have ever longed for my happiness. I fear that the people of Eulmore will be a little disappointed to have at long last lost their chance to arrange a political marriage for me with one of their noble daughters.”

“Have they really done that?” The Warrior asked, amused, propping herself up on her elbow so that she could look down at him with a wide smile.

“More times than I care to remember.” G’raha answered truthfully. “One time, they even offered me their sons, convinced that was the reason why I was turning their prospective brides away.”

The Warrior laughed. It was a decent plan at least, if not for the fact that he was all ready in love. Most Miqo’te were bisexual and okay with either gender. And that held out doubly true for young Tias of a tribe. When young males were not allowed to mate with the females, it was extremely common for Tias to form romantic and sexual relationships amonst themselves. After all, Nuhns did not care if they were having sex with each other, as long as they kept away from the breeding females. G’raha had never told her if he had a male lover before, just that he’d had lovers in the past before the adventure with the Crystal Tower on the Source. But she would not be at all surprised if he did have a male lover in the past.

G’raha gave her a soft smile, completely enraptured with her laugh. Her laughter died down when she met his adoring gaze. “You really just proposed.” She whispered in awe.

“I did.”

“And I accepted.”

“You have.” G’raha confirmed. “Are you perhaps having second thoughts all ready?”

“Not about accepting your proposal, no. But, perhaps I am not sure that this is even happening at all. Is this a dream?”

G’raha let out a soft laugh to match hers, and then pulled her into another kiss. She sighed against his mouth, parting her lips and allowing his tongue to explore her mouth to his heart’s content. “If this is a dream...” He whispered as he pulled away from her. “Remind me of it when we awaken, so that I may propose to you properly.”

Chapter Text

Everything was perfect.

G’raha Tia sat in the middle of the camp, pretending to check his equipment in case anything needed repairs. Keeping your equipment properly maintained was important, but he’d all ready checked it all that morning. It was perfect. No, this check was for an entirely different reason.

He tested the tautness of his bowstring absentmindedly, while keeping a look out for the person that he was waiting for: the Warrior of Light. This whole set up was for her. His last-ditch attempt to… catch her attention in a romantic sense. He had given her a couple of flirtatious lines all ready, all of which had been ignored. But that did not deter G’raha Tia. The Warrior of Light was a special woman and deserved his very best come on, and this one had never failed to bring both the girls and boys flocking to him on the Isle of Val.

Finally, the Warrior of Light came into view, and G’raha pretended that he was finished checking his bow and moved on to his quiver of arrows, pulling one out to check the balance and flight feathers of the arrow. She got closer, not coming towards him, but perhaps looking for Cid instead. It didn’t matter. He would catch her attention.

When she was close enough, G’raha steeled himself. He had done this plenty of times before, so he knew how to keep this from going too far. Still, a little pain would be the price, but it was a price that he was more than willing to pay. With the sort of expert deftness that came from having done this several times before, G’raha tightened his grip on the arrow and, pretending to slip, “accidentally” drove the point of the arrow into the flesh of his own palm. Definitely not hard enough to maim, but certainly hard enough to draw blood.

“Ah!” G’raha gasped in very real pain. It served it’s purpose. It caught the Warrior of Light’s attention.

Her eyes looked around at the noise and, seeing the blood that was dripping down G’raha’s hand, changed course and rushed over to him. “Oh no! What happened?” She asked, reaching out to take his hand and holding it palm up so that she could inspect the wound.

“No, no, it’s nothing. Just a foolish mistake...” G’raha paused for dramatic effect and then gasped again. “Oh.”

“What?” The Warrior of Light asked, meeting his wide eyes.

“It seems that this arrow might have been enchanted by Menphina herself, because I seem to have fallen for you.” G’raha said. Boom. Complete magic. As a teenager on the Isle of Val, it had never failed to get him a date, drawing laughs from girls and boys alike.

But… G’raha’s face fell. There was no laughter. Instead, his heart dropped when he saw that the Warrior not only failed to laugh, but the concern melted off her face and her face went blank. Only a moment passed before G’raha became too self conscious and dropped his gaze.

The Warrior sighed and pulled out a first aid kit from her pack. Within a minute, she had bandaged his small wound. “It’s not too deep, but you should be more careful.” The Warrior said without a hint of emotion in her voice. She got up and continued on her way.

Now G’raha was left to wonder what went wrong. He’d done everything perfectly, he was sure of it. Maybe he was just out of practice with that line? After all, the last time he had used it was when he was still just a student. He hadn’t had much time for casual relationships since becoming an expert on the Allagan Empire. The main problem now was that he had used his best line, and it had completely flopped. He could never have another chance at getting it right, so he would just have to come up with something much better.

“You are going about that all wrong, you know.” A familiar voice spoke up behind G’raha. He flinched and spun around in his seat. As if this day couldn’t get any worse, but now he knew that Cid had seen his humiliation! Cid walked closer, standing next to the young Miqo’te. “Take this old man’s advice. Cheesy pick up lines are a fair starting off point for an average maid, but you’ll need more than that to win an exceptional woman’s heart. I’m only telling you this because I have gotten to know you over the past several months and I believe that you genuinely do feel for her and are not just seeking a one-night stand with her. You are seeking more than a one night stand with her, are you not?” Cid asked, his voice and eyes becoming cold.

“Of course I'm not only seeking a one night stand!” G’raha insisted. “She is… she is special. Amazing. I’ve… never felt this way about anyone before.”

“And am I to assume that you have not been in a relationship for several years, perhaps since you were a teenager?” Cid asked. G’raha blushed and nodded. Cid simply nodded in understanding. “Then, come with me, lad. There’s something that you need to see.” He gestured for G’raha to follow him, and walked away in the direction of Mor Dhona. G’raha hesitated for a moment, but then followed after Cid.


Cid led him to Mor Dhona and to the Rising Stones. Not the hidden Scion base in the back, but in a dark corner of the bar. Cid sat down at one of the tables and gestured for G’raha to take the other seat. G’raha did so, looking around in confusion. “Why are we here?” He asked.

“Just stay silent for a few minutes and watch what happens.” Cid said, leaning back in his seat.

Confused, G’raha did as Cid asked. Looking around the bar for anything that might seem like it was something that Cid wanted him to see. Several minutes passed and just as G’raha was about to stand and leave the door opened and the Warrior of Light walked in.

G’raha froze, going still and silent as Cid suggested. Now he could see why Cid would bring him here to see the Warrior of Light. She is a member of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, so of course it was only a matter of time before she made her way back to their base of operations.

Right away, it was clear that Cid and G’raha were not the only patrons of the bar to notice who walked through the door. Almost before she was through the door, about half of the patrons called out to her, calling for her to come have drinks with them. But that wasn’t really the problem. The problem was the men at the bar, rushing up to her and taking turns giving her their pick up lines.

“Would you mind shaking my hand, so that I can tell my friends that I’ve been touched by an angel?”

“Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk past again?”

“You seem like the type of girl who has heard every line in the book, so what’s one more?”

And many more that were much worse. And G’raha saw it for the second time that day. She completely lost interest in what they were saying, barely spared those men a glance as she walked past them and into the door that led to the Scion’s headquarters. As soon as the door shut behind her, everything returned to normal in the bar again.

“Do you understand now?” Cid asked. “She is now a famous adventurer thanks to her part in bringing us the Seventh Astral Era. Pick up lines are a daily part of her life now, and they don’t mean anything to her anymore. When you try to use a pick up line on her, you are just one out of many attempting to do so.” Cid laughed. “Besides, pick up lines are things better left in your adolescence. Trust me on that.”

“I understand what you wanted to show me.” G’raha admitted. “But I am afraid that I have little idea how to correct my mistake. What should I do? Tell her plainly that I’m falling in love with her?”

“You could.” Cid admitted. “Being open and honest are desirable traits to any relationship. However, you can do better than that. I’ve known her for a couple of years now, and what I’ve come to see about her is that she...” Cid trailed off, studying G’raha’s face. “No. On second thought, I will not give you a shortcut to the answer.”

“But, Cid…!” G’raha pleaded.

“No. You are a scholar, and if you love her as much as you claim, then observing her will be easy. That is all the hint you’ll get from me. Watch her. Learn about her. Discover those traits that she admires and then think honestly about whether those traits are ones that you possess. I, for one, think you do possess those traits. You just need to grow into them.”


 

The Crystal Exarch blinked, pulling himself out of the depths of his memories. It had been a long time since he had thought about the events of that day, about the day that he had discovered that he was not as irresistible as he once thought he was. His approach had been too common and overused to draw her attention, and he had been left with a puzzle that he was never able to solve.

He had spent weeks trying to learn everything he could about the sort of things that she would wish for in a romantic partner, but that never went anywhere. And then he had sealed himself inside the Tower which had put an end to all of those wonderings for good. A little over three hundred years old was far too old for such things anymore.

With a sigh, the Crystal Exarch reached up to put on his hood for his daily walk around the Crystarium. But then he hesitated and left the hood down. Every single day since the fighting in Amaurot he had to remember that he no longer had to keep his identity a secret. He grabbed his staff, now used as a walking stick so that he could lean on it for his injury.

His injury made his walk slower than usual, but the people seemed to be very understanding. They often did not even wait for the Exarch to walk up to him, but met him halfway so that he didn’t have to walk so far. Finally, he started to make his way back to the Crystal Tower, only to find quite the crowd gathered at the stairs in front of the Tower.

Bemused, G’raha walked up to the crowd, expecting to be noticed, but they all seemed to be focused on something on the stairs. G’raha leaned up on his toes, attempting to see over the crowd and cursing his short stature. And then the crowd shifted and G’raha was able to see what was drawing the crowd.

It seemed that there were a group of about four people who were attempting to gain the favor of the cornered Warrior of Light by shouting awful pick up lines at her. The rest of the crowd just seemed to be watching. For the first time, G’raha didn’t see her normal bored look, she just looked around in alarm at the crowd. Having a large crowd was probably a new thing for her, and she was obviously uncomfortable with it.

Her eyes flew over the crowd and she saw G’raha in the back. He saw the relief briefly on her face before she sent him a wordless message with her facial expression. Please save me.

First things first, G’raha had to get the attention of the crowd, and he knew that he would never be able to yell loudly enough to be heard over the shouts and laughter. Thankfully, he had other ways to draw attention rather than just yell. His hand grew tighter on his staff as he slammed the point onto the ground next to him, calling out to the Tower with his aether. G’raha used some of the stored solar energy to make the entire Tower tremble, and the courtyard along with it. The shouts and laughter died down as everyone looked around, confused. Even the Warrior glanced back at the Tower and then towards him, shock and amazement in her eyes.

Finally, the people noticed that the disturbance seemed to be coming from the Crystal Tower, and therefore it was coming from the Exarch. And a few moments later, they realized that the Exarch himself was standing at the back of the crowd, and everyone was blocking his path into the Tower.

“Forgive us, My Lord.” One of the men who had been shouting pick up lines at the Warrior said, backing away and to the side of the stairs. Everyone else followed suit, moving to the side so that the Crystal Exarch had a clear path to his home.

G’raha smiled and walked forward, doing everything he could to hide his limp. He didn’t want them to worry about him more than they all ready worried about his health. He stopped and smiled at the young man who spoke up. He couldn’t meet the Exarch’s eyes and his gaze fell to the ground. “There is nothing to forgive.” The Exarch said with a gentle smile. “Although… if you are willing to take the advice of an old man, yelling pick up lines at women is not nearly as effective as they make it seem in romance novels. Trust me on this.”

The young man blushed in embarrassment, but then was able to meet G’raha’s eyes. “Thank you, My Lord. I’ll remember your advice.”

G’raha nodded towards him graciously and then began to climb the steps towards the Warrior. He could tell from her expression that she could see how he was limping slightly. When he reached her, she offered him her arm without a word. At first, G’raha was reluctant to accept her silent invitation, but then realized that he had little choice. His wounds were aching from his long walk around the Crystarium, and he was liable to collapse halfway up the stairs without help. “Thank you for the assistance, my friend.” He said, accepting the offer to lean his weight on her. She accepted his weight without a problem and began to help him up the stairs towards the doors of the Crystal Tower, which were being opened to admit him.

The guard stationed in front of the door ran down the last couple of steps when he saw that the Warrior was helping the Exarch up. “My Lord, do you require assistance?” He asked.

“No thank you, I have all of the assistance that I require.” And with that, the Warrior led him inside and the doors closed after them.

Down at the base of the Tower, most of the crowd had all ready gone about their business, except for a few of the men who had been catcalling the Warrior. They glanced between them, a wordless sigh of defeat passed between them, and they turned to go home. The Exarch himself might have not seen what they saw, because he was looking back at them during that moment, but they saw the expression on the Warrior of Darkness’ face before she schooled her expression into something more neutral. It was such a look of longing adoration and they all knew… what hope did they have to win the Warrior’s heart when it was all ready won?


Once they were safely inside the Tower, the Warrior let out a sigh of relief. “Thank you so much for rescuing me back there. You would think that I’d get used to such treatment from back on the Source, but drawing crowds that big never fails to surprise me.”

“Of course, I am only too happy to offer what assistance I can. It is the least I can do to repay you for all you have done for me and this world.” G’raha said truthfully. A brief moment of silence fell between them before G’raha spoke again. “There is something more that I wish to apologize for.”

“I’ve told you that you have nothing to apologize for. I know that everything you did was to save this world and to save my life.” The Warrior said.

“Not for that. I need to apologize for something more… personal.” G’raha blushed. “I need to apologize for my behavior… back then… on the Source. I was far more young and naive than I was suave. I had simply longed for your attention, but I fear that I only made a great fool of myself.”

The Warrior glanced at him. “Are you speaking of when you took advantage of the fact that you accidentally stabbed yourself with an arrow to turn around and make it into a pick up line?” She asked.

The Exarch felt his face go even more red and he longed to pull up his hood. “It… ah… wasn’t an accident, per say. I may have… hurt myself on purpose… to set up the line.”

For a second, the Warrior stared at him, her face unreadable. And then she broke out into laughter. “Did you really? Okay, I’ll admit it, that is certainly something that I’ve never heard of before!”

“I was a fool. I had no idea such methods would only drive us apart.” G’raha said.

The Warrior smiled, reached over, and flipped his hood off his head so that she could see his face again. His blush was almost as red as his eyes. “Perhaps. But you were young back then. Younger than I, even. And you’ve learned better now.”

“I have learned from personal experience that getting catcalled is no way to draw the attention of a potential lover.” G’raha said. “When I first arrived here, when I was young… younger than I am now, at least. I’ve had more people than I can count yelling pick up lines and proposals at me as I walk through the town. I have learned firsthand how annoying that is.”

“Not just that. But you’ve learned what it really takes to get my attention.” The Warrior said. G’raha looked in her direction, confused. Before he could ask for clarification, her lips were pressed gently against his. As much as his body was screaming at him to kiss her back godsdammit he was too frozen in shock to do anything. After a few seconds, the Warrior pulled away, looking into his eyes with a worried expression. “Oh no… am I the one who has made a fool of herself?” She asked, blushing.

“No, no, I… er...” G’raha began, but then had to clear his throat. For the first time in nearly a century, G’raha was left utterly speechless for a few moments. “I’m just… shocked… I didn’t expect… Why… Why now?”

“So… do you mean to tell me that you’ve gone and captured my heart without even realizing it?” The Warrior asked.

“Captured your…” G’raha’s eyes had gone wide and his ears were pinned back. “What?!”

The Warrior stared at him for a few moments before she leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to his lips. This time, G’raha responded, pressing forwards into her kiss to reassure her that this was okay. Confused as he was, he would not allow this moment to pass him by. He had been dreaming of it for centuries.

“Words mean very little to me, G’raha Tia. Anyone can shout a pick up line at a stranger on the streets. But it takes someone special to show how much they care about you through action and deed. And you have bent time and space in order to save my life. You were prepared to die to save my life. By these actions you showed me how much you cared, and I began to fall in love with you.” The Warrior said, pulling back from the kiss and smiling at him.

G’raha nearly smacked himself in the forehead at the simplicity of the answer. Even someone as ancient and wise as he still had things to learn. Oh well… a lesson is better learned late rather than never. G’raha thought to himself as he pulled the Warrior into a firm kiss.

Chapter Text

Believe me, I have no intention of throwing my life away after you and yours went through such great lengths to save it.” G’raha said, and then he sighed. “But we have to be realistic as well. The situation that we find ourselves in is incredibly dire. I will follow every avenue of study to solve this problem, but if your lives are at stake… we know of one sure method to return your souls to the Source.”

Several long moments passed following G’raha’s pronouncement. All of the Scions glanced uneasily amonst themselves, and towards the Warrior of Light most of all. For her part, the Warrior could only stare at G’raha in wordless shock. Thankfully, Alisaie found a way to impress upon G’raha what they were all thinking.

She broke ranks from the other Scions, marched up to the Exarch, and flicked him hard right in the middle of his forehead. G’raha flinched backwards, staring down at Alisaie with shock. “Ow! Whatever was that for?” He asked indignantly.

“I would hear no more of this plan to sacrifice yourself.” Alisaie said firmly. “You are right about one thing, however… you do owe your life to the Warrior of Light and so you are not permitted to die unless she demands it.”

G’raha’s mouth fell open, as he longed to respond but the words fell silent when Y’shtola began to giggle. She glanced over at the Warrior. “So, what say you? Your followers await your divine judgment.”

“Excuse me?”

“I beg your pardon?” Alisaie and the Exarch gasped at the same time.

Y’shtola grinned and expertly moved the conversation away from sacrifice towards thinking of plans that could actually work. After several moments of discussion, the group as a whole decided to follow the course of using white auracite to transport the Scion’s souls back to the Source. With a plan now laid out, the group made plans to split up to bring the pieces together. Urianger would stay in the Crystarium to see the creation of some more white auracite, while the rest including the Crystal Exarch would travel to meet an old contact of the Exarch who was reputed to know the most of Soulcraft on the First.

“By your leave, then.” Alisaie said, turning to walk out of the Ocular. As Alisaie marched past, the Warrior heard the young woman mutter under her breath that, “If I hear the Exarch speak of self sacrifice one more time, I will grant his wish!” And the Warrior was wont to agree with her.

One by one, everyone began to walk out until it was just the Warrior, G’raha, and Urianger left. Just before G’raha began to leave, the Warrior spoke up. “G’raha, could I speak to you alone before we leave?” She asked.

For just a moment, the Warrior thought that G’raha was about to refuse her request for the first time. She could tell from the look in his eyes that he was longing to insist that they had no time to lose and that they had to be on their way. But then he sighed. “Very well, perhaps in the Umbilicus?” He gestured towards the door that led into the small private room to the side of the Ocular.

The Warrior of Light nodded and walked with G’raha into the room, and waited for G’raha to shut the door behind them. The Exarch dragged the action out as long as possible, continuing to face the door long moments after it had been closed. “My love...” He said as he finally turned around to face her.

The Warrior flinched at his words. She knew that he had chosen them on purpose. In the past, being called that had never failed to turn her into putty in his hands. But things were serious now, and she couldn’t allow the warm feelings that his words gave her to distract her. “No. Do not call me that.” She said, and his ears pinned down to his head. “ G’raha, why are you suggesting that old plan again? Are you really so eager to die?”

His eyes fell to the ground. “Not eager , no. Only willing to do so for the greater good.” He said softly. “ I know that no one wishes to speak of it, but if your friend’s lives are at stake, then we have to entertain every possible method of returning their souls to the Source, even the less than savory ones.”

“It might be a viable method. Hells, it might turn out that your sacrifice is the only method to return them home.” The Warrior said. “Even still, none of us will entertain sacrificing you as a method to return home. You know this about us. About me. Is that not why you tried to paint yourself as the vill ai n on Mt. Gulg?”

G’ raha swallowed hard. Her words were making him feel sick about suggesting his old plan again. “I’m sorry.” He said, his words quieter than a whisper.

The Warrior took a step closer to him, lifted her hand and gently caressed his cheek. G’raha shut his eyes, trying to stop the tears that were about to spill over. “How many times must I repeat myself?” The Warrior asked. “I will gladly speak the words again and again until everything we fought for has crumbled to dust and our names fade from legend. But when will you listen to them and understand that I mean what I say?” Her other hand reached up for the other side of his face. “ Have I not shown you how much I care for you? Have I not made love with you?” He opened his eyes and met hers for the briefest moment before she gently pulled him closer and she pressed a gentle kiss to his lips.

The Warrior couldn’t say if she had ever kissed someone who was sobbing before, but that is what the moment happened to turn into. Even still, G’raha refused to let her pull away. He was just as insistent as ever, although the kiss tasted of salt.

When he finally pulled away to take a breath, she held him close so that they were still less than an ilm apart. “I love you.” The Warrior said. “And I’ll say it again and again forever. You brought time and space to heel once to save my life, and I would do the exact same for you… to use all of my power to make sure that you are still alive and at my side at the end of all this.”

My love… my inspiration… my everything.” G’raha whispered, taking another deep breath in an attempt to calm the emotion choking him. “ I do hear your words, and I know how much you care about me. I’ll not suggest death as an option again, and I will continue to strive to do all I can to save the Scion’s lives and souls.”

The Warrior bumped her nose against his with a wry smile. “And no more talk about sacrificing yourself. Else I’ll allow Alisaie to follow through on her threat.”

Chapter Text

The Warrior of Light practically fell out of the portal that led her back inside the Ocular of the Crystal Tower. No matter how many times she made the trip, traveling across the Rift always left her slightly dizzy. Thankfully, nearly every single time she had crossed over, G’raha had been there to catch her before she stumbled.

Back when he was still wearing the shadowed hood of the Crystal Exarch, she had asked why he always seemed to be there waiting for her when she returned to the First. “It is my magic that allows you to make the crossing each and every time.” The Exarch had replied easily. “ How could I not notice the drain of my personal magic when you activate the spell?”

“But doesn’t the crossing take a lot of energy? Am I wearing you down every time I make the crossing?” The Warrior had asked, concerned.

“You need not be concerned for me.” The Exarch had answered. “So long as I am within the Tower, it is easy for me to replace any energy that I lose with the energies stored within the Tower itself. So long as the Tower stands, you need not worry about draining me of my aether.”

B ut this time was one of the few exceptions, and the Warrior had to catch herself before she stumbled to the ground. And, not only that, but the lights in the Ocular had been dimmed to a very low level. G’raha was obviously not in the Ocular at the moment, nor did he seem to be in the Umbilicus. The door to his personal study was open, but the lights were turned down there as well.

The Warrior began to make her way through the Tower towards the main entrance, a path that she had walked many times before. And it was a good thing, because the entire Tower seemed to have gone into low power mode. She would have been worried about G’raha’s condition, if not for the fact that she knew that if something happened to him, everything he had ever summoned to the First would be returned to the Source, and that included herself and the Crystal Tower.

Several minutes later, she finally made her way to the main entrance of the Crystal Tower. Back with the Crystal Tower that she knew back on the Source, it took someone of the Allagan Royal Bloodline, such as G’raha Tia himself, to open the door. But G’raha had managed to find a way to shut down that particular defense sometime in the last one hundred years. Now anyone could enter or exit the doorway.

The Warrior pushed open the door, stepped outside, and froze in her tracks.

For some reason, the night sky seemed to be far more beautiful on the First than it did on the Source. But perhaps what was because the people of the First were far more interested in not drowning out the night sky. Not only was the inside of the Crystal Tower dimmer, but she could have sworn that the outside was not glowing nearly as bright, bringing a much darker night to the Crystarium.

But that didn’t mean that all of the light was gone in the Crystarium. In fact, the sight of the central pavilion caused the Warrior to freeze in her tracks, because nearly everywhere she looked the crowd of people gathered there was illuminated by paper lanterns. And she certainly meant that it was a crowd. It seemed like the entire Crystarium had gathered in the pavilion before the Crystal Tower.

The Warrior looked around, and saw that the entire crowd was facing the direction of the Crystal Tower, but they all were focused on the platform that had been set up at the foot of the stairs under the light of the paper lanterns. Three people were standing on the platform, two male Mystel and one female Drahn. One of the Mystel was recognized by the Warrior in an instant, because it was none other than G’raha Tia.

The other Mystel and the Drahn were standing facing each other on either side of G’raha. G’raha held one of their hands in his own. For the life of her, the Warrior couldn’t imagine what sort of ceremony this was, until G’raha began to speak.

Many things have changed in our lives in the past few months, but one thing will always remain the same. The love that we share for each other. The love between parents and their children, between kin, and between friends. Tonight we are gathered here to celebrate the joyous love that blooms between lovers.” G’raha spoke, projecting his rich voice over the crowd. He hardly needed to. When the Crystal Exarch spoke, the people of the Crystarium listened. “It is here, under the blanket of the sunless sea, that we celebrate tonight. Not only to celebrate the joining of two lives into one, but to celebrate the future that has been gifted to us all.”

The Warrior froze at the top of the stairs, shrinking down and hoping that she had not drawn attention away from the wedding. The doors to the Crystal Tower opening had probably caught someone’s notice, but she was loathe to interrupt such an important ceremony.

Not only do these two souls standing before you look to the future with hope, but the entirety of Norvrandt looks up at the same sky that we are under at this moment, and all understand that the future of our land, and the love that we feel, is worth fighting for.” G’raha’s next words seemed to be for the couple themselves, more than for the crowd, because he lowered his voice to speak to the two of them. Even still, the crowd was so still and silent that they heard every word. “I have watched the two of you grow up from precocious children to the fine adults you are today. I, and everyone here, has seen the depths of the love that you share for each other, and every single one of us wishes the two of you happiness in your future together.”

T he Warrior watched as G’raha had them repeat their marriage vows to each other, to be faithful and true to one another until death. Once they had spoken their vows, G’raha raised their hands slightly and brought them together. The bride and bridegroom smiled at each other as their fingers intertwined together. “As your hands join together, so now are your futures intertwined together, now and for all of time. As the Lord of the Crystal Tower, I declare these two souls to be bound together in marriage.”

Now the crowd cheered as the bride and bridegroom leaned together and shared a kiss to seal their marriage together. The Warrior couldn’t help but think that this was a very lovely ceremony. Of course, she had only been to one Eternal Bonding ceremony back on the Source a couple of years prior. Two members of her old adventuring group had gotten married and she was invited to attend the ceremony. That had been a nice ceremony too, but the Warrior greatly p re fer r ed this one. Short, sweet, and to the point. Under the stars and presided over by G’raha Tia.

T he bride and bridegroom stepped down off the platform and met their friends and family in the crowd, accepting their joyous well-wishes and congratulations. Meanwhile, the Warrior herself couldn’t miss how G’raha turned around on his heel, gazing back up the stairs towards the Tower… or rather towards her. He smiled, and held out his hand. It was a clear invitation that she could now join them.

The Warrior walked down the steps. For the moment, it seemed that very few people had even noticed that it was the Warrior of Darkness who had joined them. When she made it down to the platform, she accepted G’raha’s proffered hand and the two of them stepped down off the platform for some measure of privacy.

“I knew that you had arrived.” G’raha said. “Forgive me for not being there to meet you.”

“There is no need to ask for forgiveness. You were busy.” The Warrior said, looking around at the crowd. Now that the wedding was over, it was obviously time to party. There were food and drinks set up on banquet tables around the edge of the wedding party. “So… do you do this sort of thing often?”

“Hmm? Often enough.” The Exarch said with a smile. “There are many… difficulties that come with the burden of leadership, but this...” He gestured towards the happy couple. “...is not one of them. And this wedding, in particular, is very special. Not just for me, but for all of the Crystarium.”

“Why? Are the bride and bridegroom from important families?” The Warrior asked.

G’raha laughed and shook his head. “No. ‘Tis the first wedding that the Crystarium has had since the night sky was returned to us. When they came to me to ask to preside over their marriage, they specifically asked to be married under the night sky. And I believe that this will be a very common occurrence throughout Norvrandt. I all ready have two more lovers ready to be married who have asked to be married at night as well.” G’raha smiled. “The night used to be my time, time that I spent studying my own interests. However, I feel fine giving up my evenings for such celebrations.” G’raha glanced around. “Would you… care to join me?” He asked softly.

“Are you sure it’s okay for me to join in?” The Warrior asked. “I’ve never been able to join in on a party without it turning into a fiasco. And I don’t want to draw attention away from the happy couple.”

“It will be fine, trust me.” G’raha insisted. “Weddings on the Source might place the main focus on the bride and bridegroom, but things are different here on the First. They will be hoping for the attention to be pulled away from them ere long. In fact, there is an unspoken tradition around weddings that...”

Before G’raha could finish his comment, the bride herself walked over with her new husband in tow. “ Look, my dear! It’s the Warrior of Darkness! She was able to come after all!” She held out her hand to shake the Warrior’s hand. She did so, a little bemused. “I had hoped that you would return from wherever your business took you. After all, you are the reason that we are able to get married under the sunless sea, are you not?” The bride asked.

T he Warrior blushed. “It was not just me. All of the Scions helped. And G’ra… I mean, the Exarch helped a lot too.” She had never asked G’raha whether he felt comfortable with the people of the First knowing his true name. There was no reason for him to keep it a secret any longer, but she didn’t want to reveal it without his permission.

It’s fine.” G’raha said, guessing her thoughts. “I kept my name a secret for your benefit. Now that it is no longer necessary, there’s no reason for you to feel that you must keep my name a secret.”

The Drahn bride gasped. “Do you mean that you know the Exarch’s true name? We all have been talking since you now go without your hood for the most part these days, but your name…?”

“Well, his true name is G’raha Tia. Although after not having used it for a century, he’s not used to people using it yet.”

“Graha-Tia?” The Mystel questioned, his eyebrows raised. “Graha is not a family that I’ve heard of. And ‘Tia’? Did your ma and pa want a daughter?”

“Dearest! That is rude!” The Drahn bride gasped. “Forgive him! Sometimes he says things without thinking!”

“It is perfectly all right. I understand the confusion.” The Exarch said with a smile. “We compose our names differently in my homeland. G’raha is a mix of my tribe and my name. Tia is...” The Exarch trailed off.

The Warrior started to laugh a little. “It marks his rank in his old tribe.” The Warrior said diplomatically. Although it was technically not true. Seeker Nuhns were not always the leaders of their tribe. It just meant that they were breeding males, while Tias were not.

“How odd. So you really are from some place far from Norvrandt? Someplace that was destroyed by the flood?”

G’raha nodded briefly. “Long destroyed, I’m afraid. But let not my dark thoughts disturb you. This is a happy night. Please enjoy your evening.”

Oh, we will.” The bride promised as she took her husband’s hand and led him back up to the platform. “May we have everyone’s attention, please?” She called, and the conversation stopped as people began to look back to the platform. “We would like to thank everyone for being here with us to celebrate this special night with us. And more than anything, we would like to thank those who fought to bring the night back to Norvrandt! The Crystal Exarch and the Warriors of Darkness, one of whom is actually here tonight!” She gestured to the Warrior and the Exarch. The Warrior longed to duck down behind G’raha to hide from the attention. But the Warrior almost fainted when the next words came out of the bride’s mouth. “As you all are aware, it is… tradition...” She grinned. “To offer the first dance to another.”

“Oh no.” G’raha whispered.

“And I can think of no people more deserving than those who gifted us the night! So what say you?” The crowd cheered.

“Um… what’s going on?” The Warrior asked.

Do you remember how I said they will want the attention away from them ere long?” G’raha asked. “On the First, it is considered good luck for the couple being married if two people… um… become a couple during the party. So there is a game that is played at weddings to try to aid likely couples into starting relationships. And I believe that… you and I have been targeted.”

T he Warrior felt a blush rise on her face. “What?” She whispered harshly, and not even G’raha was able to hear her over the sound of the crowd cheering for them to dance. G’raha was torn. As much as he longed to give his people what they wanted, not just for their happiness but for his own as well, he never wanted to force his friend into doing something ever again. He glanced at her, and after a second, she felt his eyes on her and turned to meet them.

After several seconds, she sighed. “So, G’raha… would you like to dance? As friends.” She quickly added the last part on the end when his eyes went wide and he literally seemed to have stopped breathing.

Ah. Of course.” G’raha replied. He extended his right hand towards her. When she accepted his hand, the crowd cheered louder and a makeshift space was cleared for them as the band started a waltz.

The Warrior blushed a little. “I’m… not very experienced with these kind of dances. Are you okay to lead?” She asked.

Certainly.” G’raha answered. Knowing how to dance had always been an important part of being a statesman, so he had learned all kinds of dances native to the First, and he could lead or follow with equal skill. He hesitated for just a moment before he placed his left hand gently upon her waist while her free hand rested on his shoulder. They were much closer now than they had ever been before and it took all of G’raha’s willpower to resist pulling her even closer.

A s G’raha began to move, guiding her into the first steps of the dance, and he quickly learned that being unfamiliar with the specific dance was not a barrier for the Warrior for long. Years of martial training in many different disciplines gave her the skill necessary to pick up on the steps quickly. She never once miss ed a step and easily followed all of G’raha’s gentle directions as they turned across the dance floor.

I never realized that you could dance.” G’raha told her quietly so that only she could hear.

The Warrior shook her head. “Sort of, but I don’t have much experience dancing with a partner. And what about you? The old G’raha Tia that I remember back from the Source could sing, but he also had two left feet.”

With a century of practice, anything is possible. Even learning how to dance for the sake of statecraft.” G’raha replied.

As they spun, the Warrior caught a glimpse of the bride and bridegroom. They were off to the side, watching them dance, and smiling happily at the sight. She couldn’t imagine how a newly married couple back on the Source could be okay with giving the spotlight dance to another couple. But seeing their expressions she could only assume that this was perfectly fine with them and totally expected among the guests.

It’s an odd tradition.” The Warrior admitted softly.

It took a few marriage ceremonies before I understood the reason behind pushing others into the limelight.” G’raha said. “I say that it is for good luck, but that overly simplifies what is really happening. The people of the First believe that happiness and love is meant to be shared. They are hoping that the amount of love and happiness that they feel in this moment will overflow into their surroundings and allow others to find the same happiness. To put it frankly, they believe that if their love is strong enough to overflow in this manner, then their love will be strong enough to weather life’s challenges.”

That makes sense, I suppose.” The Warrior said. Was it G’raha’s imagination, or had she slightly tightened her grip on his hand and shoulder? “That makes more sense than just being for good luck, at least. Luck, after all, has nothing to do with making a relationship work. Nor does it seem to much relevance in anything that we do. After everything I’ve seen and done, I don’t believe in luck.”

G’raha smiled. Once upon a time, he might have disagreed with her. But she was right. Once you have seen enough of the world, notions of luck fall to the wayside. Some might say that the execution of his plan to save multiple worlds came down to good luck, but he knew that it hadn’t. It was the blood and sweat of countless people that he had left behind him on the Source facing a bleak future. It was his own obsessive focus, to dedicate his every waking moment to making sure that his plan succeeded. And most importantly, it was down to the skill and willpower of a single woman, to grab hold of the reigns of his plan and to forge a better path with her determination. “ You are right. Luck is a foolish thing to believe in.”

But do you want to know what I do believe in?” The Warrior asked. It wasn’t his imagination after all. Her grip on him had grown tighter… and was she standing a few ilms closer to him? “I believe in myself. I believe in my friends. And I believe in you, too.”

G’raha stopped dancing with a softly exhaled breath.

G’raha?” She asked.

Th—thank you for your kind words, but I fear that I don’t deserve them.” G’raha said. He stepped away, bowed politely, and said, “Thank you for the dance, my friend.” With a stricken look on his face, he turned and began to walk away.

G’raha, please wait!” The Warrior called after him. When he didn’t stop, she began to chase after him. No one followed after them, but they all exchanged nervous glances between themselves. They had all just wanted their beloved Exarch to be happy, and the happiest they had ever seen him was when he was in the company of the Warrior of Darkness. And every single one of them remembered how upset and distraught the Warrior of Darkness was after he went missing. They all knew, romance or not, those two were happier when they were together rather than apart. And they deserved that happiness.

G’raha, please wait!” She called, having chased him around the base of the Tower and away from the central plaza. “I… I didn’t mean to make you angry.” She said.

Angry?” G’raha paused in his tracks, and then looked around at her with wide, shocked eyes. “Oh no, my friend. I am not angry. Not in the slightest. The only thing that I feel right now is… inadequacy. I do not deserve such high praise from you. I have attempted to chart my life by your blazing star, only to have fallen short and forced you to repair my failures.”

That’s not true, and you know it.” The Warrior said. “Are you not the one saw the path that my future would have taken me had you not intervened? Would I not be dead if it were not for you? I owe you my life. And you are a blazing star in your own right. Look around.” The Warrior gestured back to the party going on in the plaza. “You are a blazing star to the people of the Crystarium. They look up to you for guidance and protection, and you have provided it for a hundred years.” She smiled. “I am a Warrior and people are more than willing to follow me into battle. But when the battle is won, the people stop looking towards me and start looking towards people like you for guidance. And, to be honest… I do too.” The Warrior said, stepping closer to him.

G’raha froze as she got closer. He recognized her expression, having seen it many times before in his youth back on the Source. Her desire betrayed her a moment before she acted, her eyes flicking briefly to his lips. Her nose brushed tenderly against his, and then she brushed her lips against his with just as much tenderness.

This was a moment that he had been longing to have for a century, and the slightest press of her lips against his was all it took for the floodgates of his desires to fall open. When she pulled away, he chased after her, kissing her firmly. Despite his grip on her waist, he had no delusions that he could keep her in his arms if her kiss were just a one time thing and she didn’t really desire him. As ever, he would fulfill her every desire. If she wanted him to stop, she only need say the word and he would do so. But if she wanted his heart… well, it was all ready hers and had been for a century.

The Warrior didn’t seem to have any intention of pushing him away. Indeed, she moved closer to him so that they bodies were pressed flush against each other, and she responded to his firm kiss with such hunger and ferocity that she quickly dominated the kiss. But he didn’t mind. Holding her in his arms and kissing her was all that mattered.

Finally, they both had to part to breath and they did so with heavy pants. But no sooner had they taken a breath of fresh air than they kissed each other again, driven by the frenzy of newly realized pleasure. G’raha didn’t even notice that she had pushed his back against the cool crystal of the Tower. But he certainly did notice when she ground her hips against his, awakening long-lost sensations of lust and drawing a low moan from the both of them.

She moved against him, stimulating the both of them even through the barrier of their clothes. “We should—ah—move somewhere more p—private.” G’raha breathed harshly against her lips. He had no doubts about where this was heading and it seemed that she harbored no doubts as well. After all, she was the one grinding her body against his.

We shouldn’t stay here? Won’t the bride and bridegroom wish to learn that their love overflowed after all?” The Warrior asked, giving a sinful grin and continuing her motions against him.

Ohh, wicked white!” G’raha gasped. Even in his younger and more adventurous days, he never would have dreamed of such a thing. “They can see me lead you back into the Tower. That will be enough to satisfy them.”

The Warrior laughed. So… public sex was not a kink of his? That was fine. She just offered because she was playfully curious. She would have done it if he desired it, but she felt a little relieved that he wanted to relocate the two of them inside the privacy of the Tower. “Then hurry up and lead the way, My Lord.” She breathed, her face colored with an aroused blush, and one last firm grind against him.

They could not get back to the Tower fast enough, and the entire plaza cheered as they shut the doors of the Tower shut behind them. The bride and bridegroom had influenced another couple and the party had just started. It was sure to be a long and happy marriage.

Chapter Text

G’raha Tia was slow to rouse from what felt like the deepest sleep that he’d had in a century. Not since his two century long sleep inside the Crystal Tower had he felt such a deep and restful sleep. It was not just the fact that attuning to the Crystal Tower had changed his body in ways that he could scarce understand. His body didn’t seem to require sleep, but he still needed to at least make an attempt at sleep every once in a while or risk his mental health.

Attempt at sleep, for that was true. When he did manage to take the time to try to find rest, he had rarely found it. Always his mind would be swirling, refusing to shut down, and forcing him to remember everything that was still left to be done while he wasted time on sleep. He continued to plan and calculate for his eventual summoning and the task of saving two worlds in his dreams.

But this morning? He felt… rested. Warm and comfortable. Well, perhaps he was not totally comfortable. There was an ache in his lower back and hip. But he didn’t mind it. That was little more than a pleasant reminder of the events of the night before.

How the Warrior of Darkness had approached him. How they had spent the entire evening talking. And then as if the outcome was inevitable, how they had fallen onto the Exarch’s bed together. How they had removed each other’s clothes, held each other close, and then made love to each other in a haze of heat and passion.

It was an outcome that G’raha had never even dared to dream of before when the crux of his plan had hinged on his own self sacrifice. And yet, last night had most certainly happened. His Warrior. His Inspiration. His love. She had called out to him, and he gladly answered.

Before even looking at the chronometer, he reached out and felt along the bed beside him. His hand felt nothing except sheets. G’raha at last opened his eyes to look around himself on the bed. He was the only one there. For just a moment, he wondered if last night had been a dream after all. But…

G’raha inhaled deeply. He could still smell her on the sheets, along with the scent of sex. So, no… last night had most certainly happened. Once that was settled, G’raha stopped worrying.

A younger and more naive G’raha Tia probably would be panicking right now, scared out of his mind that she had come to regret their night together and had run away. She had made the first move on him, and he had simply responded to her.

He closed his eyes for a moment, reliving the memories of last night.


The Warrior of Darkness shimmied out of her small clothes while fixing him with a coy but inviting look. His eyes widened, hoping to take in and memorize every detail of this moment, to fix it in his memory forever. How did he come to have this force of nature in his chambers? The steps that had led to this moment were completely lost to him. It had simply happened.

G’raha’s hands started to itch. He longed to reach out, to caress her skin, to trace every scar that tracked along her body. But as he reached out, his eyes fell upon his crystallized arm. How could she, Hydaelyn’s beloved daughter, ever desire a half-man like himself?

Raha?” She asked. G’raha flinched. How long had it been since someone called him by his name, free from all clan association? Krile, perhaps? She who considered all of the Students of Baldesion to be her family, so she used familiar names for everyone. “If you do not wish to do this, I’m not going to force you into it.”

For a moment, G’raha almost laughed at the absurdity. How could he not wish for this? He had been dreaming of this for centuries. He had no doubt that he desired her… craved her. The only issue was his own worthiness. “I am not worthy to touch you, not as I am now.” G’raha said. “The need to touch you is a painful ache in my chest, and I long to relieve it, but...” G’raha clenched his fist.

Before he could finish, her hand found his. She gently took hold of his crystallized wrist, pulling his hand closer so that she could inspect it for a moment. Then she pulled his hand to her mouth, pressed a soft kiss to the crystal before pressing his palm to her breast. “Let no one tell you that you are unworthy.” She said. “Least of all yourself. I want you, G’raha Tia.” She pressed her free hand against the hardened member that was hidden beneath his robes. He released a strangled sound that was somewhere between a gasp of shock and a moan of pleasure. “And you want me as well. So, what are you waiting for? Claim what is yours.”

And that was all of the reassurances that he needed. He didn’t even take the time to take his robes off properly. Instead, he just pulled the entire outfit up and over his head in a single motion, tossing it to the ground. The final pieces of clothing fell off, and within moments of her words they were both naked and moving onto the bed together.

The Warrior of Darkness laid back against the pillows, allowing G’raha to hover over her. He met her eyes again, looking for any sign of hesitance. He found absolutely none. So he leaned down closer and pulled her into a demanding kiss. At the same time, he urged her legs to spread apart around his hips with a free hand, and she eagerly followed his wordless urgings, wrapping her legs around his waist to hold him close to her.

Please, Raha. Please.” She urged, shifting her hips up against his.

It was… wrong… to hear her begging so. She had been the most important person to him for a vast majority of his long life. If there was ever a thing that she desired, he would move heaven and earth for her to have it. All she had to do was ask, and he would give her anything without hesitation, even his own life. There was no need to beg him for his body.

And so he pushed aside every thought he had of prolonging the moment and shifted until he could plunge his member inside her. As she dug her fingernails into his back and panted happily against his cheek, G’raha thought that he might have made a mistake in allowing the situation to go this far.

After nearly three centuries of abstinence, he was already dangerously close to coming. He very much doubted that he would be able to last more than a few minutes. So when the Warrior heard his whispered pleading, she could not guess that he was praying to any of the gods that might be listening to please grant him the stamina that he knew once as a young man many years ago.

But it was all too much and he was powerless to resist it. After only a few minutes of sex, G’raha Tia came abruptly with a groan of intense disappointment in himself. The Warrior of Darkness fell silent, and G’raha could only guess at what she was thinking since he lacked the courage to meet her eyes.

Pathetic. He was utterly pathetic. A virgin probably would have performed better than he. It was terrible compared to his skills as a lover back in his youth before his centuries long sleep. In fact, while he was in his final relationship before he left Sharlayan for Mor Dhona, he and his currently lover had once found themselves making love with each other from dusk til dawn with hardly a break. He was a young man, whom G’raha had enjoyed his time with immensely. But at this moment, G’raha would give anything to have a night like that again, with his precious Warrior this time.

Oh no. Gods. Godsdamnit.” G’raha muttered through clenched teeth against her cheek. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

He was dreading what she was going to say to him. She would most likely say what a disappointment this ordeal was. She was going to say that taking an old man to bed was a mistake and that she needed someone who was younger and better able to keep up with her. To give her all of the pleasure that she desired.

He felt her hand on his cheek and he flinched like she had slapped him. And then a moment later, he realized that she had done no such thing. She was gently guiding his face so that he could see her eyes. When he did have the courage to look at her, he didn’t see disappointment in her expression, but a soft smile of understanding.

How long has it been for you, my dear?” She asked.

G’raha stared at her for a moment, for his heart started to pound when she called him her dear. “Since… since before our first meeting.” He answered softly.

Hmm.” She hummed softly in response, her lips and tongue blazing a hot and wet trail down his throat. “Don’t worry about it.” She whispered.

How could I not?” G’raha asked. “I want nothing more than to please you, but my godsdamned body...”

You can please me in other ways.” The Warrior of Darkness said. She placed a hand on his hip. “Roll over please. Let me be on top.” G’raha did so, rolling over and allowing her to take the place above him. As they moved, he slipped out of her body, and she released a small noise at the loss. G’raha’s ears pinned down to his scalp. “Raha, please, don’t worry overmuch about this. I figured that something like this would happen, but I don’t mind. Because I care about you, not just about the sort of sex I think we should have. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before.”

G’raha expected her to keep straddling his hips, perhaps to aim for getting him hard again. But he was shocked that she didn’t, nor did she move down his body. Instead, she began to shift forward on her knees, crawling up his body. She kept moving until her thighs rested on either side of his head and her sex was mere ilms from his face.

Raha...” She whispered, and G’raha knew what she was thinking when he met her eyes. Thankfully, he was well familiar with the process of pleasuring a partner with his mouth even after centuries, although he had never done so in a position like this. It had always been either with his partner sitting on the edge of a bed with him kneeling on the ground before them, or both of them laid out on the bed with him on top. Perhaps this position was to save his stamina by allowing him to continue reclining against the bed? Whatever the reason, he was pleased for the Warrior’s gentle understanding.

G’raha wasted no more time. He wrapped his arms around her thighs, guiding her even closer. Once she was close enough that she would be sitting on his face if she relaxed her legs, G’raha pressed his lips to her sex, delving in with his tongue. Oh gods, he had almost forgotten how wonderful a woman could taste.

Now she was releasing pleasured noises at a greater volume, and G’raha was relieved to discover that he could do this. This position did not strain his body, and the obscene sounds that she was making was more than enough to fuel his thirst for her.

The Warrior panted happily once again above him, canting her hips against his face to imitate sex. She glanced down between her thighs were G’raha was working his magic on her with his mouth and tongue. She was still here, and he was here with her, and she wanted to stay just like this forever.

His ears flicked as she dug her fingers into his hair, but somehow completely avoided touching his ears. Of course, it was not strictly polite to touch a Miqo’te’s ears without their permission as they were lesser erogenous zones. G’raha chuckled against her sex. Surely she had to know that the two of them were beyond this, and that he was certainly beyond feeling like there was anything she could ask for that he would be unwilling to give.

He took one hand off her thigh and found her hand, guiding her fingers to his ears. That seemed to be all the encouragement that she needed, for she started to rub his ears in earnest. G’raha groaned in pleasure, attempting to push his tongue inside her deeper and faster than before as a reward.

Ah. Ah. Raha… I love you.” The Warrior gasped between labored breaths.

For just a moment, G’raha froze. And then he pulled away from her sex, looking up at her to meet her eyes. She seemed to be nervous that the words slipped out of her mouth, but G’raha was not offended by her confession. Indeed, it seemed to bring new life into his body. Every part of his body, as it turned out. To his shock, he was hard again. But he would leave it be for now. This moment was about her, not about himself. “My precious Warrior… I love you too.” G’raha replied, pressing his tongue down hard on her clit.

That was enough for the Warrior, and she came with a soft moan. G’raha lapped up as much of her as he could in an attempt to minimize the mess they had made of the bed. When he finished, he turned his gaze back up towards her. She was leaning forward, her forehead pressed against the wall as she panted.

Haa… haa… you see, G’raha?” She gasped, looking down at him with a smile. “You are able to bring me pleasure after all.” Her legs trembled slightly as she began to scoot back down his body. Her backside came in contact with his erection, and she let out a noise of surprise, turning around at her waist to see that he was hard again. “And it seems that you are ready to go again too.” She said.

She lifted herself up on her hands and knees, went further down his body, and did not hesitate in taking him into her mouth. G’raha was so unaccustomed to this that he wailed at the contact, the feeling of pleasure almost overwhelmed him.

She pulled away from him briefly, giving him a moment to catch his breath. “Oh, my love, you are just too sensitive from having gone so long without a lover. But don’t worry, with time, we can fix that.”


G’raha Tia was dragged back into wakefulness by the chiming of his chronometer. It was about an hour until sunrise and he needed to get up if he was going to have time to shower before getting the day started. And he really needed a shower. If he did not, anyone with a sensitive nose would be able to smell the Warrior of Darkness on him.

So he reluctantly got out of bed and made his way into the attached restroom. He took a longer-than-normal shower to make sure that the smell of sex was gone before he returned to his room and got dressed in his robes.

Everyone in the Crystarium had their own special method of celebrating the return on night, but since G’raha was actually an early riser, his special method was to greet the sunrise. It was not very common, because it was far more common for people to gather for sunset or at midnight, but G’raha didn’t mind the solitude.

He left the Crystal Tower, giving a soft hello to the sleepy guard. The guard was only about fifteen minutes away from the end of his watch, and he was desperately looking forward to going to bed himself.

G’raha walked through the empty courtyard, past the Aetheryte plaza, and then to the base of the watchtower past the amaro pens. He began to walk up the stairs, taking his time a little more than usual. He had almost made it to the top when he slowed to a stop.

Someone had all ready climbed the watchtower. It was his Warrior, although she had not climbed up to the top. She had stopped one level down from the top, and was looking back at the Crystal Tower pensively instead of out over Lakeland, which G’raha was wont to do when he made the climb.

“My dear?” He called softly. The Warrior started at the sound of his voice, let out a little sniff and wiped at her eyes before turning around. She had been crying. He moved over to her and gently lowered himself down onto the ground next to her. She kept looking away from him, like she was trying to hide her tears from him. “My dear… my love? What is the matter?” He asked.

“Nothing.” The Warrior responded. G’raha sighed.

“You do not need to hide anything from me.” G’raha said softly, moving closer to her and pulling her into an embrace. He couldn’t help but notice that she grew stiff in his arms. “If something is wrong, please tell me. I will do everything in my power to help you feel better.” For several minutes, she did not respond. “My love?”

“When I… first came to this world… you told me that the flow of time is different between this world and the Source.”

“That is normally the case. But just before I was able to summon you to the First, the rift entered a period of calm. The changes in time are small enough to be noticeable, and if past experience is anything to judge by, it will remain that way for several months yet.” G’raha said. “Are you worried about events on the Source? I could scry events for you, or I could send you back there immediately.”

“No, that’s not it. I just wanted to know if it is the same day back on the Source as it is here on the First.” The Warrior said. G’raha nodded. “Then it is the anniversary of the day.” G’raha cocked his head slightly to the side, confused. Anniversary of what day? “The day that… you locked yourself inside the Crystal Tower.”

G’raha blinked, shocked. To be honest, after a century had past, he had completely forgotten the exact day that he had locked himself inside the Tower. The day had not been on his mind at the time. His thoughts had been about the future, his destiny, and his regret of leaving everyone and everything behind.

“It’s been five years now.” The Warrior said.

“I...” G’raha paused. It was clear to him now that leaving had given her a deep scar. He had no idea it would hurt her at the time. He had been in love with her, but from his perspective, she had just considered him a friend. Looking back on it now, from this moment, he could see that he was utterly wrong. It didn’t matter if she loved him or not back then. She mourned the loss of her friends just as deeply as those that she had relationships with. “I’m so sorry.”

The Warrior shrugged. “You’ve done nothing to apologize for.”

“But I have. I had no idea that my leaving you behind would hurt you so...” But he trailed off when the Warrior spoke again.

“But that’s just it, isn’t it?” She asked. “You did nothing wrong to me, because it was not you who left me behind. It was him. The G’raha Tia who is still asleep in the Tower back on the Source. I’ve been… kept up by the thought all night. Does it not disturb you to think that I am not your Warrior of Light. The Warrior of Light that you once knew is dead and buried somewhere in your… alternate timeline, or however you want to call it.”

To be honest, G’raha had never really thought of it that way, because he did not think about the existence of two G’raha Tias that often. It only mattered to him because that was the thing that was keeping him trapped on the First. And he did not consider himself to be much different from G’raha Tia. He was just the man that G’raha Tia had grown into.

But now that he was thinking about it, he couldn’t deny that there was some reason to give pause over her words. Before he had left the Source behind forever, he had made one last journey to her tomb. He had leaned against the monument and wept until he physically couldn’t anymore. That was the Warrior of Light that he had loved. This woman had known a different G’raha Tia who would now walk a very different path from the Crystal Exarch.

“I am still G’raha Tia.” He said. “I may be a different person now, but the path that I once walked is identical to the G’raha that you once knew.”

“How can you know that?” The Warrior asked.

G’raha Tia sighed. Well… the only way to prove that was to share his memories with her, to prove that they remembered the same events. G’raha considered for a moment, before settling on a memory with a small laugh. “I remember… back when we were all camping at Saint Coinach’s Find… one day I was reading outside by tent with my bow on the ground next to me. You walked through the camp, talking to Cid, and you tripped over my bow and fell flat on your face.” He smiled at the memory. “You were livid at me. I think I had worn down the last onze of your patience. For over an hour, you chased me all over Mor Dhona. I was faster than you, but you had me far outclassed when it came to endurance running. I had run all the way to the Fogfens when my stamina ran out and I collapsed on the ground, unable to run another step. You caught up to me. You were not even breathing hard. Part of me expected that you were about the beat the living shite out of me, but you just said...”

“Don’t leave your things for other people to trip on, you fool of a scholar.” The Warrior of Light finished softly.

G’raha smiled at her and nodded with a laugh. “And then you picked me up and carried me all the way back to Saint Coinach’s Find as if I were a blushing bride! The people of Revenant’s Toll came to believe that I was a legend! They had seen you chasing me through the town with murder in your eyes, and when next they saw me I was being cradled in your arms!” G’raha laughed. “They said that I was the only person they knew of that had survived your wrath.”

Besides providing her part of the story, the Warrior had not spoken, nor did she speak now. She seemed to be lost in thought. G’raha sighed. Perhaps it was not enough? After all, nothing could change the fact that he was a different G’raha than the one she knew, no matter how many stories they shared.

Was it possible… that she had come to regret the night they had spent together? After all, she had slept with G’raha Tia… but it was not her G’raha Tia.

“You… miss him? The other G’raha Tia, I mean?” He asked. Her silence was all the answer he needed.

G’raha Tia sighed. He had sworn that he would do anything to make her happy, and now he had to prove it. As much as it would hurt him, he had to fulfill her wish. But he couldn’t be too sad about it. He had one night with her, and that would be enough to sustain him for millennia to come. “I… do not have the power to return to the Source to open the Crystal Tower doors for you, but… I could supply you with the necessary technology to open the Tower doors back on the Source. I could… reunite you with him, if that is what you desire.”

She let out a soft sob, and turned to embrace him, pulling him into a hug that was so tight it almost drove the air from his lungs. “What I desire? What I desire is an end to my own conflicted feelings. Because the G’raha Tia that I left behind on the Source is very important to me, but I fell in love with you. When he eventually wakes up… will he be hurt that I fell in love with someone, whether or not he ever learns that the person I fell in love with is an alternate version of him?”

“Oh, my love… I can tell you with authority that he will not be hurt by that.” G’raha said, pressing his face into her hair. “Because I was not hurt when I woke up to learn of those who you became close with. All I had ever wanted was for you to be happy, and if you were happy with someone else, it made me happy. I knew the consequences of my actions when I sealed myself away in the Crystal Tower. I knew that you would be dead by the time I woke up. So, no… I was not hurt that you found love and comfort with others.”

The Warrior sniffled again, but this time she did not hide her tears. She gave him a watery smile. “I’m so sorry that I worried you so. But this day always makes me a little sad, and what happened between the two of us last night only made all of those feelings worse.”

“I understand. There is nothing to be sorry for.” G’raha whispered.

“I love you, G’raha Tia. I really do love you.” She leaned into his chest.

“I love you too, don’t ever doubt that.”

Chapter Text

G’raha Tia was once well familiar with the vice of vanity. Back when he still lived with his tribe as a child, he had never suspected that he would one day become vain. Despite the fact that hetro-chromatic eyes were normally considered a sign of good luck for those who bore them, for his cousins and half-siblings, his eyes served only to drive them away. G’raha’s eyes had given him slightly more attention from their Nuhn than children normally received and he was resented for it.

But it did not take him long after leaving the tribe behind him to realize that he was looked at a much different way outside of his little family tribe. The Students of Baldesion knew at a glance that he was of a bloodline that could trace back to Allag, and he was greatly admired for it.

And then came the attention of a more… salacious nature.

His short stature forever qualified him as being ‘cute’, but as he entered his teenage years, it became clear to all that G’raha Tia was a very handsome young man. And once G’raha realized this, he took full advantage. What teenage boy, when offered the sexual attention of his fellow students, wouldn’t partake?

So he had once spent his days torn between the activities of study and preening himself, all the better to make himself more irresistible to others. But… those days were a long time in the past for him. It had been a century since he stopped being concerned with drawing attention to himself, and a couple of decades since he came to believe that no one would be interested in him anyway.

Certainly, he could pass as a younger man if he kept his hood up. But now that he was going without his hood more often than not, the signs of his age were there for everyone to see. Everyone could see that his hair was well on it’s way to turning gray. And not just his hair. Since learning that he was a Mystel, the best seamstress in the Crystarium (who happened to be Mystel herself, insisted on altering all of the Exarch’s robes to allow for his tail. She, like all of the Mystel in the Crystarium, were horrified to learn that he had been keeping his tail wrapped tightly around his waist for a century. “How could you stand it, my Lord?” She asked, while she added tail holes to each of his robes. “Tails are not meant to be hidden like that. You are very lucky that your tail did not atrophy and fall off.”

Now his tail was on display as well. It had not atrophied and fallen off, but it was even more gray than his hair. There was only a slight dusting of red fur left to his tail.

The people of the Crystarium had attempted to be polite about his appearance, but G’raha knew that they were just being polite. They did, however, genuinely seem pleased that he was not hiding his appearance any longer, and all seemed to believe that if they said anything negative about how he looked he would go back to hiding under a hood.

But such shallow insults wouldn’t drive him to hiding, because he knew that he was well beyond the age of vanity. He was a wise and mature leader now, a grandfather figure to many of the Crystarium, and certainly not one to attract sexual attention from anyone.

The Warrior of Darkness, however, was still in her prime, and she was certainly not immune to vanity. G’raha knew that her vanity came out in one way. Once in the early moments of her adventures, she had come to the aid of Eorzea’s most famous Aesthetician. As thanks, he now made time for her in his busy schedule almost on demand, and she took advantage of it. About once a month or so, she would radically change her hairstyle. He had seen it back when they investigated the Crystal Tower together… every time he had seen her it had been with a new hairstyle. And he saw it now during her time on the First. She did not return to the Source very often, but when she did she always came back with a new hairstyle.

G’raha was more than used to it. Let the young enjoy the vigor of youth and vanity. In fact, he took great entertainment in seeing her new look every time. And wondering what sort of magic that aesthetician employed that would allow her to have short hair one day and then long, flowing locks the next.

He was a man whose magic could reach across the expanse of time and space, and he was utterly stumped by the magic that her aesthetician worked on her hair!

In fact, he was currently waiting on what hairstyle he would see on her next. She had briefly returned to the Source and, since a few weeks had passed since the last time, G’raha knew that he would see an entirely new look on her. All he had to do was wait for the slight drain on his personal aether that would signal the activation of the spell that allowed her to travel back and forth.

It did not take long. G’raha had just set aside a book that was an entirely dull read on the ties twixt aether and soul, when he felt the telltale signs of his spell activating. Grinning, the Exarch pushed the book away and stood to cross over into the Ocular to greet his champion, and to see what she had done to herself this time.

He pushed open the door. “Welcome back, my friend, how was your...” G’raha took a glance at her and gasped. He gasped so hard that he nearly inhaled his own saliva and he fell to his knees, choking.

“Oh no! G’raha, are you all right?” She asked, rushing to his side. She sounded perfectly concerned, but G’raha could tell her true feelings from the look on her face. She was grinning. She was very pleased with herself for eliciting this exact response from him.

“I’m fine. I’m fine.” G’raha insisted. “My friend, what...”

“So, is that a good reaction, or a bad one?” She asked, curling a finger around a lock of her hair. “Jandelaine was skeptical, but I think that he was pleased with the final result. Do I not look… distinguished?”

Distinguished… was one way to put it. There were now streaks of gray through her hair, standing in stark contrast to her normal hair color. “I… well...” G’raha began. Whenever he had looked at himself in the mirror, he had only seen an old man with graying hair. But on her, it made her look… mature. He realized at that moment that she was no longer very young herself. Certainly not the woman barely out of her teenage years that he first knew her as. Now he knew… she was beautiful and would always be beautiful to him, even with gray streaks. “It’s certainly… different. But you… it suits you.”

“It suits both of us, I think.” She said with a smile. She reached over, briefly carding her fingers through his hair. G’raha froze in shock, and then relaxed into the caress. “Now, come.” It took all of G’raha’s substantial willpower to not give her the sort of cheeky reply he would have in his youth, but by some act of the gods, he managed to keep his mouth shut. “I have news from the Source.”

“Of… of course, my friend.” G’raha replied with a strained voice. This was going to be a long month.

Chapter Text

Without anyone having to say anything, it was agreed by the whole of the Crystarium that they would not hold a party to celebrate the defeat of all of the Lightwardens in Norvrandt until the Crystal Exarch had recovered from his injuries. After all, their beloved leader had played a major role in events, although only a handful knew of the full extent of his involvement, so he deserved a place in the celebrations as well.

G’raha was bemused by the delay, as he still saw himself as incredibly unworthy of the praise that was heaped upon him for a plan that, by all rights, had failed at the last crucial moment leaving his dear friend to clean up his mess. However, despite his misgivings that he was unworthy, G’raha would never deny his people the chance to celebrate their salvation, and they refused to do anything until he could be present. So G’raha kept his feelings to himself and allowed the people of the Crystarium to do as they pleased.

Thankfully, G’raha recovered at a rate that was much faster than normal given the severity of his wounds. Within a few days the worst of his wounds had closed, and by the end of the week it was as if nothing bad had befallen him at all. And so the Crystarium made preparations to party all night long.

As was expected, G’raha made his appearances. For the first time, he addressed all of the people of the Crystarium with no cowl, no disguise. In his speech, he spoke the truth about himself, although not the whole truth. The existence of other worlds was still a secret that needs must be kept, but he briefly mentioned the century old plan, but mostly of how the Warrior of Darkness had saved him and saved them all.

No longer would he be the Crystal Exarch, towering over all of his people as a paragon without flaws or peer. He revealed himself as just a man, who could make mistakes just as any of them. But, he vowed to them to do better. To give everything of himself to help guide the world towards a future that they all wished for.

When G’raha finished with is speech, everyone had applauded , and many people called out for the Warrior of Darkness to speak next. She had changed greatly since he had known her during the exploration of the Crystal Tower, but her shyness in front of large crowds had not changed. G’raha knew that even the gods could not force her up on stage, and he was no god so what hope could he have to force her to make speeches.

Thankfully, Alphinaud was a veritable wellspring of speeches, so he took the stage in the Warrior’s place, speaking on her and the other Scion’s behalves. At the time, it seemed that people were no longer paying any attention to the Crystal Exarch. The people of the Crystarium were either paying attention to Alphinaud, or they were several tankards into their celebration.

And, for the first time in centuries, G’raha felt like he wanted a drink as well. Everything had turned out far better than he could ever dream thanks to the heroic efforts of the Warrior, so didn’t he deserve to finally open up the Crystal Tower’s wine cellar to enjoy the Allagan Emperor’s personal wine stores?

Drinking among the people was absolutely out of the question. It had been centuries since G’raha had last drank spirits, but if his memory served him correctly he was rather more talkative when he was drunk. What was that old Limsan saying? Loose lips sinks ships. The last thing he needed was to get drunk and let something slip about the Source or about his true origins.

Thankfully, the Crystal Tower had plenty of privacy to offer for G’raha to get drunk and enjoy the night in peace. He turned and walked away with only one person watching as he left and entered the Crystal Tower.

The Warrior of Darkness watched G’raha turn and leave, concerned. She longed to follow him, just to make sure that he was all right. “Do you think the Exarch is all right?” She asked whichever Scion happened to be standing at her side. She didn’t look to see who it was.

“Hmm?” Oh, it was Thancred. “Did he go somewhere?”

“He’s gone back to the Tower.” The Warrior clarified. “Do you think that something is wrong?”

Thancred turned and glanced up at the Tower. To be honest, he was a couple of tankards in and so he was not feeling up to stepping into the minefield that was the complicated relationship between the Warrior and the Exarch. “He’s probably just tired. He seems to be recovered, but he was shot in the back a week ago, and he keeps claiming old age.” Thancred hummed thoughtfully. “Yes, he is probably just turning in for the night.”

“But he doesn’t need to sleep anymore… or, at the very least, he only needs to sleep but rarely.” The Warrior countered.

Let him be for the moment.” Thancred urged. “If he truly needed aid, he would have asked for it.”

T he Warrior, however, was less than sure. Perhaps the old G’raha that she once knew would ask for aid. But the Crystal Exarch was a man who was plenty different from the scholar she once knew. He was more secretive, he kept things closer to the vest. Even knowing he was walking towards his own death didn’t convince him to ask for her aid. But, she also had no desire to invade his privacy. She decided to give him some time, but to check on him later, just in case.


(Inside the Crystal Tower)

G’raha Tia made his way through the crystalline halls of the Crystal Tower until he made his way to the Emperor’s personal wine cellar. He was more of an expert in the general history of Allag before the Crystal Tower, and once he was infused with the ancient memories of the Allag royal family he had learned a great many more things about the history and daily life of the Empire, but learning wine vintages had not been one of those things that was passed unto him.

So he felt just a little bit lost in the wine cellar, walking down the aisles and pulling bottles down at random to read the labels. Eventually, he decided to just pick a wine at random. This wine was, after all, meant for the Emperor and there was no way that the Emperor would allow anything less than a superb vintage in his personal stock.

So he grabbed a bottle of red wine, and searched around a little longer until he found a wine glass. He popped the cork and poured himself a generous helping. He took a quick sniff of the wine as one last check to make sure that it had not fermented into pure alcohol, and then took a small sip.

G’raha was rather pleased with his choice. He was no expert when it came to wine. Back before he had sealed himself away in the Crystal Tower, he had been drawn more to the more common beers and ales, but even he had to admit that this wine was very pleasant. The taste of alcohol was fairly strong, but not overwhelming.

But, as G’raha would soon learn, taste could be deceiving. For Miqo’te on the whole had a rather low tolerance for alcohol and, despite his royal linage, G’raha Tia was still fully Miqo’te and not Allagan in any meaningful way. The wine, which would probably be little more than a dinner wine for Allagans, would be strong enough to knock most of the races alive today through a loop. And then there was G’raha himself, who had the Miqo’te low tolerance for alcohol and three centuries of abstinence working against him. All of this worked together so that he was buzzed by the time he finished his first glass, and was well on his way to being drunk by the time he reached the bottom of his second.

G’raha swayed on unsteady legs as he made his way back through the halls of the Crystal Tower back to the Ocular and from there through the secret door to the Umbilicus. There he would have all the privacy to be drunk that he needed. He sat down on his reading chair, took a long gulp of wine, and settled in to enjoy the long-forgotten sensation of being absolutely drunk.


It was nearing midnight when the Warrior once again became concerned about G’raha’s absence. And it was not just her, many of the people of the Crystarium had commented on their disappeared leader. The free-flowing alcohol was making the people just a little bit paranoid for G’raha’s safety, but then again, G’raha had recently been kidnapped from them and held hostage by the enemy.

And so it was that the Warrior decided to venture into the Tower, just to check and make sure that everything was okay. Hells, she wasn’t even sure she could find him. The Tower was a vast place, and there were many nooks and crannies that she had never explored while he had every opportunity to map the place from top to bottom over the last century. If G’raha did not want to be found for some reason, she knew that she would never find him.

She walked up the steps of the tower, pushed open the doors, and then walked inside. Everything seemed to be normal and quite. First things first, she decided to check the Ocular since that is normally where she found him. She had walked the path many times before, so she made her way there quickly.

She opened the door and saw that the door to the Umbilicus was left open. She crossed the cold crystal floor and looked into G’raha’s private study. He was in the Umbilicus, and the sight that met her was silly enough that she almost laughed.

Who would have ever guessed that the Exarch had taken his leave of the party to get drunk alone. He reclined on an arm chair, a drunken flush across his face, cradling a bottle of wine to his chest as if it were the most precious of infants. If the bottle had been nearly opened, then he had all ready drank a fair bit of him by himself.

He slowly looked up as she entered, a smile forming on his face a little late as it took him a few seconds to realize who had joined him. “My friend...” He slurred, tried to stand to greet her and almost tipped over.

The Warrior gasped in shock, and rushed forward to catch him before he could fall. He almost seemed to be trying to fall, and she had to practically lift him up off the ground so that she could get his feet under him properly. Thankfully, years of combat had given her plenty of strength to do so. “Oh no, G’raha. Are you all right? You must be really drunk.”

Very very drunk.” G’raha conceded. “I wanted to get drunk, but I’ve been...” He paused as he lost the words. “It’s been a long time.” He finally finished, nodding with satisfaction at his own phrasing.

The Warrior reached around and pulled the wine bottle out of G’raha’s hand. He let out a little whine of dismay as she took it, but gave no further protest as she set it on the table. It really should be corked and stored immediately, but she had to take care of G’raha first. Friend first, and then worry about making sure his wine was not ruined.

She put an arm around his body, attempting to take a majority of his weight to help him walk. Even that did not help. He seemed to be trying to fall in every direction except into her body. “Forgive me for this, my friend.” She said.

Always.” G’raha slurred in answer, and then gasped in surprise as she bent down a little, picked his legs out from under him, and cradled him in her secure grip. There would never be a place in the world that he would much rather be than in the Warrior’s arms, but he didn’t have the luxury of enjoying it. The change in position caused the world to spin and he had to press his face against her neck with his eyes firmly closed to stop from feeling sick.

The Warrior knew that he did this because of a sudden bout of nausea, but she still took a moment to relish the puff of his hot breath against the sensitive skin of her throat, the warm and reassuring weight of him in her arms, his fingers tight grip on her shoulders which could almost be a hug.

“I’m sorry. I feel better now.” G’raha told her after several moments.

The Warrior moved out of the Umbilicus slowly, making every attempt to make the ride as smooth for him as possible. Once she stepped out of the Ocular, however, she realized that she had no idea where the Exarch had a bed, if he even had claimed a bedroom for his own. “Do you have a place you like to sleep?” She asked.

“I don’t sleep much anymore, but I’ll do it… sometimes.” G’raha muttered, looking around. He glanced back at the Ocular, and then both ways down the corridor for several moments. As familiar with the tower as he is, drunk he needed to get his bearings. Finally, after a long moment, he pointed down the corridor that led away from the tower’s entrance. “More into the tower, at the end go up the stairs.”

It took a lot longer than it should have for them to make their way to the Exarch’s bedroom. It took G’raha many long moments at each branching path to make a decision about where to go, and once she had been most of the way down a hallway before he sheepishly admitted that he’d given her the wrong directions and she needed to turn the opposite way at the last intersection. The Warrior was patient, however. He couldn’t help it, being as drunk as he was.

While she walked, he continued to press his face against her neck, perhaps even nuzzling his nose against her skin a little, while muttering words that she could not understand. She let him do as he wished, although her heart was melting at how adorable he was being.

Finally, he pointed to indicate a lone door at the end of a hallway. The Warrior nudged the door open with her foot and glanced around. She couldn’t help but be curious to see his personal bedroom. She was not really surprised to see that most of the room was decorated rather simply. If it were not for the massive four-poster bed that had obviously remained for being far too much trouble to remove, one would never think that this was the room of the caretaker of this lonely palace. There were a couple of chairs, a writing desk, and more stacks of tomes.

The Warrior moved over towards the bed, halfway crawled onto it, before she deposited G’raha down on the soft mattress. “ Thank you.” He muttered softly. As she began to pull away, however, G’raha reached out and took her hand in his. “Wait. Where are you going?” He asked.

“I’m going to bed too.” The Warrior answered. “It is past midnight now.”

“But there is no reason for you to leave. Just stay here with me.” With a strength that she barely suspected he possessed, he tightened his grip on her hand slightly and pulled her down onto the mattress next to him. The Warrior gasped in shock. This was certainly surprising, although not nearly as surprising as the next words that he spoke. “You know that you can share my bed anytime. We have before, have we not?”

The Warrior squeaked in shock. They most certainly had not shared a bed before. “I...I don’t remember that.” She said softly.

G’raha stared at her, confused for a moment, before he laughed to himself. “Ah. It must’ve been one of my dreams, then.”

She stared back at him, now equally confused. He’d had dreams of us sharing a bed? She thought to herself.

“If that is the case, I’ll tell you now. You are always welcome in my bed.” He muttered. Pulling her hand up and closer to his mouth so that he could press soft kisses to the inside of her wrist. “My Warrior...” Another kiss. “My Inspiration...” His hot breath against the sensitive skin of her wrist sent goosebumps crawling across her flesh and a pleasant throb of need between her thighs. “My dearest Love.”

S he was entirely conflicted. He was drunk, and part of her wondered if she should pull away from him right now, let him sleep it off and pretend this had never happened. He likely would not even remember this. But when she looked into his eyes, she saw not the drunk ravings of a man so consumed with lust that he would profess love just for the sake of sex. She saw lust there, but she also saw love in his eyes. She had seen that sort of love directed at her before, from a long lost lover.

She couldn’t deny that she wanted this. Gods, she was starting to throb just from his kisses on her wrist. Such was her affection for him that he barely needed to do anything to her, only the faintest hint of offering sex, and her body was getting ready for him.

“G’raha...” She gasped as she made her decision. He stopped kissing her skin and gazed up at her. She moved closer to him, letting out a light moan as her thighs moved against each other and she could already feel the wetness building up there. Already so slick and ready for him. She gave him a smile before she leaned down and pressed her lips against his. It did not take him long at all to encourage her with his teeth and tongue to deepen the kiss, to part her lips for him so that he may slip his tongue inside her mouth to meet hers.

She couldn’t stand it any more. She shoved her left hand down into her small clothes, first running her fingers liberally against the lips of her sex to coat them with her own fluids before she plunged two fingers inside herself.

G’raha stopped kissing her at her moan of delight, his eyes drifting down to see that she had her hand pressed against her crotch, her hips canting slightly and she moved her fingers in and out of her body.

“What wonderful ideas you have, my love.” He whispered. With fumbling fingers, he removed the clasp that held his ornate golden belt around his waist. She watched, still panting and gasping as she continued to pleasure herself, as he removed the belt and held it out to the side, dropping it off the edge of the bed. Without the belt, it was easy for him to pull his robes up to expose his lower body. He was not quite hard within his small clothes yet, but that would change soon. He took a page from her book, pushed his flesh hand under his small clothes and ran his fingers up and down his hardening shaft.

The Warrior flushed as she watched him pleasure himself. She never realized that mutual masturbation could be so godsdamned sexy. She arched her back, pushing her fingers deeper into her body. As she delved in, she brushed against the spot deep inside her that had her thighs trembling, and as she pulled out, she made sure to brush her fingers against her clit. “Oh… Gods… G’raha...” She moaned between pants.

“Raha… please… just Raha.” G’raha panted in response. Oddly enough, once he was actually hard, he stopped masturbating, and seemed to have become fixated on what she was doing. Perhaps he wanted a show? She had just enough alcohol in her that she was willing to oblige him.

“Okay… Raha.” She said, groaning in slight disappointment as she stopped masturbating for the moment. She pulled her hand out of her small clothes, her fingers coated with her fluid. She popped her index finger in her mouth to lick it off before she had to take off her clothes, but before she could do the same for her middle finger, G’raha took her hand in his once again.

“Save some for me.” He said with a grin before he licked her fluid off her finger for her.

She rewarded him with a kiss, tasting her flavor still in his mouth, before she pulled away and began to pull off her clothes. She did so as quickly as possible because her sex was still throbbing and she longed to keep going. Within a minute, she was completely naked and had sat upon his thighs. She smiled at him lustfully before she leaned back slightly, giving him a nice view of her sex. “Like what you see, Raha?”

“Always.” He gasped when her fingers once again drifted down to her sex so that she could resume pleasuring herself. He watched greedily as her fingers sank in between her lips, and imagining his cock there instead.

Her moans grew louder, as she coated a third finger with her slick before add it to the fingers fucking her sex. Now G’raha couldn’t take it anymore. He didn’t even care about his erection anymore. He just wanted to see her come apart at his hand.

“My love… my love...” He called to her, to get her attention over the sounds of her moans and panting. “Please… let me...” He sat up and reached down between them, placing his hand on top of the one that was currently knuckle deep inside her body.

“Fuck yes, please.” The Warrior moaned, pulling her fingers out of her sex, and pressing his hand against her. G’raha smiled and did as she did, first allowing his fingers to acquire a coat of her slick, before he pressed them inside her. One finger at first, and then quickly joined by another.

She had gotten even louder than before. Whereas before she was merely panting and moaning softly, now she was fully crying out for him, her hips moving with his fingers, and her hands buried into his hair until she found his ears.

The Warrior moved eagerly against his fingers and his body. Oh fucking gods, it just felt so right. He didn’t have any issues finding that spot deep inside her, and his fingers, thicker than her own, was giving her the fullness that she was craving. It had been so long since last she had been touched by any but her own hand that she had almost forgotten what a difference another hand could make.

The Warrior cried out in pleasure as his mouth sealed itself around her right nipple. Even if it had been a century for him, he was obviously a very skilled lover because between his hand working between her thighs and his mouth and tongue playing with her breasts, she was very quickly approaching her peak.

But…

Raha… Raha… wait. Please wait.” The Warrior gasped, reaching down to take hold of his wrist so that he had to stop thrusting his fingers inside her.

He looked up at her, obviously confused, but all too willing to obey her every whim.

Raha, please answer me truthfully. Are you too drunk to make a very important decision?”

It took a while for him to answer. For several moments, he just stared at her. “I am… still a little drunk.” He said. Was it her imagination, or was he slurring slightly less than before? “The Tower, as always, heals my ills, and that seems to include being drunk. So… I am not completely addled… at least not from the wine.” He gave her a small crooked smile. “However, I will freely admit that I am now entirely addled by you.” His fingers, still between her legs, curled up to run along her sex. She gasped, arching her back and pressing closer to him.

Raha, I’m being serious.”

His fingers stopped as he once again considered her question. “My thoughts are my own and not sorely due to the wine.” He finally answered.

Then answer me this last question… do you want to have sex with me?” She asked.

I have only wanted to do so for over a hundred years.” G’raha answered. “I want to press you down against this mattress… feel the slide of your skin against mine. I want to hold you down and fuck you until the only thing you can say is my name.” The Warrior began to pant hungrily as his words sparked her imagination. “Wait… no… that’s not right.” He suddenly corrected, and the Warrior gasped when he helped her fall sideways on the mattress, and he shifted their bodies until he was above her pressing her down against the mattress like he said. The Warrior cried out and canted her hips against his when his cock rubbed against her throbbing sex. “I want to make love to you, because that is exactly what I feel for you.” He kissed her, and she eagerly met his passion with her own. “Oh… my Warrior. I have loved you for so long . Please allow me to give you the gift of a hundred years of love and passion.”

Please, Raha. Please.” The Warrior begged. He shifted his hips slightly so that his cock pressed against her entrance and with a single easy thrust, her body eagerly accepted him. The Warrior let out a loud, erotic moan, wrapping both her arms and legs around his body to keep him as close to her as possible. “Oh gods, Raha… Gods, I love you.”

The Warrior had read fanciful descriptions of sex in romance novels before, often using the phrase that the two lovers “fit together perfectly”. She had always thought that such a phrase was little more than purple prose. However, there was little other way for her to describe the feeling of G’raha Tia inside her body. He just… fit her perfectly. His member was large enough that he hit all of her sensitive places, and yet not so large that he had caused her pain.

When the moan finally died in her throat, she turned her attention to Raha… her lover. His eyes were clo sed and, even though Seekers of the Sun lacked the fangs common to their nocturnal kin, he had bared his teeth in a sort of feral snarl.

His facial expression relaxed and he took several deep breathes, giving little thrusts into her body in time with the throbs of her sex around his cock. “Apologies.” He whispered harshly. “Sometimes the instincts of a Nuhn can hit hard in moments like this.”

So… you mean to breed me, G’raha Tia?” She asked.

I… I… no! Of course not! I just...” G’raha gave a mighty groan into her throat, starting to thrust into her body in earnest, while giving the lightest of bites to her shoulder. But even as she began to pant loudly as he started to fuck her for real, she could still hear the words muttered against the skin of her shoulder. And she could tell that he was holding back.

Give me everything, Raha. I want it all. All of you. All of this.” She clenched down around him, and he nearly wailed at the sensation. “All of your love, and your base instincts too. Trust me. I can handle it.”

G’raha moaned. “I know you can, my love.” He gave a few more soft bites into the muscle of her shoulder as he built up the courage to do as his instincts demanded, all the while continuing to send her up to the stars from the pleasure he was giving her.

Finally, with a feral snarl, he finally bit her in earnest. She was so entranced by him that she could no longer distinguish between pain and pleasure, so the bite was brought with it a moment of pure ecstasy. She very nearly came from that alone. She dug her fingers into his back, gasping out his name between harsh breaths.

G’raha did not remove his teeth from her shoulder, biting down on her as he continued to thrust inside her, chasing his high and hers as well. Without fangs, he would not break her skin, but it would definitely leave a mark that would be visible for days if she choose to wear outfits that exposed her shoulder.

Oh fuck, Raha. Please.” She did not need to beg any further because G’raha was in complete agreement with her. All he wanted was more. More everything. Feeling more of her body, thrusting into her faster and harder until they both came apart, and more of her song of pleasure.

Yes, my dearest love.” G’raha replied, and spoke no more because he devoted himself fully to the task at hand. His hand formed a tighter grip on her hip and he began to push faster and harder into the inviting heat of her body, chasing all of the pleasure they could share between them. No more words were spoken by either of them, expect for gasps, pants, cries and moans of pleasure, and each other’s names repeated like a sacred prayer.

Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity in the clouds, the Warrior of Light reached her climax not a few seconds before he achieved his. They held each other close through their orgasms, panting and sweating and completely satisfied.

Once the Warrior had regained some semblance of who and where she was, she wrapped her arms around G’raha’s chest, pulling him down so that he could lay atop her body while he recovered. She caressed his face, running her fingers through his hair, and rubbed his ears. He hummed in appreciation, turning his head to give her better access to said ears. “Thank you, my love, for this gift.” He spoke softly, scooting down just slightly so that he could press kisses to her breasts.

Ah.” She gasped. Is he all ready thinking about going again? She wondered to herself. “Oh no, Raha… the gift was equally shared between us. Trust me.”

The Warrior of Light’s thoughts were answered when she felt G’raha’s fingers once again between her thighs. She moaned, almost to the point of being too sensitive, but not quite there. She had another round in her.

The wine bottle that was left abandoned in the Umbilicus would be ruined in the morning, but neither of them would mind. A night of sex and passion and love was more than worth one bottle of wine.