[RO] our lady underground
It had taken him weeks to gather the supplies but seeing Vodeva return with Rand on her arm and a collection of Alcolytes had forced him back out into the cold.

The cold. It was a constant companion that lingered in every corner of his life; from the wrinkles in his bed furs to the dust that lined his shelves. The cold was deep. The cold was lonely.

It worked its way like a collection of whispers through the quiet places of his heart. It sought out the warmth he had felt in his life and sought to stamp it out, one frosty tendril at a time.

Sometimes he dreamt of Vodeva. She was a silvery vision who hid away from him beneath a gauzy veil which made it difficult to make out her curves. Each time he thought he would catch her in his arms she was like water through his fingers.

Odalis was worse. She caught each time as if he were some effigy of old, burnt to charcoal that was stamped out into smoke.

Bryony groaned behind him as the King lead him through a stance of leaning birch trees, the few remaining silvery leaves rustling as they passed. The stallion had been packed with three small bags which hung across his shoulders and a larger roll which sat across his rump. Iomair had collected what he could for Odalis and his child, and though the redheaded woman had not said… some part of him understand that he would not see them again. Not after this.

He wasn’t surprised to find her perched on a gnarled log; one hand hidden in the long sleeve of her sweater, the other holding a cigarette that trailed smoke.

”Odalis,” The King called, halting his horse with a hum, ”I hope that you did not wait long.”

She had a horse with her that he could make out through the brush, its sides painted in pinto.

She shrugged and rose, gently leaning to kiss his stubbled cheek.

”It has not been so terrible.”

The exchange was swift. Business like. She collected the items carefully and attached them to her horse with swift moving hands.

”Where is the child?”

”I left her behind. The horse was too much for her.”

"Mm." He smoothed his beard, "And you'll be off then? You said your family was moving on to avoid the worst of winter."

Odalis patted the animal and returned to stand alongside the King. "I'm afraid so."

Iomair reached for her, pulling her smaller form into the hollow in his side. She was warm, just like he remembered.

"Thank you for everything." She kissed him softly and he murred, smoothing the pretty fall of her ember ears.

"I want you to take one more thing." She raised an eye brow at him and he shook his head, instead pulling an iron token from his pocket that was similar to his own. "Please, take this and give it to her. For protection. From me."

She accepted it diplomatically, but he wondered if it would ever make it to his dappled child.

They embraced for a final time before parting ways, and he watched the flame clad woman knee her horse into a gallop that saw her headed West.

(///) | NPCs: Odalis

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