Following a tip from two helpful individuals, Valeria enters the Asylum Danceclub, looking around in search of Jenner.
Catching sight of her, Jenner runs to her. "VALERIA!" He hoists her up in the air and embraces her fiercely.
Val hugs him in turn. "JENNER!"
Looking embarrassed as he sets her down, Jenner clears his throat and says, "Forgive me if I seem a bit overzealous. Val..." He is at a loss for words.
"It's okay," responds Val with a smile. "I missed you too."
Regaining his composure, Jenner looks about the room. "Shall we stay here, or do you think that Pix's would be more appropriate?"
Val shrugs. "It might be quieter...there were only two people there when I left..."
"Let us be off, then," Jenner responds. He goes to the Tavern and awaits the arrival of Val.
Val enters the tavern and goes to Jenner. "It's been a long time..."
"It's been too long, Val," Jenner returns. "I have so much to tell you, princess---er, Val. Oh, I scarcely know where to begin... I feel like a Childling again."
The Scathach knight frowns, looking down at the tabletop. She speaks half to herself and half to Jenner. "I'm trying to get my head wrapped around it all...I still haven't sent word back to my liege, telling him I succeeded in my quest."
"I've spoken to Lysander..." says Jenner. Then, he looks at his watch. "Damn... Time is short, Val. I'll have to leave you in about an hour...He sighs. "Arrgh...there is so much to tell you..."
"Then tell me what you can now," she returns. Then, she sighs. "I'll try to understand all of this...I'm still trying to understand what this---"she holds up one of her daggers, "---truly is."
"Valeria, I've sent the last several days in the Dreaming," says Jenner. "And though it has taken its toll on my ebbing sanity, I have learned much."
Val regards him expectantly.
Calming himself, the Troll knight continues. "That---" He motions to her dagger, "That is a key---just as it is a powerful talisman of your people. Your blades are the final piece of a puzzle that shattered generations ago...they unlock one of the strongest trods to Arcadia."
As he speaks, a curious mixture of fear and wonder crosses Val's face.
"Tell me, Val..." Jenner queries, "What became of the blades' previous owner?"
In response, she thinks for a moment. "I'm not certain...my aunt presented these to me when I passed my Fior-Righ. She told me they were heirlooms of the House, but beyond that..." She shakes her head, trailing off.
"I was told that he died trying to re-open the gate," says Jenner. "The power overwhelmed him, or so the story goes." He whispers more to himself than to Val, "I may be going mad..."
"Story?" Val asks. "What story?"
Jenner replies, "Why, the story of Guiles Hezard... the last of your line to know the way to Arcadia." He starts shaking slightly, and his tone changes. "Oh, Val, I'm beginning to think that I've been spending altogether too much time in the Dreaming... I may be losing touch with my humanity. I'm not really sure what I'm talking about anymore." He starts involuntarily phasing back and forth between his Fae mien and his mortal Seeming.
Val puts a hand on his and leans closer. "Then let me do what I can." Slipping into her Human Seeming, she places a kiss on his mouth.
"Mmmrph---?" mumbles Jenner, staring at her in disbelief. "Val?" He blushes.
Val looks deep into his eyes; her own eyes are bright with unshed tears. "I don't want to lose you. You've been the only real friend I have here...I just wanted to thank you." Her next words are mutterd under her breath. "That, and this is scaring me shitless."
Looking up slowly, Jenner says softly, "I've... never wanted anything as badly as I wanted what just happened." Then he becomes somber. "Val? What is happening to me?"
Val looks at him quizzically.
"My Bedlam is much worse than I let on..." Jenner says quietly. "My Chimera, I am told, are strong enough to seem real to other Changelings..." He swallows hard. "Val, what I'm trying to get at is..." Frustrated, he changes the subject. "Have I ever told you that you remind me of someone I knew long ago?" His feeble attempt has failed miserably, and he falls silent.
Her eye half-closed, unfocused, Val responds, "And I feel as if I knew you once before, as well...before I..."
"Before you left Arcadia." Jenner finishes, in a voice not entirely his own. Then, remembering what he was saying before, he blurts out, "I think Morwen is just a figment..." An ignominious veil seems to fall over the noble warrior. He shakes the Glamour out of himself as he strengthens his mortal Seeming.
"I remember leading a battle...and a warrior with arms like tree trunks beside me..." Val murmurs, her eyes not quite focused and her voice not entirely her own.
"Val, I'm losing my mind..." Jenner says quietly. "I'm sure of it now." He casts his eyes down to the table.
Val reaches over to squeeze his hand, hard. "Is there nothing to be done, dear friend?"
Jenner meets Val's gaze, and suddenly he says, "I remember a Princess whose beauty rivaled that of the rising sun, and whose ferocity surpassed that of even the greatest dragon." His gaze growing distant, he continues. "I'm not sure if I even want to hold on to my humanity anymore..."
A veil seems to lift from Val's eyes as she says softly, "And I remember a warrior whose strength was like that of the earth itself, and whose courage was as deep as an ocean..."
"Val, can this really be? Or is this just my own madness infecting you as well...?" asks Jenner, in the voice of a child.
Val touches him gently on the cheek, tears in her eyes. "As you loved me once, stay with me."
Shaking, Jenner looks deep into her eyes. "Val, are you sure about all of this...?" Then his voice softens. "And I still love you."
"Then I will take you to Arcadia," Val proclaims. "If the means to bring you back to yourself exists, we shall find it there."
Jenner lifts her chin up gently. "Then...you know how I feel about you." He pauses, deep in thought. "We have a lot to figure out, you and I."
"'...and what love can do that dares love attempt..?'" Val quotes softly.
Jenner smiles warmly. "Yes...'and what love can do that dares love attempt'."
"I'm still trying to figure out who I really am..." Val says softly. Then, in a small voice, "I'm scared, Jenner."
"I know, Val; I know." he answers. Then, he thinks for a moment. "Val? What if all this is just another dream?"
Val keeps her eyes on the table as she holds his hand. "Then maybe we can enjoy it while it lasts?" She lifts her gaze to his, her eyes hopeful.
Jenner moves closer to her as he says, "I'm still not sure if all this is just my madness." He shifts hard into his Seeming. "But even if it is, Valeria... I don't ever want it to end." He looks at her with adoration.
Val slips back into Human Seeming. "Nor I. And on that, you've the word of Valerie McSkeane, as well as Dame Valeria of House Scathach."
"I'm no longer your mere guardian, am I?" asks Jenner, bemused. Then he fastens his gaze on hers, his expression serious. "Thank you for the kiss... where do we go now?"
Val is shaking, her eyes wide. "I don't know...it's all too much at once..."
"Do I stay in the mundane, or do I leap headlong into Bedlam?" Jenner asks.
"Wherever you go, I'll be with you. We swore an oath, remember?" Val responds.
"Our bond runs deeper than that now," returns Jenner. Then, he frowns. "If this is a dream, what happens when we wake? Madman or not, I still feel the way I do in the morning."
"And what of my oath to Prince Darian of the Kingdom of Apples?" muses Val, half to herself.
"Courtly love, Val... nothing more," Jenner says softly. "You and I, you and him... it matters not. The night is enchanting in all of its splendor. Perhaps tonight is just what you and I want to feel..."
Val gives him a faint smile. "I've sworn to serve him, that's all. I'm vassal, not lover."
"You do look lovely tonight..." Jenner responds, hardly suppressing an all-out stare. Then, embarrassed, he gives her a forlorn smile. "I never meant that you and I... or that you and he..." He breaks off, feeling particularly sheepish.
"It's all right," says Val with a sweet smile. "Even if this is a dream, let me have this one night...just once, maybe I can forget the weirdness my life has become. Let me be just Val, not knight, not princess, tonight." She slides her arms around Jenner.
"Don't you see, though, Val?" Jenner sighs. "You are a princess, and ever shall be." Nevertheless, he greedily accepts her arm.
"Just hold me..." she whispers. "I need to feel like a woman, not a princess."
Placing his hands, suddenly soft, at both sides of her face, Jenner looks deeply into her eyes. Fae mien and mortal Seeming are no more. There is only Jenner. He kisses her sweetly on the forehead, intoxicated with her. "Is this wrong, Val?"
Snuggling into his broad chest, Val murmurs, "No...but be gentle...?"
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