Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
2.4k 12 32
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.

Before I'm even done with the first knock, Woe barrels out of the doggy door to greet me for the last time. He's not alone. Following shortly after the canine is Misery, and after the feline comes a brand new sight. A small bird's skeleton flies out from under the door, seemingly able to flit about the place even though it has no feathers. It flaps its bony wings, flying in circles before settling upon my shoulder. The unmistakable caw of a raven rattles out of its beak.

From out of my Bag of Holding, I pull out the journal which connects me to Abigail. On the page we left off, the girl has drawn a horizontal line to mark where the last conversation ended. Below it, she's written, 'Good morning...' followed by a predictable apology. 'I'm sorry about last night... I know that the whole hand kissing thing is standard for noble ladies like myself, but I... you know... don't have much experience with that sort of thing...'

Her words bring excitement to my heart and a grin to my face. Now that I’ve resolved to win Abigail over, I feel less restraint getting in the way of teasing her. 'I should be the one apologizing. When I saw how beautiful your hand was, I had no choice but to give it the kiss it so rightly deserved.'

Her handwriting becomes shaky as a result of my teasing. 'Right... you don’t have to lie... I know that my diseased skin is hideous better than anyone...’

‘I disagree.’ She won’t believe me, but it’s important to reaffirm to Abigail that I don’t find her blackened flesh disgusting in the slightest. Poor thing. Her hands must have been in the early stages of Rotblight before Opalina developed the cure. At least they still work, as evident by her skill at both painting and calligraphy.

Abigail takes my compliment with a considerable lack of grace. ‘Uh, sure... thanks, then... I don’t know about that, but... well...’ She fumbles around, writing filler words as if she were trying to swell up the word count for no reason other than to fill the awkward silence. ‘Anyway... more importantly, shouldn't you get going instead of flirting with me...? Your Guild needs you, and we can talk any time we want to from now on...'

'I couldn't leave without saying goodbye to you in person, so to speak. There's a charming bird here I don't recognize, by the way.'

'Oh. That's Lament. He's a pretty little fellow but rather moody if he doesn't get enough attention... you know how ravens are.’ I don’t, but I’ll trust her on that one.

‘He often brings me trinkets, too...' Because I'm so close to her door, I can hear Abigail giggling softly inside. She's as quiet as ever, but the sound of her voice is music to my ears.

Her mood sours again as she dwells on the negatives. 'I'm sorry that I can't see you off properly...' She writes.

'This is more than enough for me, my Lady. You're doing the best you can do.' We’ll have to slowly work on that negativity, as it certainly isn’t doing her confidence any favors.

Abigail doesn't respond immediately, so I take it on myself to follow up by saying out loud, "Farewell, Abigail. Although so much happened during my brief stay here at Castle Mourneheart, making your acquaintance was without a doubt the sweetest memory I'll be taking home with me. If all goes well, I'll write to you later today."

I give her plenty of time to write something back, but I think the words I left her with were a little too much for her to process. I look toward the skeletal raven on my shoulder for any indication of what its mistress might be feeling. Lament only tilts its head in that typical bird-like manner before pecking at its wing. Right before I shut the book turn back to Opalina, I hear something from within Abigail's room.

It's little more than a whisper, but the girl speaks between tiny sniffles and sobs. "P... Promise me t-that you'll come and see me again...?"

Gods, I can't handle this. I clutch my heart as Abigail’s cuteness strikes yet again, and I smile at the door. "Nothing would make me happier,"

Abigail squeaks like a mouse, nervousness getting the best of her. I don't think I'm going to get anything else out of the anxious noblewoman, but that's ok. I probably can't take much more of her being so charming, anyway. Sensing my departure, the raven on my shoulder flies off to an unknown destination. At the same time, I give Misery and Woe some last-minute petting. I barely even notice the sensation when I touch them now. To my surprise, Somber pokes his massive bear skull out of the doggy door, looking up at me in jealousy. I give him a few pets, too.

When I rejoin Opalina back at the secret passageway, the older woman is grinning ear to ear. "Sweet, sweet, vindication..." She purrs even louder than Misery when she's gloating like this. "If only you could see how cute the two of you are from my point of view, Dear."

I mockingly roll my eyes at her and then mutter under my breath so that the Duke and Abigail can't hear me when I say, "Just you wait until I lure her to my Guild, then..." I indeed promised I'd come and see her once more, but the true endgame here is trying to get her to come and see me. All in due time.

Opalina puts away her overactive imagination long enough to lead me down the passageway, and in no time at all, we find ourselves on the first floor.

Solomon is right there at the grand entrance to the foreboding castle, surrounded on both sides by an escort of three fully armored knights of House Gloomcrest standing at attention. As soon as the knights see Opalina and me, the knights all slam their spears into the ground in salute.

Seeing him all ready to properly send us off like this makes Count Drisford look much more like a Duke than his master. Solomon approaches us with a warm smile sincerely at odds with his cold, grim face. Then, he offers his hand for me to shake. I take him up on it, knowing that I'll genuinely miss this man.

"Guild Master. I see you're ready to return to Dewhurst?"

"Solomon. Very astute of you. Yes, I'm restless to go get my renovations sorted out so that work can begin in earnest toward the quests."

"I wish you good luck in that endeavor," He withdraws his hand, satisfied. His smile grows a bit more wicked as he says, "Ah. Before you go, something odd just occurred that may be of interest to you..."

"Is that so?"

"Indeed. Only moments ago, Bertrand was here to announce his intention to take some time off from his duties. He'll be spending a few weeks recovering at his family's fortress in Cransmere, apparently."

"Oh?" I can't even repress the obvious delight growing on my face. "Did he say why, by any chance?"

"Only that a grievous wound had been dealt to him, and he isn't sure if he will ever recover from it." I almost snort like Sam at that, but I manage to hold it back.

Opalina laughs as she folds her arms and tilts her head, "I was there when it happened. He could have asked me for a check-up..."

"He's only a Baron. Goddesses know you would have robbed him blind." I smirk at the witch, who looks away and plays at innocence.

The excellent mood is lifted when the Count brings up a more serious matter. "Victor wished to be here to see you off, but unfortunately, he had to depart last night to address a border dispute up north. Nothing too serious, mind you, just Duke Glorigold positioning a platoon of knights where they have no right to be." Solomon sighs, great stress evident on his aged face.

"That's unfortunate. I would've liked to say goodbye..." We didn't speak much, but in my short time with the Marshall, I found that I liked the man a surprising amount more than expected. "Send him my regards when he returns."

"I will. Take care on your flight, Guild Master, Miss Hart." Solomon performs a deep, respectful bow for the two of us. "It was an honor to meet you, and I expect great things from you in the coming days. Do not make me regret changing my mind."

"I wouldn't dream of it," I hold my head high. I'm not used to being bowed to, but I want to at least act like I deserve the admiration. "Those dungeons of yours will be filled up before you know it."

With this one last goodbye out of the way, Opalina and I walk out into the dreary courtyard lit up by the beautiful spring sunshine.

"Would it be safe to assume we're not going to have a teary-eyed farewell from our friend Xothan?" I ask upon remembering the last of the odd characters I met, which makes Opalina's cheeks puff out as she holds back laughter.

"No... no, I don't imagine we will."

"Wouldn't have guessed, since he's such a social butterfly and all that." He's probably watching us through one of those crystal balls of his, but who cares.

The gate loudly closes behind us as the doctor pulls out her wand, wiggles it, and summons that magnificent black broom of hers. It hovers in midair, waiting for someone to board. Remembering my intention to spend the trip back catching up on rest, Opalina turns and points her wand vaguely in my direction. "Still sure you don't want to take in the scenery, Sweetheart? Goodness knows when the next chance you'll have to zip around the province like this will be."

"Yes, I'm sure," Nodding my head with conviction, I go on to proclaim, "Once was more than enough for my tastes. I'll count myself a lucky man if I never have to be conscious during broom flight again." I laugh and watch as warmth spreads through my lover's face.

"Oh? And here I was thinking about gifting you a self-flying broom, too." She giggles.

Eventually, getting a few brooms for the Guild would be a good idea when the girls start heading to more far-off quest locales. Still, I certainly won't be the one driving them when that happens. "Appreciate the offer, but I'm going to have to firmly decline."

Eventually, her glow fades, and Opalina looks at me with a bittersweet expression. At first, I worry that rejecting her offer made her sad, but she corrects me by saying, "I'm almost a little bit depressed we have to go back. I love the girls, but after last night I don't think I'm ready to give you back to them."

"You could always move in after the renovations,"

For a moment, Opalina almost looks tempted. The temptation doesn't last. "I'm still not ready for that. What we have right now works best for us. I'm not ready to close up shop and become a Guild healer, and..."

"I know, I know... I was only teasing. What you do is a lot more important than I ever knew, so I can't in good conscience tear you away from your clinic and your lab." I sigh, but Opalina smiles and leans in with rosy cheeks.

"While it might not have been a picture-perfect getaway, I'm glad we had this time together... it was like a dream, and the sex was great, too." Opalina smiles almost shyly as she twirls the locks of her gorgeous brunette curls framing the sides of her face.

"It sure was..." I briefly reminisce about all the outrageous things we did to each other during this span of only two days. Not too bad, as far as debauchery goes. I wasn't into some of it at first, but that didn't last long.

"Have you accepted that you're an exhibitionist now?" The witch grins smugly.

"Not entirely. I don't think I would want another man to look upon the girls in the way only I get to see them, but... I also can't deny that the sheer wrongness of what you put me through made our love a whole lot more erotic."

"Close enough," Opalina sighs with played-up drama, and we share a moment where we slow down and just stand there staring at each other's eyes.

"Thank you for everything, Opal. I mean it."

"Don't thank me yet. You and the girls have a lot of work ahead of you." The voluptuous witch mounts her broom, then reaches behind herself to pat down on the space behind her. "Let's get you back where you belong, shall we?"

"Please," I waste not even a second longer before cuddling up behind Opalina on the broom, wrapping my arms tight around her and bracing myself for the oncoming magic. She wiggles that wand of hers, and I feel my arms suddenly unable to move, followed by a second wiggle that sends a wave of drowsiness crashing through my body. Considering how I was already tired to begin with, it doesn't take long before I've passed out ultimately. The last thing I remember a cutaway to darkness is Opalina kicking off from the ground, whisking us into the air for a less-than-romantic flight home to a less-than-romantic city.

Sorry for the wait on this one, I've been working really hard on Corruption of Coye volume 2. It's three chapters in right now and available on my Patreon if anyone wants to read it. My motivation on the main series is iffy at the moment but I'm still putting work in as you can see. It's a mix of me wanting to get more content on Amazon so I can start building a passive income stream, and me being unhappy with a lot of the older stuff in RotGM and wanting to do more rewriting but knowing I probably shouldn't right now. I think the best course of action is just to keep moving forward and using the main series as a way to practice and such, knowing that I'll ultimately change a lot and accept that there will be tons of plotholes and stuff, I don't know.

Check out the cover for volume 2 of Corruption of Coye!