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Saga - PT Romance among the Stones (MMM #1; Zeb/OC romance; pre-Rebels)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman , Sep 17, 2018.

  1. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Author: Findswoman
    Title: Romance among the Stones
    Era: Saga–PT
    EC: Zeb Orrelios (age ~24)
    OCs (my own): Shulma Trilasha, Maranga Patithi
    OCs (borrowed from @Raissa Baiard): Priska Orrelios; Captain Porifiros (mentioned), Garashai (Shai) Orrelios (mentioned)​
    Genre: Very short multichapter (2 chapters); romance, drama, mush
    Summary: A young Zeb, now a gifted lieutenant in the Lasan High Honor Guard, plans something elaborate for his ladylove—though it does not come off without setbacks.
    Contents: 1 (below) | 2
    Notes: Part of the Lasan Series by @Raissa Baiard and myself; a direct sequel to From the Mountain's Heart. Coopted for Monday Mush Madness challenge no. 1: “Write a story in which a character (or characters) plans something special for another character (or characters),” because it happens to fit that prompt. Once again I thank Raissa for keen-eyed beta reading and matchless encouragement. @};-


    “Is that her?

    “Yup, that's her.”

    Two officers of the Lasan High Honor Guard, both women, stood in a café in Lasan’s capital city of Lira Zel. They were watching a younger woman who sat alone at a table at the café's back corner, wearing a sunset-red dress and cloak and engrossed in a small book with a gold cover. Long, midnight-purple hair flowed over her shoulders, and a striking, swirling pattern of wine-colored stripes adorned her lithe arms.

    “So, let me get this straight.” The taller of the two Guardswomen, a rangy, angular type wearing a field musician’s badge, sniffed in disbelief. “That tender, delicate... thing is what your brother wants us to take all the way out there on a hot, blustery day like this? Karabast, we’ll probably end up carrying her halfway!”

    “Hey, don’t you underestimate that tender, delicate thing,” retorted her companion, who had a more muscular build and the insignia of a light ordnance specialist. “She’ll call down the lightning of the Ashla on you.”

    “Aw, Priska, you didn’t tell me she was a spark-flinger!” The tall, rangy woman grimaced as she craned closer to get a better look at the girl in the corner. “Yep, she’s got the ring-medallion in her hair and everything. I didn’t think any brother of yours would go for one of them!

    Priska shrugged. “Me neither, at first. But she’s all right, really. We like her.”

    “I suppose he’s into her cute stripes.”

    “Oh, not just, not just…” Priska shook her head, chuckling absently.


    “Nothing. Can we get this done with, Maranga? He’s waiting out there."

    Maranga shook her head and muttered something about “your brother and his crazy ideas” as she and Priska approached the corner table. The young shaman looked up from her book as she saw the two uniformed, armored women standing over her. “Oh, hello, Priska. And, um… hello.”

    “Hi,” Maranga replied with a curt nod.

    Priska spoke up. “Shulma, this is my friend Middle Lieutenant Maranga Patithi, of the Honor Guard Drum Corps. Maranga, this is Shulma Trilasha, second-degree shaman of the Academy, and... my… brother’s… girlfriend.”

    “That is exactly what I am.” Shulma extended her hand, which Maranga shook brusquely. “Pleased to meet you.”

    “Likewise,” was the clipped reply.

    “Anyway,” Priska continued, “Zeb sent us to get you."

    “Oh!” The shaman immediately perked up and closed her book. “Is he back already?”

    “Yup. The transport from the Basalt Mountains arrived at base this morning.”

    “Is he there now?”

    “No, he’s…” Priska paused and exchanged glances with Maranga. “He’s outside town. That’s… why he sent us to get you.”

    Shulma hastily stowed her book in the finely worked leather satchel that hung on the back of her chair, which she then shouldered as she stood up. “All right, then. I'm ready.”

    “Good.” Maranga stepped forward, her arms crossed sternly. “Because this isn’t going to be just some pleasant stroll through the Royal Display Gardens. We’re going out into the wilderness, and it’s going to be rocky, dirty, and steep.”

    Priska rolled her eyes. “Aw, knock it off, Maranga. It’s not like she hasn’t been out there before.” She winked at the shaman, who gave her a querying look, and smirked back at her. “Trust me. You have.”

    “Fine, whatever,” grunted Maranga. “I just want Her Reverence to understand exactly what she’s getting into here.”

    “I understand.” Shulma smiled up at Maranga through serene emerald eyes. “And I’m ready.”

    * * *​

    The trail was long, circuitous, and treacherous, rising and falling without warning, ridden with deceptive switchbacks and crusted with loose rock. A relentless afternoon sun beat down on the three women as they made their way arduously along. To Maranga’s considerable surprise, the pretty young shaman uttered barely a peep the entire way; she was sure-footed and resolute as she negotiated the steep, rocky path. For it had not taken her long to realize that she had indeed been here before: looking ahead in the distance was the magnificent rock spire known as the Warrior, which each year the eligible young males climbed to show off their daring and prowess to the crowds of watching females. Shulma smiled to herself as she remembered Zeb’s attempt five years before, just before they had begun courting. Back then he had been—well, less than successful, because his mind had been on his little brother, whom he had left back at the Storms’ End fair. Was he going to try again now? Darling Garazeb, she thought, certainly you know by now that you don’t have to prove your love—or earn mine—with bold tricks and daring deeds...

    As they approached the spire, Priska guided Shulma away from the main pathway leading up to its base, bringing her instead down a narrow side path that descended steeply into the woods. Maranga followed as well, and in just a few minutes they arrived in a pleasant clearing closely surrounded by geniper trees and blooming mazna bushes. Set just below the Warrior’s west side, the clearing commanded a view of the formation in its entire redoubtable height, from its base to its needle-like summit. But more remarkable was what lay on the ground directly before them. Spread out in the center of the clearing was a gray-green blanket of heavy, rough material—a standard-issue Honor Guard blanket, judging by the stamp in the corner. On it sat two large, delicately embroidered cushions that were definitely not standard Honor Guard issue, along with a large wicker picnic hamper. Zeb, however, was nowhere to be seen.

    “Aw, a picnic!” Priska beamed. “How sweet! And look.” She nudged one of the cushions with her foot. “I see Gran let him borrow a couple of her parlor cushions. How about that!”

    “Yeah, how about that,” Maranga grumbled. “How about if he actually showed up?”

    “He’s gotta be around somewhere. Probably just stepped into the woods for a sec. Say”—Priska touched Shulma on the shoulder—“are you gonna be all right here for now?”

    “Yes, I—I think so.”

    “Good. We’ll be down the trail if you need us.”

    “But you won’t need us,” smirked Maranga, giving Shulma a teasing nudge with her elbow. The shaman lowered her eyes and shied away.

    The two Guardswomen disappeared up the narrow side path. Shulma stood still for a few moments, waiting. Perhaps Zeb was hiding behind one of the geniper trees, ready to come up behind her and take her in his arms—the same way he had greeted her so many times before outside the Honor Guard base or at the foot of Mount Straga. But nothing happened. She walked around the perimeter of the clearing, looking around and calling his name; still nothing. Her concern grew. Where could her young officer be? If he had just stepped into the woods (as Priska had put it), certainly he would have returned by now. Ashla forbid that he had met with danger! She signed the Triangle over her heart...

    “HEY! SHULMA!”

    The shout came from overhead. Shulma looked up, and her eyes widened like those of a frightened convor chick. There, gripping fast to the side of the Warrior with three prehensile appendages and waving down at her with the fourth, was Zeb, clambering deftly and swiftly along.

    “Zeb!—lir’Ashl’aka!—what are you—”

    “C’mon up, you’ll be able to see better!”

    “But Zeb—”

    “Just c’mon up!”

    Shulma ran up the narrow side path, then up the main path to the base of the Warrior. She watched in amazement as her beloved Guardsman pulled himself up deftly from one crevice to the next, from one foothold to the next. Higher and higher he went, his strong hands and feet grappling with the ancient, striated stone as if in an ancient war dance. Shards of purple-gray rock shot out from the cracks in the rock as he dug his claws in. Shulma jumped back from the spire and gasped a prayer to the Ashla as one particularly sizable crack gave way beneath his grip, sending larger chunks of rock hurtling down. But he quickly regained his hold, launching himself upward with renewed zest. Nervous as she was, Shulma had to admit that Zeb was putting on quite an impressive display; the first time he had done this, he hadn’t even made it halfway up. He was almost at the needle-like summit now, a full forty meters above ground. Just a little higher…

    ...until at last all of his sturdy appendages encircled the towering needle. He drew himself upright—so tall, so proud!—and waved down to her. The sun glinted off his leaf-green eyes, off the sharp, bright teeth that showed themselves in his grin.

    Five years ago Shulma would have cheered loudly for him; now she could only stand agape, at once impressed by Zeb’s skill and fearful for his safety. My warrior atop the Warrior—Ashla guard him!

    “HEY DARLIN’!” he yelled down at her. She started as she heard him.


    “WATCH THIS!” Shifting his grip on the spire, he began to rummage in his pocket.

    “Zeb, what are you—”

    “NOW WHERE IS THAT THING...” he growled, just loudly enough for her to hear, then began twisting himself awkwardly to one side. For a moment he lost his grip, causing more rock dust to fall from the spire. But he quickly regained it, and began rummaging in his other pocket while his feet and other hand clung desperately to the column of rock. Barely able to watch, Shulma buried her face in her hands—and felt a sudden electrical crackle of pain behind her eyes.

    “Zeb—be careful, please—”


    Zeb’s words dissolved in a scream as the needle gave way beneath him with a loud, grisly crack.. He slid clumsily down, scrabbling desperately for hold against what was left of the rock, but to no avail. Further and further down he slid, shouting and cursing and scrabbling; each time the spindle of rock crumbled to pieces against his grip, as if pushing him away.

    “ZEB! NO!” Shulma cried, signing the Triangle. The pain in her head surged again as there was another tremendous crack—the summit now fully gave way, launching Zeb into the free air. There was now only one thing she could do—

    “ASHLA PROTECT MY LOVE!” Shulma struck her foot on the ground, then threw her hands upward and forward. Golden light surged up through her body and shot from her hands in crackling bolts toward Zeb, who now was hurtling at full speed toward the ground. The golden lightning struck him straight on, freezing him in midair and enveloping him in a lambent blaze of ever-changing color. Shulma clenched her teeth in concentration, keeping her hands outstretched above her—and for several moments Zeb hung there, motionless and bathed in light, as the rest of Lasan’s mightiest spire tumbled to pieces below him.

    Only when the gravel and dust had settled and the air was clear again, did she begin to lower him, very slowly, very gently—closer, closer—careful, now—almost there—

    —until he came to rest, on his feet, atop the pile of broken rock.

    Shulma released the bolt of light, causing the iridescent blaze around Zeb to flicker and disappear—and then she sank onto a nearby boulder, spent from her mystical effort. She watched him as he blinked and looked about him in bewilderment, taking in the wreckage around him. A muttered “karabast!” escaped him as he realized what had happened; a pang shot through her as well to see the noble stone sentinel of Lira Zel reduced to rubble. And yet pride filled her, for there he was still, her warrior atop the Warrior—the last to conquer it before its fall. There’s even something about that in the ancient writings, isn’t there? she thought, smiling to herself. Yes, of course: Fourth Tractate of Prophecy, book three, chapter… eleven or twelve, I think it is? The last warrior to scale the Warrior is… is… She couldn’t remember exactly how it went, but it would come back to her eventually.

    Shulma glanced up at Zeb again, and this time his eye caught hers. He waved to her and immediately came clambering down the rocks, then staggered over to the boulder where she sat and sank down beside her, out of breath.

    “Oh, Shulma—darlin’—did you see what happened—the Warrior—it’s—”

    His words dissolved in breathless gasps as he steadied himself on her shoulder. She nestled her head against his and slid comforting arms around him. “Zeblove… it’s all right…”

    It was then, as she sat there holding him, that the rest of that text from the Fourth Tractate struck her like a falling boulder:

    The last warrior to scale the Warrior is the last warrior of Lasan.

    to be continued

    Maranga Patithi: An OC named after the real-life baroque percussionist Marie-Ange Petit.

    Basalt Mountains: Fanon. Mountain range located in the southern hemisphere of Lasan, famed for its mineral riches but also for its dangers, and the site of Zeb’s deployment in From the Mountain’s Heart.

    Mount Straga: Fanon. The mountain atop which the Royal Lasat Academy of Shamans is located. See the Lasat fanon post.

    spark-flinger: Meant to be a somewhat pejorative epithet for a Lasat shaman. See the Lasat fanon post under the heading “Shamanism.”

    ring-medallion: In my fanon extrapolation, the round hair ornament worn by Chava the Wise is worn by all female Lasat shamans as an emblem of their station. (The male shamans would wear the same emblem pinned to their clothing or around their necks, since most adult male Lasat don’t have head hair.)

    The Warrior: Fanon, created by Raissa Baiard. The tallest rock formation overlooking the capital city of Lira Zel. See the Lasat fanon post and Raissa’s story The Beginning of Honor.

    On the custom of young men climbing the Warrior on Storms’ End, see the Lasat fanon post under “Children, Family, Courtship.” Zeb’s first climb of the Warrior is described in The Beginning of Honor.

    Zeb’s Gran:'s_grandmother
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2018
    TheRynJedi, Vek Talis, Kahara and 2 others like this.
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    [face_dancing] Wonderful rescue by Shulma! An ominous undertones with that prophecy. [face_thinking] I will definitely, eagerly await the next part! [face_love]
  3. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard FFoF Artist Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Nov 22, 1999
    Woot! So happy that the MMM challenge gave you the perfect reason to post this story (and From the Mountain’s Heart before it)! Of course, any reason is a good reason to post more purple prose, as far as I’m concerned :zeb; [face_love]

    Zeb’s got something very special planned for Shulma (and I have a pretty good guess what it is ;)) and it seems like he’s got the whole Orrelios family in on it—even Gran chips in those parlor pillows. So nice to see big sister Priska again, still in the Honor Guard and still obviously fond of her “baby brother”. Her friend Maranga’s a bit of a pill, though, the way she immediately dismisses Shulma as a “tender, delicate…thing” and a “spark-flinger” (And again, it makes me smile to think of any Lasat being described as “delicate”, but it’s a matter of perspective I suppose.) Fortunately, Priska knows better. She’s just as obviously fond of Shulma in her own way, and knows she’s stronger than she seems, both physically and in terms of personal resolve. Yep, it’s not just those “cute stripes” that drew Zeb to her (though they didn’t hurt ;))

    What a lovely scene awaits Shulma—a romantic picnic in an idyllic setting. The only thing missing is Zeb, and he turns up (literally UP!) scaling the Warrior, in the same gesture he used to try to impress her five years ago at the very beginning of their courtship. This time goes better than that ill-fated day, at least at first. He scales the spire all the way to its top (we always knew he could!) and even stands atop it. And then, of course, things go Very Wrong when he starts to search his pockets for a certain something—and again, I’m pretty sure I know what it is—though he seems to have left it below.:oops:The stonebegins to crumble and in what must have been a very aw-karabast-not-again moment for Zeb:
    It’s even worse this time, though as the entire Warrior shatters beneath him. Lucky that Shulma is there— and whoa, SHULMA! :eek: Wow! She proves here that her command of the Ashla is as great as any Jedi’s command of that same power under a different name as she uses its light to hold Zeb safe and lower him gently to safety. No wonder she is spent afterwards. And no wonder Zeb can only mutter “karabast” as he stands amid the ruin of the the sacred spire. I agree with @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, there’s a very ominous undertone to the prophecy Shulma remembers about the last warrior of Lasan. :(

    But our lovers are safe, if exhausted, and hopefully they can recuperate and enjoy that beautiful picnic. I look forward to seeing how the rest of Zeb’s plan turns out! :D Thanks for contributing this sweet and fun story to the MMM challenge!
  4. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh, what a wonderful contribution for the challenge! [face_love] While the mush was certainly here - and I am really looking forward to the next chapter [face_mischief] - you had a wonderful surplus of tones that hit all sorts of wonderful notes! =D=

    It's so great to see Priska again! Zeb's entire family is so endearingly close knit as to make it hurt all the more so to know how things will end up. :( But dear goodness, Maranga, really? o_O My first thought was indeed Shulma's calling down lightning - there's nothing delicate or tender about her, which Priska more than knows and lovingly defends!

    I know I am sounding like a broken record, but I just adore your voice for Shulma. Such gorgeous diction! And such a perfect contrast with Zeb's more . . . rugged, if no less heartfelt speech. :p Though I think I have an inkling of what's coming. Zeb is back at the Warrior for round two to impress his ladylove! [face_love]

    What an image! :D Between this and your spot-on voice I could see the entire scene perfectly play out. All the way to -

    Nope! Nothing tender or delicate about this shaman at all. What a way to summon the Ashla and protect her love! Even if the Warrior is sadly worse for the wear, her warrior is okay for now, thank goodness.

    Whew! What a foreboding, ominous line to end it on. [face_worried] But its that mixing of tones that make the mush promise to be all the sweeter! I can't wait to read the next chapter. Thank you so much for sharing more in this beautiful world, as always. =D=
  5. mavjade

    mavjade Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 10, 2005
    Woah... that was intense! (In a good way!).
    My heart was pounding when Zeb began to fall, even thinking that because it was for MMM nothing too terrible would happen, you still wrote the suspense of the fall and how Shulma saved him. I loved how at the start there was the discussion about how she may be delicate but she proves more than once that she's anything but. I also really appreciate that a woman was the one saying she looked delicate. We all make judgements like that every day, even if they aren't a good thing, but had it been a man saying such things, It would have read very differently!

    And all I have to say to that last line is... uh oh! That doesn't sound very good! [face_worried]

    I'm looking forward to the second part!
  6. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thank you all so much for reading and commenting! :)

    Thank you, as always! And you shall see it very soon. :D Yes, between Zeb's fall and Shulma's recollection of the "last warrior to scale the Warrior" prophecy, a bit of a shadow has been cast over what would have otherwise been a pleasant and ordinary enough romantic outing. But he's safe, thanks to her intervention, so perhaps some of that pleasant romantic feel can be regained... stay tuned and you shall see. @};-

    Aw, and thank you for this challenge and providing me with the perfect opportunity to overcome my long-wait-to-post-itis! :D I am so glad you are continuing to enjoy my "purple prose," which I've very much enjoyed writing.

    Oh, I can't thank you enough for letting me borrow wonderful big sis Priska and for letting me make her part of this story! I've really found it interesting to juxtapose her with Shulma, since I've wondered for a while what their interactions with each other would be like—two very different women, strong in such different ways, who are nevertheless both so important to Zeb. (There's a hint of wistfulness for me here, too, because I wish I had a sister-in-law that was this fond of me!) "Delicate" is definitely relative here; I'll say more on that below, in response to @mavjade's comment, but I definitely wanted to play with the tough-girl-vs.-"girly"-girl juxtaposition a little. And of course even Maranga sees, just a little bit later, that Shulma's stronger and more resolute than she looks.

    I liked the idea of giving him a chance to make it all the way to the top, this time just for her, because indeed of course he always had it in him, and in a way it will mean even more to her now that they're a serious item and not just infatuated teens. Which is what makes the spire's collapse at this moment even more disastrous, in a way. And yes, talk about some very serious déjà-vu for Zeb at this moment—with the stakes even higher than they were the first time! :eek:
    And yes, this is part of why I had this happen to the spire: to give Shulma the chance to wield her powers to their fullest, since she hasn't gotten much of a chance to in previous Lasan Series stories. What she's doing here is sort of to Sith-lightning-used-for-good type thing, and of course it is inspired very much by what Zeb does to the Ghost in "Legends of the Lasat"; I see it as being one of the typical ways the Ashla manifests itself in this particular tradition. (And I know I need to update those parts of the fanon entry... all in the fullness of time...) But naturally that kind of effort is going to wear her out, and Zeb is going to be worn out from the trauma of almost falling to his death. [face_relieved] What a time for Shulma to recall that dire prophecy text—but at least she's not all alone while recalling it. <3

    Yep, I think they'll manage to recuperate—again, not being all alone at a time like this matters so much. Stay tuned and you'll see just how phase two of Zeb's plan goes—and as always, thanks for all the encouragement and support! ;)

    Thank you so much! It really means so much to me that you have been following and enjoying these stories. There will definitely be more of the mush factor in the second half of the story, so stay tuned...!

    Oh, I'm right with you about Zeb's family; Raissa did such an amazing job crafting them and making them so close and so loving that losing them in the Siege is going to be all the more of a heartbreak. :_| Yes, Maranga is kind of a piece of work, isn't she? :p Again, I was kind of playing with the tough-vs.-"girly" dichotomy a bit, which I've had my share of experience with in times past. And indeed, to quote a very apt remark once made to me by Raissa, "Who needs muscles when you can fry stuff with the Ashla?" :D

    Aw, thank you...that really means a lot to me from someone whose trademark is such a lyrical writing style. @};- That juxtaposition has been one of the most fun things about writing these two, and it kind of sums up their relationship in a way. And yes, that's exactly what he's doing—this time, just for her! [face_love]

    Thanks so much! :) He more than deserved to make it all the way to the top, I felt, as a way of coming full circle from his earlier attempt.

    She is definitely not to be underestimated with powers like that! Again, I was more than glad to give her the opportunity to use those powers and to show that there's more to what she does than studying old books and chants—that spark within her also allows her to do cool things like, well, save her sweetheart's life!

    Oh, you're so welcome! I always appreciate your being here with such close readership and thoughtful comments. @};- And yes, I know that was a rather foreboding way to end a chapter... though you know me and these cliffhangers nowadays. :p But that is exactly my hope: that these moments of danger and foreboding will have the effect of sweetening the mushy moments to come—and you'll see there will be more than a few in the second half. [face_love]

    Thanks so much for commenting, mav; I really appreciate it! :) Yes, unfortunately, women often can end up being the harshest judges of other women; I've been guilty of it myself, and it's exactly the dynamic I was trying to explore with Maranga's comments. That, and the tendency to view "girly" people and things as somehow lesser, which is unfortunately still around too and which women perpetuate as much as anyone (and I have to say that it saddens me that the word "girly" has become almost a pejorative). It is possible to be at once pretty and feminine and not a wimp. (Incidentally, in my DDC, I have a passage where the same character recalls how her father and brothers used to call her such a "delicate little thing," and you're right, it makes for a very different dynamic when that kind of judgment is made by a male vs. a female character.)

    It doesn't, indeed—we readers in this post-Rebels era of course know what's being portended here, but these two don't, and there will be more about that in the second half, which is coming right up. Once again, many thanks for being here and commenting! @};-
  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    And here is the second half, which is where the mush will really pick up. [face_love] Once again, my thanks to @Raissa Baiard for beta reading. @};-


    Zeb and Shulma sat together for several minutes beside the wreckage of the Warrior, holding each other, saying nothing. At last they made their way down the trail back to the clearing, leaning on each other. Shulma felt her heart pounding at those terrible words of prophecy: The last warrior to scale the Warrior is the last warrior of Lasan. Was the valiant young officer beside her really—?

    No. Mustn’t think of it now. Just be glad that he’s here and safe.

    Once they reached the clearing, Zeb helped her onto one of the cushions and seated himself beside her on the other. He opened the picnic hamper and was about to reach in when he stopped suddenly and put his hand on hers.

    “Darlin’—Shulma—you did that, didn’t ya?” he asked, softly.

    “D-did what?” She squeezed his hand back. What if it’s true—what if he really is—“Dear Garazeb, do you think I caused the Warrior to fall? I’m only a Second, you know!”

    “No, no, of course not that! It’s just I was climbin’, and it started fallin’ apart on me, and I fell off, and then—well, I dunno what then, because all of a sudden I was just standin’ there on the rocks, and… you did somethin’, didn’t ya?”

    “D-did something?” Her eyes were turned downward as she spoke, and she gripped him harder. If you are the last—

    “Yeah, like somethin’ with the Ashla or whatever?”

    “Well, the Ashla is in all of us, Zeblove…” If I were to lose you—

    “Aw, you did. I know it.” He gathered her close and caressed her cheek, tracing the wispy stripes that peeked out from under her hair. “My powerful, beautiful lady saved me.”

    Shulma found herself shaking even at his warm, familiar touch. And yet something inside her chided her for her fear: Why are you getting so worked up over words in an old book? Why don’t you just stop worrying and enjoy his embrace, his laughing eyes, the stripes that swirl so merrily over his arms? See how he’s leaning in to kiss you? Let him!

    And yet—what if—

    “It was the least I could do for my Zeblove—but listen—”

    “What? Something wrong?”

    “About the Warrior—it’s—you’re—well—”

    “I’m what?!

    Shulma took a deep breath. “They say that the last warrior to scale the Warrior is the last warrior of Lasan.”

    “The last warrior to scale the Warrior is—” Zeb repeated, then broke into laughter. “Aw, this is something from one of your ancient writings, isn’t it?”

    “From one of our ancient writings. Fourth Tractate of Prophecy, book three, chapter… stop laughing, ai Garazeb! Don’t you understand what this means?! You were the last to climb the Warrior before it fell! And if you’re the last warrior, then—a Lasan without warriors is no Lasan!”

    “Karabast, you prophecy-types always take this kinda stuff way too seriously!” Zeb slapped his knee and laughed anew. “‘Last warrior of Lasan,’ eh? Bet that could mean all sorts of things. Could mean Lasan’ll have peace and no one’ll need to fight anymore. What about that, eh?”

    “Yes, of course—anything is possible, but—there is simply no way for us mortal Lasat to know.” She sighed and rested her head on his shoulder; a tear began to course down her cheek. “Oh Zeblove, I wish I knew—but I don’t, and that—that frightens me.”

    “Aw, darlin’.” Zeb took her gently in his arms, nuzzling her dark, fragrant hair. “Don’t be afraid. I’ve gotcha.”

    “But dearest—oh—” She collapsed in tears onto his shoulder.

    “It’ll be all right, darlin’. Even if I’m the last warrior of Lasan, I’ll use my dying breath to fight for my wild mountain flower.” He kissed away the falling tears; she breathed deeply as he did so, calming a little with each kiss and each moment until her sobs stopped. Finally he smiled at her, green eyes twinkling. “Now how about some lunch?”

    * * *​

    The lunch was tranquil, pleasant, and hearty. Forming its centerpiece were two flake-dough savory pastries with goat cheese and greens that Zeb had picked up from one of their favorite food carts in Lira Zel, and the the warm scent and taste of this familiar food soon calmed Shulma’s nerves and lifted her spirits. Zeb had also brought a generous quantity of his grandmother’s famed fire-pepper sauce for dipping, along with a well-chilled bottle of Shulma’s favorite seerflower cordial and some bark beer for himself. There was spear-boar liver confit, a salad of mixed pickles, some mazna berry tarts, chocolate truffle balls from Lira Zel’s finest confectionery, and—lurking at the very bottom of the hamper—two small packages of spiced warra nuts.

    “Those? Shai threw ’em in,” Zeb explained through a mouthful of pastry in response to Shulma’s quizzical look. ”They’re from his own personal stash.”

    Shulma smiled. “He is a very caring and generous kit.”

    “‘I’m not a kit!’” Zeb’s face writhed comically as he imitated his brother’s voice. “‘I’m very mature for nineteen dust seasons, thank you very much! And your medallion is crooked! Better fix it or Captain Porifiros’ll send you to the mess hall to peel topatoes!’”

    Shulma was doubled over with laughter by the time Zeb reached the end of this humorous impression. At last she regained composure with the help of a few sips of cordial. “Oh, that was absolutely priceless!” she exclaimed. “Not that Captain Porifiros would ever send my valiant warrior to any mess hall to peel topatoes. Or would he?” She winked.

    “Aw, well…” Zeb chewed sheepishly on another piece of pastry. “There was that one time on Groz’s birthday when we shaving-creamed one of the HG-AT-Rs to look like him… but technically that was rootabaggas.”

    “Then maybe we’d better double-check your medallion, just in case.” Shulma put down her bottle of cordial and peered at the burnished bronze Honor Guard medallion that adorned the right breast of Zeb’s uniform vest. Very carefully she took its edges in her fingertips and shifted it slightly. “Ah, I see why it’s a little off. Something’s beating behind there. Rather forcefully.”

    “You surprised?” He took her hand in his and pressed it to his heart.

    “Not really.” She let him hold her hand there for a few moments, feeling the steady thud of his heartbeat, then gently freed it to make one more minute adjustment to the medallion. “There! I don’t think the good captain can argue with that! How is he, by the way? Did your deployment go well?”

    “Oh, it was all right, and the capt’s his usual self.” Zeb swigged some of his bark beer. “Loves it out there in the Basalt Mountains, of course. They’re his home turf, y’know. Always on about the mountain air and the ozone and all. ‘Up an’ at ’em, Guards! Feel that fresh mountain breeze! Smell that ozone! It’s good for ya! Now get out there an’ climb, you sissy city kits!’” He sighed and took another gulp. “‘’Course, y’know what they say—a true Honor Guard can climb Mount Sketh with a broken foot, a punctured lung, and no climbing gear, an’ all that. I don’t mind mountains, but karabast, I’m just glad to be done with the ozone.”

    “I don’t blame you,” replied Shulma, nibbling a few warra nuts. “Mount Straga sometimes gets like that just before a storm. Some of the ancient authorities say it can induce certain kinds of vision trances, but all I usually get from it is a headache.”

    Zeb sidled closer to her, interlacing his foot with hers. “’Course, the ozone’s not the only reason I’m glad to be back.”

    “I’m glad you’re back, too.” She sighed as she leaned against him and squeezed his arm. “And no sooner do I have you back than I almost lose you. Oh Zeblove—” No. Don’t dwell on it. He’s here beside you now. Let that be enough. She swallowed and continued. “Just—what were you trying to do up there, anyway?”

    “Aw, that.” Zeb, who had been reaching for one of the mazna berry tarts, paused for a moment. “Well, y’see, I… er…”


    “I… er... thought I had something in my pocket. But… er… it turned out I didn’t.”

    “That much was manifestly clear.” Shulma sipped her cordial, then took one of the truffles from its dainty flimsiboard box. “But I would very much like to know why you were taking things out of your pocket on top of the Warrior. That does not seem wise.”

    “Because… well, I’ll show ya. Just one sec.” Zeb turned the hamper toward him so that its open lid hid both him and the interior from Shulma’s view, and began rummaging in it. “It’s gotta be in here somewhere…” As he rummaged further, Shulma heard the sound of unzipping; apparently the hamper had several inner compartments that she had not noticed. “Karabast, if I forgot it I’ll never forgive myself… ah, got it! Now close your eyes, darlin’!”

    Shulma did so. She heard a brief rustling of cloth, then felt Zeb place something cool, heavy, and rough in her hands. Briefly she ran a hand over it and bristled slightly at the sharp, crystalline edges she felt.

    “All right, you can open ’em now.”

    Shulma opened her eyes to see in her hands a large, irregularly shaped piece of intensely red-purple crystalline stone, shot through with golden flecks and veins. It sparkled with firelike brilliance as the sunlight struck it. She recognized it as kreposkolite, one of the most prized semi-precious minerals from the Basalt Mountains region—and an unusually large and pure specimen, at that. But even more striking to her was the meaning this specimen would have in the traditional Lasat language of stones: deep red shades signified true love, gold striations stood for eternal fidelity, and kreposkolite was one of the few minerals on Lasan that had both. If it was what she thought it was...

    “Y’see,” Zeb was explaining meanwhile, “what I wanted to do up there was hold it up in the sunlight to make a… big burst o’ light for you. Or somethin’. But I, um, couldn’t, of course. Because it was, er, down here. So, yeah, uh, here it is.”

    “But, Zeb—why—wait a minute—is this—”

    “Yeah, it’s… it’s for you.”


    Zeb shifted closer and placed his hands on hers, surrounding them and the stone. “Look, Shulma, I—I wanted to ask—if you—I mean—it would make me so happy if—if you would maybe—I mean—aw karabast, Shulma, will you, er—will you marry me?”

    “Oh Zeblove…” Shulma felt her heart thumping as she gazed up at him. Again the fears and doubts nagged at her: But what if something happens? What if you lose him? WHAT IF—

    And then she felt the warmth of his hands, saw the green smile of his eyes, heard the deep, rugged voice she so loved: “So, er… erm… whaddaya say?”

    “Yes!” Her heart burst with joy as she threw her arms around his neck, leaving the stone in her lap. “Yes! Of course I shall marry you, last warrior of Lasan!”

    “Aw, darlin’… heh…”

    “Whatever may happen to us, to our world…” She nestled closer to him as she spoke, letting his beard brush her cheek. “I am yours, my mighty bristlecone, my Garazeb!”

    “Aw, Shulma… darlin’... you’re so… I mean, I’m so… I, er… aw, karabast...” There was nothing more he could say as his strong arms encircled her, and they kissed among the mazna flowers, beneath the ruins of the Warrior.

    * * *​

    “I wonder if those two are all right,” Priska remarked to Maranga as they sat together at the head of the trail. “D’you think we should go check on them?”

    Check on them?” Maranga snorted in reply. “What’s to check on? They’re probably locked in a big, wet smooch even as we speak.”

    Priska shoved Maranga in the upper arm. “Don’t even! You know what I’m talking about! The Warrior and all… karabast, the landscape just looks wrong without it there…”

    “Yes, and? You know how these old formations are. They can fall two hundred years from now, they can fall today. It was bound to happen sometime.”

    “Yeah, guess so...”

    “All the strapping young bucks are just going to have to find something else to climb on Storms’ End, that’s all. Like the Gateway Spire over on Klegg’s Cliff, or—hey! What’s that?”

    The sound of two happy voices laughing and conversing—one husky and male, the other lyrical and female—filtered up the trail toward them. In a few moments, two figures came into view on the hill above: Zeb and Shulma, walking arm in arm along the trail. Zeb hefted the picnic hamper on his back, with the Honor Guard blanket and the two cushions tied on top. Shulma’s leather satchel was slung over her shoulder, but she also seemed to be carrying something in her hand—something she occasionally looked down at with a smile.

    “It’s them! C’mon!” Priska jumped up, gesturing to Maranga to join her, and they both ran down the trail to meet the newcomers. “There you are!” she shouted at last as she caught up with her brother and clapped him on the shoulder; he staggered slightly under the hamper but righted himself. “Are you two okay? For a sec I thought—oh ho! I knew it!” She gaped as she caught the ruddy gleam of the object in Shulma’s hand. “Let’s see, let’s see!”

    Shulma held up the stone for Priska to see, and the Guardswoman broke into a toothy smile as she examined it. “Aw, that’s gorgeous! Just look at that color! And those gold flecks are awesome! Aren’t you a lucky girl!” She thumped Shulma jovially on the back; all the young shaman could do was smile through her blushes.

    Maranga ran up beside them. “Waaait a minute! Gold flecks? Lucky girl? What the Bogan is going on here?!”

    “What’s going on here is that MY BABY BROTHER’S GOT HIMSELF A BRIDE!” She emphasized this utterance with a punch to Zeb’s shoulder, causing the hamper on his back to wobble. “AWWWW, IT’S SOOOO SWEEET!” And so saying, Priska descended on her brother with a vigorous noogie.

    “Hey! Knock that off!” he growled, staggering under the weight of the hamper as he wriggled free and shoved her out of the way.

    “Can’t help it, little bro! I’m too happy for ya!” She shoved him back.

    “Aw, is that how it’s gonna be?” He grinned as he shoved her yet again, and for several moments they exchanged shoves, punches, and noogies as they descended the rocky slope.

    Meanwhile, Maranga was eyeing the stone in in Shulma’s hand. “Hmm, not bad. Not bad at all,” she mused, running a finger over it. “You really are a lucky girl, you know that?”

    “Aw, he’s lucky, too!” Priska ran up to noogie Shulma, too, causing a gasp of surprise that softened into calm laughter as the Guardswoman put her arm around her. “Welcome to the family, kiddo.”

    “Thank you, big sister.”

    Once again she linked her arm with Zeb’s, and the trail seemed no longer so steep as four young Lasat wended their way home in the softening sunlight.

    the end

    Gran’s fire-pepper sauce: Borrowed from Raissa Baiard, who mentions it in chapter 1 of The Beginning of Honor.

    mazna berries and flowers: Fanon, created by Raissa Baiard. See the Lasat fanon post under the heading “Flora.”

    Mount Sketh: Fanon. One of the prominent peaks in the Basalt Mountains; again, see From the Mountain’s Heart.

    The Gateway Spire and Klegg’s Cliff are also fanon locations in the cliffs surrounding Lira Zel.

    An HG-AT-R is an Honor Guard All-Terrain Rover. Fanon, perhaps unsurprisingly.

    rootabaggas: Fanon. GFFA rutabagas, of course—not very original, I know. :p

    Zeb’s heart: The placement of the Lasat heart on the right (rather than on the left, as in Humans) is a fanon bit of my own that first appeared in “Turn Your Head and Cough; or, The Checkup.”
  8. mavjade

    mavjade Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 10, 2005
    Awww... yay!! That was so sweet! And all the food Zeb brought... it was making me hungry, it all sounded so good!

    I loved this, because while it happens in a different way for her, I think this is something we can all relate to; being worried about other things and not enjoying what's right in front of us. At least I know this happens to me a lot! She's so scared that the prophecy is coming true, she almost let's it get in the way of her own happiness. And Zeb is so perfect, and right. Who know what it really means if it is even anything.

    A great ending to a great story! =D=
  9. GregMcP

    GregMcP Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 7, 2015
    Got rather heavy in the middle with terrible portents for the future of the planet, and then turned into lovely picnic and a marriage proposal.
    Quite sweet.
  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    @Findswoman -- Delicious picnic goodies! Understandable trepidation Shulma was feeling, but I am glad she did not let it take away from the joys of the moment.
    The proposal scene - scrumptious! Priska was too FUN in her exuberant "congratulations." [face_laugh]
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2018
  11. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard FFoF Artist Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Nov 22, 1999
    SQUEE! :D [face_love] [face_dancing]:zeb:

    Ok, now that I've summed up my feelings... ;) Hooray! It's officially official! And even knowing what was coming, it made me squee and grin a big sappy grin when Zeb finally popped the question!

    But it wasn't easy getting to that point, what with the calamity at the Warrior and that ominous prophecy hanging over their heads. I love how Zeb, when he realizes Shulma has used her Ashla powers to save him, is neither freaked out nor intimidated by the prospect. Quite the contrary, he's proud of the way
    even as Shulma downplays it a bit, thoughts of catastrophe still on her mind. There's a little bit of tension there between the prosaic and down-to-earth (down-to Lasan?) Zeb and the more mystical Shulma, and while both points of view have their merits, as @mavjade points out, Shulma almost lets the mere prospect of future disaster steal the joy of the moment. Lucky that she does have Zeb there to remind of that, to calm her and remind that above all, she has him and they have each other whatever may happen, so that she can enjoy the beautiful picnic he's planned for her.

    I just love how the entire Orrelios family has contributed to the occasion (I can picture the rest of the family gathered at home waiting with bated breath for the results of Zeb's plan!) Even Shai (who is definitely thoughtful and mature, but definitely not a kit!) has managed to get in on the act and sent along some of his own spiced nuts for his Zebby (aww, that's my Shai!) The little exchange between Shulma and Zeb about his crooked medallion gave me another sentimental smile [face_love] And then the proposal! All the purple hearts go here! Zeb is just so Zeb here, with his plainspoken, not-very-good-at-this-mushy-stuff, not quite sure how to say this delivery:
    YES!!!!!!! This is just perfect! And again so, so Zeb! And Shulma's poetic acceptance is so her. These two just complement each other so well.

    And of course Priska is thrilled for her baby brother, how could she not be? Traditional Orrelios exuberance follows, with much shoulder punching and noogie-ing--even one for Shulma :D (better get used to it, now that she'll be part of the family) Even that stick-in-the-mud Maranga is impressed by Shulma's betrothal stone, but as Priska points out, it's not just Shulma who's lucky. They're both lucky to have each other's love and we readers are lucky to get this wonderful, fun, and heartwarming story. Be sure to invite us to the wedding! [face_love]
  12. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh, this! Every word of this!!!

    What a sweet, utterly endearing piece for Zeb and Shulma - you hit all the right notes for the MMM and then some. I was all too happy to read this second part, and my inner romantic basked in every word. [face_love]

    Such as:

    Which is so much easier said than done, of course! This was just a shock following a shock for Shulma - I don't at all blame her for being so alarmed, no matter that Zeb - and his proposal! :D - were able to talk her down, to some extent. Especially, as a reader, knowing what canon will bring, made this hit even harder. [face_worried]

    Zeb knows that his lady is a 'wild mountain flower' if she is a flower at all! She has such fire and gumption and I love that he loves that about her. There's no misplaced, toxic masculinity on his part that feels threatened by her saving him. Instead, he's rightly awed. Such a good man - such a good match! [face_love]

    Such beautiful Shulma prose! You know what a sucker I am for that. You wrote her trying to calm down from her anxiety so very well. Her foreboding and trepidation coming back time and again, no matter how she struggles to the contrary, is something we can certainly all relate to in one form or another. :(

    :p I just love their banter. They're so good for each other. [face_mischief]

    I just had to take a moment to acknowledge this wonderful bit of worldbuilding - and how hungry it left me as a reader! ;)

    And Shai! Of course he sneaked in the nuts - the dear! Once again, I love how much of a close knit group Zeb's family is. [face_love]

    Don't mind me, just grinning like a geeky fangirl over your language of stones - you know how much I adore that piece of fanon. And I particularly adored your invention of kreposkolite - what a beautiful token of love for Zeb to gift to his lady! [face_love]

    THIS WAS JUST SO ZEB THAT I CAN'T EVEN. Yep. Perfect proposal was perfect! :D [face_dancing][face_love]

    And just like Zeb's voice was so spot on for Zeb, so was Shulma's! I love the romanticism of her speech, as always. And I love the conclusion she's reached - that no matter what lies on the horizon for both them and their people, she's going to grasp every happiness she can in the here and now. It makes the mush all the sweeter, persevering in the face of the unknown - especially the foreboding unknown. [face_love]

    This was an image I needed in my life. :D I adore Priska, and how happy she is for her brother!!

    :D [face_love][face_dancing]

    And yep. I'm going to continue grinning like an idiot here - what a perfect way to sum this up, with happiness for the entire clan. Zeb's joy is their own, and their family just got bigger in the best of ways. What a perfect ending!

    Thank-you so much for sharing this gem with us - this entire series has been such a treat to explore with you guys, and this was a more than worthy instalment. =D=[:D]
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  13. Kahara

    Kahara FFoF Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    This was really sweet, and what a beautiful setting for the proposal to happen. (Well, also heart-stopping for a minute there -- good catch, Shulma! :eek:) I liked that we got to see more of how their relationship has grown since the early days. Zeb still struggles to find the exact right words -- though he manages very well in the end, as he so often does -- and Shulma still has that balancing act to do with her Force-related intuition. But they've both gotten to know each other more and more, and there's a level of comfort and understanding that had to be built with patience for each other. It's just really endearing and I love how earnest they both are about their love for each other. [face_love] The ominous significance of the spire falling down is definitely unnerving, but I'm glad that Zeb helped bring Shulma back to the present and they didn't let it spoil the happiness of the moment.

  14. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    As always, thank you all for your comments and for sticking with this story! :)

    Thanks so much once again, mav! I love a good food description in writing—whenever I write about food in the GFFA I think back to the food descriptions in Brian Jacques's Redwall books, which are at once amazingly detailed and very closely tailored to the universe that they're in. So I try to do the same whenever I write about food in this universe, and I thought a scrumptious picnic would be just the thing for both the species and the setting I was working with here. (Plus, this way Shai could chip in some nuts from his stash!)

    Oh yes, this is a trap that I very often fall into myself as well, pretty much day in and day out, and it really does a number on my own happiness sometimes. I need that same reminder often myself. And hey, if this character, whose homeworld really does eventually end up being near-destroyed, can set aside her worries and fears and just enjoy her time with her love—well, then, so can I! Thanks once again for reading and commenting—always great to have you on board. :)

    Thank you so much for being here to read and review, Greg; I really appreciate it! Yep, it kind of ran the whole gamut of moods here, and it kind of represents my own feelings about writing these the characters, in a way—knowing the canon history of what eventually happens to their planet ( :_| ), and yet wanting them to enjoy their tender moments too. It's a tough balance (see my response to mav above), but I do what I can, and I very much appreciate your taking a chance on this story! :)

    Thanks so much, as always, Ny! There is nothing like a sweet picnic with a special someone to dispel those feelings of doom and gloom, however justified they may eventually turn out to be. And I am so glad you enjoyed the proposal scene! It's the first such scene I've written, so I had a bit of trepidation about whether it would be convincing, etc., so I'm glad you felt it came off well. And I couldn't resist bringing dear old Priska back in at the end, kind of as an emblem of the larger family group that Shulma will be joining. (And oh, what fun that will be to write when I get around to their...
    ...Big Fat Lasat Wedding!)

    Yep, they’re engaged for reals now! :D This is the moment that all of Zeb’s hunting in the mountains in “From the Mountain’s Heart” was leading up to—the start of a new phase of Zeb and Shulma’s romance. :)

    I’m so glad this worked, because for a bit while writing this, I kind of wondered if he should react differently. But I ultimately went this route because I felt he would admire her distinct brand of strength, even if it’s somewhat beyond his ken. That said...

    That’s the thing about these two characters’ very different approaches: on one hand they lead to their complementing each other well, but on the other they really can bring about differences, in the sense of disagreements. It may be something they’ll have to watch out for in their future life together. Plus, they each have the defects of their qualities: that tendency to let worry and doubt cloud the present moment is part and parcel of Shulma’s visionary, “prophecy-type” outlook, and Zeb’s moments of impatience with her are part and parcel of his very here-and-now, action-oriented outlook. But they each lets his or her love for the other be a calming influence, and that’s what allows them to go back down to their picnic in calmer spirits.

    Of course the Orrelioses are going to make this a family effort—that’s how much they love their Zebby and his girl! :D I knew from the start that I wanted Shai to be in on this somehow, because he’s supported Zeb’s interest in Shulma from the start. It’s kind of neat how he ended up indirectly being in both of my stories leading up to Zeb and Shulma’s betrothal (this one and “From the Mountain’s Heart”). And you probably noticed that Shulma does indeed eat the nuts he packed! :D

    I figured a few little pleasantries of that sort would help lighten the mood for both of them. How is Shulma not going to laugh at Zeb’s imitations of his little brother and his commander, in turn—plus, it becomes an opportunity for a moment of tenderness, too. [face_love]

    Well, thanks, and I am so glad you enjoyed this! This was a very fun part to write; I find that a lot of tweaking is necessary sometimes to get these awkward utterances of Zeb’s just right. :p Even if by now Zeb’s used to a certain amount of romantic talk with his ladylove, popping this particular question is still a new thing for him. But that’s fine, because for Shulma as well as for us readers, his plainspokenness is part of what makes him so lovable! [face_love] And yes, here is where their differences once again become complementary, and Shulma even manages to turn the dire words of the prophecy into a term of endearment of sorts, an emblem of her love for and pride in the warrior she has.

    Oh yes, again, the whole family is all for this match! This is where we get a glimpse of the fact that Shulma won’t just be marrying Zeb, she’ll be marrying into a whole family of stalwartness and heartiness and noogieing. (And negotiating that might be its own story or stories, perhaps). And yes, even crusty Maranga lets herself soften up and enjoy the happy news, at least a little; the general mood of happiness can’t help but rub off on her a bit. And shucks/karabast/golly gee, as always, thanks so much—but of course you will be invited to the wedding, when it’s written! :D [face_love]

    Thank you so much, as always, and I'm so glad you enjoyed this little romantic interlude! [face_love]

    It's definitely much easier said than done to cast that kind of feeling aside completely. And it's a delicate balance for the writer, too, because on one hand you want your characters to be happy, and on the other you don't want them to come off as incautious when they do learn about (or even just guess about) future misfortunes. Plus, as has been observed above, it's so easy in our own universe, too, to get all worked up about future possibilities to the point of it eating away at your current happiness. Something I know I'm constantly working on!

    Oh yes, her strength is one of the things that drew him to her, and he takes pride in the fact that his lady has such powers at her command, just as she's proud of his strength and military talents. They admire each other's strengths, even though they're very different kinds of strengths.

    Indeed, and that's a feeling I've had myself about so many things—well, granted not necessarily about my homeworld being destroyed, but that kind of worry is a tendency I have had for a long time myself and still grapple with now.

    Aw, thanks! You know you'll get no argument from me there. ;)

    Thanks—that's how I know I succeeded there! :D Again, I love a good food description; they're one of my guilty pleasures in reading and writing, kind of. And I knew I had to fit Shai in somehow—or I'll put it another way, he was begging to be fit into this story somehow, and how could I turn him down? If he's donating his warra nuts, then you know he's really all for this. :D

    Oh, thank you, and I'm so glad you are enjoying that little touch. Given the "rock-orientedness" of the landscape and fanon Raissa and I (mostly Raissa) devised, it seemed like a logical extension. And I knew I wanted that combination for Shulma from the start: red-purple combining her own color with her species' color, and gold because gold is gold. [face_love]

    "Take these words of mine..." :D Here, as in his prayer at Osthi's tomb, he has put all of himself into his words at a critical, poignant moment, and that, if I do say so myself, makes the moment—and the proposal—all the sweeter. [face_love]

    This is where she finally resolves not to give in to her worries about the unknown, because she now knows that whatever it is she'll be facing it with the one she loves most in the universe by her side. [face_love] And "these words of hers" are fully hers, too—I'm so glad you've been enjoying the contrast between their respective speech patterns, which I've had such fun writing.

    I love her too! I have from the moment Raissa introduced her, and from that time I've been eager to get her and Shulma together. Indeed, I would love to do more with the respective families meeting each other—and finding out just how different they are, in some ways! (It's a topic very near and dear to me from my own in-law experience; I'll just say my in-laws haven't been quite as adoring as Shulma's.)

    Yes, that is indeed what a lot of marriage is about—the whole family celebrates too, not just the member of it who's getting married, and you don't just marry a person but their whole family, too! Which brings its challenges as well as rewards, but fortunately Zeb's family is such a cordial bunch that I'm sure even the challenges will be relatively pleasant ones. [face_love]

    Well, you are so very welcome, and I thank you too for exploring it with us! We are always more than chuffed to have you along for the ride! =D=

    Oh, thank you so much, Kahara, and it's so wonderful to see you here! @};- It has been interesting and instructive to write these two at different stages of their relationship: it can be a delicate balance to decide what has changed or grown about them and their interactions with each other vs. what has stayed the same. But what you describe is pretty much what I was going for: that they are completely at ease with each other now in a way they weren't when they were first courting, and if anything that's led them to love each other all the more! So much so that they can indeed be there for each other for comfort and support in difficult or ominous times. As Shulma finally says, they always have each other whatever may happen. (Well, in spirit if not always in actuality, as we've seen, but yes, pretty much. :) ) Thanks again for reading and for this lovely comment! [:D]

    Glad you enjoyed these little bits of humor! I love mixing the serious and the humorous when I can, and that's a delicate balance too—but with a character with such a broad expressive range as Zeb (if I do say so myself!) how can one not? :D

    As always, many thanks to you all for your readership and support! I so much enjoyed being part of this little challenge, and I look forward to more. @};-
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2018
    Kahara and WarmNyota_SweetAyesha like this.
  15. Vek Talis

    Vek Talis Jedi Master star 3

    Oct 12, 2018
    this is my friend Middle Lieutenant Maranga Patithi, of the Honor Guard Drum Corps.

    A terrifying title, designed to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy... uh, drum corps. :p

    “I just want Her Reverence to understand exactly what she’s getting into here.”

    What a very Solo-esque thing to say. I think this little drummer girl is a scoundrel. ;)

    the magnificent rock spire known as the Warrior, which each year the eligible young males climbed to show off their daring and prowess to the crowds of watching females.

    I am SO there! I'll climb up there, you betcha. :p

    “But you won’t need us,” smirked Maranga, giving Shulma a teasing nudge with her elbow.

    Heh, Maranga knows what's what. :D

    She signed the Triangle over her heart...

    Or the Triforce? Could her name really be... Zelda from the Legend of Zelda games? [face_idea]

    Just a little higher…

    Why does it seem like I hear the words... Pride before a fall...


    Why? Because I'm not a dope. I figured this was coming. [face_nail_biting]

    the summit now fully gave way

    Uh-oh, he's gonna get in trouble for breaking the Warrior. :p

    the last to conquer it before its fall.

    Yeah, that next crop of randy young kids isn't going to be happy they can't show off to the chicks. :p

    “My powerful, beautiful lady saved me.”

    He better not say that where there are any dudes around. :rolleyes: Guys are very unforgiving of statements like that.

    “But dearest—oh—” She collapsed in tears onto his shoulder.

    That's right Zebbie ol' pal, no lovins for YOU now. [face_mischief]

    “Now how about some lunch?”

    :eek: That's all he can think about?! :rolleyes:

    “I… er... thought I had something in my pocket. But… er… it turned out I didn’t.”

    That is the WORST pickup line I've ever heard, lol.

    Look, Shulma, I—I wanted to ask—if you—I mean—it would make me so happy if—if you would maybe—I mean—

    He's not very good at this [face_plain]

    Check on them?” Maranga snorted in reply. “What’s to check on? They’re probably locked in a big, wet smooch even as we speak.”

    That Maranga, she's a crafty one, lol.

    “Yes, and? You know how these old formations are. They can fall two hundred years from now, they can fall today. It was bound to happen sometime.”

    And so Zen, lol. Mountains, eh, whatcha gonna do? They stand up, they fall, so what?

    And so saying, Priska descended on her brother with a vigorous noogie.

    This family is HILARIOUS!

    He grinned as he shoved her yet again, and for several moments they exchanged shoves, punches, and noogies as they descended the rocky slope.


    Great story, as always. Great characters, Findswoman. :)
  16. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks so much for reading and commenting, @Vek Talis, and I'm glad you enjoyed this! :)

    The enemy drum corps had better watch out! :p But yes, that is mainly just a bit of color for now, since (as you might have seen in the notes) the RL namesake/faceclaim of this character is herself a percussionist.

    She probably has some of that in her, yes. :p

    Hah! See how you do without prehensile feet! :p

    Oh, it's clear to anyone with half a brain what's what here! ;)

    Close, close—Shulma does have some Zelda-like characteristics, it's true. @Raissa Baiard was actually the one who came up with this gesture; it's used similarly to the sign of the cross here on Earth, and the Triangle represents the three figures in the Prophecy of the Three.

    Because you probably did hear those words! ;)

    Yep, you were right! Not that it was meant to be a huge surprise—that kind of rock climbing is a risky proposition, as is well known.

    Though, too, see Maranga's "Zen" comment later on. :p

    Oh, rock formations like these are a dime a dozen on Lasan (per the fanon I'm working with). They'll find another one, as Maranga says later on. :p

    Zeb does have a few friends like that who come up in other stories (Velibor and Gunvar, both created by Raissa Baiard); I guess it's lucky for him they're not around at this moment! :p But he's partly trying to reassure Shulma here, because he can see that she's a little on edge after what just happened—and he is genuinely thankful, because she did save his life.

    Aw, now, of course he gets "lovins"! He's getting "lovins" right now, with his lady in his arms. [face_love]

    Not the only thing! :p Again, he's trying to reassure her, and given that they came out there for a picnic to begin with, why wouldn't he propose lunch as a way of helping take her mind off the scary premonition she's just had? :p

    Oh, these two are past the pickup line stage, though I could kind of see someone using this sentence that way. :p

    Perhaps not, but it works all the same, and she loves it all the same! :D

    Well, she's right, of course. You seem to really like her, incidentally! ;)

    Hey, it's perfectly true with formations and hoodoos like that on our own planet, too—see this, for example (and Bryce Canyon was indeed the main inspiration for Raissa Baiard's fanon on the Lasan landscape, which, once again, I am borrowing with gratitude).

    Aren't they? :D I can't really take any credit for Zeb's family members, since they were really Raissa's creation—you should read her stories about Zeb's younger brother, Shai. If you think Priska is a character, wait till you meet him! :D

    It's the quintessential Orrelios gesture of acceptance and celebration! :zeb: :D

    Thanks so much, and again, I really appreciate your coming by to read! :)
    Kahara, Vek Talis and Raissa Baiard like this.
  17. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    LOL! @Findswoman -- I had to reread this nummy for the "title with four words" prompt in the 2020 Reading Challenge. [:D]
    Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    I realized I didn't respond properly to this earlier this year—so I'll do so now! Thank you so much, and I'm so glad you enjoy this story and included it in your challenge list! :) @};-
    Kahara and WarmNyota_SweetAyesha like this.