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About Lessa

  • Birthday 05/28/1992

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  1. "Seven to go," Lessa answered, summoning her HUD with a flick of her wrist. Over the twinkle of chimes, she added, "There's nine all together, and we've done two. I'm pretty terrible at math, but I can at least figure this one out." The smile she gave him was small and self-deprecating, before she turned back to her work. A few selections later, a new sword was strapped to her back. She drew the curved blade, holding it out in front of her for study. "Bigger dragons," she explained, "require bigger guns." She tipped her body, thereby rotating the weapon, and allowing the sun's light to gleam along its edge. "This is Scarecrow's Sickle," she told Alkor. "It used to belong to Zelrius, but it's been tossed around over the years. Now it's mine." As she studied the sword, and reflected on how it had come into her possession, her smile softened into something more genuine. She replaced the sword in its sheath. "No word on the third dragon." After glancing at her inbox to confirm, the blonde planted her hands on her hips. "Assuming these quests will stay true to pattern, we'll find the next dragon on the next floor. Does the third floor sound good to you?"
  2. Lessa nodded, reaching up to rake fingers through her golden mop of hair. "Mhmm, yeah, I'm sure. To be honest with you, I'm probably going to spend most of my time here from now on." She pursed her lips in thought for a moment, then muttered, "I wonder if I could just rent a room from George." Whether or not she was joking wasn't entirely evident. Giving a quick shake of her head, Lessa turned back to smile at her companion. "Anyway, yeah, I'll be riding a ton. So I don't want to take up the whole day. Our day." Her eyes shone as she clucked to Dessel, nudging him into a lively jog. Once she'd put a few horse lengths between herself and Dolly, she settled back in the saddle with a commanding "whoa." The buckskin gelding sat back on his haunches, executing a quick one-eighty so he was looking the opposite direction. Face flushed with excitement, happiness continuing to simply beam from her, Lessa motioned to Bahr. "If you want her to turn the left, put your left leg forward and your right leg back. Squeeze with both, while pulling the left rein back. She'll take it from there." The ride back to George's was uneventful, but no less wonderful. Lessa kept catching herself glancing at Bahr, each look sending a pleasant spark through her. By the time they'd pulled up in front of the barn and dismounted, she could hardly contain herself. Three long strides brought him to her, Dessel and Dolly momentarily forgotten as she snaked her arms around his waist and tugged in in for a fierce hug. There was nothing delicate or romantic in the gesture, but she clung to him for a few seconds before stepping back. "I will never be able to thank you for this," she told him. "But I have to try. So.... thanks." Her hands, which had moved to his forearms, squeezed. "You sort of filled this hole inside me. This is what I'd been missing. And you did it even though you're not as comfortable around horses as I am. That's just," she blew out a breath, unsure of how to finish the sentence. "Well, it's just really amazing. It's the most amazing thing anyone has ever done for me." Tender sweetness softened her voice, her hands relaxing on his arms as she gazed up at him. "You're amazing." Then, with a laugh, "I'm sorry I can't stop saying the word amazing."
  3. Lessa

    [PP - F3] Sanctuary

    "Oh, Lessa?" Lessa swung back around at Rainey's request, an eager "yeah?" practically exploding from her. The other woman's smile was gentle, if not a bit amused. Her expression was a far cry from one Lessa would paint on a woman about to die. "Could I speak to you for a moment?" Her gaze quickly flitted from Lessa to Bahr, then back again. "Privately?" "Uh, yeah, sure." The swordswoman's eyes met Bahr's for a second, then she stepped away from him. A few strides later, she was standing beside Rainey on the edge of the world. It was difficult to put her anxieties aside, and in her attempt to remain casual, she pumped a bit too much enthusiasm into her, "What's up?" If the other woman noticed the mishap, she gave no indication. Rather, she leveled a steady gaze on Lessa. When she spoke, her voice was as soft and delicate as an early morning fog. "You do know this isn't your fault, right?" "I know." Lessa answered without thinking, a knee-jerk reaction that stemmed from years of stifling her emotions. And not just in Aincrad, either. If telling Rainey she blamed herself made Rainey feel bad, was it worth it? Why not just lie about it, save the girl the trouble, and just sort through the inner struggle later? It wasn't like - "Do you?" Lessa blinked a few times, sighed, shook her head. Apparently, sparing Rainey was out of the question in more ways than one. "I mean, deep down I know it. But it still feels wrong." The other woman's face softened at the confession. "I will always be in awe, and a little bit envious, of the sheepdogs." At Lessa's frown, Rainey went on to explain, "My father was in the military, and he told me the story of the sheepdogs. Everyone in the world is either a sheep, or a wolf. The wolves pray on the sheep, who just go through life completely oblivious." She lifted a single finger into the damp air. "The exception to this is the sheepdogs. They're a small group who protect the sheep at all costs. They don't do it for glory, or for praise. They just repeatedly put their lives on the line to protect those who probably don't even deserve it." When Lessa opened her mouth to say something, Rainey simply shook her head. The higher level player's skepticism was clear on her face, and Rainey had to get it all out before Lessa had the chance to protest. "I am a sheep. You are a sheepdog. You stand in direct contrast to everything Dominic told these people. You and Lilik both, you protect. You want to take the blows, and to spare everyone any hardships. You watch over them, like a guardian." Finally, the first traces of sadness filtered into Rainey's big blue eyes. Her raised hand moved to finger the purple bow in Lessa's hair. "The Violet Guardian. I wish I'd been able to know you better." You still could, Lessa longed to retort, but the words wouldn't come. Besides, to keep blatantly ignoring Rainey's final wish would be wrong. She had to let go. So instead, Lessa whispered, "Lilik told me you were scared, but you don't seem scared to me." The sadness fled her, replaced by a genuine smile. "Then that's how I'll have you remember me. Goodbye, Lessa. Thank you." The space between herself and Bahr seemed to take an hour to cross. When she finally reached him, she simply took his arm, and rest her forehead on against his shoulder. "Give me a sec?" she asked of him, before drawing in a few deep breaths. Once she had composed herself, she pulled back, but her hand remained on the sleeve of the crimson jacket. Her face was hard, and her eyes dry, but her voice wasn't entirely steady. "Okay, I'm ready. I'm going to help everyone pack up. They're probably really lost right now, and could use a little guidance." She loosed a half-hearted, one-shouldered shrug. "Since I got them in this mess, I should be there. Do you want to come with me?"
  4. Before she her mind could catch up, her body was already moving. Lessa tore away from the smoldering cart, eating up the distance between herself and Oliver. Praying she wasn't too late. But she was. As soon as Lessa reached the boy's side, she saw the body pinned beneath the rubble. Oliver's breaths came in weak, shallow gasps, as if he teetered on the edge of complete hysterics. He likely did. He's just a kid. Lessa grabbed his shoulders, spun him, and pulled him against her. He struggled once, weakly, then snaked his arms around her waist. His small body hitched, and her torso vibrated with his silent sobs. "Shhh, hey," she murmured, a hand moving to stroke his hair. "We did the best we could, okay?" She knew her words wouldn't help, but it wasn't as if she could stay silent, so she just kept talking. "We found her. That's something. That's-" A low growl drew her from her comforting, and Lessa turned horrified eyes on a pair of massive Beastmen. Their cloven hooves thunked dully on the hard-parked earth as they approached, their muscular midsections already slick with sweat. Instinctively, Lessa shoved Oliver behind her. "Stay back," she barked, to both the enemy and her young charge. In an instant, she had drawn Scarecrow's Twin. Her blue eyes flashed, shifting from their typical hue to a supernatural cerulean shade. <<Howl>> activated, drawing the attention of the two Beastmen away from Oliver. In the confusion caused by her skill, the first creature botched his attack. The second one, however, knocked his club against her heavily armored shoulder. Lessa winced as her body jolted, but only a sliver of her health was depleted. Better me than Oliver. "Uh, Alyssa," came the boy's trembling voice. "I think the girl is actually still alive."
  5. "Crazy antics," she echoed before pursing her lips in thought. "Hmm. Well, there was one time in high school. It was an equestrian team meet, and I was running down and back with a partner. Essentially, one person runs to the end of the arena, hands off a section of hose to their partner, and the partner runs it back. The teams with the best times win points for their school." Despite the unseating she'd nearly received just a moment before, Lessa again looped the reins over the saddle's horn. Her now-freed hands gesticulated as she spoke. "I don't really know what happened. I think I was just leaning too far forward, but I rolled right out of the saddle. Just fell onto the ground. There was an ambulance onsite, so they loaded me up even though I kept telling them I was fine. They tried to drive away but Annie pulled herself free of the kid holding her reins and she followed after the ambulance. It stopped until someone caught her again, and by that time, my mom had showed up to take control of the situation." Happiness shone on her flushed cheeks as she retrieved her reins again. She expertly adjusted them with a few flicks of her wrists, gaze never leaving Bahr's face. "So Ann saved me from an unnecessary ER trip. Basically, she's a pretty cool horse." Even as she said the words, her hand was moving to her own mount's neck, where she scratched affectionately. "And Dessel is a good horse too," she cooed. When she finally straightened again, shifting in the saddle with a creak of leather, she gave a small sigh. Her head tipped back, eyes moving to the robin's egg blue sky. "You know, I could stay out here all day, talking about the glory days." She cast her companion a quick glance. "And I bet you'd let me. But this isn't just my day." Her smile was as warm as the midday sun as it bloomed. "And I'm excited to see what else the day has in store for us. What do you say we head back to George's place. Wouldn't want him to think I stole Dessel. Of course, I totally would. I've definitely thought about it more than once."
  6. The first signs of anger sparked across Oliver’s face. Heavily lashed chestnut eyes drooped to mere slits. “No.” His hands balled into fists, planting themselves on his hips as he repeated, “No. I’m not gonna do that.” A frown creased Lessa’s lips, her brows furrowing as she asked, “What?” “I’m not gonna give up. I’m not gonna tell Tythen that we couldn’t find his wife, because we didn’t even look. It would be lying if we said we did. “Oliver, listen.” The initial shoThere was something pleading in her tone, and she spread her hands in front of her. “It’s just a quest, and I don’t like the direction that it’s heading. We can easily just abandon it. It wouldn’t be the end of the world.” “It would be to Tythen! We promised him! What are we going to tell him?” The initial shock was warming into frustration. “We don’t have to tell him anything,” she slapped back. Oliver rolled forward on his toes, bouncing a bit as he stared up at her. Whether it was the anxious energy, or an attempt to appear taller, Lessa couldn’t be sure. But it was an incredibly childish gesture, making him appear even younger. “Yeah we do! He’s counting on us!” “He’s an NPC!” The words exploded from her, propelled by sheer exasperation. “It doesn’t matter what we say, because he doesn’t matter. He’s not real!” Her outburst plunged them into silence. Oliver dropped back on his heels, face crestfallen. The rage in his eyes disappeared, extinguished immediately, only to be replaced with hurt. Lessa regretted the words immediately. She reached out for Oliver, as if hoping to pluck the words back before they reached them. “Hey, I didn’t mean that.” The boy jerked back. “Yes you did! You did mean it!” Her jaw worked as she drew her hand back. “No, I didn’t, Oliver. I really didn’t. I don’t actually feel that way about NPCs, you have to know that.” “I don’t know! I don’t know anything about you!” He spun on his heel, pounding away from her before Lessa could say more. She watched him go, knowing she’d have to take chase eventually. But she could give the boy a moment, because she had absolutely been in the wrong. She changed her mind when she heard him scream.
  7. "What is it, Oliver? What did you find?" Lessa crouched beside the small boy, one hand clutching his shoulder. Not only was it meant to let him know she was there, but it allowed her to yank him back if the situation called for it. "See it?" The boy prodded once, twice, with the long stick. Her blue eyes narrowed as she studied the black lump. It wasn't a body, thank goodness. So what was it? "Is that... a shoe?" Oliver nodded eagerly. "Yeah, I think so! A boot, or something. Do you think it might be a clue?" Lessa heaved a sigh, straightening again, and offering Oliver a hand. When he took it, she pulled him to his feet. "I'm not sure if it's a clue or not," she admitted. "I'm not sure if this is one of those quests. And I'll be honest, I've got a bad feeling about all this. I think we should go tell Tythen that we couldn't find his wife." [Searching - 4/4 Complete]
  8. The woman stumbled a bit as she ventured deeper into the ruins. Arms spread to balance her, Lessa picked her way deeper into the still smoldering wreckage. The smell was overpowering, an unpleasant mixture of smoke, wood, and... something else. If Lessa were being honest with herself, it smelled of death. Stop thinking like that, she scolded herself, but the creeping anxiety remained. There was something terribly eerie about this particular quest. Lessa was far from a combat junkie, but she'd take hacking away at waves of baddies over this. There was too much emotion in this one. It was too easy to get back in her own head, and reflect on some of her own losses. "Alyssa! I think I found something!" Fear gripped her. "Hang on, Oliver!" she heard herself calling back. Panic dogged her heels as she hurried back to him. The brown-haired boy was crouched over the remains of what looked like a wagon. Bits of straw, miraculously spared from the flames, littered the ground. Oliver was unceremoniously prodding at something with a long stick. [Searching - 3/4]
  9. Lessa

    [PP - F3] Sanctuary

    Lessa gaped at Rainey. In truth, she had begun to wonder if the woman was even real. And just as it seemed the story was drawing to a close, one final twist awaited them. Rainey existed, and she was here. She lived, but if she had her way, it wouldn't be for much longer. Though she had just delivered a somewhat stirring speech, Lessa found herself completely without words as the other blonde made her declaration. Perhaps she didn't quite sputter, but she came very close before she was able to manage, "No one deserves this. But you still deserve to live." Slowly, Rainey's gaze tracked to Lessa. The blue eyes were more deep lake than Lessa's wide ocean, but the waters remained eerily calm as Rainey tilted her head. "But what is living, in a place like this?" came her simple answer. "Waking up just to wonder if it's my turn to die?" You could say the same about the real world, Lessa wanted to argue, but she remained silent. It was different, she knew that. Outside of Aincrad, you didn't need to check your gear before walking across an open field. You didn't need stock up on health potions, just in case. You didn't need to check your friends list every morning to see who had died while you slept. Something akin to curdled milk soured Lessa's gut, but still, she tried again. "We can help you." She spread her hands, motioning to the crowd. "You just said you were getting to know everyone. We can help you through this." The shorter woman shook her head, curls bouncing around a face that remained pleasant despite the circumstances. "Lessa," she said gently, "I don't need help." She looked from the woman to Bahr, and then back again. "I find it endearing that you two have found each other, and I'm happy for you both. But I had someone who loved me, and it just wasn't enough. This isn't just a rough patch, or a bad day. I've been thinking about it for a long time." Lessa thought she'd banished her anxieties with the defeat of Dominic, and the cleansing of his congregation. Yet they wormed their way back in while Rainey spoke. "Wait," she muttered, suddenly feeling a bit lightheaded. Even the cool breeze and the scent of damp earth did nothing to calm her as Lessa motioned to Bahr. "Let's just talk about it, okay? Let me talk to Bahr, and-" "And what?" Even with the interruption, Rainey's voice remained level. In fact, it was down-right agreeable. "This is my decision, and requires no discussion on your part." Now it was her turn to extend her hands, palms outstretched. "Should you try to stop me, you'd be doing just what Dominic claimed you would." She's right. "I have made my choice, and I have come to terms with it." She has. Lessa could see it now: the unwavering patience, the gentle smile, the calm in those blue eyes. This was not a woman plagued by emotion, overwhelmed, and looking for a quick out. This was a woman who had decided, right or wrong, that death was the only escape. There would be no saving this one.
  10. Dessel's plodding four-beat gait lulled Lessa into something of a trance. A dreamy smile rode her lips as Bahr spoke, and only the faintest concern edged it's way in at the story's conclusion. The image of Bahr flying Super Man-style played out in her mind. It was like a kid on a bike whose front tire hit a pothole, sending him sailing over the handlebars. It wasn't graceful, and it was definitely embarrassing. "Been there," she assured him. "I was at a summer camp at Albion, which is this college near me. They're basically world renowned when it comes to their equine program and facilities, so it was a huge honor just to be there. The entire time, we were preparing for this big showcase. Our families, students from the college, even community members came out to watch." Her eyes were wide and dancing as she put voice to the memory. "I was the first one up, and I was riding Ann toward this double oxer, right? And even though we'd done that same jump dozens of times, she decided she just wasn't feeling it that day. Just slid to a stop from a pretty lively canter. Sat right down on her butt, and threw me out of my two-point and over her head. I landed draped over the oxer like wet clothes hung to dry." She was grinning by the time she'd finished her story, but a sudden hesitation had her looping Dessel's reins over the horn. Now with the use of both hands, she was able to make vague hand gestures. Lessa brought her two flattened hands side by side, and explained, "A double oxer is basically two jumps right next to each other, meaning I managed to wedge myself right between the bars." She thought for a moment, then added, "And two point is that pose people jump in, when they sort of lift their butts out of the saddle and lean forward. It's also called forward seat." She shifted her weight a bit to demonstrate. "It's harder in a Western saddle, like the one we're in. English saddles are what you'd normally jump in, anyway. They don't have the horn, they're a lot flatter, and-" A sudden flutter of wings erupted from a bush to their left. Spooked, Dessel side-stepped directly into Dolly, bumping shoulders like a pair of polo ponies. After the initial jolt, it took Lessa only a split second to pick up her reins and collect her gelding. "Hey," she murmured. "It's fine. You're fine. Just a bird. A big, scary bird." All the while, she watched the tiny winged creature flap its way toward the wispy clouds overhead. Once she had her own mount under control, Lessa turned to Bahr. "You okay?"
  11. Lessa

    [PP - F3] Sanctuary

    "He will lead you into oblivion?" The words roared from her before she knew what was happening, but she made no move to apologize. Rather, Lessa stood and drew herself to full height. Her five and a half feet seeming to tower over the rest of the crowd. She knew that Bahr likely wanted to speak for himself, and she knew he was more than capable. But he was also still incredibly weak, recovering from both the fight and the poison. Besides, he had let his actions do the talking. Her hand gently brushed across the back of his head, a light trailing of fingertips, a gentle reminder that he was still with her. I'll take it from here. She turned to face the waiting audience, which had fallen deathly still after her outburst. "There should now be no doubt that Dominic isn't who you thought he was. He is malicious, power hungry, and willing to literally lead you to your deaths. He attacked my best friend, and nearly killed his own sister. Why? To show he could." Her expression lacked all it's usual warmth when she pointed an accusing finger at the still-thrashing man. As her blue eyes flashed, and the breeze blasted her blonde hair back from her stone-etched face, Lessa cut a more godly figure than Dominic ever hoped to. "If he's going to practice what he preaches, should he not be the first to meet the Light? So come on, Dominic. Go ahead. Jump. Show us how devout you are." As the men restraining Dominic took a step toward the edge, the guild leader began to flail more violently. The sight sent murmurs pulsing through the gathered players, but it ceased as soon as Lessa's hand lifted. "He is a fraud," she told them, "but you should not be embarrassed to have followed him. The community you created here really is something special. But that love, that trust, that teamwork, you can find it all elsewhere in Aincrad. You don't need some false prophet to lead you anywhere." Her hardened edges softened as she gazed out over the collected men, women, and children. "I know why you're afraid of this 'Otherworld.' Yeah, there's some scary stuff out there. But there's good, too. I mean, we're here because some random player was worried about her friend, who recently joined you guys. She asked us to look for her. Lilik isn't one of you, but she still showed compassion, and concern when she sent us on this mission." Her hand found Bahr's shoulder. "Bahr even showed mercy to someone we all know he disliked. You find a lot of that in this game, if you're looking for it. Does any of this really sound like the blood-thirst Dominic convinced you of?" Most of those listening shook their heads, and a few even voiced their thoughts in hushed tones. It looked as though she had them, but there was one more point to drive home. "There's no Light, at least, not in the way Dominic presented it to you. But there is darkness. It's okay to be scared. I'm terrified." No one could see the gesture, so when Lessa's hand tightened on Bahr's shoulder, it was meant for only the two of them. "My lights are the people that I choose to surround myself with. They make the life I have worth living, despite everything else. I almost threw myself off a ledge just like that once, but I didn't, and I'm so glad. Bahr and I can't stop you from doing whatever it is you decide. But I'm asking you, please don't make a choice you won't be around to regret later."
  12. Lessa

    [PP - F3] Sanctuary

    She was being torn in two. On one hand, she knew that Olivia had to be her top priority. She literally dangled from the edge, and with every wrong move, Lessa came closer to joining her. Though the woman's eyes were the same shade as her brother's, nothing malicious lurked beneath the emerald surface. All Lessa saw was her own fear reflected back at her. "Please don't let go," Olivia begged. And she wouldn't. On the other hand, there was Bahr. As soon as Dominic began to speak, Lessa knew her companion had made his appearance. Relief clashed with frustration; she was grateful he was there, but at the same time, furious that he'd put himself in danger. She strained to hear what Bahr was saying, and how Dominic responded, but she quickly realized she couldn't split her attention. She had to focus on Olivia. Even when she felt something thud against her, and she winced as her grasp began to slip, she couldn't look away. Until she heard Dominic's taunts. "It seems the Light favors me, Demon." Bahr was losing? Her wide eyes found his instantly, as if drawn there by a powerful, invisible force. When she comprehended just what it was she was seeing, she nearly dropped the woman she clung to. He looked terrible, but it wasn't just the red gashes criss-crossing his body that worried her. She had seen Bahr take damage before. What was foreign, however, was the distant look in his unfocused eyes. The somewhat vacant expression on a face gone slack. That shy, often sheepish smile was gone, as was the light that had so captivated her. She watched it flow from him as those heavily lashed lids began to droop. She was watching him die. "Don't you do it," she sneered, attempting to shift her hold on Olivia while leaving her attention on Bahr. "Don't you leave me, or I swear to God, I swear, I won't forgive you. I'll never forgive you." Her muscles burned, her head pounded, her entire body pulsed with adrenaline, fear, and fatigue. But when she looked at him, everything coalesced into one single emotion - desperation. "I can't do this without you." "Lessa, I'm slipping!" An anguished cry escaped her as Lessa tore her gaze from Bahr. She blinked back the salty mixture of sweat and tears while she stared down at Olivia. One way or another, this was all going to end soon. But none of them deserved this. Not Olivia, for standing up to her brother. Not Bahr, for following Lessa into the lion's den. And not Lessa, either. She didn't deserve to lose her one beacon of light after years spent in the dark. After everything the game had taken from her, she was expected to stand by and let it take him too? [censored] that. "Hold on," she commanded again, but this time, Lessa pulled her legs up underneath her. Shifting her weight, even a little bit, allowed Lessa to incorporate her core strength. It was more effective than simply depending on her arms, and slowly, Olivia began to rise. They were both grunting, then gasping for breath, when the women finally collapsed side by side. Three other players bustled over, clucking like concerned hens as they stooped to provide aid. Olivia was scooped up, settled on her feet, escorted elsewhere. But when someone grabbed for Lessa's arm, she yanked it away. She didn't need help. She needed him. And then he was there. As he collapsed to his knees, relief choked her, a reaction so explosive she might have been sick. Where his grasp was weak, hers was strong, crushing his body against hers. Lessa buried her face in his neck, fingers moving to twine in his hair. "You dick," she muttered against his damp skin. When he squeezed back, it forced a strangled sob from her. "Don't you ever do that to me again."
  13. "Hey, nice work!" she called, genuinely pleased to see Bahr find his way into the saddle. It was far from graceful, but it could have been so much worse. She'd seen riders climb up one side, only to go tumbling over the other. And okay, yeah, it was a pretty funny thing to watch. But she really didn't want to have to rescue Bahr on their first date. No doubt he would be mortified, and that didn't really set the romantic tone they were hoping for. She made quick work of her own mount up, relishing in the feel of the saddle beneath her as she settled. Shoving her hair back, she tipped her face to the sun and simply let herself feel: the horse shifting his weight from hoof to hoof, the thick leather against her thighs, the horn pressed to her palm. She was back where she'd needed to be. She was home. George's voice drew her back from her reverie, and she tuned in just in time for the exchange with Bahr. Curious, Lessa collected her reins and nudged Dessel forward. "Repeat of yesterday?" she echoed. Then, registering Bahr's words, her eyebrows winged up. "Wait, you rode yesterday? And you were thrown?" Concern and amusement warred for control of her face, and she settled somewhere in between. "I'm really glad you're okay, but don't worry about your unplanned dismount." She flashed him a grin, then stated, "it's practically a rite of passage." She leaned back in the saddle, propping her wrist on the horn as he watched him. "I've been bucked off so many times. Once, my horse spooked after a class. She took out the entire line of riders waiting for placings, threw me, then dragged me along the fence." She beamed, absolutely engrossed in the memory. "The green paint ruined my cream chaps, but they gave me a shoutout the next night at the rodeo. It was worth it." Only then did George's final statement register. "He's not really my boyfriend," she corrected, "but I'm still going to take really good care of him. And Dolly and Dessel too, you've got my word."
  14. Lessa

    [PP - F3] Sanctuary

    "Stop talking to me like I'm some kind of child," she shot back. "I'm not stupid, and I'm not going to go on acting like I am. I know a wrong situation when I see one. This isn't right." Desperation shimmered in her wide eyes as she turned them on the captive crowd. "You all know that, right? You all see what's happening here? Dominic is crazy. He's mad for power, and he'll tell you whatever you want to hear. You can't tell me you're actually going to let him-" Her voice was silenced mid-sentence as her face twisted in pain. As close as she was, Lessa was able to see that Dominic's hand had slid up her shoulder, and was now clasped on the base of her neck. He squeezed hard enough that his knuckles lost their color, fingers digging into the tender skin. The beat of silence was all he needed. "It grieves me to see that Sister Olivia, my own flesh and blood, is the first to have strayed from the path. We must correct this egregious lapse in judgment." Olivia's hands flew to her neck, clawing at Dominic's clenched hand, her eyes now rolling with fear. "We must help her find the Light again." He threw her toward the ledge. The crowd erupted. There were gasps, some hushed, some explosive as the horrific scene unfolded. People screamed, shouted, cried out in alarm. But the worst were the cheers. Despite all they had witnessed, a handful of devout followers rejoiced, lifting their hands and their faces to the sun as an innocent woman tumbled toward her death. Lessa registered none of it. All she heard was a whoosh in her ears as she lunged, arms outstretched. She was going to make it. She was going to- Her boots slipped on the wet grass. "No!" she shrieked as she went down, sprawling only inches from where Olivia's body hit, bounced, rolled over the edge. Lessa's arms and legs worked without thought, gracelessly clawing and pumping to propel her forward. It was by divine intervention that her fingertips kissed Olivia's wrist, tightened, then held. "Hold on," she grunted, as they both slipped closer to oblivion.
  15. "Well," she answered, "I really like him." Slowly, she pried her face from Dessel's neck, turning to look at Bahr. Her arms remained wrapped around the horse, her fingers climbing to twine in his wiry black mane. "He's absolutely perfect. Everything about him." In all her time in Aincrad, and even beyond it, Lessa couldn't remember ever being so happy. She felt she could simply float right of the ground, and might have, were she not tethered to the patient gelding. As her date moved closer, Dessel's head lifted. He regarded Bahr with a sideways glance, his ears first swiveling, then melting backward. "Hey now," she murmured, adopting the tone of a doting mother scolding her child. "None of that." Her arms unwrapped themselves from Dessel's neck, and she took a slight step sideway, placing her body between Bahr and the gelding. "Where are your manners?" She reached forward to give the buckskin's shoulder a quick pat. "Bahr is our friend, Dessel. He's... one of the good ones." She looked over her shoulder, intending to give Bahr just a quick glance, but something made her gaze linger. It was in those mismatched eyes of his, an unease that she couldn't remember ever seeing before. Was he nervous? Of course, it was entirely possible he wasn't as comfortable around horses as she was. Hell, it was incredibly likely; most didn't share her soft spot for the massive creatures. Yet here he stood. He'd arranged this for her, despite any concerns he harbored. Once more, her heart swelled as she looked at him. "Yeah," she finally answered, reaching to give his arm a quick squeeze. She needed to thank him, but didn't know how. She didn't know if she could, for the gift he'd given her. Swords, pins, all of it fell by the wayside as grinned at him. "I really, really want to ride." Lessa turned to George as he approached, a bridle draped over his broad shoulder, a saddle and pad propped on his hip. "Here y'are, miss Lessa. Should warn you, though. Dessel here is a bit spirited." "Good," came Lessa's answer as she accepted the equipment. "So am I." Carefully, and murmuring soft nonsense the entire time, she eased the headstall into place. When Dessel refused to accept the bit, she made a sharp tsk sound, and slipped her finger into the side of his mouth. She only had to tickle his tongue for a few seconds before his jaw dropped open, and she slipped the snaffle into place. "Amateur," she snickered. She made quick work of the rest of the process, positioning the saddle and pad, and bending to reach for the girth. As she tugged it under Dessel's stomach and began to knot the excess, George approached leading a fully tacked mare. "Looks like we're ready to go then," she announced. It appeared Bahr's stirrups had already been dropped to accommodate his long legs, but she gave them a quick tug just in case. She also checked the mare's cinch before looking to her companion. "Do you want a leg up?" Then, realizing it likely put the much larger man in an awkward position, she amended, "Or we can use the bottom rung of the fence. Whichever works."