With an elongated sigh she pulled him with herself away from both the square and the village, after glancing over the assembled Albin expedition. “I know that you are,” she paused looking up a tall tree next to her after sitting him down quite some distance to the camp. “interested in me.” Praethon felt his cheeks turning red. “I have thought about this long and hard those past weeks and months since we departed, the last two days in particular.” an ugly and painful precognition arose in Praethons heart.
“I was, and still am, interested in you as well, but seeing your point about our declining life expectancy, I see only pain and suffering for you in the not too distant future. I am now older than fifty years, by our old standards and life expectancy that is young, I feel young.” she paused holding on to the tree. “But if we really are dying younger, I will die a long time before you will.” she dared not look at Praethon directly, she only saw his clinched fists from the edge of her field if vision.

“I don’t care.” surprised she looked up, through a slight veil of tears she saw him marching up to her. Tenderly he grabbed her shoulders and kissed her. Although Johly was almost a head taller than Praethon, way more muscular thanks to her physical labour with the animals, she felt like butter in his hands. “No.” she pushed away. Sighing she turned from him. “Please, for your own sake, don’t court me any longer. Besides I think the captain has an interest in you.” fast paced she hurried back to the camp, leaving Praethon confused and devastated in the woods. Vaguely aware of the fungal guards in the vicinity Praethon forced himself out of the petrified stance he had remained in after Johlys rejection. He had no idea how much time had passed since then, but he figured it couldn’t have been much more than a few minutes. Stumbling through the underbrush he too returned to the camp. “Praethon!” the captain of the guards greeted him as he reappeared in the camp, she had a hint of relief on her facial expression.
“Captain Sashja.” he replied in a monotone voice barely looking at her, still consumed by the burning fire of rejections pain. “The human chieftain invited you to visit the village, he assured us that while we are in the proximity of Reedheim all men are safe from the Naga.” barely aware of what she had said to him Praethon nodded, turning his gaze to the village. No sign of Johly. “When should I be there?” slowly the information sank in. “As soon as you are available.” she saluted, turning away.”Why won’t you accompany me?” petrified Sashja stopped dead in her tracks. “Me?” she turned with clear nervousness among her expressions. “It’d be like a surveying mission, in case the locals should turn out hostile.” he quickly fabricated an excuse why she should accompany him.

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