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CH 4 | The Fragile Heart (Part 2)

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  1. Asha worked alongside her mother in the workshop, silent as she cleaned a multitude of vials. Sirona made many glances towards her daughter, and each time her worry only grew. The silence was not a trait of Asha's, but today she was not bubbling about her latest adventure in the Great Forest. Sirona had noticed that her daughter hadn't stepped foot in the forest for nearly two weeks now, nor spoken any word relating to the Crow Lord and Sirona was not blind to the likelihood that something happened between them. However, she couldn't imagine what exactly could have caused this.

    When Asha - for the third time - paused too long in her assigned work, Sirona finally voiced her concern.

    "Asha, what happened?"

    Startled, Asha turned enough to look at her mother and asked, "What do you mean?"

    "Don't think I haven't noticed your lack of stories from the Great Forest."

    "It's dangerous to travel through the Great Forest during the changing of the seasons," Asha said quickly, "You taught me that."

    "It is not yet the time for the Winter Court to reign, try again."

    "But it is getting dangerous..."

    Sirona sighed, "Asha, you haven't talked about the Crow Lord for over a week. What happened between you and the Forest God that you don't talk about him anymore?"

    At the question, her daughter fell apart before her. Tears immediately welled up in Asha's eyes before streaking her cheeks and falling down to the floor. It quickly turned into sobbing and she was then hugging her mother tightly. Sirona returned the embrace, confused by the sudden change of emotions and ended up only more worried.

    "What did he do?" Sirona asked her softly.

    "Darrah, he..." Asha swallowed thickly, "He rejected me."

    "Rejected you? Why would he reject your friendship after all this time?"

    Asha shook her head in her mother's shoulder.

    "No... he rejected my heart."

    Sirona paused her comforting actions and looked down at her daughter. Of all the things she expected to hear, this was not one of them. "What did you do?"

    Asha stilled, hesitating before slowly answering with, "I... I fell in love with him... and I told him."

    "And he didn't feel the same way?" Sirona was still trying to adjust to the apparent fact that her daughter fell in love with a Forest God, but remained willing to let Asha explain.

    "No," Asha shook her head, "I'm sure he feels the same, but I don't understand why he looked so... scared."

    "Scared?"

    She nodded, "He wouldn't let me near him after I kissed him, but sounded heartbroken talking to me." Asha then sighed, "I don't understand him anymore and I don't know what to do."

    Sirona thought on this, letting the silence calm her daughter down as much as her embrace did. In truth, she did have an answer for Asha. She knew that many could learn from the Forest Gods, but fall in love with one? Never, but Sirona would not leave her daughter to dwell on the Crow Lord and his ruined tower - not with a crisis within the village steadily growing.

    "The Crow Lord won't be going anywhere, Asha," Sirona then soothed, "And I believe that you both need time apart to think on what happened."

    "Will it get better?"

    "Perhaps," Sirona decided to say, not willing to give a definitive answer, "For now, we have important work to do. I'm worried about the number of fevers in the village and the sooner we finish, the sooner they're well again."

    Asha nodded and together they returned to the work at hand. She remembered her nightmare, however, and it left a feeling of dread in her heart. Many of the people in her village were going to die, but Asha supposed that her mother knew this as a glance over her shoulder revealed Sirona's grim expression as she stirred one of the larger cauldrons. With a deep breath, Asha returned to cleaning the vials and preparing them to be filled with her mother's remedies.

    Though as she did so, Darrah was never far from her thoughts.

    Though comforted by her mother's words, Asha was unsure if she would see him again in the near future.

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