The purplish gray rock spread out in front of her and the sky was filled with thousands of stars. Not far away, the rising dome of Mana Forge: Ultris sat imposing in the darkening sky.
“Why did you…”
They both spoke at the same time and stopped. She turned and looked him. He didn’t look entirely happy; pain and confusion etched his face and she felt sympathetic.
“You first,” she said quietly.
“Why,” his face turned impassive, “did you stop answering my letters?”
“I answered every letter you send me, after a while, they just stopped coming,” she sat down on a rock.
“Stopped? I stopped writing because you said you didn’t respond,” he gave a small negative shake of his head. He wasn’t going to get into the letter that had supposedly said that she had found someone else.
“Was there an issue with the mail getting sent back and forth?” she folded her hands in her lap. She was willing to consider the possibility that the mail was sent, but simply had not arrived. Gavin’s attitude on the matter was becoming combative and she didn’t care for it all.
“No one else had an issue,” he locked his jaw and his features grew cold. “Why did you send a letter calling off the engagement?” He hadn’t realized just how raw a wound this was until he spoke the words to her. “I had sent word to you to get ready to be brought out here. I had sent money for your passage and made arrangements to meet you at Falcon Watch. I…” he let his voice trail off as he realized that he was becoming frustrated. Frustration wasn’t going to do him any good.
“I didn’t receive anything from you telling me that you wanted me to come to the Outlands, let alone money for passage,” Cianna looked entirely unhappy. What had happened?
“And now I am hearing stories that you thought I was dead?” He wanted to look away because her expression indicated to him that she was telling the truth and right now, he felt like he should be angry.
“Presumed dead because you had disappeared for a few months,” Cianna reached down and pulled her bag into her lap. “I thought it was strange that…”
“Strange? I’m not dead!” he hissed.
“Well, obviously,” she counted to ten in an effort to remain calm. She was normally a relaxed and serene person, but Gavin was getting worked up and that was feeding her own unease. While she knew that reconciliation between them wasn’t going to happen, she wanted to get the matter of what happened between them straight.
He snorted in response.
She pulled a worn letter of out the bag and handed it to him, “Here, if you don’t believe me.”
He snatched the letter from her hand, feeling a bit guilty when she flinched. He felt cold when he read it, and even colder when he realized that he knew who had written it. While he could not read the name scrawled across the bottom, he did recognize the handwriting.
“It seems that the rumors of my death are exaggerated,” he said quietly. He looked up at her, his green eyes dark with suppressed anger. “There is something that I need to check,” the pieces were falling into place and he finally knew where he needed to start looking for the truth. He held up the letter, “May I keep this for the time being?”
“Why do you still have this after all these years?” he held up the letter again.
“When I got it, there wasn’t much information and I knew that one day I would come here to try and figure out what happened. That letter was the only piece of information that I had,” she made a helpless gesture. “It took years before I had the means to get here…” she trailed off with a shrug, not adding the obvious, ‘and now I am here.’
Gavin sighed and closed his eyes. Cianna hadn’t given up on him and wanted to find answers even when she thought that he was dead. He hadn’t fought when he was told that she was breaking it off. He should have gone back to Eversong Woods and demanded an answer as to why. Instead, he had just curled up inside.
“Cianna,” Gavin pressed his lips together. “When I thought that you were not coming and left me, I… took another wife.”
That revelation didn’t hit Cianna as hard as she thought it would. She had thought that he was dead all of those years so that was mild in comparison. She simply nodded. “I understand.”
“Commander, we found them!” Gavin’s reply was cut off when one of his soldiers called.
Cianna gave Gavin a small smile. “Time to go,” she said. “It was good to see that you are well. Truly, it is. And I am happy for you.”
She turned and left before he could say anything else, although her final words were like a knife in his heart. He watched as she stepped towards the gates of the base where the other party members were being brought in.