Written, of course, with Arrens. Enjoy!
Old Town never really settled into the pre-dawn quiet that Aely had been accustomed to in camps – being in the city and so near the pub meant a constant stream of people, plus the watch was there, and heavy plated boots would clank by every half hour. Add in the quarter-hour chimes from the Cathedral and Aely’d learned to sleep pretty soundly.
Still, Roger’s wet nose on the back of her neck was expected, even an hour before dawn.
She tumbled out of bed, pulling on a loose linen shirt and some soft cotton pants, routine taking over where mental awareness lacked. Lighting a small lamp, she laced on soft leather boots… and remembered.
“Righ’ – ye min’ takin’ a run wi’ Arrens, ‘stead ay jus’ us, Rog?”
Roger wagged his whole back half, prancing around.
“… I’ll take ye dinna mind.”
Roger’s braided leather leash hung just next to the door, with her keys. She grabbed both and headed up the stairs – sparing a quick glance in the little mirror and glowering at the unruly red mess hanging around her face. Roger waited impatiently, whining, his nose pressed against the doorjam, while she ran her fingers through it, tying it back.
“A’righ’ – a’righ. Le’s go, yeh?”
Arrens was waiting when she walked outside, Roger running up to him, sniffing the warlock. “Good morning to you, my dear.” He kissed her gently. The cold, brisk air was a pleasant wake-up call, the gust of wind stinging Arrens’ arms exposed in his sleeveless shirt, linen pants offering little in the way of warmth. “Now then. You mentioned something about a path in Elwynn?”
Aely clipped the lead on Roger, starting off at a gentle pace for the Stormwind Gate.
“Yeh – ye’ll see. Rog likes it better, ’cause I dinna have t’ keep him tied.”
They ran in comfortable silence, each adjusting to the pace of another runner without too much trouble, through the lighted streets of Stormwind and out past the huge gates. Aely waved at the guard, who grunted back “Morning” before eyeing Arrens somewhat warily. Taking a quick right hand turn past the gates, she led them down through the trees, barely lit as the first hints of sunlight peered over the horizon. “Path goes out ’round Mirror Lake. ‘s a nice spot t’ sit an’ watch th’ sunrise.”
Arrens nodded and smiled, keeping pace stride for stride with the paladin. Normally his mind was focused on the day ahead while he ran, lessons that needed to be taught, important points that needed mentioning and an endless array of meetings with bureaucrats to justify the kingdom’s tax money used to keep the school open.
He thought of none of that as he ran. Instead, his mind was focused solely on Aely and the distance they put between themselves and the city gate. He allowed her a moment to get several paces in front of him, watching from behind as her ponytail bobbed up and down with her graceful movements. “Gods, she’s beautiful,” he thought. “And runs like a deer!” He picked up his pace and was soon beside her once more.
She led them around the lake, the sky over Elwynn slowly turning from black to grey to a soft orange, as the sun threatened to creep above the horizon. The path curved and then inclined sharply, and Aely slowed to a walk, laughing.
“Ye’ve go’ me near t’ beat. I cannae tell if I’m tryin’ t’ keep up wi’ ye, air outrun ye, but … I’ll be glad t’ stop a moment.”
Arrens grinned, pushing ahead of her a bit before turning around and walking backwards. “You weren’t kidding about the hill. How much farther up?”
“Nae much – see th’ turn, passes right ’round those rocks? ‘s a spot t’ sit just above.” Roger bounded ahead of them, his seemingly endless energy rather astounding the two rather winded humans behind him. They turned the corner together. Aely’d timed it right, for once, and the view over the top of the forest, out toward Redridge was picturesque, early morning fog clinging to the trees as the sun finally made his lazy, winter appearance.
Arrens practically fell alongside a tree, his breathing heavy, sweat staining his shirt. He propped his back along the tree feeling the chill morning dew beneath him. Aely sat down between his outstretched legs and leaned in close, his arms wrapping around her. “It really is quite lovely,” he said, nuzzling his nose into her hair.
She smiled, taking several long breaths to try and cool down. “Yeh – I like watchin’ th’ sunrise. If I’ve gotta be up this early? Might as well get sommat out ay doin’ so. I dinna always get th’ timin’ right though. Must be y’r good luck.” She folded her arms over his, enjoying the closeness.
“Best part is? W’r nearly done too. Path’s near a circle, an’ we’ve made most ay it.” She pointed off to her left, the tops of the Stormwind gates visible through the sun-streaked fog. “An’ I’ll admit t’ bein’ pretty worn… as much as I dinnae wan’ t’ go back just yet.”
“I’ve several hours until my class starts. And I’ll be honest, I’ve not been pushed that hard in quite some time. Perhaps…perhaps we can take our time getting back.” His breathing once more returning to normal, he turned Aely’s face to his and kissed her deeply as the sun crept over the horizon.