Zildath never had a dream like this before.
He was in the river, bathing, singing to himself. He realized after a time he was no longer alone. At first he was shy, ducking lower into the water, trying to cover up the bulk of him. But then Sariel kissed him, the way she had in the tree. And Tali kissed him, the way she had in the underdark. And he no longer cared about being shy. He knew what to do in the dream, images from the book his parents gave him, those beautifully painted figures replaced by Sariel and Tali. He knew how to touch them in the dream, and clearly they knew how to touch him, and here his body was not a let down and then they were astride him and he –
Zildath awoke with a start. He felt flushed and feverish. He shifted slightly against the tree branch and that slight motion was… well, it provided an interesting sensation as there were parts of him that were… pieces of clothing that currently fit… ahem, too tightly.
Oh by Tritheron. He didn’t move for a moment, listening above him. Waiting to hear the turn of the page. He heard nothing. He turned his head, and realized he was alone. Thank the Gods for small miracles.
And for his cloak.
He floated out of the tree, pulled the cloak tightly around his body and marched through the town. He found barrels of water near the stables. He pulled back the lid on one and released a powerful exhale of cold over it, turning it into a combination of water and ice that he immediately dunked his head in.
Zildath stayed submerged until he could no longer hold his breath, until he felt like his skin wasn’t so feverish. He inhaled, then submerged himself again, repeating the process until his… ahem, clothes fit correctly.
When he felt sufficiently cooled off, he stood there in thoughtful silence, his strong, clawed hands gripping the edges of the barrel, letting the cold water drip down his face. By the Gods could he handle two of them? No, no, of course he could. He read the book but – would they find his form pleasing? He’d never had a high opinion of his body, for obvious reasons, but even as he slowly began accepting his tail and learning more about the Prismatic Order he still hadn’t thought of his body as anything more than a weapon. A meat shield. But now, now, he would have to seriously consider that his body could be used for something else.
He looked down at himself. His arms. The line of scars that marked his skin. They did not bother him. He liked them. Liked what each of those marks represented. Moreso now, that he knew more about himself and what his purpose was. But, in the moments where his body was not a weapon, but for something else, would they bother, Sariel and Tali? He had many scars, from many battles, all over.
Of course he knew they didn’t now but it would be different if they… when they…
Zildath sighed and splashed more water on his face. Drawing a hand over his snout his eyes caught his hand. He would get to touch them. The thought sent another blaze of heat through him, threatening to undo his previous work cooling down.
Until he realized these were the hands of a Blood Hunter. Until he realized, he had no idea how to touch them – gently.
“Fuck.” He stared at his palms. “Fuck,” he said again and abruptly turned, moving quickly through the village, out one of the back entrances and into the forest. He needed to practice. He needed to start now. But how could he start?
Wait. Flowers. Every time he picked flowers for the flower crowns, he always pulled too hard. Made a mess of dirt. He found a patch of small, clustered together flowers, and nodded in determination. This would do. He squatted. Rubbed his hands together. Wiggled his fingers. He reached out, grasping one of the flower stems. He watched it pinch and squish under his grip. He immediately released it.
“No, no, too hard. Too hard. Gentle, Zildath. Gentle.”
He took a breath, then he reached out, and tried again. He would practice until the sun fully arose. He would pick these flowers with the greatest amount of care. And then, then he would find a bug. A tiny crawling bug, and he would run his finger across it, so gently that he did not smoosh it. And he would keep practicing, until it was time for them to leave and perhaps go kill a spider.
It would be good to kill spiders, then he wouldn’t be thinking about this dream.
Fuck. He should have brought the barrel out here with him.