Lily and Gux walked among the redwoods with the morning sun, watching its rays stream through the trees from the side, creating shafts of light that glanced and danced off of every aspect of nature around them. They woke invigorated like they hadn’t been in a long time, and while they knew there was a goal awaiting them… They also knew they had all the time in the world to get there. The Ur dragon wasn’t going anywhere, and a few hours rekindling the love they shared would only help things grow.
“Do you remember when we first met?” Lily asked with a grin, walking backwards on the soft grass. “You were starving, all the animals were frightened, and you stumbled into my favorite glade…”
Gux nodded, his hand in hers as they moved, his huge fingers intertwined with hers while he walked far behind thanks to his gangly, powerful, monstrous arms. “I was worried… You act like I be monster… you hate and stab, as I see travelers do.” He shook his head. “I not want rocks thrown at me again… Even if still nicer than tribe.”
She shook her head, her eyes, the color of rich earth ripe for growing, looking into his with warmth. “I could never hurt you. You were scary, but so obviously kind and caring… how could I have scared you off? Though… I bet you never thought you’d be living on nothing but berries and snuggles when you ran off from your tribe.”
Gux laughed, taking a few quick steps to end up at her side. “I not expect any of this… I very happily mistaken. And… sad to fight tribe, but hope, maybe… make good name for gnolls one day.”
Lily stopped where she was, her traveling cloak catching the breeze and fluttering behind her while her eyes searched Gux’s. His golden yellow eyes, almost like wheat seeds waiting for a home, shone with a true peace and determination. Little flecks of green from his magic seemed to sparkle and dance in his pupils, making looking at him truly serene, and…
Well, he still had that mouth that could open incredibly wide and show more teeth than ever seemed safe. He still, sometimes, gave a smile that looked like it was coming off of the craziest demons in existence, and his fur still matted oddly and stunk like a damp sack of grain, but… He was handsome. Lily knew that, of course… she was married to him, after all, but being with him out here, just the two of them, with no distractions except travelling… it became all the more clear. She took a step towards him, a small root lifting beneath her to give her the step to kiss him on the lips, her eyes closing as she did so, falling into his… perfection. With all his flaws, for what she wanted… what she’d needed and never knew it, he was perfection.
Gux’s arms wrapped around Lily, her small form seeming so delicate to him. She wasn’t designed to be in a fight, her smooth skin that shone beautifully in the moonlight had no protection but her clothes, and while her magic was second to none and her creativity with the spells impressed him every time she grew those plants so wondrously, she seemed like such a delicate flower. However, he knew better than anyone the strength that lay underneath. Her determination, her kindness, her thoughtfulness… She was the first person to treat him like a person, to stand up to the town on his behalf… to make him feel at home and truly loved. And she was the one making this trip, wanting to be his other half, despite all his issues and baggage… and all hers besides. He pulled her into the kiss deeper, wishing, for just a moment, that they could merge and truly be one… because he definitely felt his other half right there.
They held that kiss for a long while, then, slowly, backed apart, Gux slouching naturally to be able to hold her kiss just a few moments longer. As he looked at her, he sighed. “I not know what I did to deserve you… You could take anyone…”
She shook her head. “None of that. I won’t have you doubting yourself now. And it’s not as though my life has been all sunshine and rainbows, even if it’s been much safer than yours.” She grinned as she continued to walk with him, her magic growing little flowers with every step, since she was in a good mood. She skipped ahead a little bit, and then came across a clearing that caught her breath in her throat, one hand gesturing to Gux to follow along.
They both stood at the top of a small cliff. Far below, a lake spread out for miles, it seemed, though it was probably closer to one. The redwoods seemed to give way after the cliff, an evergreen forest flowing into a valley on the other side of the lake, and a mountain lifting up out of it, glowing peach in the early morning light as it scraped the sky. Off in the distance, an eagle cried out its morning song, while all around them birds chirped and all sorts of beasts went about their morning routines
This land felt entirely untamed and unexplored, and Gux was astonished. He’d never seen a real mountain like this… Or water this large. “I never seen anything so big… Is always so much water?”
Lily seemed to relax into the world around her. “I’ve only dreamed of sights like this… I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see them with.” She stood right at Gux’s side, heart pounding as she watched the birds spiralling around. Then, with a shrug at him, she leaped from it. “I’ll be right back!” she shouted in the air before she disappeared, a soaring falcon taking her place. Gux’s eyes went wide when she jumped, but as she soared off, he just sat down, watching in awe as her natural grace and beauty transferred to her animal form. She spiraled around the sky, crying happily to the clouds, and, with a little magic, he could even understand her cries, making him whine happily. “I love Gux!” the falcon yelled to all who could hear it. “I always will! Nobody can stop me!”
Gux couldn’t join her in flying like this, but as he looked down at the lake, he got an idea, grinning as he backed up a bit. Lily was just turning back his way as he took a running leap, soaring out into the open air. She screeched in surprise as he took a diving pose, soaring next to him and looking at him with worry, but he smiled his mad smile, then braced himself as she peeled away. He hit the water with hardly a drop splashing, disappearing below the surface, and she hovered over it, ready to aid however she could…
A moment later, Gux’s head appeared in the lake, spitting water in a tight stream at her, and she squawked out a laugh, circling high into the air again. While she soared above, crying out her joy and pleasure, Gux did the best he could below, soaring beneath the water and letting every single fish and turtle he saw know just how much the girl in the skies made him feel amazing. Made his heart at home.
Eventually, he drifted up to the surface, laying on his back and floating in the water with his fur, short as it was, clinging to him oddly and splaying on the surface away from him. A few moments later, Lily landed on him, turning into herself as they both floated lazily along. She could feel his breathing and hear his heartbeat, and he could feel the warmth and the love in the way she clung to him… She kissed him, sharing another breathless exchange of heart and soul, before she joined him in laying on her back, both of them watching the clouds drift by.
Minutes drifted away with the clouds, the sun rising ever higher as the couple swam to a small island in the middle of the lake. There they grew a berry bush, eating together happily as their clothing dried. They didn’t say much, just happy to exist with each other in such a serene place, the mountain rising up ahead of them. Gux wanted to climb it, but Lily shook her head. “We need to continue on… We can enjoy the snow for a little here, before we have no choice, but we should continue north.”
Gux sighed, but agreed. “I… want to take commune here… show them world outside forest… Let them see what need protecting.”
Lily watched him with a sly smile. “Are you sure it’s the commune you want here? Not something else?”
After a moment, Gux shrugged. “Or Zaax… or the tribe… show them nice land, not harsh, to live in… maybe make better…” He then watched it. “But it need new protectors… tribe not good for it.”
She slowly began to cast the spell for mist walking, but she talked to him as she did. “You care about everything around you… I don’t know if we can make it all happen, but I will do everything I can to help you see all your dreams come true.”
Gux nodded, kissing her on the cheek. “And I you, my love. Your dreams mine too… we make them all together.” He held her the whole time she was casting, and as the magic drifted over them, they turned to mist as one, curling together in a ball of promises before sailing off, joining the clouds above them. They stopped once, on the mountain top, to throw a few snowballs and see the land unfolding around them… But they’d been on top of the world long ago, ever since they’d first become one, so they found themselves once more focusing on each other as they left to continue their journey.