28 years ago, in Sharandar and Luskan
Gwaihir first met the young priestess of Sune one fateful day at the Temple of Hanali Celanil, Sune’s counterpart among the elves. He approached her with a compliment, “Such a beautiful, flame-haired lady must be a vision of Hanali herself…” His easy smile widened, and surprise flashed across his tanned face as he realized that she was human. “Or perhaps her sister Sune, as I see you are a visitor to this realm.”
Alisyn blushed and laughed, “For one as charming as you, I’ll be either!” They spoke for a while, walking through the gardens at the temple, and she seemed fascinated by his beautiful artwork, and he by her cheerful innocence and remarkable beauty. This was the young priestess’s first time traveling away from home, and she nearly glowed with excitement at so many new sights. Alisyn was nearly of a height with Gwaihir, and had lived for several years in relative luxury at the temple of Sune in Neverwinter. She took good care of herself, and was more shapely than most elves, so it was certainly easy to see why she served the Lady of Love.
Alisyn spent much of her time with Gwaihir over the next few weeks, as well as with the elves who served Hanali Celanil. He quickly ‘convinced’ her to let him draw her, and though she typically behaved modestly she clearly enjoyed the hours of attention. While she was indeed young, only 16, her feigned innocence quickly turned to coy flirtation with the kind, handsome elf, as she was there with a task of her own.
“…Ali darling, you really do need to learn more about physical love, or you will never see all of the reasons why people worship Sune. Go out and explore a bit. See others’ views on love, beauty, and passion, and be one with them…” Her mentor was not one to mince words, and had taught them all well.
There wasn’t much debate in her mind as she thought about Gwaihir one evening, soon after they met. “Oh yes, he will be a very good choice as a first lover.”
As Midsummer approached, she invited him to meet her for another drawing in one of the temple rooms – where she waited with a bottle of wine and clad in only a fine silk robe. Her sultry sprawl on the divan was anything but shy, the emerald robe barely covering anything at all. Gwaihir had no compunctions about appreciating the view that the lovely priestess was presenting, but he simply drew her as she asked.
The color was high in her cheeks from drinking the wine, and he tasted it on her lips when he kissed her.
“Thank you for the beautiful evening, Ali.” There was something different in his eyes that night, and she knew she had chosen well… both in matching her robe to those incredible eyes, and in her choice to pursue him as a lover.
Her eyes followed him out.
Alisyn’s pursuit of Gwaihir became progressively more insistent during the week of celebrations surrounding the midsummer holiday. She danced with him often, and deliberately caught his gaze when she flirted with anyone else. How many times did she coyly slip into the circle of his arm to drink from his glass of wine?
Alcoves casually filled with cushions or piles of moss surrounded most of the festivities, so the observant elf’s love of watching his people did not deter her advances. It made it easier to pretend she was simply supposed to be sitting in his lap. Alisyn enjoyed toying with his long, braided hair, casually trailing it across her lips as she leaned back against his shoulder.
“It would be a strange person – man or woman – who would find her unattractive,” Gwaihir thought as he slowly ran his fingers through the waves of her thick red hair. He had already come to care for her, and admired her fiery personality as well. “She certainly has not been shy in drawing my attention, though that is not surprising for a priestess of Sune.” His eyes roamed slowly over her body, taking in the soft curve of her breasts, enjoying the feel of her hip resting against the inside of his thigh. Gwaihir saw no harm in being with her if it was what she wanted.
Amidst all of the joy and high spirits, she finally lay with him under the stars on midsummer’s eve. The dancing had faded away for the night, and Gwaihir had drawn her away to an open field with a clear view of the sky. He swept her up and spun the two of them around once before falling backward into the grass. She laughed as she landed on top of the elf, feeling the muscles of his arms beneath her hands. “Finally…this is going to be fantastic,” she thought.
The summer breeze was warm, and strands of her brilliant red hair brushed across his cheek as he leaned forward to kiss her neck, pale and smooth in the moonlight. There was no hesitation as he slid his hands down, riding over the curve of her hips…
Ali’s moment of triumph didn’t end there, as they saw each other frequently over the next few weeks and he fell in love with her…though he never expected to.
Gwaihir was on the verge of talking to her about spending more time at his family’s estate when one day she was simply gone. No one at Hanali’s temple would tell him where she had gone, just that she had said her farewells, thanked the elves for the hospitality that they had shown her, and then left. He brooded, and barely drew or painted anything for months, spending his time roaming the gardens and forest instead.
“Why did she leave?”
He had no idea how many times that thought passed through his mind…It seemed as though he had been the innocent one, in thinking that she would stay, or at least care enough to tell him that she no longer wanted to.
Meanwhile, Alisyn continued on her travels but soon realized that she was carrying the physical proof of their love with her – she was pregnant. By the time she reached the temple of Sune in Luskan, she had been basking in the somewhat uncertain glow of being a young mother for nearly 8 months. The baby Gwyn was born there, a lovely little girl with red hair like her mother, and the Sunite priestesses loved her. “She is a gift from our Lady Firehair, especially with those eyes!”
However, Ali quickly grew tired of the restrictions that caring for a baby placed upon her. She feared that she would remain tied down even if she tried to find someone at the temple to take care of Gwyn. She had seen it plenty of times before with other sisters, although many of them seemed to be happy mothers. “I can’t imagine staying in Luskan for years…but I can’t take her with me.”
Ali’s parents had been tavern keepers, and they had always seemed to love her and her siblings very much, even if it was a boring life. So, the decision was made. Ali put little Gwyn in a basket, wrapped in a warm woolen blanket. She did love that her child had such beautiful red hair, and those green eyes…those brought back some very good memories from the year before.
She wrote “Her name is Gwyn” on a small piece of paper, and pinned it to the blanket with a swirled silver hairpin that had a green stone – Gwaihir had given it to her. Soft red curls poked out from under the blanket, and Gwyn woke and started blinking sleepily at her. “Easy, little one, no need to wake just yet.” Ali rocked the basket gently back and forth as she tugged the blanket closer around the baby’s head. Gwyn’s eyes slowly closed, leaving the emerald pin the only shining glimmer of green. She left the basket sitting on the steps of the Silver Pitcher in the early morning fog…the tavern would be opening soon, and it seemed fairly nice. She’d never been there before, as other areas of town usually held the people who attracted her attention the most. The family who owned it would surely love having such a beautiful child as their own. Minutes later, Ali rode out of the South Gate in Luskan, headed off in search of love, yet again.
The innkeeper of the Silver Pitcher didn’t have a cheery, smiling wife and happy, hard-working children. He wasn’t even married. What he did have were ties to the thieves guild known as the Coin Spinners, and Mistress Anna always had room for another pretty face.
Looking for more information on Gwaihir, Alisyn, and Gwyn? Check out the main page for Divergent Paths.
featured image: Forest in CO (July 2016)