hen Tintara was 16 years of age, she met Cylic. On a cold and blustery night, she entered his Wayfarer's Inn to escape the chafing wind. Reluctant to go near the fire, she slowly warmed herself from a shadowed corner, taking care not to attract too much attention. She mixed up a Hazia cider, carefully pouring in the two drops of extract, then filling up the glass with water from a barrel. As she added the final ingredient, the drop of chaleur extract to steam the cider, the goblet slipped from her still-numb fingers and crashed to the floor, thousands of gleaming shards scattering all around her. All eyes turned towards her corner, and Cylic, with an exasperated frown on his face, came over with a dish towel, knelt down and began to clean up the mess. Tintara, backing even further into the corner, stammered,
"I.. I'm sorry.."
Cylic looked up at her, but continued to clean up the shattered crystal. All of a sudden he cut his hand on one of the shards, and began to bleed heavily. Tintara jerked her head down to her pouch and began sorting through it, and as she did so, the soaking wet hood fell from her head, fully revealing her face and her red-gold hair, piled atop her head in her coronet, and dripping wet. She found what she was looking for, a vial of sidenberry juice, knelt down, and began applying the crimson liquid with a slender fingertip. She blew lightly on the wound to seal the cut, and it healed immediately.
The two stood up, shy Tintara looking at the floor.
"I'm so sorry about the mess.." Tintara said, nearly a whisper, and then looked up at him, large gold eyes shining brightly.
Cylic looked down at her and replied, "No, really, it's not a problem." Then he stooped down and finished cleaning up the mess.
"It's a shame though, that was my favorite goblet." Tintara said. "Yes, I've never seen one like it. What is this, silver webbing?" asked Cylic. "Yes, our silversmiths do wonderful work."
Looking down upon her dripping wet hair and cloak, Cylic said, "Um, but please, come by the fire. You're dripping wet." He began to lead Tintara over, but she drew back, eyes wide, and said,
"No, I do not like fire.."
"Oh..ahh.." Mind racing, Cylic thought of a different plan. "Can I offer you a blanket, then? At least take off your cloak and allow it to dry."
Tintara unhinged the crescent clasp at her throat, and before she could stop him, Cylic took it from her and hung it over a chair, near the fire. "Ohh.. no.." breathed Tintara, rushing over regardless of the fire.
From a hidden pocket in the cloak she retrieved a small, mewing tiger cub and hurried away. Sitting at the table furthest from the fire, she set Tigris down in her lap, but he jumped away and scampered behind the bar. Tintara jumped after him to get him back, but Cylic held out his hand,
"No, don't trouble yourself, I'll get him for you." He walked cautiously behind the bar, bent down, and then suddenly a loud *MEROW* sounded from behind the bar, followed by an "Ow!"
"Are you alright?" Tintara called. "Oh yes, yes I'm fine!" Laughing, Tintara asked, "You stepped on his tail, didn't you?"
Tintara laughed some more. "You can't fool me. I know his cries."
Tigris reappeared from the bar, darting away from Cylic's outstretched hands and jumping up into Tintara's lap, mewing pathetically. "He's really been through a lot tonight, first the storm and then this.." Tintara explained.
Cylic retrieved a blanket from a cupboard and draped it over Tintara's shoulders as she looked into his eyes for a second time, then realized herself and glanced away, to Tigris.
"Can I get you something to drink, perhaps warm? You still must be so cold.."
After a moment of thought, Tintara replied, "A glass of red wyne would be nice.. warmed, if that's possible."
Cylic nodded and went behind the bar to pour the drink, then brought it back over. Tintara took out her money pouch, and as soon as he heard the jingling of the coins, he pushed the pouch slightly, his hand resting gently on hers, and said, "No, please, this is on me." His hand lingered on hers, and once again Tintara looked up at his eyes, letting her eyes gaze into his for a second longer than before. Smiling shyly, she said, "I thank you..", put the pouch away and grasped the goblet, warming her hands on it for a moment before closing her eyes and slowly sipping.
Cylic, watching her, suddenly blinked and said, "Oh, please forgive me, my name is Cylic, Cylic Crystalis. And you are?" "Tintara", she replied softly, "Tintara Ce'Nedra."
Suddenly, glancing up from her half-empty goblet, Tintara got a worried expression on her face, stood up, scooping Tigris up with one arm and placing the goblet down on the table. "I must be going now... I was on my way home when the storm hit. They'll be expecting me.."
Cylic jumped up from his stool, saying quickly, "Are you sure you should go out again? This storm is brutal. I could set you up with a nice room here, and then you could set out tomorrow morning." "No, really, I must be on my way. It is not far.. I live in the woods of Ys."
"A Dryad then? Yes, that would explain your hair, and the.. touch of emerald to your face."
With an incredulous smile, Tintara looked at him and he, realizing what he has said, glanced down, stammering, "I mean.. I.. um.." Smiling straight at him, Tintara said, "Yes, I suppose it would. I thank you for all your kindness." She reached into the depths of her pouch again and retrieved two small vials, one containing a liquid, and the other, a powder.
"Take this, " she indicated the liquid, "three drops in water for the pain, and this one," she indicates the powder, "mixed with water three days from now to make any scar you have disappear. Again, I thank you.." She glanced nervously to the fire, and Cylic, picking up on this sign, hurried over and retrieved her warmed cloak. He draped it around her shoulders, and, coming close to her ear, whispered softly,
"Please, come again."
She hinged the clasp, smiled, and replied, "I shall.."
Returning Tigris to his pouch with a protesting *mrowp*, she pulled the hood over her head again, walked to the door and opened it. A gust of wind blew snow swirling into the Inn, which sent her cloak flowing out behind her. Standing in the doorway, the gateway between chaos and peace, she smiled back once more at Cylic, who had approached behind her. Taking her hand in his and bowing over it, he said, "Till next time then, m'lady." and brushed a light kiss on her fingers.
"Yes, till then." she said with a bright smile, no longer shy, wrapped the cloak around her, then hurried out into the cold, leaning against the wind, leaving Cylic staring after her until her slight figure disappeared into the dark of the storm.