All The Warm Lives, part 2: Home, Sweet Home

Glenn?”

Glenn came awake with a start. His hand was on the hilt of his sword before his eyes were even open; he had left it propped against the side of the sofa next to him before he had laid down. His reflexes were one thing that had not dulled in the time he had been gone, although he had been so deeply asleep that he hadn’t noticed Osanna step back into the room. She was crouching in front of him now, a hand on his shoulder, looking at him sadly. He stared at her for a moment before looking away, feeling a mixture a doubt and resentment as he slowly sat up. A half-eaten apple, obtained from the platter of fruit she had left for him before she had departed earlier and discarded when he fell asleep, sat on the floor between them.

I know you’re tired,” Osanna said as Glenn pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes, “but I think you would feel better if you got cleaned up before sleeping. You are free to rest here as long as you like after that.”

Truth be told, Glenn had almost left the temple after Osanna had left him alone earlier. The only reason he had stayed as long as he had, was that he was resolved to tell her the whole reason why he had departed in the first place; he had promised her that much, and he needed to see that through. Now that she knew about Helena and Dannika, it would have been easy for him to slip away from the premises without her noticing. After their altercation earlier, Glenn felt something had been broken between them – something he hadn’t even realized they had in the first place – and he wasn’t sure that staying at the temple right now was necessarily a good idea.

But he was exhausted, physically and emotionally, and having a secure place to stay, just for one night, was something he didn’t think he could resist at this point. The idea of a hot bath was no small temptation, either.

Come with me,” Osanna murmured, gently pulling him off the sofa. He didn’t resist, but shook himself out of her grasp once he was on his feet. She paused to frown at him before turning to lead him out of the sitting room. She had changed out of her evening attire into more casual garb, a simple skirt and matching blouse. Glenn followed her wordlessly, shouldering his sword as they stepped out of the room.

You know most of the people here,” Osanna was saying quietly as they made their way through the prayer hall. Two young clerics, Rhett and Jasmeen, whom Glenn had met briefly before he had departed months ago, were still tending to the temple, as they had been when he and Osanna had entered earlier that evening. They glanced up as the tiefling and her guest walked past, then at each other, before returning to their tasks. “Rhett and Jasmeen there have grown considerably since the last time you saw them – and Ular, of course, is still about. We also have a couple of new acolytes who you haven’t met. But I’ve told them not to bother us this evening–”

Osanna had lead them into another chamber in the back of the temple, and Glenn paused as she pushed the door open. “Your room?” he asked uneasily, glancing at her as she stepped inside. He had been expecting her to take him to the common lavatory shared by the other residents of the temple.

Yes, Glenn,” she said, turning to arch an eyebrow at him as she stepped into the bed chamber, “my room. You need a bath in the worst way, and you certainly don’t need to be alone right now.” He hesitated a moment longer in the doorway, and she rolled her eyes at him. “Oh, for heavens’ sake, get in here. Close the door behind you.”

Too tired to argue with her, Glenn did as he was told. Osanna’s room was large, larger than any of the other bedrooms in the temple, and well-appointed. An over-sized, plush-looking bed sat against the nearby wall next to the door, along with a sizable armoire, which was currently closed. Along the opposite wall, in front of a small fireplace set in the stone that was currently burning low embers, sat a small, round table and a couple of chairs, along with a full-length mirror similar to the one Osanna had shattered earlier in the sitting room. Her scimitar and halo were already hanging off either corner of the looking glass. Running nearly the entire length of the far wall opposite the door to the chamber was a large, deep, polished copper bathtub, currently nearly full of steaming water.

The water should be about ready,” Osanna said, testing it with the back of her hand before looking up at Glenn as he stepped into the room. “Take those disgusting rags off – I hope you’re not attached to them, because I’m burning them.”

That’s fine,” Glenn muttered. He unfastened his sword, setting it against the side of the tub before turning around to remove the rest of his gear, followed by his clothes. It was hardly the first time Osanna had seen him undressed – she’d had to stitch him up more times than he could count when they were battling together against Karzoug’s forces – but something about this situation felt a little more awkward than he remembered.

I’ve got some clean clothes for you,” Osanna said, picking up his discarded garments and walking over to the fireplace with them. As Glenn slipped into the bathtub, he glanced over toward the table next to the mantle, where a simple but clean tunic and matching pair of trousers was draped over one of the chairs. “They’re don’t have your usual Varisian flare to them–” Osanna continued as she tossed his old clothes into the fire, causing it to erupt into a blaze momentarily, “but we can work on that tomorrow.”

Glenn was only half paying attention to her as he settled into the copper basin, his back to the tiefling as she moved about the room behind him. The hot water, warmed by a number of stones that had been heated in the fireplace, felt remarkable against his tired muscles, and he immediately began to relax. A moment later, however, he came back to his senses as a torrent of water cascaded over his head, drenching what little of him wasn’t already submerged in the tub.

In the meantime,” Osanna continued as Glenn gasped, spluttering water out his nose and mouth, “you will have to tell me what in the Nine Hells you’ve been up to that got you into this state.”

Glenn coughed as Osanna began lathering his hair up with soap. “Hey,” he gasped as she dug her fingers into his scalp, scrubbing roughly, “take it easy, would you? Why don’t you let me do that? Ow!”

As Glenn tried to pull away from her, Osanna held him firmly by the hair. “No. Do you have any idea how disgusting you smell? I’m going to make sure you get properly cleaned, and you’re going to tell me how you got this way in the first place.” She waited until he had stopped resisting before resuming working her fingers through his hair. “You said earlier that Helena left Kintargo on her own some time ago.”

Yes,” Glenn muttered. He was both annoyed and embarrassed by the situation he found himself in, but knew there was no arguing with Osanna once she had made up her mind about something. “She took a ship back to Magnimar…as far as I know. I had to take the long way around, though. I couldn’t risk the daemon appearing in the middle of the sea and attacking anyone.”

Admittedly, Osanna’s fingers in his hair did feel kind of nice, and he was suddenly more annoyed when she paused without warning. “Daemon?” she asked after a moment. “The black frog?”

Yes,” Glenn confirmed again as Osanna continued massaging his scalp. “It hounds me.” He shuddered, despite the heat from the bath water. “It appeared on the ship we took down to Kintargo originally and caused a lot of havoc…the captain wanted to throw me overboard when he found out I was responsible for it. Fortunately, I had enough coin to convince him otherwise, but I couldn’t risk it happening again on the way back.”

Coin is one thing you’re not lacking in, at least,” Osanna mused, running her fingers through the length of his hair. “So you took a caravan or somesuch from Cheliax back to Varisia? And what in the name of the dawn did you manage to get tangled in your hair?” She held a hank of his hair out away from his head, rubbing her thumb and forefinger through a snarl and yanking gently to try and loosen it.

Hey! Ow!” Glenn yelped, pulling away from her again. “Stop that! What are you doing?” She had reached for a small blade she had set next to the tub, and before he could dodge out of the way, Osanna had sliced the lock of hair containing the tangle free. “Hey!”

Oh, quit griping,” Osanna chided, tossing the snarled hair into the fire. “Did you see what was in there? There was no way I was getting that gunk free. It’ll grow out.” Glenn glanced over his shoulder, giving her a sour look as she continued working her fingers through his hair. “You were saying you took a caravan back to Varisia?”

No, I walked,” Glenn huffed, turning around again and leaning back against the high wall of the copper basin.

You walked? From Kintargo to Magnimar? Are you daft?” Osanna exclaimed, and Glenn winced slightly as he felt her dig her fingers into his scalp.

I couldn’t risk being around other people!” Glenn replied, glancing over his shoulder toward her again, and Osanna immediately took the opportunity to assault his face with a soapy cloth. There was a pause in the conversation as she scrubbed at his face and neck; Glenn tried to squirm away again, but Osanna held him firmly by the shoulder with her free hand. After several moments, his face raw and tingling from Osanna’s scouring of his skin, Glenn gasped as she finally pulled away. He barely had time to draw a full breath, however, when another deluge of warm water poured over him, once again drenching him and rinsing the soap from his hair and face, and he wondered faintly if he was going to make it out of this encounter without drowning.

You said the daemon hounds you,” Osanna continued, grabbing his right wrist and yanking his hand upward to start scrubbing his arm. Glenn thought momentarily about arguing with her, but knew it would do no good at this point.

It appears every so often to harass me, and it’s always worse if there are other people about,” Glenn muttered, leaning back against the copper basin again as she started washing his arm.

Harass how?” Osanna urged, arching an eyebrow. “Chase, maim, kill?”

All of the above,” Glenn replied, avoiding her gaze. “It was worst when we were on the ship to Kintargo – I had no where to run from it and it caused a lot of destruction in such a confined area.”

I take it killing it doesn’t stop it,” Osanna surmised, letting his right arm drop back into the water and moving around to the other side of the tub. “I seem to recall running it through right here in the temple and turning it into a pile of ash before you left.”

Not only does killing it not stop it,” Glenn said with a frown, resignedly offering her his left arm as she reached for it, “it hurts me when I do.”

Hurts you? How?” Osanna demanded, raising her eyebrows in surprise as she began washing his other arm.

It’s…hard to describe.” Glenn considered for a moment, then glanced up at her. “Do you remember when we were fighting undead? The spirits that were like ghosts, how they would drain our life force if they would touch us?”

Yes. Vividly,” Osanna replied, letting his left arm fall back into the water. She moved around behind him and pressed her fore- and ring fingers in between his shoulder blades gently. “Lean forward.”

Glenn acquiesced her request and felt her move his hair aside to start lathering up his back. “Like that. Every time I kill it, that’s what it feels like, like it’s draining me somehow. And it just comes back, anyway.”

How often does it appear?” Osanna continued. She was moving her hands up and down his back, working the soap into his skin, when she paused suddenly, and Glenn knew it was over the spot where he had a faint scar – the spot where the Dullahan’s ranseur had run him through.

Glenn hesitated before replying. Osanna’s fingers lingered on the scar for a moment before she pulled away, and she started scouring his back with a pumice stone. Although rough against the skin, it was not necessarily an unpleasant sensation, and certainly not one he was unfamiliar with; Osanna had to administer this same treatment on him several times in the past when he had been covered in gore from countless battles against Karzoug’s forces. “It varies,” Glenn finally answered. “Sometimes a week, sometimes a month, sometimes longer, or anywhere in between. I can never tell. That’s why I avoided people and towns as much as I could on my way back – I didn’t want to risk it suddenly appearing while I was in the middle of a village somewhere. And…” He hesitated again.

And?” Osanna pressed as Glenn pulled his legs up to his chest, resting his chin on his knees as he wrapped his arms around his shins.

It’s part of why Helena left, as well,” he murmured with a sigh. “She…she couldn’t handle a daemon hunting us at random, and having to try to run from it every time it appeared. I was able to appease it sometimes…it liked gifts. I gave it all the jewelry and scarves I used to wear. That let us get away from it for a while until it would go away, until the next time…”

There was another lull in the conversation for a moment as Osanna finished scrubbing Glenn’s back, then pulled up a stool next to the bathtub. “It could still appear anytime,” Glenn continued as Osanna sat down next to him. “Me being here–”

Do you think I’m afraid of that thing?” Osanna scoffed, reaching for Glenn’s arm again. “Give me your hand.”

Why?” he asked cautiously, arching an eyebrow at her. She was holding a pointed, metal object, not unlike a thick needle, between her fingers. “What is that for?”

Have you seen the state of your fingers and nails?” Osanna demanded, snatching for his arm as he dodged out of the way. “Come here.”

No,” Glenn said flatly, retreating to the far side of the tub, but Osanna made another grab for him, capturing his wrist in her hand and yanking him back toward her. He pitched forward with a yelp, nearly knocking his chin on the lip of the basin as she started prying grime out from under his fingernails with the metal tool she was holding.

Glenn winced, but Osanna merely shook her head at him. “We’ll deal with the daemon if it shows up.”

Glenn laid his other arm across the edge of the tub, leaning his chin against it and glaring up at Osanna as she scraped dirt and debris from beneath his nails. “Oh, stop giving me that look,” she quipped in amusement, smiling fondly. “Now that you’ve told me where you’ve been this whole time, I can tell you what I’ve been up to while you’ve been gone.” She paused, pulling a sour face as she picked a particularly disgusting bit of grime from under Glenn’s thumb nail.

Glenn winced again before replying. “It seems you’ve been putting your time to better use than I have, at least.”

Oh?” Osanna released his wrist and held out her hand expectantly. Glenn gave her a bland look before sitting up briefly, switching position so as to offer her his other hand. Osanna grinned in approval.

I walked around the Underbridge briefly before coming back here,” Glenn commented, leaning the elbow of his free arm on the edge of the tub and resting his head against his hand. “It looks good. It seems you’ve made a lot of progress while I’ve been gone.”

There’s a lot of work to do still…” Osanna started, pausing to concentrate on her task at hand for a moment, “but yes, slowly but surely improvements are underway. I’m pleased with the progress that’s been made. The new acolytes have been a boon. Having a few extra hands about to help is a pleasant change.”

Glenn frowned and didn’t reply. He knew she was trying to make him feel guilty for being away as long as he was, but he was having a hard time feeling bad for his actions considering the circumstances. Osanna didn’t seem to notice as she continued. “The Hellknights have been surprisingly helpful as well.”

Really,” Glenn commented doubtfully as she released his other hand, and he slipped his arms back into the warm water, leaning back against the wall of the tub again.

Yes, really. They’ve set up regular patrols in the Underbridge district now,” she replied with a nod. “They’re small and only happen a few times a day, but it still makes the good, honest people feel more secure and keeps the trash from piling up too much. Give me your foot.” She gave him an expectant look.

What?” Glenn blurted, sitting up again and looking mildly alarmed. “Absolutely not, Osanna. No.”

There are two ways this can go, Glenn,” Osanna said lightly. “The easy way, or my way.”

Thirty seconds later, Glenn found himself, soaked again and nearly tossed underwater as Osanna gripped his ankle firmly with one hand and began a similar treatment of his toes as she had just completed with his fingers, digging at the accumulated grime under his nails. “This is humiliating, Osanna,” Glenn groaned, glaring at her. “Take it easy, would you? That hurts!”

You should be humiliated, the way you dragged yourself in here when you showed up,” Osanna replied with a frown. “Stop squirming, you’re just making it worse!”

Glenn huffed, feeling his face going red – more red than it had been from the heat of the bath, at any rate. “Do you think they’ll come for me?” he muttered after a moment.

Who?” Osanna asked, flinging wet sludge off the end of her metal tool. “The Hellknights?”

Yeah,” Glenn replied as she moved on to his other leg before he could weasle out of her grasp.

I don’t know,” Osanna admitted after a moment’s hesitation, her frown deepening. “They have returned here a few times to ask for you. They are nothing if not persistent.”

Samael is confirmation of that much,” Glenn agreed.

I wouldn’t worry about it for the moment,” Osanna continued after another pause. She picked one last piece of dirt from under his toenail before tossing his legs back into the tub. “They won’t be coming for you tonight, at any rate, and even if they do, it will be at their loss. Here,” she handed him the cloth she had been using earlier to scrub his face and arms, “I think you can handle the rest yourself.”

Oh, thanks,” he grumbled sarcastically, snatching the cloth out of her hand. Osanna grinned brightly at him as she sat down on the stool next to the tub, and for several minutes they were silent as Glenn finished bathing. He was thankful for the respite in the conversation; talking right now was exhausting, and while talking with Osanna had always seemed easy and natural in the past, he felt like he was having to force his side of the conversation with her tonight.

I have something to show you,” she announced suddenly after several minutes of silence. Glenn glanced up as she stood; he was mostly done bathing at this point, and had simply been soaking in the warm water contemplating what he was going to do the next day. Osanna crossed the room to the armoire next to her bed and opened it for a moment, pulling out a leather-bound book before closing the doors to the cabinet again. She returned to her stool, crossing one leg over her knee and setting the book across her lap before flipping it open. “We had a visitor to the temple while you were away.”

Osanna spun the notebook around and Glenn realized it was actually a sketchbook; he leaned over the edge of the copper basin for a better look at the page she had flipped open to. It was a charcoal drawing of two women. One of them was clearly Osanna; the other appeared to be a human of some foreign descent that Glenn couldn’t place, although based on what Osanna had told him of her homeland, he guessed she was Qadiran. Her skin was dark and her hair the richest of black, and she was dressed in light, flowing robes.

A friend of yous?” Glenn asked after he had studied the picture for a moment, glancing up at Osanna. “She looks like she came from your homeland.”

Osanna smiled broadly, her tail swishing happily across the floor. “You were always astute,” she commented. “A friend…yes, you could say that. I have known her all my life, and yet this was the first time I had the chance to meet and speak with her like this.”

Glenn frowned. “Who is she?”

Osanna paused, contemplating. “Who does she look like to you?”

Glenn opened his mouth to reply, then hesitated. It was an odd question. He didn’t recognize the woman; he had never seen a Qadiran before, and had never visited Osanna’s homeland, although they had often talked about doing so together once the Karzoug business had been settled. He didn’t recognize the woman in the picture, but as he looked back down at the sketch again, studying it, there was a certain familiarity to her. “She looks like someone you would confide in,” he said slowly. “Someone who you would admire and trust and respect.” He paused, glancing up at Osanna as he crossed his arms across the lip of the tub. “But also someone who would feel the same way about you in return.”

You are as insightful as ever, Glenn,” Osanna admired. Glenn stared at her, not sure if he should feel content or confused by the compliment, but Osanna continued before he had time to think about it. “Of course, you are correct in all regards. I have long looked up to her and turned to her for guidance. Being in her presence and able to speak to her directly…it was one of the most joyous moments of my life.”

Osanna touched her golden holy symbol that she wore on a chain around her neck, and realization suddenly hit Glenn. “Oh…oh.”

You know who I speak of?” Osanna asked with a small smile.

Yes. I think so,” Glenn replied, lifting a slightly dripping arm and pointing toward Osanna’s bed. On the nightstand next to her bed was a small, gold-plated statue of the Dawnflower. Osanna’s smile broadened again. She looked like like a young schoolgirl might after being told she was the brightest in her class.

It was really her?” Glenn inquired, gazing at the statue next to Osanna’s bed, then down at the sketch, before glancing up at the tiefling herself. “What did she say to you?”

Osanna was quiet for a while as she stared down at the sketch in her lap. “A great many things,” she murmured finally, the goofy smile still dancing on her lips, and Glenn suddenly felt his heart ache, in sadness and regret. “She walked with me through the streets of the Underbridge, admiring the progress of my endeavors here. She told me she had been watching me for a long time, and that she was proud of what she saw in me, and that I should continue to grow and be my own person. That I have overcome a great many struggles, and that I have many journeys ahead still to face. Most importantly, she told me she would always be with me for those journeys.”

You have always wanted to speak with her directly like that,” Glenn said as Osanna stood, crossing the room to return the leather-bound artbook back to the armoire.

I never thought I actually would,” Osanna replied, closing the door to the armoire.

If anyone deserves a visit from her, you do,” Glenn said earnestly. “Who else can rightfully call themselves the Champion of the Dawnflower? Look at everything you’ve done in her name.”

Osanna paused, her hands still on the door to the armoire. After a moment, she glanced back at Glenn, looking hesitant. “I had the arrogance to ask a favor of her while in her company.”

Oh?” Glenn arched an eyebrow. “And what was that?”

I took two oaths when I pledged my vows as a paladin,” Osanna began, glancing toward Glenn. “One was against fiends – specifically, my mother. I vowed to end her one day, and one day I shall – she cannot be allowed to remain alive, on this plane or any other. The other…” Osanna hesitated again before continuing. “You well know what the other was.”

Yes,” Glenn whispered, suddenly realizing his heart was beating very hard against his chest.

She asked me why I took my oaths,” Osanna mused, looking thoughtful. “I told her people took oaths for a myriad of reasons, but that I…that I may have taken that particular oath for the wrong reasons. I was but a girl and very likely not in my right mind when what transpired between myself and that boy back in Qadira happened. As I have helped the people around me and brought light to the Underbridge district, I see them filling this place full of love and happiness…a happiness that I thought I would never get to experience myself.” She paused, smiling faintly. “Until now.”

So…” Glenn said slowly, feeling a little apprehensive at the revelation he knew was coming.

Yes,” Osanna said, “I have been relieved of my second oath. The oath of chastity.”

Oh.” Glenn swallowed, trying to avoid her gaze, which suddenly seemed very difficult. He looked past her as she smiled down at him, then turned sideways in the bathtub, feeling his face start to go red again. He was silent for a moment as the information sank in before he commented suddenly. “Wait, so – the, the man you were with earlier, outside the temple, he…?” He glanced up at Osanna, who was giving him a curious look. “You were on a date?”

I think that’s what the humans call it, yes,” Osanna confirmed, her tail swishing across the floor.

Oh.” Glenn turned around again, feeling his face flush deeper. He pressed his thumb and forefinger against the bridge of his nose. “I thought I was interrupting something important, but I didn’t realize what–”

This was more important than that,” Osanna declared softly.

Glenn didn’t respond right away. A dozen thoughts raced through his mind, and he suddenly felt his stomach turn. He swallowed hard, suddenly feeling exhausted – the events from the last hour cascaded over him like the water that Osanna had drenched him with earlier, and he suddenly wanted nothing more than to sleep and forget about everything for the time being. “I’m happy for you,” he murmured finally, pressing the heels of his hands into his brow just above his eyes. “You’ve long questioned your decision…and rightfully so, with the discovery in recent months that it may have been your mother’s doing all along.”

Like I said, it was perhaps arrogant of me,” Osanna considered, “but she saw fit to grant my request, and I trust in her judgment.” She paused before continuing, “Are you alright?”

I’m just tired,” Glenn replied quickly, dropping his hands back into the bath water.

You’re free to stay in the bath as long as you like,” Osanna said, and Glenn heard her move back toward the stool next to the copper basin. “The water will stay warm for some time yet. Or, if you’d like–”

I think I’m about done,” Glenn interjected promptly, still avoiding her gaze.

Of course.”

Glenn heard movement again behind him, and glanced over his shoulder; Osanna was holding an over-sized, fluffy-looking towel out between her outstretched arms. He stared up at her for a moment before pulling himself to his feet. As he stood, she immediately wrapped the towel around his dripping form from behind, starting to gently dry his shoulders, but Glenn took the cloth from her as he silently stepped out of the tub on the opposite side she was standing.

There was silence between them for several minutes as Glenn toweled himself off and quickly dressed in the clothes Osanna had laid out for him. They were a little too big, and hung limply off his slim frame. As Glenn pulled the tunic over his head, he glanced over his shoulder; Osanna was standing across the room, near her bed, her back toward him. He cleared his throat quietly, and she glanced over her shoulder, then turned toward him. “Thanks for the bath,” he murmured, stepping forward to hand her the towel.

You needed it. You look much better,” Osanna replied, taking the towel and folding it before setting it on the stool next to the tub. She turned to face him, frowning. “Those clothes are too big on you, but they’re the best I have for the moment. Tomorrow, we can–”

They’re fine,” Glenn interrupted, crossing his arms in front of him.

You look half-starved, Glenn,” Osanna consternated. “Do you want to get something to eat? It’s a bit late, but we could grab dinner–

I think I’d just like to sleep for a while,” Glenn murmured. He paused, suddenly remembering something she had said earlier in the evening. “Except…you said you don’t have room for me, so I guess I’ll–”

Sleep here,” Osanna finished for him.

Excuse me?” Glenn blurted. He had been about to say he would go find an inn somewhere, but Osanna was giving him a penetrating, expectant look that he had become all too familiar with.

I also told you we would find accommodations for you,” Osanna said firmly. “You can sleep here.” She nodded toward her bed.

Glenn stared at her. “I’m not sleeping in your bed, Osanna.”

Why not?” the tiefling demanded.

Because it’s your bed. Where will you sleep? I can sleep on that sofa in the sitting room – or on the floor –”

You’re not sleeping in the sitting room, and you are most certainly not sleeping on the floor,” Osanna insisted, her tail twitching in a manner Glenn recognized as agitation. “The bed is plenty big enough for both of us.”

I’ve slept on the floor plenty of times,” Glenn huffed, “and on the ground in forests, and on stone slabs in caves, and–”

Yes, yes, and you’re in none of those places now, so here, you will sleep in a bed. This bed,” Osanna asserted, motioning toward her bed again. Glenn continued to stare at her. “Would you like me to sleep on the floor?”

No!” Glenn cried, feeling the flush return to his cheeks suddenly. “I mean – it’s your bed, you shouldn’t sleep on the floor.”

Good, then it’s decided,” Osanna said pleasantly. “Stop giving me that look. I promise I’ll be on my best behavior,” she added as Glenn continued to stare at her.

Glenn opened his mouth to argue, then paused and shut it again. Truth be told, he was too tired to argue, especially with Osanna, and – what had she said earlier? That he shouldn’t be alone? As unsettled as he felt around her right now, being in her presence – anyone’s presence, after so long of being by himself, but especially her’s – had been comforting despite their quarrel earlier in the evening.

You look exhausted.” Osanna’s voice brought him out of his reverie; he had been half-asleep on his feet. “Go ahead and lay down. I’ll be back soon.”

Where are you going?” Glenn asked as he sat down on the edge of the bed.

Osanna moved toward the door of the chamber, pausing in front of it to turn back toward him. “Just going to finish up some nightly activities with the children. I’ll be right outside if you need anything.”

They stared at each other for a moment before Osanna opened the door and stepped out into the prayer hall, pulling the bedroom door closed behind her. Glenn watched her, part of him wanting to beg her not to go, part of him wishing she’d never return. He stared at the closed door after she’d pulled it shut for several moments before lying down on the bed.

Despite his exhaustion, sleep did not come quickly. He laid awake for some time, the voices in the back of his mind whispering reminders of his failures. He thought about Helena, and how he had broken his promise to her, leaving her alone for so long with their daughter, to bear burdens that she should not have had in the first place. About Dannika, his child whom he’d never even met and never would thanks to a series of events that were due to his own orchestration. About Osanna, how he had trusted and befriended and loved her, and how she had thrown that all back in his face in an instant. About the countless sins he had committed, and how no one would ever – could ever – love him, and that he was resigned to be alone, despite Osanna’s earlier declaration.

Glenn pressed his face into the soft, down-filled pillow of Osanna’s bed; he could smell her sweet fragrance clinging to the bedding, and he fought back a howl of misery as hot tears stained the silk linen, gleeful laughter echoing in the back of his mind.

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