"You don't look too good," remarked Hei Lian as she took a seat opposite Epione Felidae in her office.
Setting a steaming cup of tea in front of her, Epione waved off her concern. "Just some issues with my cultivation. It's nothing serious, you don't need to worry about me. Now, to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?"
Hei Lian took a sip, savouring the scent of the beverage. Having grown up without such luxuries, she wasn't very well versed in the art of tea, but she had tasted enough varieties of the beverage these past few months to get a general idea of the quality of the brew from a sip. This one was quite precious.
Setting the cup down, she said, "I hope you meet with success in your cultivation. I'll not waste your time and get straight to the point. I'm a barren woman." Noticing Epione's raised eyebrow, she clarified, "My ability to conceive was taken from me. I need your help to get it back."
Noticing Epione's wry smile, it was Hei Lian's turn to raise her eyebrow. "What?"
"No… It's just that your reason for coming to me, is something I've been struggling with as well." She said. "Yes, I've been having issues with conceiving as well and ironically, that makes me quite the expert in this field. If your problem isn't too exotic, I'm sure I can help you. Although, seeing that even your grandmother had to admit defeat, I am hesitant in guaranteeing anything."
Hei Lian shook her head. "Grandma is more focused on the offensive aspect of her element, she candidly admits defeat to you in the field of medicine. Let alone, your combination element and bloodline put you head and shoulders above any healer of similar expertise."
"Why, thank you for the praise… let's take a look, shall we?"
Hei Lian nodded and stood up. Taking a step forward, she raised her shirt, baring her midriff. Closing her eyes, Epione touched her stomach with the tips of the fingers of her right hand. Whenever fingertip touched skin, ripples of light proliferated, sinking into Hei Lian's body, making her frown at the uncomfortable contradiction between Holy light and Hellfire.
Suddenly, Epione's fingers grew rigid and her eyes flew open in shock. "How could anyone do… this?" she spat out. Pulling her shirt back down and meeting her eyes, Hei Lian smiled, "Don't worry, he died." Breathing deeply to calm herself, Epione replied, "Good riddance."
"Anyway," Epione continued when she had taken her seat, "Though the damage is quite extensive, it isn't anything I cannot fix. I won't ask you about how exactly you got those injuries but I'll need some sketchy details at the very least to draw up the optimal treatment plan but I can basically guarantee a full recovery, so there is that."
Hei Lian let out a breath she hadn't known she had been holding. "That's good. That's very good. Well then, you'll have my eternal gratitude if this works out. I'll owe you a favour."
"Not at all. You are currently a soldier in the allied forces and as the Chief of the medical department, it is my duty to see to the full health of my officers. Your issue might be a little personal in nature but that makes it no less important in my eyes."
Hei Lian shrugged, "Have it your way. I'll owe you one in my mind, whether you decide to call upon it or not… While we are at it, I have a request to make."
"You know that Steven of your clan has been serving as my subordinate for the past few months… and it has come to pass that our relationship has developed into something… more. So, I was thinking that it would be good for morale and unity if we were to be married on the morrow before the Expedition set out." She paused, "I hope that you can take responsibility for him in the stead of his parents."
Epione nodded her agreement. "I have no problem with that. If I am not wrong, the both of you are already bonded and I am not one to break a couple apart. And, Steven already came by earlier today to solicit my husband's agreement. We think a marriage between our clans will be the perfect send-off for our Heroes, especially when the newly-weds will travel alongside them. I'll be helping to treating you after your return, I presume? Enough time to draw up the treatment plan if you give me the information now." She stopped speaking when she noticed the surprise on Hei Lian's face. "You didn't… know?"
Hei Lian smiled brightly. "I was just surprised that he came today. He was supposed to talk to General Felidae tomorrow morning. I was just a bit surprised by his initiative, is all. He must be really eager to marry me."
Epione chuckled. "That he is. With a bride as stunning as you, which man wouldn't? I hope you'll rein him in and keep him from any more foolishness."
"I will. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to get back to my quarter and prepare for tomorrow. I'll send you the details you wanted by tomorrow morning."
"Sure. Enjoy your night, it'll be the last peaceful time you'll have together in some time." Epione said with a smile.
Nodding, Hei Lian took her leave. As she walked down the corridor, her smile faded and the shadows around her seemed to darken, shading her eyes. He hadn't even asked her before deciding to make their marriage official. When had her permission become secondary to the opinion of the Felidae couple? She didn't like this feeling, she didn't like it one bit.
Epione had told her to enjoy her night. Maybe she would.
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