Self-aware. Self conscious. Self induced.

Telling Tales 239

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Love and Understanding Beyond Measure

The wolf touched her nose to Kou Ke’s chest. “What the giant has lost, you have gained, and not to your benefit. Even as his heart is lacking, yours is too full. This enchantment binds the two of you together. I expect that the giant will be restored to his normal size, but I cannot promise what will be the result for you.”

It was Alexander who finally spoke into the long silence that followed. “He is not your cousin nor your family. I would not expect you to sacrifice yourself for him.”

“No,” said Ivan.

“Yes,” said Yi Min, which shocked everyone into the silence they’d expected from her when the wolf began to speak. “My husband says his heart is not his to give, but that we share it. Very well. I share his goals and his beliefs. He and I have made mistakes in the past. Were that not the case, he would not have been cursed in the first place and I would not have pushed that curse farther along.”

“You can’t right some old wrong by sacrificing yourself now,” said Scrobarnach Armtha to Kou Ke.

The serpent-scaled man took Yi Min’s hand in his. “I cannot. This is not about correcting. This is about doing the right thing now.”

“But look at what you could lose,” argued Ipiktokiyakovik to Yi Min.

“The love of my life,” she said. “I know the cost, and I assure you that I do not desire it. My husband sees the opportunity to do good. The personal cost to us both is great – death for him, potentially, and grief for me. Do those costs outweigh what the people around here have already suffered at the hands of this giant, those who have already died, who already grieve their dead?”

Kou Ke added, “I do not wish to say goodbye and I do not wish to die. I wish to live and to love. Were I not to act here, however, there would be a canker in soul. I would always remember the moment I chose not to act, that selfishness kept me still.”

“And I the same,” said Yi Min. “I would not want him to be unhappy with me because he made a choice that ate at him from the inside out.”

“These are the things that corrode love,” asserted Kou Ke. “They rot and rust and some day what we feel is no longer what we felt and the moment that we realize this to be the case, we know that our love is already gone.”

Haraka shook his head. “Your sense of duty is very great.”

“Not always. My sense of duty is in the moment, and the moment is very grave. Therein lies the problem.”

“The action must befit the problem,” said Entendtout.

“Not always, but this time,” said the great gray wolf.

“When did they have time to discuss this?” whispered Scrobarnach Armtha to Juleidah, for the former knew nothing of love and the latter a great deal.

“Not all conversations require words,” she responded.

“Let us begin,” said the wolf.

“Let us say goodbye,” said Ivan. “Then we shall begin.”

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