Adi was worried. Illisia was gone - or at least, not Illisia anymore - and she was no longer able to carry on like eventually wasn't really tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. It could be tomorrow, and that realization had rendered her unable to sleep. What about Laurence? She'd known him longer than she had the night elf, so how much longer did he have? For the first time, she was becoming truly aware of mortality, and it was terrifying.
And heartbreaking. She missed her teacher so much. She'd never cried like this before, and never so much. She needed a hug, and she needed to reassure herself that her other host-friend was okay, at least for now, so she went looking for the priest.
Forgiveness was an odd, fickle thing. It was almost embarrassing to think that Harmodius had been able to pardon him so easily, but he still stubbornly held onto the last shreds of guilt, unable to let them slip through his fingers so easily. Perhaps he was afraid he would forgot the lives that he had inadvertently taken. He knew the dragon was was brooding too, and so he'd simply chosen a quiet, shady spot in the gardens to recline and think. Neither of them said anything, and the priest had to admit, it was kind of nice to have his own head to himself for once.
It didn't take long for Adi to sniff him out. She was good at finding people she knew, now, and Laurence certainly qualified. Another day, she might have snuck up on him, or else bounded over and pounced, but she was currently running low on exuberance. Instead, she simply walked over and sat next to him.
She startled him, if the way his arms spasmed a little said anything, but the priest was quick to compose himself. Something wasn't right. He'd never seen Adi... well, acting so un-Adi like. A brow hefted itself, and he turned to better face the girl. "Hi, yourself. What's up?" You had his full attention now, Adi, and he was pretty sure he'd know you were lying if you said 'nothing'.
The werewolf wasn't the type to bottle up, or dance around what she wanted to talk about - and she did want to talk. It took no more prompting than Laurence's asking to get her to fess up about the nature of her distress, "I-Illisia's gone."
She couldn't say it without crying. Adi snuffled, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand.
Illisia...? He stared at her for a moment, dumbfounded at the sudden and staggering sensation of loss he was feeling. It was almost hard to believe it--something in his mind kept insisting that it wasn't possible. Her soul, her body... both had been devoured by the dragon, and that knowledge hurt.
What was even worse was her tears.
"Hey," The priest said gently, awkwardly reaching out an arm to wrap it around the girl's shoulders so he could give her a slight squeeze. He'd been intending on following up that sentence with something positive, something like--Illisia was probably still in there, or Xun had been extra-careful not to hurt her... but Laurence didn't know that. How could he?
So, for a moment, he just held Adi, resting his chin lightly in her hair as he stared at nothing in particular. "...I'm sorry, Adi."
Adi knew Illisia was probably still there, somewhere, but it was harder than she'd ever realized it would be to reconcile that. It was just...she didn't resent Xun Jiang, she even liked him, but she couldn't explain what it was, exactly. She could understand, now, why her father had trouble with the Alex/Rio situation.
She leaned against Laurence, quiet for a moment. Hugs were good, hugs helped. "What about you? Are you, um, feeling okay?"
Was he--oh. As far as he knew, he was perfectly hale, hearty, and not in danger of being consumed any time soon. "Yeah, just fine. Better than ever, actually." The last thing she needed was to be stressing over him. In reality, he didn't know if Shuo was growing any stronger or not. He could only assume that he was. The dragon was usually as chatty as ever, after all. "So... does she look the same? Or...?"
Adi looked at him, trying to decipher whether or not that was the truth, but she was no good at that kind of thing. So she believed him, because she wanted to, and hugged him, her head against his chest. Her tail waved just the slightest bit. She hadn't even remembered to put her ribbon on. "Good."
"I haven't seen yet," she admitted. She would sooner or later, she was sure, and that was going to be hard. Xun was bound to look at least a little like Illisia.
It was hard to really feel strange when she still acted like a little girl in a woman's body. His fingers lightly stroked through her hair, trying to soothe. Was this the first time she'd ever lost someone important to her? It was a hard realization to stomach, but the priest had no doubt that she'd grow a little stronger from it.
"Then how do you know?" He sounded surprised and partially wary.
One day, someone was going to have to clue poor Adi in on the disadvantages to her typical behaviour, but in the meantime, she remained more or less oblivious. And anyway, she currently had other concerns, or else that little corner of her mind might have noticed Laurence in that curious way she was noticing most boys. Fortunately, very definitely not today.
"I talked to her, before..." That had been hard, but she was glad she'd had the chance, that Illisia had come home as Illisia. She was still stubbornly wearing her hair in the braid the druid had put it in, although it was beginning to look a bit disreputable. "And I heard that it happened."
"At least you got to see her though, right? I bet she was happy that you two got to visit..." Laurence knew that was really a poor thing to say, but what else could he do? Focusing on happier memories was far better than wallowing. "Oh. From your dad?" Rio seemed like the sort to be on top of those kinds of things. Maybe.
The rebirth of another Dragon King... Was he the only one left, now? It was a disconcerting thought. He wasn't having second thoughts, per say--but was he really the best host for Shuo Huang Zhe? For Mang? From what he knew, the dragon had already made mistakes before--and he wasn't sure if he was destined to be another one.
"Yeah," Adi affirmed, nodding. "I don't know what I would've done if I hadn't..." Regretted it for pretty much ever, basically.
"Shy noticed him out. She said...she said he looks a lot like Illisia." That was going to be difficult, once she worked up the courage to go and meet him properly, but she wasn't ready for that yet. It could be awhile before she was.
Shy... one of the demonesses. He paused to rub his brow for a moment, thinking. "Well. Guess we'll have to go and greet him eventually, right?" Apparently his mindset was running along the same vein, today. He wasn't even sure he wanted to meet Xun--but it wasn't like it was the dragon's fault. He'd known this was happening.
Still. It was easier to think about it then witness it happening.
Adrienne nodded again, tentatively. "I think I'll wait a little, I'm not ready yet. Not that I'm mad at him, that wouldn't be fair. I just...I miss her. I know she's probably still there, but it's not the same."
Or at least, she wanted to think Illisia was still there - surely Xun Jiang wouldn't have eaten her? Some Illisia was better than no Illisia at all. "I never knew it would be this confusing."