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There are few in this world I can talk to, freely.  There are fewer who understand.

Anetho Dawnpride and I walk the same path, but he has gone much farther than I.  He has already paid more of the price that will come due for us both in the end, paid it in body and in soul.  He has alluded to being younger than I, but I have never seen the evidence of such.  When he looks at me, it is with the eyes of a man who has lived hard and lost much… and though I see few regrets, I cannot ignore the longing behind them – a longing for peace and contentment that he has only ever known long enough to understand what it is he cannot have.  His heart is tender inside that hardened shell, beneath the illusions and the web of scars, and I feel when it aches.

I love him, even as I cannot love him.  I am not in love with him; I do not think I could be.  The few times either of us have sought solace in the other’s arms we have been driven by desperation more than passion.  Yet we have been bound by oaths and by bloodshed and by experience.  I look in his eyes, or I touch his hand, and I know that he is of my own kind.  He does not understand everything that I bring to him – truthfully, I suspect be believes me a foolish child more often than not, even as I know him to be an affected old man.  But what he and I have between us, few others have shared.  I can try to explain, and they may pretend to listen – and indeed I go through those motions with those close to me more often than I am pleased to admit.  But I speak the word to Anetho and he knows.  He knows without words.  And he understands.  Even as he tries to argue me out of my chosen course, he knows it is fruitless… and I suspect he loves me more every time I stubbornly meet his expectations and refuse to yield.  I see his eyes light up, and that grin dance across his features… he could be on death’s doorstep, and somehow it makes him come alive.

Anetho is one of that strange breed that seems always on the precipice of self-destruction.  At least every other time I see him I am given reason to wonder if it may be the last time.  I would say he continues to surprise me… but no, I am never truly surprised by his tenacity, his ability to bounce back when least expected and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.  I have seen him at some of his best and his worst, and he has and shall see me at the same.

It does not bother when the others I care for question why I tolerate him.  They do not understand.  And for all that they love me, for all that I know that I can tell Westel anything and Kuvasei wants to hear everything, there are certain things only another warlock — only Anetho could understand.  That is why I need him, though we adore each other one day and despise each other the next.  And we shall be bound until the day one or the other of us finally goes up laughing in a glorious blaze of our own fel creation, as I know we both someday shall.

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