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Farawell of Human Mage and Moonshadow Assassin

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-Rise and shine, Rayla. It's morning already.- Sarai called as she entered the room.

 


Rayla sat up in bed and yawned. Instinctively, she put her hand on Callum's shoulder to wake him up and let him know that his mother was in their room. Suddenly she came to her senses as she found the empty space on her left. She forgot again that she and Callum had separate rooms.

 


She didn't know if it was due to Katolis traditions of isolating the bride and groom before the wedding to avoid bad luck, or simply to make sure that she and Callum wouldn't do something stupid just before the wedding but she was separated from Callum. With pain, Rayla watched as everyone around them suddenly began to worry about where and when they were, what they were doing together, or even seeing each other. The last thing was the biggest problem - she hadn't seen Callum in two weeks. She didn't have the slightest contact with him, which only deepened her longing for him.

 


-Hello ... It's morning already?- She asked rubbing her eyes.

 


-Dawn. How are you feeling?- Sarai asked as she sat down on the chair next to the desk in the room.

 


-As if I hadn't slept half the night.- Rayla replied.

 


-I know how it is. You're used to that he's always there, right?- Sarai asked. Rayla gave an involuntary nod. She had been with Callum for a good five years and they were getting married soon. Everything was finished and the ceremony was about to take place any day now.

 


Although many guests were to come to their wedding, they invited a handful of a few and trusted friends to the wedding. Apart from the families of the bride and groom, their friends from Silvergrove - Liadrin, Geatan, Geren, along with Arvena and Aiden - were to appear together with Runaan, Janai and Ethari. Feren and Hader were also invited, as well as Ibis and Lujanne. Zennya, Ellis, Han, Claudia, and Soren were also to appear at the wedding. Of the monarchs who were invited to both the wedding and the wedding, Aanya, her mother Neha, and Dmitri were on the way.

 


-Mhm. It's weird to sleep next to him for the last five years and then suddenly separate to wake up alone for two weeks.- Rayla confirmed. Sarai smiled - she knew how life in the castle could be burdensome for unaccustomed people and sincerely hoped that Callum and Rayla would have peace in their lives after that.

 


-I know that pain. I honestly know that these traditions are burdensome, unnecessary and completely irreverent infantile, but in order for the people of Katolis not to do something stupid like attacking you when you go home, you must embrace all our traditions and marry Callum according to them. It is different for you at Silvergrove and you would probably prefer a ceremony according to your culture and religion, but there's nothing I can do.- Sarai replied. Rayla understood it all.

 


-I understand.- Rayla yawned. Sarai was incredibly understanding towards her, which made Rayla consider her mother-in-law as a living saint - Have you seen Callum? - asked Rayla.

 


-Opeli pushed him to work early this morning. She pressed a broom straight into his hands to sweep the throne room.- Sarai replied.

 


Rayla blinked in shock as she remembered everything that had happened a year ago. Memories of the attack on the castle, their crazy trip to Evenere, then to Castle Styx and the later battle for the Lux Aurea continued to be a hard topic for her. Rayla didn't like to talk about it because many people she knew had died during this time, each only because a few Dark Mages wanted to rule the world.

 


-Poor guy. What am I going to do today? -Rayla asked, sitting on the edge of the bed.

 


-I will repeat the course of the ceremony with you and help you choose the right dress for you with your mother. By evening I think we will have time, so Claudia will have plenty of time to organize your bachelorette party.- Sarai assured. Rayla turned her head in surprise.

 


-What party?- Rayla asked.

 


-Bachelorette party. Last fun with friends as a bride before the wedding. There is no such tradition in Xadia? -Sarai asked.

 


-No. First I hear about that.- replied Rayla.

 


-It's fine. However, I am convinced that it will be something that you will gladly do. Now get up, we don't have all day.- Sarai said, helping her daughter-in-law to get up.

 


Rayla stretched and got out of bed. There is only one day left until her wedding. And then everything will be normal.


-You missed the spot.- Ezran pointed out.

 


-Really? I didn't notice.- Callum muttered. He squeezed the broom even tighter and kept sweeping.

 


The Throne Room has recently been rebuilt. The walls have been strengthened and the windows enlarged. Stained glass windows in which the last 300 years of the history of Katolis were included were inserted in the windows. Callum, looking at these stained glass windows was sure that each scene and figure contained in the stained glass had a long and interesting history. He was also sure that Ezran knew the story of each of these characters by heart.

 


Currently, however, the throne has been removed from the hall and a small altar has been prepared and chairs and benches have been set up. A white carpet was laid in the middle of the room and the benches were decorated with white ribbons. The same ribbons were hung over the windows, and two additional chairs were placed at the altar - on which Callum and Rayla were meant to sit.

 


-I'm kidding. You know.- Ezran replied with a smile.

 


-No kidding. -Callum hissed furiously.

 


Callum has been angry with everything lately. He hadn't seen Rayla for two weeks and all he knew about her was that "She's fine". In addition, every day Opeli dragged him to clean the castle chambers in which wedding were meant to take place. The worst part was that he was not allowed to use a single spell and had to clean everything by hand with a broom.

 


-Do not whine. It'll be over tomorrow.- Ezran said as he sat down

 


- Haven't seen her in two weeks Ez. You think this calms me down?- Callum replied. Archmage sincerely preferred not to leave Rayla one step after what happened a year ago. However, he did not try to oppose Opeli who was the Castellan of this castle.

 


-No. But by whining you won't get it fixed.- Ezran said. Unfortunately, he was right, which only deepened Callum's frustration.

 


Suddenly, a man in Katolis armor entered the door. His blonde hair was long, in a braid at the back of his head. At the front, there was a short beard that obscured the face.

 


-I'm back!- The man cried as soon as he saw them.

 


-Soren! You're back! -Said Ezran. He slowly approached his friend with his cane. Callum still couldn't get used to the fact that Ezran had been missing a leg for over a year - it was beyond his imagination. The younger prince, however, managed very well.

 

-Glad to see you.- Callum said, coming up to Soren. They both embraced an old friend. They noticed that his skin was slightly tanned, and that the smell that emanated from him was slightly saying unpleasant.

 


-I wouldn't miss your wedding in my life. Zennya, Ellis and Han are still in the stables, they will be here soon.- Soren said, embracing them as well.

 


-I understand. How was the trip?- Callum asked. He was curious to know what the sergeant who spent the last year traveling through this land had to say about Xadia.

 


-It was amazing, often terrible, a little interesting ...- Soren replied. He saw many places and could now safely say that he was almost everywhere - from east to west.

 


-Hmmm. And what do you think of elven girls?- Asked Ezran. At these words, Soren blushed slightly.

 


-Many of them are heavenly pretty, right. But with one of them make them all slip. - Soren said with a shy smile.

 


-Really? How are you two doing ?-Asked Ezran.

 


-Us? Well ... I ... Anyway, screw that for a whilel. I'll tell you about it on the bachelor party.- Soren assured. Callum looked at him in surprise.

 


-On what?- Callum asked. Soren was surprised, however, he understood immediately that Callum did not know much about the culture of the Human kingdoms, so he didn't hear about this custom.

 


-A bachelor party? Do you drink as much to enjoy yourself as one last time before your own wedding as an unmarried man?- Soren replied. Callum just looked at him with even greater surprise.

 


-There aren't any balechor parties in Xadia?- Asked Ezran, catching his balance standing next to Callum.

 


-No? Anyway, you don't have to. Really ... - Callum tried to protest, but Soren cut him off, putting his hand on his shoulder.

 


-Oh no my friend. Now I am obligated to organize a bachelor party for you. I just need to take a bath and cut my hair. Have you seen Claudia anywhere Ez? - Soren asked.

 


-She was at the tailor's. A button on her waistcoat broke.- answered the younger prince.

 


-Thanks. I'll see you tonight, Callum.- Soren said as he walked away. Callum shook his head involuntarily, feeling that it wouldn't end well.

 


-I have a bad feeling about this.- Callum said as Soren left the hall.

 


-Do not whine. Check them off on the list of people we invited, Ezran said.- Callum sighed, taking out of his pocket a piece of paper with a list of their guests. Using a pencil with a charcoal on a stick, he drew four people.

 


-Ellis, Han ... Zennya, Soren ... Hmmm, we only have to wait for Feren with Hader and Aanya with her mother.- Callum said, hiding the note in his pocket. Hearing Aanya's name, Ezran turned to face him.

 


-Aanya will come? Are you sure?- Ezran asked. In his eyes Callum noticed a certain confusion. Longing, hope, uncertainty, and apprehension poured out of his eyes, which only reassured Callum that Ezran still felt something for the princess of Duren.

 


-Yes. She wrote to us that she would definitely come.- Callum confirmed. Ezran nervously laughed then leaned against the wall.

 


-Oh ... I .... Well ... I think ...- Ezran began to stutter.

 


-Ezran, breathe. Calmly. It was the year ...- Callum interrupted Ezran, putting his hand on his shoulder.

 


-I know. What if she still hates me?- Ezran asked, uncertainty in his voice.

 


-Last time you saw her, she hugged you.- Callum said. Ezran, however, still had his doubts.

 


-She reacted under the influence of emotions. Callum I ... Anyway, whatever. I had more chances then, and now?- Ezran pointed to his wooden leg.

 


-You hardly need a crutch anymore to walk alone.- Callum said.

 


-And? I'm crippled Callum. Who would want a cripple guy?-Asked Ezran without conviction.

 


-Someone who knows you very well.- Callum replied, Ezran lowered his head and sighed.

 


-Eh. Why are you giving me hope?- Ezran asked reluctantly.

 


-Because I cannot imagine that you would live in life alone without love. Listen, try it with her. There is a chance that it will succeed. You know what it looks like with her and what she likes. You can do it.- Callum assured him. Ezran smiled involuntarily.

 


-Eh ... Go back to that sweeping, huh?- Ezran laughed imperiously.

 


-Aayla no! Don't eat that!- 'Tiadrin took the white cloth from the little elf. The little elf looked at her mother uncertainly, a scowl on her face.

 


Rayla chuckled softly as her four-month-old sister tried to chew on the fabric of her wedding dress. The little elf watched with dissatisfaction as Tiadrin took the cloth from her, in which the baby was very interested in.

 


Sarai, Eleanor, Tiadrin and Claudia tried to choose her wedding dress. At the same time, Tiadrin was taking care of Rayla's younger sister, Aayla. Rayla loved taking care of the little girl, and even though Aayla was a very tiring child in care. Even so, Tiadrin and Lain did everything they could and even managed to raise another child.

 


-Maybe she's hungry?- Asked Eleanor, sitting next to her.

 


-I just fed her. Probably she just wanted to make trouble.- Tiadrin replied looking at the little elf. The girl just looked dissatisfied at her mother.

 


-Well, let's hope it was a one-time prank, right little one? - Claudia said, tickling the little elf. Aayla smiled and made a sound similar to laugh.

 


-I can see she likes you.- said Tiadrin with a smile.

 


-It's not a bad thing, is it?- Claudia replied.

 


-And you told Claudia you don't like children.- Sarai said.

 


-I told you ... But maybe I do like them a little bit.- Claudia said. The woman started making funny faces, causing Aayla to laugh again.

 


-So ... How do I look.- Rayla said coming out from behind the screen. Everyone turned to Rayla to see what she looks like in a dress.

 


Rayla wore a very tight white gown that widened from the knee down to accentuate the waist perfectly. The lower part of the dress was finished with a spectacular train. The sleeves of the dress were long, and the entire dress was embroidered with symmetrical patterns.

 


-Well, it's impressive. And since we are impresed, Callum will be speechless when he sees you in it. I'm absolutely sure of it.- said Eleanor.

 


-There's no option to loosen the corset, right?- Rayla asked. She felt the dress pressing against her waist. Internally, she had the impression that if she was going to get married tomorrow, she would not be able to endure the ceremony until the end because of corset.

 


-Well ... Without it, the dress will be too loose. And then it will be harder for you to walk in it.- Sarai replied, looking at her carefully.

 


-You didn't take your wedding dress, did you?-  Rayla asked, looking at her mother. Tiadrin just shook her head.

 


-Unfortunately not. You'll have to hold on to this somehow.- answered Tiadrin. Rayla grunted in frustration.

 


-I can see that I'm not the only one who is not a fan of dresses.- Sarai said with a smile.

 


-Well, they are uncomfortable, you have to be careful in them...- began to count Tiadrin to which Sarai chuckled softly.

 


-I know from who you got it Rayla.- Sarai replied.

 


-It's one of the few positive traits Rayla has after me.- Tiadrin replied with a smile.

 


-I'm glad we agree.- Sarai confirmed.

 


-I'm surprised you guys get along so well. After all, in-laws hate each other most of the time.- Eleanor said. From her experience she had already seen how the in-laws of Geatan and Liadrin argued many times on various topics, from their wedding to the moment when they started to talk about where the just married would live. Watching Sarai and Tiadrin get along well, Eleanor felt like she was looking at something very artificial.

 


-Well ... We are united by our concern for the well-being of our children.- Sarai replied. Tiadrin nodded to her.

 


-Wouldn't put it better. Speaking of which, I heard that you are organizing a "bachelorette party" today?- asked Tiadrin. Rayla cursed softly under her nose.

 


-I don't ...- Rayla wanted to deny.

 


-But I do.- Claudia interjected.

 


-What?- Rayla asked, surprised.

 

 

-Her Majesty obligated me to do so...- Claudia began to explain.

 


-... She volunteered ... -Sarai interjected, rolling her eyes.

 


-... Then I'll throw you the best bachelorette party in the world.- Claudia said. Rayla sighed at that.

 


-I have a bad feeling about this.- Rayla said.

 


-Oh come on, it will be fun. Besides, I'm sure Aayla will probably survive one evening without you reading your fairy tales.-Tiadrin agreed. Rayla felt betrayed - she wanted to use the excuse of looking after Aayla rather than participate in this ... thing.

 


-She loves it...- Rayla wanted to protest. However, her mother was unfazed.

 


-So we'll do it together with your dad. Don't worry, it's your big moment after all.- said Tiadrin. Rayla, however, felt worse and worse with the fact that someone with shoes entered her relationship and Callum.


-And this is it?- Lain asked. He was holding one of the swords from the royal armory. Ethari has been asking since they came from Xadia about swords made by human blacksmiths. Harrow had to refrain from letting him into the armory because at that time an inventory of equipment was in progress, which stretched several days longer than it should have been.

 


Together with Runaan and Lain, they decided to visit the armory. They stood in the middle of quite a large hall filled with stands for swords, axes, halberds, spears, crossbows, shields or even full armors. All around were packets of fat for the conversation of weapons, additional materials such as metal sheets, leather straps, nails, and blocks of wood to repair equipment. Despite the spaciousness of the room, the whole room appeared to be small with equipment, chests and racks placed inside.

 


-Dot to dot. Straight from the blacksmith. - Harrow replied. Runaan made another swipe of his sword, causing the blade to whistle through the air. He was aware that for the elves, human swords massively produced for the regular army would not be of great importance.

 


-How ugly. Well, it doesn't matter, if it well made...- answered Lain. Runaan made another swipe of the sword, then grasped the sword by the blade and hilt while examining the weapon closely.

 


-And here's the problem. It's not ...- replied Runaan, shifting the sword to his left hand and making a light wave with it.

 


-Well ... The weapons here are not at Silvergrove level. - Harrow replied. He knew that human craftsmanship was ages behind the elves and for the Elves what was the pinnacle of quality here is at least decent product for them. Still, the swords were supposed to be good enough, not perfect. It was an armament to the needs of the Royal Guard.

 


-Not balanced, wrong materials, too soft ...-Ethari muttered, looking at the other blade in his hands. During the entire inspection of the weapon, he touched the sword in various places as if checking its durability.

 


-Your Majesty will forgive him. My husband is just curious about them and is really sensitive about weapons as he have experience from his workhouse. - Runaan explained. Ethari was interested in human craftsmanship and had lots of questions for local blacksmiths. Even though he was at an almost legendary level of craftsmanship for them, he knew that he could learn something from humans.

 


-I guess so. When Callum was here for the first time from his custody in Xadia, he also misjudged the entire set of swords we had. These swords are far from perfect, but they do their job.- Harrow replied, remembering Callum's first visit to Katolis after the deal ended. Callum formerly also like Ethari now seemed to be checking the blades curiously.

 


-I understand. Personally, I prefer the bow.- Runaan said, putting the sword back on the stand. Blades were not always a good weapon for him, and Runaan knew that both bow and ranged combat were the future of the battlefield. There was an awkward silence as the elves examined the human equipment in the armory.

 


-So ... Are you an Assassin Master?- Harrow asked hesitantly. He had heard a lot about Runaan from Callum and Rayla, but he felt a certain threat from him. Subconsciously, he felt that the elf was dangerous and Harrow was afraid of him involuntarily.

 


-Yes. - confirmed Runaan, looking at the king with surprise. He did not feel that it was some great secret, but he also did not flaunt the fact that he could enter this castle unnoticed and kill anyone if he wanted to.

 


-How many people have you killed?- Harrow asked uncertainly.

 


-One hundred and twelve for now. - Runaan confirmed. Harrow moved slightly away from the elf.

 


-Well...-said Harrow with a hesitant smile. Runaan sighed knowing what this was about.

 


- Relax, Your Majesty. Katolis is considered a friend of Xadia. You have no need to worry. I came to the wedding of your son, not to kill you.- Runaan reassured him. Harrow must have felt relieved and sat down on one of the chests in which the shoulder plates were kept.

 


-I understand. I've never thanked you for looking after Callum. - Harrow said. He saw Callum's caretakers for the first time on the day they came to Katolis for wedding. He never had the opportunity to thank them in any way.

 


-Callum was a good kid. Well-mannered, obedient, conscientiously fulfilling his job. Usually we didn't have any educational problems with him. There were exceptions to the rule, but on the whole Callum was calmer than Rayla. Every once in a while he got into an argument at school, he even got into a fight once, but besides he was a good kid. - Runaan said as he sat on the crate across from Harrow. The king smiled - it was all thanks to Sarai.

 


-Well. This upbringing is mainly due to Sarai and Callum's shyness. What he has become is your merit. - Harrow replied. After all, he didn't do much. Callum had trouble talking to him and was always closer to Sarai than to his.

 

-Not just ours. It seems that you started his fascination with drawing.- Ethari replied. He remembered that Callum had been drawing everything ever since he landed at Silvergrove - at least 10 drawings a week. With age, the time decreased so that Callum could  less devote himself to this interest, however, he continued to draw and fill in subsequent sketchbooks.

 


-Maybe so. But it's thanks to Ethari's teachings that he's such a capable blacksmith. - Harrow said. Callum was as knowledgeable about blacksmithing as Ezran was about economics - he knew the subject completely and could talk about it for hours.

 


-Which does not change the fact that he knew how to behave well and had a well-trained memory ...-Ethari replied. He remembered that Callum remembered very well even the difficult rune combinations and had been helping him ever since he came to Silvergrove in the production of blacksmiths.

 


-It's enough. Both sides did their best to raise Callum. It's enough for me to say from a third person's eyesight that you couldn't have done better, and it is basically thanks to you that my daughter is marrying a wonderful young man. - Lain interrupted the whole counting. Both sides nodded smiling.

 


-That's true. - Runaan replied.

 


-Indeed. What are you planning on giving them as a wedding gift?- Ethari asked.

 


-Tradition in Katolis requires it to be a purse full of coins as a symbol of the wealth the family will gain, a bag of sugar to keep their lives nice and sweet, and two coats and two scrafs. Turquoise colour, so Rayla will love it. Personally, Sarai also plans to give them a set of pots. And you?- Harrow replied. He knew the newlyweds wouldn't need it, but he didn't know what to give them. He was thinking about something from the armory, but he was sure that whatever it would be, Callum could create something four times better.

 


-We have a magic artifact for Callum - gloves specially lined with runes so that they are quick and turn with his hands into wings when he uses a spell. For Rayla, I have a longsword, probably the best I have ever made. Perfect weight, material harder than rock, sharp, it goes into everything like through butter. Plus it's hot as the sun because I've added the proper rune just like the Sunfire Elves do.- Ethari said. He was sure that even Callum would not be able to beat it in any way - after all, he taught Callum everything he knew, but not everything he knows.

 


-Sounds useful. - Harrow replied. Hearing that, he lowered his head, resigned. When was all this time? He had the impression that not so long ago Ezran was born and Callum was getting used to living in the castle. Harrow looked at both of his sons now and saw them slowly settle down. He felt ... Not needed. 

 


-Your Highness?- Runaan asked, looking at Harrow thoughtfully.

 


-Everything's fine. I realized that I am old. I don't even know when my sons grew up ... That's all ...- Harrow couldn't describe it.

 


-Overwhelming?- Lain replied.

 


-Yes. I feel dumb to talk about it, you are elves after all, twenty years is not much time for you. - said Harrow. He felt that to such long-lived creatures it might seem ridiculous and stupid - after all, what is two decades over several centuries?

 


-This is how we felt when we returned from service in the Dragon Guard. In time you will find peace, Your Majesty. For now, you have to enjoy Callum's happiness. - Lain said. He knew exactly what the king felt, which turned out to being not needed  for his children - tomorrow Callum is getting married and it is only a matter of time until Ezran does it too. The king simply couldn't get over it without the responsibility of being a parent.

 


-I hope so. - Harrow replied.


-Okay, done ... - Callum removed another point on his to-do list. The list was long and required a lot of checking, but it was getting shorter.

 


Callum, with Sarai's help, managed to organise wine from Silvergrove as well as other Xadia alcohols and a few drinks from the human kingdoms. He also organized food for various occasions and arranged them to be placed on the tables so that the meat was away from the elven guests. Together with the castle servants, he also managed to prepare tables in the dining room and cover them with tablecloths. There were only the decorations left and musicians to organise. The latter were organised by Ellis, but Callum preferred to be sure  himself.

 


-Hello, Callum. It's been a while. - said Ibis as he entered the room. Callum turned around smiling at his mentor's voice.

 


-Hello, Ibis. You have not changed at allg Callum embraced the elf to whom he owed all his skills and all knowledge in the field of magic.

 


-The old elf is not equal to his reflection. How are you holding up, Archmage? It's soon your big day.- Ibis asked. He smiled knowing that his best student so far had already reached the master level.

 


-Honestly ... I'm a little scared ...- Callum replied. Rayla could still change her mind and say "no" during the wedding. Callum dreaded the possibility.

 


-You don't even know how normal this is. Believe me, the first time ...- Ibis began to translate. Callum listened carefully, but after a short while he turned around calmly.

 


-Hello Lujanne, I can hear you. - Callum said. The mage stood surprised, not knowing how Callum could hear that she was coming.

 


-And nothing of the surprise. You've become vigilant. - Lujanne replied.

 


-I knew you were going to try to scare us. I will not be surprised. - Callum replied.

 


-Understandable. - Lujanne replied. Callum smiled knowing he had managed to surprise her.

 


-Hey! Callum!

 


Callum turned around to be nearly knocked over by three people. All three wore clothes characteristic of Earthblood Elves, though only one of them was an elf. Callum immediately recognized Han, Zennya, and Ellis.

 


Han wore a vest with a hood under which he wore a green shirt. He was wearing ankle-length pants and black boots. There was a slight stubble on the soldier's chin. Ellis, on the other hand, had her hair coiled in a braid halfway down her back. She wore a navy blue shirt, a turquoise vest, a dark skirt and light ankle boots. Zennya, on the other hand, did not change at all, only her clothes were dirtier.

 


-Welcome home. I'm glad you are here. - Callum said, embracing all the newcomers. He was glad they came for his wedding.

 


-We couldn't be late for your wedding. After all, you only have it once. - Han replied.

 


-My mom won't agree, but never mind. By the way, meet Ibis. He taught me most of the things I know. On his left is Lujanne, his wife who is a Moonshadow Illusionist. And these are Ellis, Zennya, and Han. You already know Zennya, Ibis, she had the last trials to become a magile with me. Ellis is one of the first few humans to start using Primal Magic. In this case, it is a connection to the Arcanum of the Moon. Han, on the other hand, is her fiancé.- Callum introduced himself to the guests. Both sides made slight bows as a sign of respect.

 


-Hello. - said Ellis.

 


-Nice to meet you. - Ibis replied.

 


-Greetingz. So you say you can use spells to create illusions, right?- Lujanne asked. Ellis nodded.

 


-That's right. - Ellis replied. She was currently one of only three humans using Primal Magic now, which was somehow prestigious.

 


-What level of experience are you on?- Lujanne asked.

 


-A year ago, she made a joke on me that almost broke down.- Han replied. Ellis gave him a little nudge to the side.

 


-You said you weren't angry anymore. - Ellis replied.

 


-Because I'm not. But now I praise you so you have no reason to be angry on me.- Han replied putting his hand on her shoulder.

 


-Dumbass...- Ellis said, rolling her eyes.

 


-But yours. - Han said, embracing her.

 


-Ekhm. Sorry to interrupt your hormones instinct-driven feedbacks, but I'd like to speak to Ellis in private. If possible. - Lujanne interrupted. Ellis nodded.

 


-Of course. - Ellis replied and she and Lujanne disappeared into the corridor behind them. Han looked after her with a certain longing.

 


-She'll be back soon. - Callum said, snapping Han out of his own thoughts.

 


-I know. - Han replied focusing on the conversation with Callum.

 


-You know Amaya will also be here?- Callum asked. He could not help but invite her, but he was afraid that Han would be the cause of many quarrels and arguments.

 


-Really? I don't think I have any regrets about that ...- Han started but after while he stopped and then fell silent. He realized that he was deceiving himself and she must be furious.

 


-No. Probably not. But you know, she doesn't like you very much. Not only that, she even hates you. She only tolerate you because Ellis loves you .- Callum replied confirming Han's fears.

 


-Well, some things are unchanging. - answered Han who knew he would not do anything about it.

 


-Ellis mentioned some joke. What she wad talking about?- Ibis asked, changing the subject of the conversation.

 


-Well ... A year ago, she materialised a figure of a bear with an illusion, which made me think that I was in danger and that I had to defend myself. Then she turned the bear into her bloody form, and I basically thought I killed her. Then it turned out she was okay. - Han replied. He still considered it a mean joke, but had no intention of doing anything against Ellis as part of the rematch.

 


-Well, does she make fun of you often like that?- Asked Ibis.

 


-Sometimes. More and more, but there is no ... - Han began, however, Ibis interjected.

 


-I advise you to get ready. Being with an illusionist is like asking for regular heart attacks.- interrupted Ibis. Han thought about it deeper to conclude that the elf was somehow right.

 


-Noted. By the way, where is our three-leg companion? - Han asked.

 


-Ezran went to wash up. After all, Aanya is coming too, Callum replied. Idea crossed Han's face.

 


-Oh ... Really?- Han asked.

 


-Yes. You understand, as soon as he found out that she was going to be here he went to take a bath, put on fresh clothes, shave face and clean his wooden leg .- Callum replied. Hopefully, seeing his brother like that made him feel half good and bad. Good because his brother had a purpose in life and bad because it could all end fast. 

 


-He's motivated. - Han replied, briefly summing up what Callum had told him.

 


-I hope so. Let's hope it not turn out to be a vain hope. - Callum replied.

 


-Maybe. He may not survive the second time being rejected by her. - Han said.

 


-Don't dramatize. What could go wrong?- Ibis interrupted. He didn't even realize how little he knew about Ezran and Aanya. 


-Something bothering you?- Neha asked. Aanya just looked at the windows. From them she could see the rebuilt Katolis throne room. Internally, she knew that the architects from Katolis did their best to rebuild a fragment of the castle.

 


She had just come to Katolis with her mother. They were about to meet with Sarai who should help them settle down in the castle.

 


-No, Mum. It's alright. It's just ... The last time I was here was over a year ago. Much has changed, you know. - Aanya replied.

 


-I understand. I don't think Ezran has any regrets towards you after all. - Neha said. Aanya finally told her mother after everything what happened. However, she was not so angry for the romance with her bodyguard and just showed what Aanya needed at the time - support.

 


-Maybe he's not. - Aanya replied hesitantly. Neha looked at her with a understanding and put a hand on her shoulder.

 


-Hey. I'm sure you'll get along somehow. You made a deal a year ago, now you can do it too- Neha assured her.

 


-Sure. - Aanya agreed without conviction.

 


-Come on. Head's up. It will be okay. - Neha consoled her. Aanya smiled involuntarily. Suddenly Sarai came out of the door next to him. She was surprised to see them, but quickly bowed at the sight of them.

 


-Queen Neha. - said Sarai. At the same moment, Aanya and Neha also bowed.

 


-Queen Sarai. - replied Neha.

 


-It's good to see you well. - Sarai said with a smile.

 


-So do you. How is King Harrow doing?-Neha asked.

 


-Very good. Nice to see you Aanya.- Sarai replied. Aanya made a slight bow.

 


-Thank you, Your Majesty. Good to see you too. - Aanya replied.

 


-Listen Aanya, Sarai and I have a few things to talk about. Can you wait a moment for us?- Her mother said. Aanya nodded uncertainly - she was afraid to walk around this castle alone because she felt like an intruder inside.

 


-Of course. - she said, despite all her fears.

 


As soon as Sarai and Neha disappeared outside the door, Aanya leaned against the wall opposite the window. She felt guilty for what happened - the whole situation with Ezran, Ian's death. She acted mean and came here not because she was invited to the wedding, but because she wanted to apologize to Ezran. Maybe he would forgive her, they would be friends again, but after what she did, she had no hope for anything more. She hurt him terribly and she could not imagine that he felt anything more than aversion and disgust towards her.

 


Suddenly the door next to it opened.

 


-... Okay, let me know when you're ready. We'll organize something from the basement under the castle. Oh, and I'll get the cards. Take care, Soren.- Ezran said coming out backwards. Seeing him, Aanya began to stare at his face and wooden leg.

 


Ezran slowly limped out and closed the door behind him. Turning around, he noticed Aanya leaning against the wall.

 


There was an awkward silence as they both stared at each other in surprise. Ezran was shocked - she was actually here. She was still beautiful as he remembered her. However, Ezran knew that he had let her down and there is no point in counting on more than hate on her part. Little did he know, however, that she herself thought similarly towards him. 

Chapter Text

-H ... Hey. Aanya.- Ezran said after a moment's silence. Aanya came to her senses suddenly feeling her cheeks turn red. Ezran was in front of her. She tried to keep cool despite the fact that she wanted to run away. A lot has happened since last time she saw him. Even though she was sure of what she felt, she knew that there was nothing to count on after all this. She felt bad, but she deserved it - after all, she did something bad.

 


-Hi Ezran. It's been a while.- Aanya tried to pretend to be as calm as she could. Ezran smiled shyly.

 


-Yes ... How are you doing?-Ezran asked. Internally, he wanted to turn back to the room where Soren's mother was helping him cut his hair. Aanya was here. Ezran knew that the feeling he had for her would not matter after all - after all, a lot had happened and he could not count on her to love him again.

 


-Well. All right. And you?- Aanya asked in response. Despite everything, she tried to have a relatively calm conversation, although she wanted to escape. Get away from everything - her feelings, memories, people she has hurt.

 


-It's fine too ... So ... Are you here for the wedding?- Asked Ezran. Despite everything, he wanted to continue the conversation, although he wanted to leave. He felt Aanya hated him and he didn't want to give himself hope.

 


-Yes. I didn't think that after all of this ... Well ... they will invite me.- Aanya said. After all, because of her, Callum's brother had a lot of problems. She didn't know why she had been invited.

 


-Don't even say that. You just had problems, it's not your fault. Anyway ... - Ezran tried to explain and calm her down. The conversation can't go better, he thought.

 


-I don't want you to blame yourself. Let's change the subject, please. How's your leg?- Aanya asked. The last thing she wanted was to discuss old problems. Ezran nodded as if he understood it without words.

 


-I'm fine. After all, no leg no problem.- Ezran replied. Aanya was talking directly - only few people wanted to talk about his leg. She was one of the few who spoke about it without fear of hurting him.

 


-Are you always joking about your leg?- Aanya asked in surprise. She didn't saw any person who joked about missing limb.

 


-Sometimes. There's no need to cry over something that isn't there, right?- Asked Ezran, trying to joke. Internally, he felt embarrassed by his stupid joke that sounded better in his head.

 


-It's sad for me.- Aanya replied. Ezran just smiled nervously.

 


-Well ... I'm not crying.- replied Ezran. He lied, sometimes he cried, but she didn't need to know about it.

 


After a while, there was an awkward silence again.

 


-So ... Would you like some tea? I just brewed water.- Ezran asked. During the tea conversation, maybe they could somehow ... Fix some matters?

 


-Why not.- Aanya replied. Ezran just smiled and walked slowly towards his room.

 


Aanya followed him, although it soon turned out that she would be walking with him slowly. Ezran finally tried to walk alone, without leaning on anything.

 


-You know, I can help you.- Aanya said. Involuntarily, Ezran smiled.

 


-I can handle it. I am finally 18 years old. I am in the strength of my life ...- Ezran began to enumerate. He didn't know why - to lie to himself or to her. It didn't matter anymore. He didn't want to show weakness - not next to her.

 


-Ezran you don't have a leg.- Aanya replied.

 


-It doesn't excuse me from nothing.- replied Ezran.

 


Aanya smiled at Ezran's stubbornness. She has seen people give up after losing a limb, end up on supporting from their family, develop alcoholism, or take their own lives. Aanya tried her best but could not help the hundreds of soldiers who returned home from the war a year ago. Everyone was guaranteed insurance payments from the state and they had enough to live on. But most of them differed from Ezran.

 


-You're stubborn.- Aanya said.

 


-I am.- Ezran nodded softly. Internally, however, he was happy like a child - he treated her answer as a compliment.

 


Finally, after a long moment in silence, they reached the common room of Callum and Ezran. Callum's room was empty, as if Callum hadn't been in for a year. The wardrobe and desk weren't dusty like it usually was. The bed was made and there was no trace of Callum presence anywhere.

 


-Callum cleans his room every day when he leaves it. Opeli is trying to teach him "reason".- said Ezran.

 


-Katolis traditions, right?- Aanya asked.

 


-Yes. Don't be scared my room is a little messy. I wasn't expecting visitors and ... Well ... - said Ezran. By entering by opening the door to the room. Inside it was also not bad - admittedly the dust was omnipresent and on Ezran's desk there was a lot of all kinds of papers, probably of political importance. The bed was made carelessly and a wolf slept on an old fur coat in the corner.

 


-You don't have to explain. I don't clean my room often myself.- Aanya replied. She didn't add that she was rarely there because she was busy.

 


-Who are you and what have you done with Aanya?- Ezran asked sarcastically. Aanya rolled her eyes hearing that.

 


-I can see the loss of your leg has sharpened your joke, huh?- Aanya asked.

 


-Indeed.- Ezran nodded. Only then did Aanya notice the wolf sleeping in the corner of the room.

 


-Is that Ava?- Aanya asked, looking surprised at the wolf.

 


-Yes. Ellis asked me to look after her while she was traveling in Xadia. They say that wolves are shot at the mere sight of them, although nobody here likes them too much. Sit down, I'll pour a cup of tea right now.- Ezran said as he pushed back the chair for her at his small table. Aanya sat down while Ezran sat down beside his seat.

 


Ezran slowly picked up the kettle and poured boiling water into both cups. Aanya looked at the tea with a certain melancholy. She remembered her home, all the memories of home. Friends she failed, what was before she failed, those who were gone. However, she knew Annika and Ian would want her to go on and not care about them. After all, she had her whole life ahead of her. Although maybe they preferred her to stay with them in mind? The dilemmas of what to do next haunted her for a long time.

 


-… Aanya?- Ezran touched her shoulder shyly. Aanya almost jumped in surprise.

 


-I'm listening.- She replied pretending that she hadn't thought about anything all. Ezran shook his head.

 


-You've been sitting at tea for a long time, are you okay?- Asked Ezran. Aanya looked into his eyes, cursed softly under her breath - she couldn't lie.

 


-What? No ... It's just ... -Aanya tried to explain. She knew that Ezran would definitely not want to hear about her problems with his own. She wanted to apologize to Ezran, but ... She couldn't bring herself to do it.

 


-You know you can talk to me about anything?- Ezran asked. He felt that Aanya needed help involuntarily. The girl took a deep breath.

 


-I know. It's just ... Sorry for everything .- Aanya finally said.

 


-For what?- Asked Ezran.

 


-For that from a year ago. That I chose Ian and not you ...- Aanya paused, knowing she was stepping onto the thin ice.

 


-I got over it. At first, I thought you meant I was too fake, that I was pretending to be nice. But then I realized that you just fit together. Ian was by your side more than I was and I had no option but to lose. But I understood everything after losing my leg. Until then, I thought I was a monster, but ... I realized that I was the blacksmith of my own fate. That I am who I am and I decide about it. I have left it to my fate now because I don't have to hurry.- replied Ezran. He felt stupid that to understand this after he lost a leg, but better late than never.

 


-Gods, why your dark humor has sharpened?- Aanya placed her hand on her forehead, not believing that Ezran was still laughing at his misfortune.

 


-You don't even realize how great it is. You're kind of joking about monstrous things, and yet it's funny. There are many topics for a joke ... -Ezran replied, but stopped when Aanya put her hand on his.

 


-Ezran listen ... I didn't just choose Ian because ... He was close. You both were. I didn't want to tell you then ...- Aanya started, but she didn't know how to put it into words. Ian was on the verge of ... doing something to himself. The fact that she accepted him after all looked bad - as if she were with him from pity.

 


-About what?- Asked Ezran.

 


-Ian was close to collapsing back then. Then at night I felt sorry for him. I saw how low he could fall, how close he was to roll down. If I had chosen you then I might have had blood on his hands.- Aanya told the truth. In addition to love, she also felt fear for Ian - she did not know if he would be able to do anything to himself.

 


-Ian couldn't ...- Ezran started but suddenly stopped. Ian could ... But it seemed ... Impossible.

 


-I did not know. Then I made my decision on the spur of the moment. It all worked - his behavior, that he was the first to confess what he felt, ending the dragging stalemate. I had to choose someone in the end.- Aanya replied. She tried her best to explain. She hadn't told anyone, not even her mother. She felt bad about it like the last slut.

 


-And it was in the end him.-finished Ezran.

 


-Yes. I know it sounds a bit like I'm with him out of pity, but ... You understand.- Aanya said, taking her hand away.

 


-You wanted to help him. And the last three weeks of his life were his best.- Ezran said. As long as he knew Ian, he had never seen him as happy as he had been in the last three weeks of his life.

 


-I didn't know he was going to die. Forgive me for putting the blame on you then. I was angry and ... I was looking for someone to put guilt. And I was also to blame - I saw him coughing more than usual, but I preferred to think it was a common cold. Besides, it was impossible to save him.- Aanya said. It was the worst thing she had done to Ezran - she blamed him. But Ezran seemed to be looking longingly at the table.

 


-I get it. Eh ... why this conversation had to go down on such a subject?- asked Ezran. He even began to wish they were not drinking tea but wine.

 


-Good question. Let's change the subject, please.- Aanya pleaded. She didn't want to talk about it anymore.

 


-It's good for me. So... What have you been up to last year?- Asked Ezran.

 


-I treated the wounded after the battle. There were hundreds of them, and each one of them needed help. Half of them were crippled like you.- Aanya replied. Memories of what had happened in the hospitals for several weeks made her shudder.

 


-How did it go?- Asked Ezran.

 


-Half of them didn't want to live. Drugs, alcohol, mental problems. These were the most common causes of their deaths. Only 1/3 of them are left. They couldn't imagine life without an arm or a leg. There were also some who were blind or deaf. It was hard but as many as I managed to save.- Aanya replied. She felt no guilt here, after all, she bandaged each of them. They took their own lives without seeing it's meaning. Though she wondered if she could have avoided it by then returning to Katolis Castle and fighting the Salamandra politically. It was, however, a guess.

 


-I understand. After all, I have to jump like them too.- Ezran replied to the wooden leg. As it turned out, thousands of elven craftsmen from all over Xadia were making those wooden limbs in order to help wounded in war effort. By a twist of fate his wooden leg was created by Ethari himself.

 


-Mhm. And what have you been doing last year?- Aanya asked. Ezran scratched his neck nervously.

 


-I was learning to walk again. I'm getting better and better.- said Ezran with a smile. Looking at the smile, Aanya had the impression that it was ... artificial.

 


-I saw. And besides?- Aanya replied.

 


-Well ... That's it. Nothing else ... -said Ezran. He smiled nervously again. Aanya already felt that something was up.

 


-Are you sure it's okay?- Aanya asked, feeling that she should help him.

 


-I suppose so?- Replied Ezran. On the one hand, he did not want to talk about it, and on the other ... He felt the need for help from someone.

 


-You suppose?- Aanya repeated, surprised. At these words, the smile faded from Ezran's face. The boy put his hands on his face and rested his elbows on the table.

 


-Who am I even trying to decieve? It not, nothing is. I tried not to think about it. Live my own life. I can't...- Ezran didn't know what to say next. He didn't have the strength to pretend everything was fine.

 


-Ezran, I didn't mean to...- Aanya got up from her chair.

 


-No ... I just ... I miss it all. Walking without fear of falling, not having to lean on lengthening of my leg. No need to balance so as not to fall ... That I don't have to stand out from others. That everyone treats me like a normal person, not…-Ezran felt tears run down his cheek under his hands.

 


-Ezran...- Aanya walked over to him. She knew that if Ezran hadn't need anything from her over the past year, now her help was needed.

 


-I ... Really ...- Ezran tried to turn away from her. He didn't want anyone to see him like this, especially her. Aanya ripped his hands off his face to see the tears.

 


-Oh no. I'm sorry. I really didn't want to. -she said pulling him into a hug. She felt bad for making him remember again.

 


-I haven't thought about it. I didn't want to think about it ...- said Ezran with a broken voice. Aanya just hugged him tighter.

 


-Ezran. Please. Do not think about it.- she whispered in his ear. Ezran hugged her uncertainly.

 


They stood there for a long time. Ezran, even though he swayed slightly, he tried to keep his balance with even good results. After a while.- Ezran seemed to have calmed down.

 


-And? Better?- she asked after a moment.

 


-Yes. Thanks.- he replied hesitantly. He felt stupid for trying not to share his problems with anyone just to cry in front of her.

 


- That's what friends are for, right?- Aanya asked. Ezran smiled uncertainly.

 


-Mhm ... Sorry ... I ...- Ezran tried to explain himself. He felt stupid that she saw him cry.

 


-I saw people who, after losing a leg, wanted to hang themselves. You ... You're doing better than them.- Aanya replied. Ezran seemed immune to what would wear off other people without limbs.

 


-It looks so. Let's change the subject, please.- Ezran asked. He didn't want to talk about it, especially with Aanya. But she nodded.

 


-A good idea. So what's next?- she asked. She had no idea what to do next. Ezran suddenly noticed an old chess box on the cupboard behind her back.

 


-Have you ever played chess?- Ezran asked.


- General.- Han bowed slightly. Despite the year since they had their "truce" with Amaya, she still seemed to hate him. Han didn't care, though, because all he cared about was the opinion of Ellis which was more important to him.

 


Han popped into the kitchen for a moment to organize something for Callum's bachelor party, and the choice fell on the Evenere cider. In the room, however, he met Amaya, who at the sight of him immediately changed her expression to anything but dissatisfied.

 


Ah, it's you. Haven't you bored her yet?

 


-Ellis hasn't broken the engagement yet.- Han replied. Ellis had recently been teaching him sign language so he could get along with Amaya, but that only made him understand every  insult she was throwing in his face.

 


I really don't know what she sees in you.

 


-I gain a lot on closer look.-Han replied with a mocking smile. Amaya only glared at him.

 


-Hey, don't argue. Can you pretend for once that you have no dislike for each other?- Ellis asked as she entered the kitchen. Amaya replied evasively, trying to force the teenager to make concessions.

 


If he agrees.

 


-Deal.- Han agreed knowing that there would be no other option. Amaya was stubborn, and he had to step down in that case.

 


-Thanks. Oh, there are musicians. Be right back.- Ellis replied walking towards the incoming music band. She promised Callum to arrange it and wanted to do the best with her promise.

 


Amaya looked at the band that entered the room. There were five young boys who were carrying lutes, flutes and drums. Suddenly Amaya recognized one of them. In an instant, she felt a rush of adrenaline seeing this kid about she worried more than Han.

 


Han?

 


-Yes General?- Han asked, packing a bottle of cider in his pocket.

 


See that guy in the red coat?

 


-Yep ...- Han replied nodding, looking at the indicated person. Guy was just talking to Ellis. He seemed very pleased with this conversation which surprised Han. Suddenly, he hugged Ellis which, to say the least, surprised Han.

 


See what I see?

 


-Did he… hug her?- Han asked. It didn't mean anything yet ... but it might.

 


Yes. They've known each other since I enrolled Ellis in music classes. I heard this guy was kind of asshole and he was trying to pick up Ellis. It was years ago, you didn't even know each other yet. But I don't know what's on his mind right now. Now you can prove that you are the right guy for her and try to talk him away.

 


-Rather, there won't be problems. After all, he ... -Han tried to think rationally. After all, there should be no problems - Ellis did not break off the engagement, they spent the last year together in Xadia. She wouldn't leave it for an old friend ... would she?

 


Han.

 


-I'm going.- Han replied, heading towards them. If this guy was actually as bad as Amaya described him, Han had a duty to talk him off. On his way to them, he picked up a glass of blueberry juice, making a plan.

 


-... Elves have ... Oh, right. Jared meet Han. He served in Duren as the bodyguard of Princess Aanya.- Ellis introduced him when he was already a few meters away. Han made a slight bow as he remembered his teachings on how to behave at the courts of aristocracy.

 


-Good evening.- said Han, seeing the dark haired man looking at him with a slight disgust. The bodyguard didn't like it when someone was looking at him in this way. He really started to think that guy was kind of asshole.

 


-Han, this is my old friend Jared. We learned to play the lute in one class .- introduced the musician Ellis.

 


-Nice to meet you. So ... Well ... I just wanted to tell Ellis that it's good to see you again. Listen, can we talk privately?- Jared asked. Han felt something was wrong and he should react as soon as possible

 


-We can.- Han replied. Jared looked at him in surprise. Ellis, too, looked at him with surprise, but also with some understanding.

 


-I didn't ask you.- said the musician.

 


-And you don't have to. We are engaged. We have no secrets from each others.- Han said. Noting that Ellis was with him, he felt well irritated by a musician who certainly did not expect it.

 


-It is true.- Ellis nodded, which only reassured Han of her plan.

 


-I understand. Okay ... I need some tips on what to play at the wedding tomorrow. Do you have any elven songs for us to train?- Jared asked. The subject did not require a private conversation at all, which made Han certain that this was not the case.

 


-Sure, here ...- Ellis said, pulling out the prepared sheet. Han shifted slightly, not wanting to disturb her, and as he did so, he noticed that the kitchen rug was unstretched in one place. In a split second, Han took advantage of it by pretending to be the best that he accidentally stumbled over it. In a few seconds, the juice from the cup he was holding poured out on the surprised musician.

 


-Oops. Sorry.- Han said, standing up.

 


-Shit.- Jared hissed, wiping the juice off his face.

 


-Jared, sorry, it was an accident.-Ellis apologized. She was glad that she hadn't had time to hand over the pages to Jared.

 


-Yes. I did it  by accident.- He said grinning like stupid Han. Jared looked at him without conviction.

 


-Nothing happened. I give you my word. I'll just go ...- assured Jared as he headed for the exit. Here Han didn't have to try anymore - Jared himself tripped over the bodyguard's legs.

 


-Jared!- Ellis exclaimed.

 


-Oh sorry. It was unintentionally.- Han said, helping him to his feet.

 


-Nothing happened. Word of honor.- Jared replied definitely irritated and left the room furious. As he left the kitchen, Han yawned, and Ellis put her hand on his shoulder.

 


-Han, focus. You are so tired you stumble over your legs. Not to mention others...- She said looking her beloved in the eyes.

 


-I know, I'm sorry. Why don't we go take a nap? A few more hours before Callum and Rayla need us...- Han replied. He wanted to take a nap next to her. Ellis smiled at the idea.

 


-A good idea. Will you take something for us?- she asked as she left

 


-Sure. See you in your room.- Han agreed.

 


Han picked up a few apple cakes and two pears on a plate and headed for the door. On the way, Amaya stopped him. She looked at him a little more favorably.

 


Well done boy, maybe you're not so bad after all.


-So she's just a friend?- Lisa asked. Soren tried not to move on hearing the question, although he would most likely shake his head to indicate that this was the state of matters.

 


-Yes mom. Zennya is my friend.- Soren replied with a still head.

 


Soren asked his mother to cut his hair. He knew no one could do it better than her - after all, she was the only person doing that since Soren was a child. Despite the fact that Soren lived alone for a long time, he often came to his mother when he needed to shorten his hair. He was currently sitting in her room in the castle where she worked as the new Archive Master after Viren's death.

 


-You haven't had many friends like her.- his mother said.

 


-From the girls? Well ... A bit like that ... But that doesn't mean anything.- Soren said. Right, Zennya was pretty, funny, nice ... But that didn't mean there was anything between them... Right?

 


-When will you introduce her to me?- Lisa asked.

 


-Mom!- Soren replied, feeling his cheeks turn red.

 


-She's just a friend, so where's your anger from?- Lisa asked, feeling Soren wasn't telling the whole truth.

 


-I just don't want to, okay? No.- Soren said. He had no chance with her - after all, he was a weak, nasty human and she was a beautiful elf. He didn't want to give himself hope.

 


-Soren, I'm old, but not so blind. There's something between you two.- Lisa replied. Soren gave a slight twitch.

 


-Not at all. There is nothing...- her son denied.

 


-Soren, you can't deny it. I will not be angry with you if you decide you want to be with an elf. After all, it's ...- Lisa was an open-minded person. She wouldn't have seen a problem when her children were interested in people of the same gender, another religion, or even a different race.

 


-Even if so then what? What can she see in me?- Soren interrupted her.

 


-Callum is with the elf. It doesn't mean it's impossible.- Lisa replied. Soren just grunted unconvinced.

 


-He has known Rayla a decade. He's a archmage, he defeated Aaravos. If it weren't for Rayla Callum wouldn't be able to get away from the girls. And I? I'm a simple guy ...- replied Soren. Wound after Emily hasn't healed yet, and despite spending almost a year at Xadia with Zennya, he was afraid to push it further.

 


-Even a simple guy deserves to hava some love in life.- his mother replied. She remembered how his father had stammered out uncertainly about his feelings for her over 30 years earlier. She knew from experience that in order for everything to work out, Soren just had to talk to Zennya.

 


Suddenly they heard a knock on the door. While Soren sat motionless while his mother opened the door. Zennya was standing behind them.

 


-Good afternoon, is Soren somewhere here?- Asked the elf. She wanted to talk to him, although she herself was afraid of the conversation.

 


-Yes, I just cut his hair. Come in, be my guest.- invited the elf inside. Zennya went inside to find Soren sitting on a shirtless chair with shortened hair. Soren blushed slightly as he saw Zennya put her hand to her mouth to hide a soft chuckle.

 


-Hey. What's up?- Soren asked, wanting to somehow defuse the atmosphere. He felt silly when she looked at him like that.

 


- I came to ask if you saw Callum. I borrowed the Primal Stone from him and wanted to return it to him.- Zennya said. It was an imaginary topic of conversation because she wanted to talk to him about a completely different topic. The only thing that stopped her was his mother cutting his hair right now.

 


-I have not seen him. I can help you look… -Soren said, wanting to get up. His mother, however, held him from standing up.

 


-You're not going anywhere, Soren. Sit still.- Lisa said. She calmly continued her work while Soren sat feeling like the last moron.

 


-Fine, mom.- Soren nodded, feeling stupid as Zennya tried to suppress laughter again.

 


-Come on and sit down. Oh yeah, I'm Lisa, Soren's mother. You must be Zennya.- The old woman introduced herself.

 


-That's right ...- Zennya timidly answered.

 


-Well ... Soren told me a lot about you.- Lisa said. She wanted to raise her opinion about Soren a little.

 


-Really?- elf asked.

 


-Oh yes. He said he hadn't seen a prettier girl in his life- Lisa said. At these words, Soren shivered slightly and the elf blushed.

 


-Mom!- Soren moved to look at her. Lisa, however, held his head so that Soren could only look at the surprised Zennya.

 


-Don't lie to me Soren. My hearing is still good.- Lisa said, making Soren blush. He knew it was true, but he didn't want his mother to talk about it in front of Zennya.

 


-I didn't expect Soren to think that about me.- Zennya said uncertainly. It gave her some hope.

 


-That comes out. Very few girls caught his eye. He is picky about how girls looks and their character.- Lisa said.

 


-Really?- Zennya asked. She felt that Soren's mother was trying to make a good impression on her so that she would look more favorably at Soren. She however didn't even realize that she didn't had to anymore.

 


-Yes. His first love looked like an angel. Another thing was that she was acting like slut. She went on a date with him and left him for the current miller.- Lisa said. She still remembered the current wife of the miller's who was a real embodiment of evil. Deep down, Lisa was glad that it hadn't worked out between her and Soren.

 


-Ouch.- said Zennya. She knew that Soren did not have a happy life with girls, but she did not expect it to be so painful.

 


-Do we need to talk about this now?- Soren asked. He felt bad remembering one of his first loves.

 


-No. But we can about your childhood. Of course, if Zennya wants to listen.- Lisa said.

 


-Very gladly.- Zennya replied, sitting down on the stool next to her. Even though the room was small, it housed a small table and a few stools. Behind the door  next to table was a bedroom and a bathroom.

 


-Soren wanted to become a soldier from an early age. For a while he swirled around it so much that he once snatched a helmet from the royal armory and commanded his teddy bears and Claudia dolls. During this  he broke one of the dolls' arm and upset Claudia greatly.- Lisa said. She loved revisiting her memories of her children and, while with Claudia it was unable to do so, she was eager to tell these stories to Soren's children.

 


-You didn't tell me that.- Zennya said. Soren often told her about what he was doing in Katolis, but rarely mentioned his childhood.

 


-Mom, please...- Soren pleaded.

 


-After an argument with her, he went over to complain to me because Claudia took his teddy bear from him and drowned it in the river. He cried terribly because it was his favorite one. He always slept with it, and when he went to school he had it in his backpack. He couldn't sleep without him for a week, but he forgot about him after a while.- Lisa continued.

 


-Mom...- Soren muttered under his nose, wanting to collapse into the ground.

 


-It's cute.- Zennya said with a smile.

 


-However, the first horse ride was the worst. Soren tried to get on his horse and inadvertently tugged the poor animal by the ear. The horse threw him right into the mud. Two weeks he cried that horses didn't like him and he had a little phobia for them.- Lisa said. Hearing that, Zennya laughed a little.

 


-Mom, please stop.- Soren pleaded. He moved his head slightly, but Lisa held his head again.

 


-I'm almost done, don't move.- Lisa said, continuing the haircut.

 


-Soren had a very interesting childhood.- Zennya said. On the one hand, she wanted to laugh, and on the other, she knew that someday she might be in the same situation as Soren. After all, she herself had a colorful childhood.

 


-Yes. Unfortunately, most of it was full of sorrow and regret. Eleven girls broke his heart for no reason. Can you believe it? It's a pity, because he's a good guy. He doesn't drink much, has a stable job, doesn't mess with criminals.- Lisa mentioned. Soren was well-bred and she was responsible for it herself, but she knew that in time he would need help to deal with this gray world he was in. He needed someone who could give him joy, warmth and understanding.

 


-Thanks mum. I already think it's okay.- Soren said looking into the small mirror in front of him. He stood up and shook the cut hair from his head and shoulders and washed his head lightly. After a while he dried himself with a towel and put on his shirt.

 


-Well. Come back, son, when you need my help.- Lisa said.

 


-Okay, I'll be back.- Soren agreed reluctantly.

 


-And maybe you could show your friend around the castle? I'm sure she would love to take a walk and look at the sights.- Lisa suggested looking at Zennya standing quietly on the side.

 


-Very much.- Zennya agreed.

 


-I ... Alright.- Soren agreed.

 


-Good boy. Come on now. Goodbye.- Lisa said, waving them.

 


-Yeah, goodbye!- Zennya said , opening the door to the castle corridor.

 


-Bye mom.- Soren said, closing the door. As soon as they left the corridor, Zennya put her hand on his shoulder.

 


-Your mom is a very nice woman.- Zennya said leaning against Soren. Soren smiled as he felt her next to him.

 


-Stop it. In my life I was not as ashamed as I am now.- he said involuntarily feeling a bit of bitterness and shame.

 


-I see. You're as red as Callum's scarf. But everything she told was even cute.- Zennya said.

 


-Let's change the subject please.- Soren asked, looking at her pleadingly.

 


-As you wish. Besides ... we need to talk ... - said Zennya. She felt awkward, but she didn't feel good about repressing it within herself.

 


-About what?- Soren asked.

 


-It's nothing important ... Just a little thing. In the evening, when all those balechor parties are going on, or whatever humans call it. Can you do it?- Zennya asked. She chickened out, she wanted talk to him now, but she lacked the courage for now.

 


-Alright. Zennya and we can not now?- Soren asked, curious what was going on.

 


-No. We can not. Trust me. And please don't get drunk then. I need you reasonably sober.- Zennya said. She didn't want to explain everything she felt twice to him.

 


-Zennya is everything ...- Soren wanted to ask.

 


-I do not know. I don't know, I just don't know anything. I don't know if I'm ready to talk about it ... - Zennya cut him in. She felt she was panicking. Suddenly Soren hugged her gently.

 


-Calm down. Don't be stressed. I'm sure it's nothing terrible.- He said pulling her closer. Zennya smiled and snuggled into him.

 


-Maybe so ... So at midnight in the royal gardens?- Asked the elf.

 


-I'll wait there.- the man nodded.


-I'm really not convinced of this idea.- Callum said as he sat down on the tailor's bench. Rayla had been here an hour earlier. It was no consolation - he wished she were here now.

 


-Why? Bachelor party doesn't sound so scary .- replied Runaan who helped him choose clothes for the next day.

 


-I don't like the idea of drinking alcohol ...- Callum said. He still remembered what had happened the last time he got drunk and didn't want it to happen again.

 


-You don't have to drink till you collapse. After all, you can drink in moderation too.- replied Runaan.

 


-I suppose so...- Callum replied reluctantly.

 


-And Rayla has something similar at the same time. You'll see everything will be fine.- He patted Runaan on the shoulder.

 


-Mhm.- Callum replied without conviction. He missed Rayla dearly. He really wanted it all to end and they could be together again without any problems.

 


-Calmly. Tomorrow this madness will end.- Runaan consoled him. It must end sometime after all.

 


-Maybe...- Callum replied.

 


Suddenly Sarai walked in. She seemed to be looking for someone with her eyes and after a short while of looking for someone she turned her eyes to the people in the room.

 


-Have you seen Ezran?- Asked the queen.

 


-Today morning. Has something happened?- Callum asked. Sarai seemed to be looking at them with guilt in her eyes.

 


-Nothing. Nothing yet .- Sarai replied evasively. What she did was wrong ... But maybe necessary. There was a chance that her decision could help her younger son ... Or make him suffer all his life.

 


-Mom? Has something happened?- Callum asked.

 


-Not completely. Anyway, you have a busy evening tonight. If I were you, I would start wondering what you guys are going to do with your friends in the party.- Sarai replied.

 


-Ezran said something about the cards. I'm sure we can handle it.- Callum replied.

 


-I hope so.- Sarai said as she left.

 


-Your mother seemed concerned.- Runaan said. On the one hand, Callum was glad that not only he noticed it and that something actually happened. On the other hand, he was curious and worried about what might have happened.

 


-Because she was. Something happened to Ezran. I'm sure of it.- Callum replied. His brother might get in trouble or do something.

 


-Mhm. For now, however, focus on what is important to you at the moment. Think about what you will be doing. After all, this is your last night before getting married as a free man.- Runaan said. Callum, however, preferred to deal with everything other than this human tradition.

 


-You cheer me up, you know?- Callum asked sarcastically.

 


-Sarcasm is unnecessary. I see you wanted to go down the aisle with Rayla the day after your engagement, but you had to wait a year. Exactly a year.- Runaan replied. Callum did not know what the wedding in Katolis would look like and he was unpleasantly surprised knowing that before the wedding he had to wait a year, then two weeks "learn" what he should do as the future head of the family and then organize a bachelor party.

 


-It's already getting annoying.- Callum replied, sitting down resignedly.

 


-That comes out. You have also to choose an outfit for tomorrow. Opeli asked you to wear this for the ceremony.- Runaan said pointing to three vests with white shirts on stands. They were all the same red color, but differed in patterns and decorations. The ornaments were gold on one, silver on the other, and black on the third. Callum felt very discouraged looking at them.

 


-Red, Red and Red.- The young mage mentioned the colors of each vest.

 


-Your national color.- Runaan laughed softly.

 


-Very funny.- Callum muttered.

 


-Do not whine. Rayla will wear a gown for you tomorrow. Make an effort and sacrifice a little for her.- Runaan replied. Callum cursed under his breath knowing - he was doing it only for her. It was what motivated him to continue this nonsense.

 


-If you put it that way...- Callum said, standing up and going to the stands.

 


-It can't be otherwise.-Runaan replied. Callum looked at each of the outfits and after a long moment's thought, he made up his mind.

 


-I think the one with gold ornaments will be just right.- He indicated Callum's middle outfit.

 


-Yes I felt you would choose this one.- Runaan replied.


-It feels strange to make decisions for them.- Sarai said.

 


-Now we can't back out. You know how it is between them. After what happened the year before, now they will avoid the subject like fire.- Neha said. They went with Sarai to Ezran's room where the young prince probably was. Aanya disappeared like a stone into water, and even though that was about her as well, she would probably be the last to know.

 


-I know, but after all, I never thought that ... Well ...- Sarai fell silent. All her life she had refused such offers, for both Callum and for Ezran. However, this time she accepted. She felt a bit mean, but she knew that otherwise she would not be able to help them.

 


-Ezran loves her, doesn't he?- Neha asked.

 


-Yes. Two days ago, he nodded to me when I asked about it.- Sarai said. She asked Ezran several times and he always answered with yes or simple nod.

 


-She's the same. She just felt guilty and was afraid to take a step forward. But now we can help them.- Neha said, patting Sarai on the shoulder. Sarai smiled, knowing that at least she wasn't the only one to blame. They quietly entered Callum and Ezran's room to hear the quiet conversation. If Aanya was with Ezran, both queens had an easier job to do.

 


Sarai opened the door to the room. Ezran and Aanya were sitting on Ezran's bed playing chess. From what could be seen, Ezran was winning.

 


-How are you doing this?- Aanya asked with smile.

 


-Years of practice. I learned something there after losing to Ellis. She really has a talent for this game.- said Ezran. He never won this game until now. It only made him proud. But more importantly, he was spending that time with Aania.

 


-Ekhm.- Sarai grunted. Ezran and Aanya had just noticed the queens in the room. They both got up and bowed in accordance with royal etiquette. Ezran did it slower however but all was because of his wooden leg.

 


-Your Highness. Mother.- Ezran said, bowing his head back.

 


-Sit down. Both of you. We need to talk.- Sarai said. Ezran and Aanya sat down with some surprise. Sarai cursed softly under her nose - they didn't even know what they had done.

 


-Sure. About what?- Aanya asked.

 


-Well ... As you know, there comes a time in adulthood to ... Become serious. Settle down. Start a family. All that stuff.- Neha began. She wanted to ease them with what they had done, but had no idea how. She tried to calmly explain why they had done it.

 


-But for this you need a second person.- added Sarai, helping the other queen. Even greater surprise appeared on the faces of the young ones.

 


-Yes?- Aanya agreed.

 


-Where are you going with this?- Ezran asked.

 


-We get there. Say ... Would you like to settle down? -Neha asked.

 


-Well, Yeah ...- Ezran nodded.

 


-I think so.- Aanya confirmed.

 


-Alright. How should I say it ...- Sarai knew this was the moment when they admitted that they had, in a way, sold them.

 


-Well ...- Neha also did not know how to put it in the right words.

 


-Mom?- Aanya asked uncertainly. Something was wrong and she felt uneasy and insecure.

 


-I don't know how to say it softly.- Sarai said.

 


-The Duren Royal Council has sent proposals to arrange your marriage. Both of you.- Neha said clearly. At these words, Ezran and Aanya blushed in a second.

 


-Oh.- Aanya replied. She knew it wasn't the first time their Council had done something arbitrarily, but it was the first time her mother had spoken openly about it to someone more than her.

 


-Well ... It sounds a bit silly...- Ezran said scratching his neck. He knew the Duren Council was trying to find a suitable husband for Aanya, and once they even tried to marry her to Callum. This time it didn't work out, and this time it might not work out either.

 


-Yes. For someone to decide who we will have to marry. -Aanya laughed nervously looking at Ezran.

 


-Crazy, isn't it? Treating living person as barging card in politics.- Ezran also laughed nervously.

 


-Yes. But it's a good thing you didn't accept this offer.- Aanya said looking at their mothers. They, however, did not look pleased, on the contrary - they looked as if they had remorse. Both avoided their looks.

 


-You didn't accept her, did you?- Asked Ezran. Sarai looked up slightly. Ezran looked into her eyes and realized that this time his mother had agreed.

 


-Ezran ...- Sarai started but fell silent. She felt bad about it and didn't know how to explain it. But she had to tell him the truth, the rest Ezran had to figure out for himself.

 


-Mom ... You ...- Ezran wanted to ask, but he didn't dare to do it. What he saw in her eyes - guilt, regret and sadness only reassured him that something was wrong.

 


-Forgive us. The situation required it.- Neha replied. Hearing this, Aanya and Ezran jumped apart in surprise and shock.

 


-What?- They asked simultaneously. Until now, their parents did everything not to accept such agreements. They didn't understand where this sudden change of mind had come from.

 


-Believe me, we did it for your own good.- Sarai said. She was sure that with time they would understand. Maybe not this day, but in other days, weeks, months or even years.

 


-Our good!? How could you force us to get us together !? And all behind our backs. I'll have to be with him for the rest of my life. No offense.- Aanya said. She didn't want to offend Ezran in any way, after all, she still felt something for him. However, she didn't want things to develop so quickly - she wanted to rebuild everything slowly and not so suddenly and quickly.

 


-No, I'm with you. How could you!?- asked Ezran. He had no way of explaining it to himself and all he could do in this situation was to ask their mothers. They only remained silent.

 


-I think you'll understand soon. For now we have to leave you for a while. Stay here for now.- Sarai said. They both left very quickly, leaving the teenagers alone. There was an awkward silence during which each of them looked in different directions, thinking what to do next.

 


-I can't believe it...- Aanya said. She still couldn't believe it. However, she couldn't accept it - Ezran still probably had a grudge against her, and this whole idea would end badly.

 


-Aanya ... I'm sorry ... I didn't know it ...- Ezran tried to apologize. He guessed what was to blame for it and knew that he was responsible for part of it.

 


-Ezran is not your fault. Heavens, what shot into their heads ...- Aanya said, placing her hand on her head. She had to stop it somehow, in the end, she preferred to slowly regain Ezran's trust and that could destroy all hope for them.

 


-It may be partly my fault ...- Ezran said scratching his neck.

 


-What?- Aanya asked, surprised.

 


-Well... You see ... I ...- Ezran thought about how to explain it.

 

 

-Ez... What have you done?- Aanya asked.

 


-The truth is ... I told my mom how I felt about you ... I feel. I was looking for understanding and help. Look ... I know maybe it's too much at once ... And you probably don't feel the way I do ... But I still love you. Since I came back from Xadia, I couldn't accept the fact that ... that I screwed up ... - Ezran began to speak. He had the opportunity to fix everything and make everything right between them. There was no way to back out, and he wanted at least make her know  that he was honest with her.

 


-Ezran ...- Aanya didn't know what to say. Despite what she had done to him, what was happening between them, Ezran still wanted to be with her. She couldn't understand it. Ezran hwoever continued.

 


-... That Ian ... He died. I felt guilty about it. Listen. I understand if you don't feel the same way, but I love you. Despite everything that happened between us and what happened, I still love you. I can't imagine a future without you, and if I hadn't thought of you, I'd probably be like ... You know ... -Ezran continued. The truth was, he wanted to impress her with how well he was doing and how close he was to being fully able to be like normal person. He continued to work on walking, but it was hard work. However, not so much that Aanya thought of him otherwise than the crippled sad guy.

 


-People I treated?- Aanya asked.

 


-Yes. The thought of you motivated me to work on myself, though at times I wanted to give up.- Ezran admitted. Suddenly he felt her hand on his. He looked into her eyes.

 


-Ezran, please ....- Aanya wanted to .... Even herself, she wasn't sure what she wanted. That he would continue? To make it stop? She didn't know what to do.

 


-Let me finish. I told my mother about it, looking for consolation. I didn't know she was going to ... decide to force us into marriage. We can try to break off the engagement if you want. I will fake a betrayal or...- Ezran tried to give her a way out of it. He didn't want them to be so close together so suddenly - he preferred to rebuild it slowly, without rushing.

 


-Shit, Ezran. Stop...-Aanya interrupted him. Ezran was honest with her and she felt that the other way around, she should be with him honest too.

 


-...Fine. - Ezran nodded. Aanya took a deep breath and began to speak.

 


-I'm sorry. I wanted to say that ... I also ... I've been thinking about it a lot over the last year. After all ... It wasn't your fault here. You meant well and ... I don't know. I think I still have feelings for you. I remember you when you were nice, funny, smart ... And you still are. I don't care if you don't have a leg because that doesn't make you worse. I also talked to my mother and maybe ... - Aanya suddenly fell silent. She quickly put together the facts that explained their parents.

 


-Wait ... If both mothers knew how we feel ...- Ezran began, also guessing what was going on here.

 


-... Because of this arranged marriage, they forced us to talk honestly ... -Aanya finished. Suddenly they jumped away from each other even more surprised.

 


-Heavens ...- Ezran said, placing his hands on his head.

 


-Ezran I ...- Aanya didn't know what to say.

 


-Aanya, I was telling the truth. Really. I meant everything.- Ezran replied.

 


-Me too.- Aanya replied.

 


-It came out dumb.- Ezran laughed nervously.

 


-Right? I can't believe it happened.- Aanya smiled nervously.

 


-Me too. But you know, maybe it was better that they "helped us".- Ezran said.

 


- It was a clever plan. Risky and surprising, but clever.- Aanya admitted. It appeared in Ezran's head get an idea.

 


-Mhm. I know who you have such good ideas for.- Ezran said. Aanya rolled her eyes at that.

 


-But I think you have compliments from dad.- She laughed, moving closer to him.

 


-I have. And I hope they work.- Ezran replied.

 


-Very much.- Aanya agreed.

 


They sat in awkward silence for a moment, staring into each other's eyes. They slowly started smiling, warming the atmosphere. After a while, however, they began to approach each other. They met halfway with their lips touching. Aanya instinctively closed her eyes while Ezran repeated a second after her. Their lips joined in a passionate kiss. They didn't care about them now but themselves. After a while they separated to get some air.

 


-Wow.- replied Ezran. It was amazing for him.

 


-That's all you have to say? "Wow"?- Aanya asked with smile.

 


-My first kiss. I have no experience with that.- said Ezran with a smile.

 


-Well, I think I can help you make up for that...- Aanya said, pulling him to another kiss.

Chapter Text

-So Tiadrin and Lain will be able to take care of four children at once? Are you sure? -Asked Geatan. Until now, he rarely left his children with anyone, especially with someone he didn't know well personally. He was concerned that, not mentioning Aiden and Arvena, the bride's parents would have to take care of Hader (despite Feren's uncertainty) and Aayla. Sometimes it was problematic to take care of one child, let alone four.

 


-They're just supposed to keep an eye on them tonight. After all, they will be asleep then, you don't have to worry about anything.- Callum calmed him as they entered the room where they were going to organize a bachelor party. It was a small room with a long table, three armchairs, a bench and a few chairs. Opposite to the entrance was a huge window that illuminated the room in the setting sun. Lamps were hung on the walls, apart from stylish trophies and shields, and the red carpet on the floor. There were already a dozen barrels and bottles of alcohol in the room, which they had organized for their party.

 


-Eh ... Anyone seen Ezran? He was supposed to bring the cards.- Soren asked as they walked inside. Han, Geren, Feren, and Soren were already sitting at the table eating the cheesecake with raisins.

 


-No? I thought he was with you?- Callum replied surprised. Only he was missing among the guests.

 


-He asked me to bring cider. Then he left my mom's room. That's the last time I saw him.- Soren said. Callum rolled his eyes, feeling that Soren had somehow failed to take care of the matter about brining alcohol to the party.

 


-So no one knows where he is?- Callum asked. Everyone in the crowd shook their heads.

 


-I have no idea.- Han replied.

 


-Okay, me and Han will go look for him. During this time, prepare everything we have to drink. And don't drink just without us.- Callum said. The guests nodded, smiling.

 


-It will be hard, but ... Ouch!- Geren hissed as Geatan elbowed him on the side.

 


-My brother-in-law is not going to drink until you get back.- Geatan told on behalf of Geren. Geren shook his head without conviction.

 


-Sometimes I forget that you guys are one family- Feren said. He was away from Silvergrove for a long time, and a lot had changed while he was on exile.

 


-You haven't been to Silvergrove in years, a lot has changed. By the way, do you remember Barris?-Geren asked as he sat down at the table.

 


-Yes, what about her?- Feren asked, sitting on the other side of the table.

 


-They say she was enlighted and became a priestess of Garlach.- said Geatan. Geren looked at him without conviction.

 


-Her? I don't quite believe it.- Feren said, shaking his head.

 


-Listen. It all started...-Geren said. Meanwhile, Callum went out with Han in search of Ezran. They slowly moved down the corridor to where they should probably find the one-legged prince - in his room.

 


-Your elven friends brought wine?- Han asked. He really wanted to drink the wine made by the Moonshadow Elves. So far, the drinks from Geatan have been the best he has ever drunk.

 


-Geatan promised me the whole barrel as a wedding gift, not to mention a wedding supply. And since he brought twenty five of those barrels, he has a lot to of supply to choose from.- Callum said.

 


-Twenty five? I saw nearly ten wagons with five barrels on each.- Han noted. He saw a caravan of elves and humans carrying barrels into the castle.

 


-He wasn't counting the ones he brought according to the contracts. Besides, there are a lot of people buying privately, including the royal castle and the local nobility. You will see, it will pay back for him a lot on those barrels.- Callum said. He knew Geatan well and knew that the trade of the wine abroad  gave him enormous income.

 


-That comes out. It must require a keen eye for business and good contacts to run such a merchant deal, right? And nerves of steel to enter the human kingdoms as an elf.- Han said. Callum smiled as he was also partly responsible for Geatan's earnings.

 


-You know, years ago I put him in touch with my parents and they helped him. It doesn't look that way now, but his entire business lasts less than four years. Such companies in Xadia need years and sometimes decades to stabilize to this level. And in this case, not only he stands out with the help of my parents, but he also beat the competition before it had a chance to exist. He was lucky in one word. In addition, the Silvergrove Council of Elders to the Breach keeps him protection of the Moonshadow Elves Assassin's. He and other Elven merchants who come here to trade are guarded by units from Katolis as protection from  the Breach to the Castle. Both sides agreed on that deal.- Callum replied. Even though there was trade from three years and many of the Elves were seen mostly as heroes and friends by Katolis society, there were always some who basically held extreme views towards Elves. If not for the protection of the Katolis Army, who knows if Geatan would have returned home from Katolis?

 


-Smart. Have you seen Aanya arriving yet? -Han asked. In a way, she was his boss, and he had to report to her in need of new instructions.

 


-I saw her mother talking to my mom in the kitchen, so probably yes. Probably she is out there with Ezran.- Callum said. He hoped that in the near future they would somehow get along and maybe someday there would be something between them again.

 


-Eh, pity for both of them. Three of them actually, because my brother was bustling between them. It all went very bad.- Han replied. He managed a little better with his brother's death than Aanya, although he was pained to think that he was left alone. If it weren't for Ellis, who knows if he would have picked himself up after all of this.

 


-I know. But what can we do? Maybe they can come to an agreement alone?— Callum said.

 


-To return to what was before our escapade to Evenere, it will take them about five or maybe even ten years. They won't be in love again overnight, will they?- Han replied. A lot had happened and Han was sure it would be a long time before things "got back to normal".

 


-True. However, it's not impossible. - Callum replied.

 


-Knowing these two it's not. By the way, I remembered that I had to go to Duren to collect my pay. After all, I guess I'm still a soldier of the Duren Army. - Han said. All the time he was at Xadia, he was under the orders of Princess Aanya of Duren. Technically, he was at work then, although the whole trip was more of a vacation.

 


-It must be a lot of money. Do you have any plans with Ellis?- Callum asked, opening the door to his room.

 


-Well ... We enjoyed traveling. She tells stories in taverns and sings while I make sure nothing happens to her. People pay little, sure, but elves are true connoisseurs of art. Once, for some time, we even looked after a child of some Bloodland Elven Archmage. You can make a living out of such little favors. Besides, food in Xadia is almost everywhere and you don't even have to kill the animals to eat properly. I think that after your wedding we will try to travel around Xadia and then sell our memories from this trip. I will leave the army to avoid obligations. We have already given the manuscript of what we discovered to the printing house in Helsreach. They announced that we have almost fifty five percent of what they earn, and it looks like it would be a lot. We can also make such a book about human kingdoms for the Elves. The other way would work, too. - Han said. Contrary to appearances, life on the road with Ellis was what he loved - a nights under the open sky, stars, beautiful views, wintering with friends in Xadia. A quiet life without haste or restrictions. They like life in motion and will surely continue it.

 

 

-For that ...- Callum said, entering Ezran's room. Suddenly they stopped with shock as they saw Aanya and Ezran sitting on the bed. They both hugging tenderly while their lips were almost glued to each other. That was... shocking, being different than Callum could expect.

 


-Holy shit.- Han said, surprised. Only then Ezran and Aanya realized they were watched.

 


-Oh ... Hi.- Ezran greeted them. He felt he would have to explain what Callum and Han about what they walked on.

 


-Hello.- Aanya greeted them too. She shyly smiled knowing that the situation was difficult to explain.

 


-Are you...-Han didn't finish. The question was stupid - it was clear they were kissing.

 


-Yes. What was it looking like? -Aanya asked.

 


-When? How? -An asked Han while Callum stared at them trying to figure out what lead to this situation.

 


-Let's say we had a moment and a honest conversation.- said Ezran with a smile. Aanya grabbed his hand, making Ezran blush a little.

 


-Well, you don't have a leg but you're fast like a racehorse.- Han responded. Ezran didn't smile at this innocent joke while Aanya looked at the bodyguard with a deflated gaze.

 


-I'll take that as a compliment.- replied Ezran.

 


-As you think. Do you mind, Your Majesty, that we borrow Ezran for the evening? After all, Callum has a bachelor party tonight and we are just starting...- Han began, trying to get Ezran to drink. Aanya nodded softly.

 


-Sure. We were supposed to go out anyway. Just don't make him drunkest prince in Katolis history.- Aanya said. The four left the room into the corridor.

 


-Understandable. Rayla's bachelorette party is happening  in the north tower in Claudia's room. Ellis and Rayla asked me to tell you if I found you.- Han said. Callum continued to remain silent, thinking and analyzing what must have been going on in Ezran's room while he was there with Aanya alone.

 


-I understand. So ... see you tomorrow.- Aanya said, kissing Ezran on the cheek.

 


-I can't wait.- said Ezran, looking at her.

 


-Are we allowed to talk openly about what's between you or ... Pretend we don't know anything?-Callum asked.

 


-You can talk. In a way, everyone will know soon enough.- Aanya replied. It was only a matter of time before everyone will find out.

 


-Ezran had time to propose to you?- Han asked with a smile. Hearing this, Aanya and Ezran stopped smiling.

 


-The Royal Council of Duren sent an offer to arrange our marriage to Katolis. My mother, in cooperation with Queen Neha, decided to take advantage of this and force us to talk frankly about our feelings. As you can see ... They did it.- Ezran explained. This surprised Callum and Han even more.

 


- Wait a minute ... Our mother accepted this offer?- Callum asked, unsure if he understood correctly.

 


-Apparently.- replied Ezran.

 


-But ... It's not like her. How's that ...- Callum didn't know what to say. Repeatedly his mother refused such offers. Something must have forced her to make such a decision ...

 


-Don't worry about that, Callum. Everything is fine. Right, An?-Asked Ezran with a smile. Aanya also smiled.

 


-True Ez. I'll see you tomorrow.- Aanya said, kissing Ezran again. After a short while they separated, and Aanya walked towards the north tower.

 


-Have a nice night...- said Ezran, looking after her. That day he felt that he was the luckiest man in Katolis.

 


-Lucky guy. Come on buddy, let's go drink.- Han patted him on the back.

 


-Seriously? What we have?-Asked Ezran.

 


-Two Kegs of "Magma" beer, seven bottles of Earthblood Spirit, a barrel of "Berry Shadow" Wine, Eight bottles of Duren's White Moonshine ... - Callum mentioned.

 


-My own work.- Han interjected, hearing about the moonshine.

 


-... A barrel of Katolis Cider and a dozen or so Del-Bar liqueurs. Dmitri came today and gave us to have some fun without him.- Callum finished listing.

 


-He's not on the party?- Ezran asked in surprise.

 


-No. I don't think his wife would let him go.- Callum replied. He was not sure about this answer, but probably his wife and six-month-old son were behind his absence at the bachelor party.

 


-Heh.- Ezran smiled.

 


-Don't laugh. You have a girlfriend yourself and you will see, soon you will understand what a responsibility it is. She will not let you go anywhere, even if you are about to die of hunger.- Han patted him on the back. By this time they had already reached the guest room. As they entered, they heard the end of Feren's story.

 

 

-... And then the rock turned out to be a golem. I have never seen the Sunfire Elves run away so fast. - continued story Feren. He did not hide a smile as he recalled this trip to the Dragon Mountains in order to find the Dragon Danturh.

 


-Here we are!- Han called as he entered the room.

 


-Finally! My throat dries.- Geren replied.

 


-Do you have cards?- Soren asked.

 


-Sure. So what are we playing?- Callum asked as he sat down at the table.

 


-Poker of course.- replied Geren.


Aanya walked quietly through the corridors of the castle. The situation with Ezran turned out to be better than expected. They were a thing. She was glad because they started all over again. She also had a feeling that this time everything would end well and they would finally be happy together. Even if they had actually no other choice.

 


Suddenly she heard soft, imperceptible footsteps behind her. She stopped for a moment and turned around. Nobody was there. The sun was already setting down outside the window, lighting the corridor behind her well. Aanya felt uncomfortable. However, she decided to continue walking towards where Rayla's bachelorette party was taking place.

 


Suddenly, Aanya heard movement behind her, as if something had jumped quickly behind her. She turned to see nothing again. Suddenly, a shape slipped from the ceiling so suddenly that Aanya jumped up, screaming.

 


-It's me, don't scream. I've been looking for you everywhere.- Rayla said, placing her hand on the princess mouth. Aanya immediately breathed a sigh of relief.

 


- Holy shit ... Rayla. Do you want me to die of a heart attack? -Aanya asked as Rayla removed her hand.

 


-I haven't had a chance to scare anyone in a long time.- Rayla replied with smile. Finally she had a little time to herself and used it as best she could. Suddenly, four soldiers armed with crossbows ran out from around the corrner.

 


-Your Highness. Ambassador. We heard a screams. Are you alright?- Asked the corporal in command of the group.

 


-Yes everything is fine. Get back to your business.- Aanya replied taking a few deep breaths.

 


-I understand. Have a nice evening .- soldiers said goodbye to them and continued their patrolling along the corridor.

 


- The castle guard has become nervous from the incident last year. At any scream, they are already running to the scene. But never mind that. Glad to see you.- Rayla said as the guards were away from them.

 


-Me too. How are you? -Aanya replied.

 


-Not bad. I am sincerely glad that it will all end soon. What was happening with you? You haven't been showing any sign of life for almost a year.- Rayla asked. Aanya did not reply to their letters for a long time, but for the last month ago she finally managed to write back.

 


-I had to get my thoughts together. But it's alright now.- Aanya said. She needed time to come to terms with the deaths of her mother and Ian, calm everything back home and forgive Ezran. However, it took a long time to heal the wounds.

 


-You talked with Ezran?- Rayla asked.

 


-Yeah...- Aanya replied. She blushed slightly at the thought of the young prince.

 


-And?- Asked Rayla, curious about what they were talking about.

 


-And?- Aanya replied, not fully understanding what Rayla meant.

 


-And what next? How did it go? -Rayla asked.

 


-It was fine. But then my mother came along with Ezran's mother. They ... They arranged a marriage for us.- answered Aanya. Rayla was surprised to hear that - it was unlike for Sarai.

 


-Wait what? Sarai? But ... No, she couldn't. Seriously? -Rayla asked, not quite believing what she was hearing.

 


-That's what they told us. Maybe it was just a trick to get us to talk to each other honestly. And it actually worked ...- said Aanya. In the end, they had no choice but to talk honestly after what they heard in the room.

 


-You and Ezran ... Well ...- Rayla wasn't sure if she should ask about it. After all, Aanya and Ezran didn't speak to each other for a while - he was feeling guilty and she was angry on him.

 


-Yes. We're a thing. -Aanya replied with a smile.

 


-It's great. I'm so happy for you.- Rayla patted her lightly on the shoulder. Aanya smiled knowing that her friend was supporting her in her new life.

 


-Thanks. Then Callum came and took Ezran to his bachelor party.- Aanya finished the story. Hearing about Callum, Rayla stopped smiling - she missed her future husband very much.

 


-I hope Callum doesn't get drunk. Last time I had to carry him through whole Silvergrove to his house.- Rayla recalled. Admittedly, after the wedding with Geatan, Callum promised not to drink more, but it is different with guys - they always forget about promises around other guys.

 


-Probably not. I'm more worried about Ezran. He seems ... To be prone to alcohol.- Aanya replied. She hoped Ezran would hold back and not get drunk until he passed out.

 

 

-Ezran will probably only drink a little, symbolically. You have nothing to worry about.- Rayla said as she turned into Claudia and Ves's common room. Inside, except for Claudia and Ves Eleanor, Liadrin, Zennya, and Ellis, were sitting. As they stepped inside, Rayla and Aanya heard Liadrin talk about the fight between Callum and Feren.

 


-... Then I wanted to beat them so hard that they would think about what they were doing. But they were already sitting bandaged after fight with Feren so I gave up.- said Liadrin.

 


-Wasn't that the same Feren, with who Callum currently drinks at the bachelor party, once his enemy?- Asked Claudia, surprised.

 


-Yes. But you know how it is. Elves gets smarter with age. This is especially noticeable in the Skywing Elves. No offense.- Liadrin said looking at Zennya. She, however, hardly noticed what Liadrin said.

 


-... What? No ... none taken .- Zennya answered thoughtfully. Before anyone could ask if everything was alright, Rayla and Aanya walked in.

 


-Here we are.- Rayla called as she entered the room.

 


-Finally. Where have you been?- Eleanor asked.

 


-I was in Ezran's room. Rayla found me a few corridors away.- Aanya replied.

 


-Did you talk to Ezran?-Ellis asked.

 


-Yes ...- Aanya nodded.

 


-And? Tell more ...- asked Ellis.

 


- Seems ... I guess ... Well ... We are ... a thing.- Aanya replied.

 

-For real?- Ellis replied.

 


-Really?- Claudia asked, surprised.

 


-It seems we missed something.- Eleanor said, looking at Liadrin. Both had little knowledge of the current relationship between Aanya and Ezran.

 


-In short, Aanya and Ezran had feelings for each other, and there was also Aanya's boyfriend named Ian. Ian died a year ago and Aanya was arguing with Ezran about it.- Ellis shortened the whole thing.

 


-Ah ... I think I understand. I guess it's good that ...- Eleanor began to speak. Aanya sat down at the table in front of her.

 


-Can I have drink? I had too many attractions for one day...- said Aanya pointing at the bottle of cider. She felt like a lot had happened today and she needed something to help her relax.

 


-Yeah, here...- Eleanor handed her a goblet of alcohol.

 


-Can you tell us what it was like? I'm dying of ...- Ellis fell silent as Aanya put her goblet aside and drank alcohol straight from the bottle. For a brief moment, Aanya drank from the bottle until 2/3 of the contents remained inside.

 

-I guess it was a very lively conversation.- Claudia said as Aanya set the bottle on the table.

 


-No. Moments before the talk, I found out that I had an arranged marriage with Ezran.- Aanya replied. On the one hand, she felt bad about it, but Ezran loved her and she loved him. Despite the fact that it went too fast, she believed that together with Ezran they would manage to work out everything.

 


-What? - everyone asked in surprise.

 


-Oh...- Claudia sighed, dropping her glass. Everyone turned to see that she was pale as a wall.

 


-Claudia? Why are you pale?-Rayla remarked.

 


-Well ... It was my idea...- Claudia admitted. She did not expect her suggestion to be taken seriously by both queens.

 


-Wait a minute... what?- Aanya asked, surprised, looking at her. Claudia lightly scratched her neck.

 


-Your mother and Queen Sarai talked about you at the meeting today. They wondered what to do with you. At first, they wanted to decline this offer and try to get you to talk. I convinced them to accept it, however. It was a harmless suggestion and ...- Claudia started to explain, but she couldn't tell Aanya to her eyes that it was because of her that the young princess must marry Ezran.

 


-I don't know whether to thank you or curse you, but thanks to you I have a boyfriend.- Aanya impersonated.

 


-At your service.- Claudia replied. There was an awkward silence.

 


-So, Liadrin, tell me what happened next.- Ellis asked, breaking the silence.

 


-Well, next ...- Liadrin resumed the story.


-... Nonsense. The trout is king of the rivers like Avizandum the lord of dragons.- Han denied. During his nearly twenty years of life, he has always viewed trout as the largest fish in rivers and lakes.

 


-You would like to. Trout can't even jump up to a catfish. I'm telling you, I once caught such a giant with a fishing rod...- Soren stretched his arms to the full length.

 


-Silence! By Sources, how long can you talk about which is better, catfish or trout? -Interrupted the furious Geatan. He was fed up with hearing two fishermen argue which is better - catfish or trout.

 


-You're a vegetarian, you won't understand them.- Callum said. Everything was different in Xadia, and every eating habit of humanity was difficult for the Elves to understand.

 


-And I'm not going to.- replied Geatan.

 


-Okay, so what are we doing? Because I'm not going to drink until you drop.- Han asked.

 


-I have an idea. I was once taught a game by a student from the department of agriculture in Vodnograd. It's called "Never in my life ...- Soren replied.

 


-What's it about?- Feren asked.

 


-You say something that you have never done in your life, and when someone did it, they drink.- answered Soren.

 


-I see we can learn a lot from humans.- Geren laughed softly.

 


-Hush, Soren, you gave the idea, then you start. - Geatan replied. After a short thought, Soren finally got an idea.

 


-Okay... Never in my life ... I never woke up only in my pants after a party.- said Soren. Hearing this, they saw Geatan and Callum drank from their mugs.

 


-Okay, I can understand Callum. But you Geatan? When?- Asked Geren, surprised. He didn't know that about his brother-in-law.

 


-Let's say it was after our first attempt at making wine with Liadrin. It had a kick, I have to admit it. I can say that we exaggerated a little...- Geatan replied. Until now, he had no idea what they were doing that night, but judging from the fact that he was wearing pants in the morning, nothing happened.

 


-I don't want to know the details of what you did next.- replied Geren with a slight disgust.

 


-If I could remember...- Geatan replied thoughtfully.

 


-Okay, who now? Callum?- Soren asked.

 


-I've never in my life had to escape from my girlfriend room through a window.- Callum said. At these words, Geren and Feren drank from their mugs.

 


-Geren? You? -Callum asked, surprised.

 


-I ... Well ... Eleanor wanted me to come over. Then the situation got out of hand and I had to run out of the window. Since then, her father seems to be mildly hating me.- Geren explained.

 


-I'm not surprised. You slept with his daughter under his roof. Anyone would get mad.- replied Geatan.

 


- Watch for your children, dear brother-in-law.- Geren answered him.

 


-Arven is only 3 years old.- replied Geatan.

 


-Okay, I'm interested in why Feren also had to run away through the window.- Callum interrupted.

 


-Let's say you can't have common rooms in the Dragon Guard unless you are married. And before the wedding, hardly anyone can stand it. After all, on one night they almost caught us. I had to run out through the window and quickly climb up to my room. -Feren said feeling a little bad about it.

 


-It is strange that Callum never did that. After all, he has wings and he could fly out of the window if he wanted to.- Soren remarked. Hearing this, Callum slapped his forehead with his hand.

 


-I lived with Rayla under the same roof. Anyway, before ... You know ... We already had our own house. Which does not mean that we were trying things... But  we were almost caught by her parents a couple of times.- Callum explained.

 


-I'd love to see it.- Geren laughed.

 


-In your dreams.- Callum bit back.

 

-Okay, now me. I've never had a crush on an elf in my life.- Han said. In addition to Callum, Feren, Geatan, and Geren, Soren drank from the mug.

 


-You did it on purpose, you bastard.- Soren said, setting the cup on the table.

 


-Soren? Really?- Asked Ezran, surprised.

 


-As it turns out, I have a soft spot for horned women.- replied Soren. Or at least one, he thought.

 


-So... Zennya?- Callum asked.

 


-You're putting the facts together, huh? Yes, a bit like that. I can say that I didn't have a closer friend than her.- replied Soren.

 


-She knows? - asked Geatan.

 


-No ... Take it, I don't feel like I want to talk about that.- Soren said. Geren poured Earthblood Spirit into his cup. Once the liquid was in the cup, Soren drank to the bottom.

 


-You keep playing?- Geren asked.

 


-Sure. Who now?- Soren replied, setting the empty cup on the table.

 


-That's me. I've never been in a fight in my life... -said Ezran. Hearing this, Geren, Geatan, Feren, and Callum drank.

 


-Oh. Nice story ahead.- Han said curiously.

 


-No "nice" story ahead. I was asshole and I had a fight with Callum. Geren and Geatan helped him and my friends helped me. We broke our limbs and ribs a little, I was banished  and they licked their wounds for a month.- Feren explained. He did not want to come back to these events.

 


-Why are you guys like each other again?- Soren asked.

 


-I'm not an idiot. Next question.- Feren said.

 


-OK. I've never been on drugs.- Callum said. Hearing this, Soren and Han drank.

 


-Okay, now I'm curious...- said the surprised Geatan.

 


-Human soldiers during the battle receive a special chocolate that stimulates and increases strength and speed. But it's damn addictive and it destroys the kidneys. It turned out that they put marsh greens inside. Happened once ... Before the Battle of Lux Aurea.- Soren replied. Hearing that, Ezran shook his head.

 


-Really? I felt there was something wrong with that chocolate. I have to drink then ... -said Ezran.

 


-As it seems, Ezran.- Feren replied while Ezran drained his cup.

 


-Okay. I've never in my life rummaged in my girlfriend's things .- said Geren. At these words, Geatan and Callum drank.

 


-Okay, I'll understand Geatan, but you Callum?- Geren asked.

 


-I have lost one of my Primal Stone. I found it in Rayla's underwear locker, I guess it fell there when ... Well ... We were busy .- Callum explained with a slight blush on his face.

 


-If it goes on like this, I won't be able to look into your eyes.- Soren said with a mocking smile.

 


-Quit whining. Who's next?- Callum asked.

 


-I have never had a crush on two girls at once in my life.- Geatan said. Ezran and Soren drank at his words.

 


-Okay, I know about Soren, but you Ezran?- Han asked.

 


-I had a few episodes growing up. Aanya was the longest, but she wasn't always the only one.- Ezran explained.

 


-Who was besides her?- Geren asked.

 


-Han would choke me for it.- Ezran replied. Apart from Soren and Callum, no one knew about his problem from years ago, which was being teared apart by feeling for two girls and the pain when he lost in the race for both of their favours.

 


-I can see where this is going. I hope you don't feel anything for her anymore ... - Han replied, understanding what it meant.

 


-No, you're the reason it died. Just don't tell her. It was a long time, I was stupid and young... Next.- Ezran replied. He didn't want to go back to it.

 


-I never killed a human in my life.- Geren said. In this case, Callum, Ezran, Han, and Soren drank.

 


-Really? Every human here killed member of his own race?- Geren asked in surprise.

 


-Screw you, Geren.- Soren replied.

 


-Not every human is holy.- Han replied.

 


-I think it's my turn. I've never killed an elf in my life.- Ezran said. At these words, Callum and Feren drank from their mugs.

 


-Callum told me about Eros and his team. But Feren? -Asked the surprised Geatan.

 


-The Dragon Guard must defend the dragon king and his family. No matter who is threatening them.- Feren explained.

 


-Okay. Who now?- Soren asked.

 


-I think I am. I've never talked to animals in my life.- Han said. Hearing that, Ezran drank.

 


-Oh yeah, Ezran was talking.- Han said, not surprised at all.

 


-You did it on purpose.- said Ezran, setting the mug on the table.

 


-I did. Drink Ez. After all, you had an interesting conversation with Aanya.-Geren laughed, handing him a cup of cider.

 


-Screw you.- replied Ezran, taking the cup.


-... Your turn Rayla. Truth or dare? -Claudia asked. Together with their friends, they sat in a circle. Inside, they placed a bottle which they rotated in order to choose the person who was about to answer the question honestly or perform a challenge. Now the bottle has stopped pointing at Rayla.

 


-Dare.- Rayla replied confidently.

 


-Have a pint in one go.- Ves said. Rayla smiled at that.

 


-Watch and learn.- Rayla said, pouring herself a pint of "Magma" beer. In half a minute she drank all the contents.

 


-I'm impressed.- Ellis said as Rayla set her cup down beside her.

 

 

-Rayla had the strongest head of all of us. Okay ...-said Liadrin, rotating the bottle. After a few turns, the bottle stopped pointing at Aanya.

 


-Aanya, is it truth or dare?- Claudia asked.

 


-Truth.- Aanya said confidently.

 


-Would you like to sleep with Ezran? Like you know, that kind of sleeping... - Claudia asked. Hearing that, Aanya blushed. She hadn't even thought about it, and the question really came as a surprise to her.

 


-What the hell is this question Claudia?- Aanya asked.

 


-Answer me, you wanted the truth.- Claudia insisted. Aanya thought more about it.

 


-I ... Well ... Some day maybe ...- she replied after a short moment. Everyone around laughed slightly.

 


-I can recommend you a certain book. There are some ideas out there that really make the night more enjoyable.- Claudia replied.

 


-You press this book to everyone's hands.- Ves laughed. Claudia gave her wife a knowing look.

 


-You weren't so smart last night.- Claudia replied with a smile.

 


-Mhm. And I think we can repeat it... - she said Ves looking equally knowingly at Claudia.

 


-Okay, you'll be gross when we're not in the room. I'm even afraid to ask what's in this book anyway.- Rayla rolled her eyes. She didn't want to know what other people were doing in bed as much as she wanted anyone to know what she was doing in bed with Callum.

 


-Ask Callum.- Claudia replied with a smile.

 


-What?- Rayla asked, surprised.

 


-He did not tell you about where he got this knowledge, right? He borrowed a book from me on your first visit. Even though he didn't admit it, I think these ideas came in handy.- Claudia replied. Rayla suddenly began remembering all her nights together with Callum when they decided to go crazy. That could explain a lot.

 


-... So that ... It was all ...- Rayla started to blush like Callum's scarf knowing that Callum was talking to someone else about it.

 


-Rayla?- Eleanor asked worriedly.

 


-That BASTARD...- Rayla said. She felt that Callum, even though they had never even talked about it, was talking and boasting about what they did together during the night. She felt betrayed and furious.

 


-But you know ... Taking ideas from this book, he just wanted to make you feel well ... Exceptional.- Liadrin reassured her. It didn't even partially reassure Rayla who wanted to go to Callum's bachelor party and beat him down about it there.

 


-Which doesn't change the fact that he talked about it. And all behind my back .- Rayla replied irritated.

 


-Not completely. To be honest, I was pulling his tongue and forcing him a little with this book.- Claudia explained. She remembered so far curious Callum looking at this book when he thought he was alone.

 


-Which does not change the fact ...- Rayla tried to continue.

 


-Rayla take it easy. At least Callum is open to new ideas. Besides, we want to keep playing. Move the bottle!- Ellis interjected. Rayla decided to let it go - eventually she would have enough time after the wedding to argue with Callum. Claudia twirled the bottle.

 


-Well Ves. Truth or Dare?- Claudia asked as bottle stopped on Ves.

 


-Dare. I think I already know what it would be...- Ves laughed. Claudia rolled her eyes, knowing what she meant.

 

-Not completely. Steal a bottle of wine from the kitchen.- Claudia replied. Ves looked at her with a slight disappointment, but then smiled.

 


-Ha! Easy, I'll be right back.- Ves said, standing up. As she left the room, Liadrin stared after her. As Ves left the room, the elf looked at Claudia.

 


-What? In Xadia is it strange for people of the same geneder to be together?- Claudia asked surprised.

 


-No. For example, Runaan and Ethari are married. However ... Sometimes I wonder what it must look like in bed...- Liadrin tried to ask. She was interested in this quite a lot, but not enough to check it for herself.

 


-Don't end this, Liadrin.- Eleanor stopped her, feeling that the question might not be very pleasant for Claudi.

 


-Why? They also have their own needs and I wonder how they satisfy these.- Liadrin replied. Claudia got up when she saw this and walked over to the shelf. She took out the book she had reserved for Callum and Rayla as a wedding gift and returned to the group.

 


-You've got everything in this book. Page seventeen.- Claudia said, giving the book Liadrin. The elf opened the book on the given page and, seeing the pictures there, she looked surprised at Claudia.

 

-But that ... With hands?- Asked Liadrin.

 


-Ah yes, it makes an impression on the uninitiated. Are we playing on? -Asked Claudia.

 


-Sure.- Ellis replied. Liadrin spun the bottle which stopped pointing to Zeenya, who had been sitting very quietly all evening so far.

 


-Truth.- the elf replied without conviction.

 


-As you wish. Tell Zennya, how it is between you and Soren?- Asked Ellis. Zennya felt that someone would ask about it, it was obvious after all.

 


-I ... Well...- She said lowering her head.

 


-Whoa...- Ellis was surprised to see her friend in such a bad mood.

 


-Hey. You don't have to answer. The game is voluntary.- Rayla said putting her hand on her shoulder.

 


-That's not the point ... It's just ... Give me a break for a second, okay?- Zennya asked, turning away from everyone.

 


-Oh, someone's having a bad day here.- Ves said, entering the room seeing the whole situation. In her hand she was holding the Evenere wine, which she probably found in the kitchen of the castle.

 


-You know you can talk to us about anything? After all ... You are among friends.- Liadrin said, kneeling next to Zennya.

 


-No. I'm horrible. I got drunk to have courage and ... I don't have it. I dare not meet his eyes. If it was as simple as in the books... -Zennya turned away from them even more. Feeling that the situation was serious, they all approached the Elf who covered herself with her wings.

 


-Let me guess ... Problems with a guy you like and you're afraid to talk to him?- Eleanor asked. Zennya looked at her with glassy eyes nodding hesitantly, as if expecting a mockery.

 


-Yes.. No. I don't know .- said Zennya, turning away even more.

 


-Tell us about it. Calmly.- Claudia said putting her hand on her shoulders.

 


-Well ... I like Soren. Very. He ... He is affectionate ... Kind ... Funny ... A bit cute ... responsible ...- Zennya suddenly stopped hearing Claudi's laughter. Everyone turned to the Court Mage to glare at her.

 


-Claudia!- Aanya hissed.

 


-Forgive me. Nobody has called Soren responsible yet. Listen, I see clear signs that something is between you, so I tell you: go for it. Just don't leave him like the previous ones or I'll frostbite those wings.- Claudia said. Zennya gave a hesitant smile as she saw the support.

 


-No ... I'm not going to. I also had ... Problems.- Zennya said. She didn't like talking to anyone about it, not even her parents. But this time, she had no choice but to tell it.

 


-Tell us.- Ves said, pouring her a mug of wine she "borrowed" from the kitchen.

 


-There was such a young mage ... A little older than me by a few months. Cool, smart and funny guy.. We were together for a month. We've known each other for only half a year. He was amazing. Handsome ... But after ... Well ... After the first time he left... Then our friends started laughing at me ... "How naive that Zennya was, how stupid she was, but she fell for it"... - Zennya couldn't explain, she just started to cry. Everyone around her felt sorry for her.

 


-So you are afraid it will be like that with Soren?- Rayla asked.

 


-I don't want it to turn out that he is like that too ... I just ...- Zennya couldn't explain it. She didn't want Soren to be like that too - he was just too good to be like that.

 


-You know ... It was honest.- Aanya said, putting her hand on her shoulder.

 


-Yes. But ... What am I supposed to do?- Zennya asked, not even knowing if anything could be done in this state.

 


-Calmly-. Eleanor reassured her.

 


-Exactly. When are you planning to talk to him?- Aanya asked.

 


-Midnight today. It ... It won't work ... - said Zennya devastated.

 

 

-Well ... Admittedly Rayla is getting married tomorrow, but today you will have our attention.- Claudia said with a smile. Zennya looked at everyone gathered here - each of her friends present here smiled sincerely at her.

 


-Hell yeah. You'll see, we'll help you get ready for that.- Ellis agreed.

 


-When he sees you, he will walk with his jaw on the ground for a week.- Ves patted her shoulder.

 


-I ... Thanks.- Zennya smiled.

 


-Don't thank us just yet. We need to prepare your hairstyle and clean you. So though, we've got a lot to do.- Eleanor said, lifting Zennya with Ves to her feet.

 


- What if he's already drunk?- Zennya asked.

 


-It is impossible. Soren wouldn't have got so drunk in two hours.- Claudia assured her, however she doubted that.


-And you remember when Callum got drunk once at Geatan's wedding? Let me give you my word, I thought I would piss my pants from laughing ...- Geren laughed. Callum rolled his eyes as he recalled his first hard encounter with alcohol.

 


-I have to remind you who almost crashed on the skates when it was winter and the Lake of Bright froze?- Callum asked rolling his eyes. He remembered most of Geren's actions very well.

 


-But I survived.- Geren said proudly.

 


-Which doesn't mean you skated drunk worse than normal.- Geatan said making Geren look at him with frustration.

 


-Wasn't it on the Spring Solstice?- Feren asked.

 


-Yes. Geren then discovered alcohol because Eleanor gave him a chocolate heart filled with wine. She didn't even know what she gave him in the package.- Geatan said with a slight smile.

 


-Maybe it's better that she didn't know. But the bracelet is still there.- He put his hand up and pointed to Geren's bracelet.

 


-Mhm. By the way, I noticed that each of you has something from your girlfriends. Callum  has a necklace, Feren cuffs on the horns ... - Soren began to enumerate. Hearing this, Feren looked at him disapprovingly.

 


-Can we change the subject?- he asked, trying not to get angry.

 


-But why? In the end ...- Soren continued, not understanding what was going on.

 


-I want to change the subject. Understand?- Feren asked furiously.

 


-Feren but why ...- Soren continued, annoying Feren.

 


-Soren, come on.- Callum said knowing where it was going.

 


-I can't. Feren came alone with Hader. I haven't seen his girlfriend anywhere or anyone close enough to him. Has something happened between you ... -Soren continued, not understanding how serious the subject was.

 


-Let it go, human.- Feren replied, not wanting to talk about it.

 


-I'm just curious.- Soren replied, still insisting on the conversation. He wanted to help, although he did not know that he cannot help here.

 


-Do you understand? Give the hell up.- Feren replied, feeling that he would not last long and explode into anger.

 


-Come on, she probably....- Soren continued insisting. Feren felt something inside him snap and all the anger and frustration he was holding poured out from him.

 


-SHE'S DEAD!- Feren shouted at Soren, hitting the table with his hand.

 


Everyone suddenly fell silent. Feren quietly sat down and poured himself some cider into his mug. He drank all the contents in one while while everyone present looked at him with different emotions in their eyes. Some with understanding, some with fear, and some with curiosity.

 


-Died during the birth of Hader. There were complications in the delivery. The magic didn't work, she started to bleed out. I promised her that I would take care of our son. That ... I won't blame him for what happened. That's why I'm not going to talk about it. Now do you understand Soren? This applies to each of you - if anyone mentions it, I will choke him personally. I swear to take an assassin's oath that I will choke that person with my bare hands.- Feren said, holding his hands up. He was ready to kill anyone.

 

 

-Ouch.- Soren replied after a moment while Feren drained another cup of alcohol.

 


-I felt right to not ask.- Geren replied who was also curious about the fate of Feren's wife.

 


- Only Callum knew. He asked about his mother when he met Hader for the first time. I didn't want to ... I didn't want to explode in front of the baby .... Anyway. Back then it didn't hurt so much to see how everyone is happy, they have their loved ones, their own lives ... - Feren sat down, trying to control the anger that was flooding him and the surge of sadness that suddenly appeared at the mention of his wife.

 


-I ... I'm sorry.- Soren replied.

 

 

-Here. You need it.- Callum said, giving another cup of alcohol to Feren. He drank another cup and stared at the table.

 


-Why must life tire me so much? When I was eight my parents divorced. I thought it was the fault of the Elves with the other Arcanums. While my father got drunk, I went crazy around Silvergrove and bullied Callum and Geatan. Then there was a fight, my father disappeared. I had nowhere to go. I was alone for a while, until Adel found me ... She was beautiful, with her each of your girlfriends were in the lower party. I ... I finally felt that I had some value. I felt good with her. Thanks to her, I met my mother again. But she did not want to know me and sent me back with a letter of recommendation to the Storm Spire. We got married ... And then ...- Feren could not finish. Her death was the most painful thing that had happened to him since his parents' divorce. He hadn't been able to pick up on it so far.

 


-I'm sorry.- Ezran replied.

 


-Just don't ask when someone presses you not to ask.-Feren said looking at Soren.

 


-Listen. Have you ever tried ... I don't know ... Keep going? To meet someone… -Soren asked. Feren looked at the man even less favorably than usual.

 


-You think I want to? That it would ... That it would not happen again? I will not survive the second death ... Do you understand me? I can't ... - said Feren fighting the tears that were pressing into his eyes.

 


-Maybe you should try it.- Soren said.

 


-I have things to do. My son needs me.- Feren replied.

 


-Until he's an adult. And then you can get someone… -Soren suddenly got a punch in the face. Feren could not stand his anger and hit the human who was causing him so much pain.

 


-Shit!- Geatan called, grabbing Geren's arm, pulling him away from Soren.

 


-Guys take it easy!- Han called, trying to separate the two fighters. Behind him, Callum and Geren also jumped to separate the two so that Feren wouldn't kill Soren.

 


-You don't know shit, Soren. You don't know shit and shit is what you saw.- Feren told him with fury in his eyes.

 


-I wanted to help you!- Soren said, holding the cheek in which he had been hit.

 


-You'll help me when you shut up.- Feren hissed furiously.

 


-Okay, that's enough. We don't talk about it anymore, okay? Callum asked.- Feren also looked at him with a not very calm, though more sympathetic eye than at Soren.

 


-Very good.- Soren said as he sat down at the table again.


-Don't you seem at all angry that all attention is focused on Zennya today?- Aanya asked. Rayla only smiled as the other girls bustled around in the bathroom by Zennya to get her ready for what was probably the most important day of her life.

 


-Honestly? No. Tomorrow I'll be getting ready for the wedding myself. She deserves a little relaxation tonight. And for a little love.- Rayla said. She knew that it was not easy and after what Zennya had gone through, the conversation with Soren would be difficult. But she believed that it would be fine and that everything would normalize somehow.

 


-I see ... The girls really went out of their way to prepare her for this evening.- Aanya said, also looking into the bathroom.

 


-Well ... Everyone deserves a little luck.- Rayla replied leaning against the wall.

 


-Mhm. Look, I know you probably don't know anything about this ... But I need your advice.- Aanya said. She knew that despite how stupid her question would sound, Rayla would definitely help her.

 


- Go ahead.- Rayla said.

 


-I worked things with Ezran, but I'm sure it will all look more restrictive with us than with you. After all ... In Xadia, no one would pay attention to this wedding, and in my case ... - Aanya didn't even have to finish. Their marriage was to be political and far more pressure from both the Katolis barons and the Duren nobility will apear.

 


-... Half of the human kingdoms will want to profit from it? I guess so.- Rayla finished. Aanya smiled knowing she didn't need words sometimes to communicate with Rayla.

 


-Yes. And ... How am I supposed to behave with him in ... Well ... Public places? -Aanya asked. She wasn't sure if she could allow herself to be tender with Ezran knowing that someone was watching and commenting on them.

 


-And how did you act with Ian?- Rayla asked.

 


-Well ... We slept in one bed, although there is no way that Opeli would let me and Ezran. Besides, we often hugged, kissed ... But we tried to keep it a secret.- Aanya replied.

 


-So keep your affection for him, and let people think it's another political marriage. It will be quiet for a while.- Rayla replied.

 


-Yeah ... Besides ... I feel that sooner or later I will have with Ezran to deal with problem... You know ... to make Duren and Katolis again have successors.- added Aanya.

 


-Hey, take it easy. This is not something anyone can force you to do. Right, they will probably put pressure on you, especially since Duren and Katolis will need heirs, but whether you are ready for it and whether you want it depends only on you.- Rayla assured her.

 


-I understand. So until I'm ready then ... Don't go that way?- Aanya asked.

 


-Yes. It doesn't work out by force. Plus, Ezran may also be afraid of it and not be ready for himself. How you solve it is up to you.- Rayla said.

 


-Mhm.- Aanya nodded, showing that she understood.

 


-What are you doing, soon-to-be-married ladies?-Claudia said leaving the bathroom for a moment.

 


-We are talking about your brilliant idea.- Aanya said a little disapprovingly. Claudia's smile faded.

 


-Aanya, you know that I wanted to help you ... help both of you.- Claudia said, apparently not very happy.

 


-But you didn't have to suggest to arrange our marriage right away.- Aanya replied reluctantly.

 


-Yeah, but under such pressure, I knew you would bend.- said Claudia. Aanya rolled her eyes.

 


-Whatever. The bathroom is a bit crowded. How's Zennya?- asked Aanya.

 


-We're already styling her hair and putting on makeup. Ves borrowed her a white dress. You'll see, Soren won't know what to say when he sees her ...- said Claudia with smile. She was helping two heart-broken persons so she felt alright. 

 


-Because he'll probably be drunk.- corrected her Rayla.

 


- He promised to be sober, so I'm sure he will sacrifice himself for a beauty like her. It can't go wrong.- said Claudia.


-And I told you how once ... - Soren hiccupped -... I rode on a tree with my horse?

 


The party had been going on for several hours. While Callum and Geatan continued playing cards, trying not to get drunk, Soren, Ezran, Geren, and Han drank until they dropped. Feren sat with his eyes closed, leaning against the wall in the corner of the room.

 


-You drove .... Horse up on the tree? When? -Asked Ezran, with headache clearly visible.

 


-Drink another shot ... You will remember ...- Soren laughed, pouring another cup of alcohol to drink it without thinking.

 


-Soren ... I think we drank too much. We have to stop ... Right, Feren? Feren? -Geren asked the Dragon Guard. Feren merely snored back.

 


-He's long ago .... down .... But there's no ... bad thing ...- Ezran suddenly got up as his face turned green and staggered to the window.

 


-Oh. Ezran must have felt his stomach. I'm here brother.- Callum said, throwing his cards and running after Ezran.

 


Ezran stuck his head out the window. Callum heard the sound of vomiting. He grabbed his brother by the neck and held his hair. He stood with his head outside the window for a moment, then sat down and fell to the ground. From behind the window Callum could hear a bundle of curses which indicated that Ezran accidentally hit someone with the contents of the stomach.

 


-I'm ... A bad example ... To follow ... Callum?- Ezran asked, staring at Callum with misguided eyesight.

 


-I am, what is it?- Callum asked, kneeling down next to him.

 


-Give ... One more cup .... I still need ... Help .... From the flask.- Ezran asked, stretching his hand towards the table.

 


-I think that's enough for you.- Callum replied.

 


-Really ... Give ... I have to ... talk to you ... Honestly ...- said Ezran, sitting up straight.

 


-Oh.- Callum shook his head, feeling it would be a hard topic.

 


-I'll pretend I don't hear anything.- said Geatan, looking at one of the ornate shields.

 


-Thanks Geatan. Okay Ez. Tell me.- Callum said.

 


-I ... I was lying. All the time ... I lied to you all ... I don't ... I can't ... I miss all the time ... Leg ... It annoys ... Like everyone else ... can climb a tree ... Or run ... And me? What can I do? I can't do anything ... I can't even swear, damn it ... I would be able to do all this ... But I'm a nasty cripple ... Only Aanya knows .... Aanya understands me ... But she probably is ... with me out of pity ... After all, what can a cripple like me can offer her? - asked Ezran, tears in his eyes. Callum hugged his brother knowing that the drunk was telling the truth and Callum wanted the best for him.

 


-An arm, a leg and a half of the kingdom ...- Han laughed. Callum stared disapprovingly at the bodyguard as he was drunk, almost unconscious.

 


-Han, you idiot ... She already has it ...- Geren interrupted the conversation, who apparently hasn't got drunk yet.

 


-Who are you calling the idiot ... Pointy Ears?- Han asked furiously. Geren looked at him even more angrily.

 


- Pointy Ears? Oh no ... I'll show you ...- said Geren getting up from the table.

 


-Hey, stop it!- Callum cried, putting down Ezran fainting with alcohol.

 


-No! The honor of all the Elves requires it!- Geren said, struggling with Han.

 


- I'll give you honor in a moment. Draw your sword, bastard.- Han demanded.

 


-I'll get you round-ear bastard!- Geren replied, drawing his sword.

 


-That's enough for you! -Exclaimed Geatan, separating the two. At the same time, Callum also reached them and began helping Geatan.

 


-Brother-in-law ... Let me go! I have to beat this racist!- Cried Geren.

 


-Callum, leave ... I must ... For the honor of the human kingdoms ...- Han cried, breaking away from Callum. Geren also broke free, but before they started to fight again, they both received a blow to the back of the head.

 

 

-Thanks. I thought you got drunk.- Callum said to the awake Feren.

 


-I'm a single father. I had the opportunity to sleep and I took a nap. At least until they started beating each other. Where's Soren? -Feren asked.

 


-Where is ... Oh no ...- Callum just noticed that Soren was not in the room.


-You look gorgeous.- said Eleanor. Zennya looked at the mirror in disbelief. In a dress from Ves, with her hair curled into one large braid and light makeup, she looked just like another person.

 


-I ... I don't know what to say ...- Zennya said, not knowing how to thank them for this help.

 


-But I know. You're going for him. We can be around just to make you backed up.- Claudia replied. Everyone was about to leave when Ves stopped everyone at the door.

 


-But Rayla has to stay. After all, it is unlucky for the bride to be seen by the groom. It brings problems with birth of first child and enemies for the family.- Ves reminded old traditions and beliefs common in Katolis culture. Rayla waved her hand at this.

 


-I don't care in reality. We go all with Zennya.- Rayla said. She wanted to know how it would end with Zennya, and maybe see Callum - after all, she hadn't seen him for two weeks.

 


-Okay. But Ves warned you. Now let's go, we have a couple to set in.- Claudia said shrugging her shoulders.

 


They all left the room except for Ellis, who was already asleep leaning against the wall. Whole way Zennya was still terrified by being pushed forward. But then she reminded herself - it was her day and she was thinking that it might end well.  As they moved towards the guest room where the boys should have party. Zennya felt a little tense - she was going to do it - to talk to him about what was going on between them. Yet she wasn't afraid and, however, she felt confident because her friends were with her. With them, she slowly began not to be afraid of this conversation.

 


Eventually they reached the room where the balechore party was supposed to be. There was nothing to hear from behind the closed door.

 


-Hello. Callum? -Claudia knocked. Only silence answered her.

 


-Maybe they got drunk already?- Zennya asked, hoping it was so. Maybe another time she will have posibility to talk with Callum?

 


-We'll find out soon...- Rayla said, coming closer to the door.

 


Rayla moved opened door. There was no one but Ezran sitting beside the open window in the room with a large table, two benches, and a fireplace. There were traces of fighting around the room and empty alcohol bottles were scattered on the floor. There were also empty barrels in the corner.

 


-Uhhhh ....- Ezran groaned as he sat up straight.

 


-Ezran? Where's everyone? -Rayla asked.

 


-Yh ... I'm hallucinating ... What are you guys doing here? You have ...- Ezran tried to speak, but stopped feeling a huge headache.

 


-Where's everyone? Ezran?- Rayla asked once more.

 


-I don't know. At first Soren disappeared somewhere ... Then Callum ... Geatan and Feren went looking for him ... Then Han and Geren went somewhere ... I don't know where.- Ezran replied.

 


-Why did you stay?- Aanya asked. Ezran did not seem to recognize her.

 


-If I get up now ... I'll puke whole room ...- he replied, falling to the floor.

 


-Eh ... Boys.- Eleanor shook her head.

 


-So what now?- Ves asked.

 


- We are going to look for them before they get into any troubles. Liadrin and Eleanor will check the east of the castle, me and Claudia will check the west and the gardens. Ves you and ... Where is Zennya? - Rayla asked, enumerating all persons from her group.

 


-She ran down the corridor towards the courtyard.- said Liadrin.

 


-Why?- Rayla asked.

 


-Maybe she knows where to find Soren? After all, she was supposed to meet him after midnight.- Claudia replied.

 


-It makes sense. I will stay with Ezran.- Aanya replied.

 


-You are wonderful ...- Ezran hiccupped, causing a small chuckle among the girls.

 


-Okay. Let's split up and look for them.- Rayla said. Everyone split up and headed towards the corridors they were about to search.


-Soren! Soooooren! Soooooreeen!- Callum called. Together with Geatan and Feren, they searched the royal gardens for Soren.

 


-Stop yell. My ears hurt so hard...- Feren said, holding his ears.

 


-It would be much better for you didn't drink and went to sleep after that.- Callum replied.

 


-Heh. Why I remembered my wedding hearing that?- said Geatan with a smile.

 


-Don't remind me.- hissed Callum who didn't want to talk about it.

 


-He does not have to. But he can tell.- Feren said, wanting to hear about it.

 


-Callum got drunk and explained to me how to make cherry wine ...- Geatan began, but Callum silenced him with a gesture of the hand.

 


-Hush there. I think I hear something ...- Callum said walking to the nearby passage in the hedge. Suddenly, a person who Callum hadn't seen for too long (in his opinion) came out of the corner.

 


-Oh ...- Geatan was also surprised to see Rayla.

 


-Callum! By Garlach it's you ...- Rayla replied almost throwing herself on Callum's neck. She hadn't seen him for two weeks - she missed him so much.

 

-Rayla! By Stars, I missed you soo much!- said Callum spinning around with Rayla in his arms. Right now he was happiest since last two weeks.

 


-Oh. And you will be unlucky.- Claudia said as she followed Rayla through the passage in the hedge.

 


-I don't care about these traditions. Can you leave us alone for a while? We need to talk privately. Very privately.- Rayla said. Everyone nodded knowing that now only the two of them mattered to each other right now.

 


-Sure. Just hold on until your wedding night.- Claudia laughed. Callum and Rayla rolled their eyes to hug each other even tighter as they all disappeared between the hedges and bushes.

 


-Yeah, scoffers.-Rayla shook her head.

 


-I know. How are you? It's almost end and...- Callum didn't finish, not knowing how to put his doubts into words.

 


-These two weeks were ... tough. Opeli stuffed the entire court etiquette and customs of Katolis into my head. Besides, I missed you. Like really much.- Rayla said.

 


-Me too...- said Callum. They both leaned closer to each other to be able to kiss. The kiss was short but passionate.

 


-So tomorrow is our big day?- Rayla asked.

 


-Yes. I still can't believe that ...- Callum stopped again, feeling like he couldn't express himself again.

 


-This is happening? Me too ...- Rayla said hugging him. She felt good in his arms again knowing that he wasn't "out there" but literally right here next to her.

 


-Listen ... You still want ... You know ...-Callum fell silent again. How was he going to tell her that?

 


-Marry you? Yes. Why do you ask?- Rayla asked. It seemed strange to her - in the end, it was Callum who suggested that they get married. He couldn't change his mind ... did he?

 


-I'm just ... I still wonder if you want to be with me after all. After all, since you've met me, all sorts of strange things have been happening to us. We won't have any peace after we get married, that's for sure.- Callum said finally being able to say what troubled him.

 


-I think you worry too much. Anyway, why I should give up such a funny, handsome, kind and talented archmage? Forget about it.- Rayla said. Callum smiled seeing her confidence - it cheered him.

 


-Well. It was uplifting.I guess I also couldn't give up marrying such skilled, beautiful, kind and smart Moonshadow Elf.- Callum said, laughing.

 


-You are toady, Callum.- replied Rayla with a smile.

 


-But you are the one who want to marry me. Why are you in the gardens anyway? - Callum asked.

 


-We help Zennya and Soren. We were in guest room, but we found only Ezran.- Rayla replied.

 


That means Han and Geren ... Oh no.- Callum placed his hand on his forehead. This meant that he had to look for not one, but three drunk friends around a large castle.

 


-Maybe we'll look for them and make up for these two weeks on the way?- Rayla asked, taking his hand.

 


-Lead the way, my love.- Callum replied.


-Zennya ... Listen, we've known each other for a long time and ... No, it's bad... Zennya, you are a really great person ... Damn wrong ...- Soren turned back and started towards the fountain again.

 


At this point he was waiting for Zennya who wanted to talk to him. He knew that he won't have a better opportunity to talk to her about what was between them and he wanted to finally tell her how he felt about her. To do everything properly, he decided to plan what he was about to tell her, walking nervously over and over again. During this activity he kept glancing at Bait who was sitting on the fountain, probably resting after his next trip around the castle.

 


-Well, you won't tell me anything Bait. Why am I making an effort ... She probably doesn't feel anything for me anyway. After all, what she can see in me...- Soren said, turning away from Bait. The toad just looked at him regretfully and muttered something that only Ezran could understand.

 


-Maybe I got it right. So one more time. Zennya, listen ... I don't know how to tell you this, but I think I'm in love with you. You've caught my eye since we met, and for the last year there hasn't been a day when I didn't think about you. During our trip in Xadia I found out that you are kind, funny and very smart. I will understand if ...- Soren was in the middle of a monologue practiced just for his beloved one when suddenly he heard a voice that he didn't want to hear, especially right now.

 


-Soren?

 


-Bloody hell! Zennya .... You ....- Soren jumped hearing the elf's voice behind him. He turned around to somehow explain himself, but what he found behind him made him unable to answer anything. She was wearing a white dress and huge wings were sticking out from behind her back like usuall. Her hair was tied in a braid and there was makeup on her face. Soren did not know what to say, seeing that Zennya was standing in front of him no longer as an elven mage but something that resembled more the elven goddess of beauty and love.

 


-Soren ... Are you serious?- Asked the elf shyly.

 


-Yes...-Soren said, feeling his cheeks turn red with embarrassment.

 

 

-Are you sober?- Zennya asked.

 


-Yes, yes ... I got a potion to help with alcohol at the doctor in castle hospital. You asked me to be sober ... So ...- Soren assured nervously. Zennya smiled a little.

 


-What you said now ...- Zennya started, but she did not know what to say. It meant that he, however, felt something for her...

 


-How much did you hear?- Soren asked, trying to avoid her eyes.

 


-I think I heard all.- Zennya replied. Soren felt internally that this was the end - he had missed another chance. It was only a matter of time before another rejection.

 


-Ah ... You know ... You look good in this hairstyle ...- Soren said, wanting to save the situation. However, as soon as he said this, he felt unimaginably stupid, thinking it sounded pitiful and wrong.

 


-Thanks. Soren ... Look, we need to talk. About this ...- said Zennya as she sat down with Soren on the edge of the fountain.

 


-Zennya, wait. I know that I am as I am. But I will change. I promise. I can learn everything about elves, how they eat, how they speak, how they live. I will even drop down eating meat and alcohol. I swear I'll do whatever you want ...- Soren began to beg her nervously, but Zennya put a finger on his lips. The gesture left Soren speechless, not knowing how to react.

 


-Soren, but I don't want you to change...- Zennya replied. He was perfect for her as he was.

 


-Oh....- Soren felt that there was no hope for him anymore. He lowered his head to at least not remember her face as she rejected him too.

 


-Soren?- Zennya asked, raising his head with her hand.

 


-Forgive. I ... You are really amazing. I really love you. But I will understand ...- Soren muttered avoiding her eyesight.

 


-I wanted to talk to you about it. Now. You see ... I liked you too .... Very much, liked-liked ... And ... Well ...- Zennya said taking his hand with her other hand. Soren looked at her and at her honest smile. He smiled hesitantly.

 


-You... You too ...- Soren didn't know what to say. There were so many questions in his head and he didn't know what to ask.

 


-Yes. I love you. -Zennya replied bringing her face closer to his.

 


-Well ... It went dumn.- Soren said, scratching his neck with his free hand.

 


-I don't think so.- Zennya said, stroking his cheek with her hand.

 


-So this ... We are, well ... a thing?- Soren asked.

 


-Yes ... we are.- Zennya said, pulling him to her in a kiss.


Ezran sat on the floor constantly losing and regaining consciousness. His head was spinning from alcohol and he was not fully aware of what was happening to him. He never had the opportunity to drink so much before (especially since his parents and Callum suppressed his every attempt to drink heavier than it was needed). After what was happening to him now, Ezran knew that alcohol is good, but when drunk it in small amount.

 


The room was dark. Everyone left the room drunk with alcohol and the rest went looking for them. Ezran was left alone because he felt that if he got up he would throw up whatever he had drunk and ate that day.

 


His mind wondered what the rest of them were doing. Where did Han and Geren go, did Callum and Geatan find them, what the girls do, where did Soren go ...

 


Suddenly the door inside opened. Blinding light poured into the room, blinding Ezran. The young prince covered his eyes, hoping the pain would end. However, this didn't happen.

 


-By the stars in the sky and the trees on the ground, close the door!- Shouted Ezran, shielding himself with his eyes. Suddenly the glaring light went out.

 


-Forgive Ez.- Ezran heard Aanya's voice.

 


-Aanya? Is it you or am I hallucinating?- Ezran asked, looking at the shape in the darkness approaching him.

 


-That's me. I brought us a blanket and pillows.- Aanya said as she sat down next to him.

 


-What? Why?- Asked Ezran.

 


-I'm not leaving you alone. You've had enough drink.- Aanya said.

 


-Are you going to watch over me?- Asked Ezran.

 


-Yes. Is that bad I want to spend some night with my boyfriend?- Aanya asked.

 


-No, not at all...- Ezran muttered. Suddenly, he felt someone raise his head slightly and shove a pillow underneath it.

 


-Is it comfortable?-Aanya asked, laying herself on his shoulder.

 


-Yes. How about you?-Asked Ezran.

 


-Wait ... Now.- Aana said, approaching him.

 


-So ... How was Rayla's party?- Ezran asked, not wanting to silence.

 


-It was nice. At first we played bottle and then everyone focused on Zennya. After all, she and Soren ... Well ...- Aanya didn't finish, not really knowing how to explain it to drunk Ezran. She didn't want to give her friend away because she was sure that Ezran would definitely tell Soren - especially in his current state.

 


-I understand. Soren seems to have feelings for her as well.- Ezran replied. Although he didn't feel heavily intoxicated with alcohol, he was unable to get up - at least not yet.

 


-Lucky girl. You know ... It's late. Time to go to sleep.- Aanya said, covering the two of them with a blanket. She then grabbed Ezran's left hand with her right hand.

 


-Mhm. Your hands are soft, you know?- Asked Ezran.

 


-I know... I heard it few times... and .... Well ... - Aanya remembered Ian telling her that. It ... It was a painful memory, but she decided to focus on the fact that she could be happy now too.

 


-Oh ... I'm sorry ...- Ezran understood the situation quite quickly for his condition.

 


-Nothing happened. It's okay.- Aanya said, soothing him.

 


-But... I asked and ...you recalled it and ... I didn't want to ...- Ezran felt stupid and decided to apologize.

 


-I know. Just hug me.- Aanya said moving closer to him. Ezran hugged her wordlessly.

 


-You know I love you?- Ezran said after a long while of silence.

 


-I know. I love you too.- Aanya replied.


-By Talos and Innos. What the ...- said Hans. He saw many things while on his patrols, but he had never seen an elf sitting on the roof of the royal stables of Katolis Castle.

 


-Huh? Is that one of the Elves?- Mikhail asked, not quite believing what he was seeing either. Right now in Katolis were around 30 elves and it was still rare sight, even in capital.

 


-It actually is. We should investigate.- confirmed Hans. He exchanged glances with the corporal and they decided to investigate. Their eyes, however, did not deceive them - an elf was sitting on the roof of the stables and a man in elven clothes was screaming underneath it. The man swayed while the elf shook terrified.

 


-Come on, Geren, get off...- the man laughed. The elf shook his head as if he were afraid to obey.

 


-May I know what the hell you're doing?- Hans asked as he approached the scene. The man turned to face Hans, not so much surprised as even cheerful. Both soldiers already knew that both man and elf were drunk.

 


- Excuse me .... Officer. My friend .... He climbed onto the roof of the stables .... And he doesn't know how to go down ...- the man explained, trying to keep on his feet.

 


-Mhm. Maybe we can help you and return to your homes?-Mikhail asked.

 


-We will be back when we .... Want. And no human ... farmhand will force us.- said the elf, jumping off the roof with grace and finesse as if five meters were only a few centimeters. This was impressive considering the elf was also drunk.

 


-Okay, come with us, we will help you.- Mikhail said, knowing that it would be better to take them to the sobering-up cell in dungeons and wait for the elf and the human to tell more about themselves.

 


-Help! Racists!- The elf shouted, slapping Mikhail.

 


-Get them Geren!-Shouted the man, lunging at Hans.

 


-By Innos, my nose!- Hans shouted after a blow to the nose from a human.

 


For long moment the soldiers tried to control the drunks, and after a short while of heavy struggle both of them sat with handcuffs on their hands while the soldiers gasped with exhaustion.

 


-By the ... Will ... By King Harrow's will, we are taking you to the royal prison in order to interrogate you. You may... remain silence since... every your word can... be used... against you...- Hans began when a voice he knew suddenly cut him off - it was the wife of one of the elven merchants he let in this morning.

 


-What's going on here? - asked the elf coming up to the soldiers. Behind her followed second female elf, looking with anger, suprisingly, on elf they tied.

 


-Oh .... I'm in trouble ...- muttered the elf- Help! They want my ears cut off!- Geren shouted dramatically. Hans yanked the elf to silence him.

 


-What!? We tried to catch them and lead them to their rooms. They disturb the night silence and devastate the stables.- Mikhail replied as he wiped the blood from his nose. The elf female hit her forehead hearing these accusations.

 


-Besides, they resisted the arrest...- Hans said pointing at Mikhail's nose.

 


-We were looking for them. Thank you for your help, and I'm so sorry for my brother. But as for his human companion ...- said the elf looking at the man who was currently losing consciousness due to alcohol.

 


-We'll take care of him too. His fiancée must be worried.- The second elf who came after the first said.

 


-You don't need any support or help?- Mikhail asked, pleased that he wouldn't have to fill piles of papers and wander around the courts, especially since they continued arguing with their neighbors about pear tree in between their lands.

 


-Just don't mention to anyone that you had an elf in this situation. We don't want everyone to be negatively judged by one moron.- said the first elf.

 


-But ... But I'm not...- muttered the handcuffed elf.

 


-You shut up now. That is enough. We go back to the room and talk tomorrow about what happened.- said the other elf, hitting the handcuffed back of the head.

 


-Thank you again for your help.- the first elf said, picking up the human.

 


-Okay?- Hans agreed, taking off the handcuffs drunk. He also did not feel like he need to followprotocols.

 


- Thank you, commander.- the other elf thanked her. They both took the drunks to the castle.


-They must be somewhere. They couldn't disapear into thin air ... Feren?- Geatan asked turning. While Callum left them to stay with Rayla, they had to look for a possibly drunk Soren. Callum talked a lot about his human friend and as far as Geatan heard about Soren and alcohol, he knew it was a very bad combination, not entirely safe for everyone around.

 

-Left corridor, opposite the window ...- Feren said. The geatan turned to see the elf listening. After a while he moved forward as if he sensed movement in another corridor. Geatan didn't know what to say.

 


Rumors circulated among the elves of strange abilities that the Dragon Guards acquired after years of service. As long as the ability itself was not scary, the way it is acquired was. The elf was sent alone to the densest forests to defeat the mythical Star Bear - a powerful beast that hates humans as much as Elves. The few who met the beasts and survived to tell about it usually had strange visions, hear more tenderly and regulate movement, being able to know what is going on in the room even while sleeping.

 


Suddenly, two shapes emerged from around the bend that no one expected. The geatan surprised to see them jumped as well as both shapes surprised that something jumped in fear next to them.

 


-Heavens!- Soren screamed in terror.

 


-Sources!- Zennya shouted, terrified.

 


-Here you are, we've been looking for you everywhere. Soren disappeared so suddenly, he was all drunk and ....- Feren was speechless, seeing that not only Soren but also Zennya were standing in front of gasping after Geatan's short heart attack.

 


-I know. Everything under control. We were going back to Zennya .... I mean ... our rooms-. Soren corrected himself, blushing slightly.

 


-Well ... We won't bother you. Half the night left and ... You know ... - Geatan said, calming his breathing.

 


-Time is less and less so you have to hurry to get enough sleep before the wedding.- Feren said.

 


-We understand. Well .... Thank you for your support but ... Well ... Time to sleep. Go help the rest get back to their rooms.- Zennya said.

 


-It will be done. Have a good night, Soren ...-Feren patted Soren on the shoulder, then he and Geathan walked towards the north tower.

 


- They seemed to know we were together.- Zennya said lightly hugging Soren.

 


-I noticed. Don't worry about them.- Said Soren wrapping his arm around her.

 


-I know. But I don't know if Opel will be pleased that the person she entrusted with keeping the wedding rings and cuffs will sleep in a different room today.- Zennya said with a smile. Soren wondered - which was more important now - responsibility or his own needs?

 


-Screw everything. Lead to your room, darling.- Said Soren, he was sure that one night when he was not responsible would probably not end badly.


It took another hour for them to check who was where. Soren and Zennya fell like a stone into the water. Apart from them, everyone went to their rooms, which only calmed Callum and Rayla down. After making sure that everyone was safely in their rooms, they sat down on a bench in the royal gardens.

 


It was already night. Rayla leaned on Callum's shoulder while he held her hand. Callum loved her hands - her four fingers fit perfectly between his five. Callum wondered if they would have peace after the wedding and whether the world would decide to leave them alone.

 


-I think everyone's back by now. Are you sure you don't want to come back to our room? Ezran sleeps in the guest room so… -Callum asked. He really missed her, and even to break all the rules, he was ready to spend the next night with her. Rayla rolled her eyes at that.

 


-Opeli will tear our heads off both if she finds us in the same bed. Anyway, you should wash yourself, you smell like you were swimming in a barrel with alcohol.- Rayla said. Callum nodded sadly, knowing they had to endure one more night.

 


-Right. I really can't believe that tomorrow ... Well ... -Callum started, but he paused. He repeated himself and he said it again and again. Rayla, however, did not seem bored with him.

 


-You will you be married? We will be married, start a happy family, have a group of children and a small crowd of grandchildren ... - she said in a mocking tone without hope and full of bitterness. Callum laughed.

 


-You talk like it's bad. But well ... Yes.- Callum nodded. There was a moment of silence, which was broken by Rayla.

 


-Are you worried that they won't leave us alone?- Rayla asked, as usual, guessing what Callum was about to say.

 


-We killed Aaravos. They will be drawning and pulling us into the politics of both Xadia and Katolis. - Callum replied. He knew they wouldn't have much peace with what they had done for the world.

 


-You know, you killed Aaravos. I was injured in the process ...- Rayla said.

 


-I know. And I promise, you will never be in danger again.- Callum promised, kissing her forehead.

 


-I know. You too, I swear.- Rayla said, moving closer to him.

 


After a moment of silence, Callum spoke up looking at Rayla.

 


-You know I love you, don't you?- Callum asked. Rayla smiled knowing that on a daily basis Callum asks about it at least twice a day.

 


-I know. I love you too .- Rayla answered him as always.

Chapter Text

Opeli did not know why she even gave Soren this task. Right, recently he seemed to be more responsible, but it didn't change the fact that he was still himself. Maybe the beard he grew during the trip to Xadia made him look more serious? Or maybe because he was already 26 years old (where in Katolis the age of 25 meant a certain level of adulthood). As it turned out, he hadn't lost either Callum's wedding ring or Rayla's horn cuffs - he disappeared somewhere himself.

 


All morning she had been asking everyone she met about him. However, nobody saw him from the family to most of his colleagues from the squad. Ultimately, however, Opeli decided to check one last clue, even though it was doubtful - to go to the mage Zennya. She doubted that the rumors of their romance were true or possible on any degree, but for the lack of another option, Opel was forced to check the place.

 


When Opeli arrived at the door of the room where the elven mage was accommodated, she knew that she would rather not be a very welcome guest. The elves still had a hard time getting along with the humans and simply did not understand the meaning of most of the traditions and restrictions at the court of Katolis. Opeli didn't mind that- she had learned it herself for years after leaving her hometown as Ezran's grandmother's maid. But now she knew that time was pressing and at least she must find out where Soren had gone.

 


Opeli knocked on the door, but the only thing that answered her was the silence on the other side. She knocked again, but to hear no response again. Frustrated, she decided to go there on her own and wake up the elf probably on strong hangover (the day before she was finally drinking alcohol, and in large amounts). But when she unlocked the door with a spare key, she didn't expect her problems to be solved in ways she had never even thought of.

 


-Dear Mage, sorry for the intrusion, I am looking for ...- Opeli suddenly stopped seeing that apart from the elf in the bed there was Soren. The nail to the coffin of entire situation was the fact that their clothes, instead of being on them, were scattered all over the room.

 


-Castellan of Opeli ... Nice to see you ...- said Zennya, red as Katolis flag. She tried to cover both herself and Soren with her wings.

 


-Can you turn around? Please ... -Soren asked, blushing as well.

 


-No matter anymore, I found what I was looking for. Or rather someone.- Opeli said turning around. The couple used this to jump out of bed and start getting dressed. However, as it turned out, it was laborious.

 


-What?- Zennya asked, trying to pull up the leg of her pants.

 


-Soren, I gave you the ring and wedding cuffs for Callum and Rayla for safekeeping yesterday. Where are they?- Opeli asked.

 


-I left them on the desk in Ezran's room.- Ezran replied.

 


-I understand. But I don't understand on what I actually walked? - Opeli said, letting them understand that what she found was what she didn't want from the informal couple.

 


-Well ... I ... Well ...- Soren started chocking. Yesterday night they both got carried away and although he did not regret anything, he felt stupid that Opeli found them in such a situation.

 


-We ... How to say it... - Zennya also didn't know how to explain it all. In the evening, she and Soren felt a surge of emotions that caused the whole situation.

 


-You realize you're in serious trouble now? Hope you guys are even engaged?- Opeli asked. The couple turned even redder.

 


-Not really, really ...- Soren tried to explain, but it sounded stupid - they slept together after one evening of being together.

 


-Really? Well ... I think your parents should know something about it - mainly about you sleeping together in my castle.- Opeli said. There were rules in the castle and she wanted to avoid any scandals with beds.

 


-But ... They can react badly ...- Zennya replied. Even though her parents seemed to even like Soren, she wasn't sure about their reaction to their relationship.

 


-You can't do that. Our parents can get mad. Anyway, we are adults so ... - Soren tried to somehow calm the situation down, but he didn't know how to argue it too much.

 


-You sleep with each other secretly so I don't see a problem for your parents to know about you and your relationship. - Opeli said, furious with what she found.

 


-And what if we say them ourselves?- Zennya asked. After all, they would have to do it someday.

 


-You'll make my job easier. Only I'll check to see if you told them later.- Opeli said turning around. Luckily for her, Soren had already put on pants just like Zennya, although she was still not dressed from the waist up. The elf continued to cover herself with huge wings from her back.

 


-We understand.- Soren agreed.

 


-And get those clothes off the floor. And for the future - if you plan to spend the night like this, go to Soren's house in the city. Goodbye.- Opeli said leaving. She was beginning to feel that they weren't paying her enough for her job.

 


-We understand. Goodbye.- Soren said watching as Opeli leaves the room.

 


There was silence. While Zennya quietly put on her clothes, avoiding Soren's gaze, he tried to do the same from time to time glancing at Zennya. She was beautiful, really beautiful. Soren couldn't believe what he saw at times. It looked as if someone had revived a perfectly carved statue. But he was sure - she was real. He had the opportunity to find out about it last night ...

 


-Soren ... I'm sorry ... I got carried away yesterday and ...- Zennya said, holding her shirt in her hand. She felt silly like the last slut for this situation.

 


-Both of us. Listen ... are you okay?- Soren said coming up to her. He placed his hands gently on her shoulders.

 


-Yes I think so.- Zennya said hugging him. With a smile, she realized that Soren had been able to calm her down.

 


-So ... We're still a thing?- Soren asked uncertainly, embracing her.

 


-We are together. If you don't find me pathetic ...- Zennya still felt a bit pathetic for pushing things straight to bed.

 


-Why should I?- Soren asked, looking surprised.

 


-Because yesterday ... I don't know ... - Zennya felt stupid because of what happened at night and in the morning.

 


-Hey. Everything is new to us. You'll see, we'll work it out together somehow. But know that I love you. Really really.- Soren said, hugging her tighter. Zennya smiled hesitantly - Soren was a tender guy.

 


-I ... Thanks ... I love you too.- Zennya said hugging him to her.

 


-Zennya, have you seen somewhere ...- Suddenly they heard the sound of the door opening and Claudia's voice. Zennya and Soren turned to look at a shocked Claudia in the doorway to the room.

 


-Bloody hell!- Zennya screamed in horror, covering herself with her wings again.

 


-Claudia, close the door!- Soren shouted, covering Zennya.

 


-For the gods ... Soren are you ...? - Claudia couldn't explain the mixed joy and pride that her brother finally had a girlfriend and "the first time" behind him.

 


-Yes, goddamn it, now give us a privacy. Why the hell are we all harassing us today?!- Soren said putting his shirt on Zennya and then covering her torso completely.

 


-I did not expect that the situation between you will develop so quickly. How was it?- Claudia asked, wanting to know all about the details.

 


-Claudia!- They both hissed at the court mage.

 


-What? I can see that it didn't end with polite kissing. Especially since your girlfriend was standing next to you in only her pants.- Claudia said. She had to admit that Zennya's breast was much larger than it looked in clothes.

 


-You can go? Please… -Soren asked. He and his girlfriend wanted to dress calmly and everyone disturbed them.

 


-Okay, I'm leaving now. I don't want you to cry.- Claudia said with a mocking smile. She now had a new memory to annoy Soren.

 


-Claudia, if you don't leave soon, I'll make an iceberg from you.- Zennya hissed. She tried to support Soren in throwing Claudia out from the room.

 


-Okay, okay, I'm leaving. But I must admit, I'm jealous of the way you look Zennya.- Claudia said. Zennya blushed, understanding what Claudia meant.

 


-Claudia! Soren shouted behind the closing door.


-How was yesterday?- asked Tiadrin. Rayla was sitting in front of the mirror while Sarai and her mother tried to help her get ready for the wedding. Tiadrin was now trying to somehow weave Rayla's hair into a meaningful hairstyle.

 


-Even nice. You were right, it wasn't that bad at all.- Rayla replied. Ultimately, however, she liked this human tradition, which was the opposite of what she expected.

 


-I knew you'd like it. However, I heard from one of the soldiers that the bachelor party was out of control.- Sarai said.

 


-It means?- Rayla asked surprised.

 


-Geren and Han engage in a fight with few of the soldiers.- Sarai replied. The day before, she had met one of the soldiers who had a broken nose. After a short conversation, she decided to somehow cover up the whole matter - the relationship between Katolis and Xadia and Duren hung in the balance.

 


-Oh no...-Rayla said, placing her hand on her forehead. She could have expected Geren to get into trouble again.

 


-But it is not bad. Liadrin and Eleanor took them from the scene.-Sarai said.

 


-I feel bad for him.- answered Tiadrin. Wherever Geren appeared, he created problems and created a bad reputation for all the inhabitants of Xadia.

 


-Don't  worry. Rather, it won't negatively affect Rayla and her wedding to Callum. Harrow and I will try to cover up this incident.- Sarai said.

 


-Thank you.- Rayla replied.

 


-Mhm ... Look, I need your opinion on a certain matter.- Sarai said uncertainly.

 


-We are listening carefully.- Rayla replied.

 


-It's about Ezran and Aanya. You see ... - Sarai needed advice because she didn't know if she was doing right. She hoped that by asking Rayla and Tiadrin at least partially she would know what to do.

 


-I know more or less what happened. It was Claudia's idea?- Rayla asked. Tiadrin looked at her in surprise.

 


-Yes. But the papers aren't signed yet. It was a bluff. But I wonder if I have messed things up between them ... - Sarai replied. Her plan could make them either get together or make them hate each other more.

 


-I understand. But it's fine. Aanya claims they are together.- Rayla replied. Sarai breathed a sigh of relief.

 


-Heavens be blessed ... Who would think about that... It seems that I already have two daughters-in-law ...- Sarai replied sitting down on the bed. This information reassured her - their plan worked.

 


-I lost the title of a favorite?- Rayla asked with a slight smile.

 


-Unfortunately, but I have to be fair.- Sarai replied.

 


-Understandable.- Rayla said.

 


-I must have missed something ...- Tiadrin said, not knowing what they were talking about.

 


-We're here.- Runaan and Lain interrupted their conversation by entering the room.

 


-Hi. Ready for the most beautiful moment in your life?- Lain asked.

 


-A bit like that...- Rayla replied a little uncertainly.

 


-A bit?- Runaan asked.

 


-Well ... How to put it ...- Rayla fell silent. She was beginning to have doubts and slowly afraid of the ceremony. Despite all the assurances, she began to have more and more doubts whether Callum really wanted it and whether they were going in the right direction.

 


-Are you afraid he'll say no? Are you afraid to go to the altar?- asked Tiadrin.

 


-Something like that.- Rayla admitted.

 


-It's normal. Don't be afraid, I'm sure Callum is going through worse… -Runaan assured her.


-Callum, calm down or you'll break someth...- Ethari din't manage to finish the sentence when Callum accidentally hit the bottle with water that crashed on the floor with his hand.

 


-...Shit!- Callum said, picking up pieces of glass from the ground. He was preparing for the ceremony, but he had to deal with a few more official matters. He gladly signed the document thanks to which he, Rayla and their future children will not have any claims to the Crown. This meant that, politically, no one would have any basis to force them into any political game.

 


-Take it easy, it's normal before marriage.- Ethari said putting down the glass with Callum. Callum's room was reasonably clean, and Callum wanted it to stay that way.

 


-No ... I don't know ... Holy shit, I've never felt like this in my life ... What's happening to me?- Callum asked, sitting down on the bed. He could not explain what was happening to him - he was shaking all the time, he felt weak and his legs often refused to obey him.

 


-It's stress. Take it easy son, everyone goes through this. Breathe.- Harrow said, helping to pick up the glass from the floor.

 


-I don't have time ... I have to be in the throne room in two hours and I'm not even half ready.- Callum said putting his hands on his head.

 


-I think you're exaggerating. Take it easy, I think you'll be fine in half an hour.- Harrow replied. It kind of calmed Callum down in a way.

 


-You're right. I can definitely handle it. Callum replied. They were both right - nothing bad can happen.

 


-You can see. You know ... Before my wedding, I also broke a bottle ... - Harrow said scratching his neck.

 


-Really?- Callum asked.

 


-Yes. I dropped it when I realized that once I entered the throne room, I would have no turning back.- Harrow replied. This shattered Callum's peace of mind. He started to panic again.

 


-I don't think I have ...- he said after a moment of silence with a slight terror in his voice.

 


-You do, but I don't know why you should do this. Rayla is a great person and you have been together for 5 years. Thanks to this wedding, everyone will finally leave you alone and not look at you with an unfavorable eye in Katolis. It's worth having peace, right?- Harrow asked.

 


-Yeah, it's worth it. Callum agreed without conviction.


-Uh ...- Ezran was woken by the quake. Opening his eyes, he realized that someone was shaking his shoulder.

 


-Ezran, get up. Aanya said, shaking his shoulder.

 


-Aanya? It's already morning?- Ezran asked as he sat down. His head hurt badly after what he had drunk last night.

 


-That comes out. We have to get up, ceremony is in two hours.- Aanya said. She had to wake Ezran for him to get ready.

 


-Uh ... Is Rayla around somewhere?- Ezran asked, closing his eyes.

 


-No? Why?- Aanya asked, not understanding for what hangover Ezran needed Rayla.

 


-I need the help of an Assassin to reduce my suffering...- Ezran said, holding his head. Aanya rolled her eyes.

 


-Do not whine. You did this to yourself - after all, you were drinking alcohol.- Aanya replied. She felt a little sorry for Ezran, but what happened was solely his fault.

 


-Yeah, I know. I'm guilty.- Ezran agreed, not wanting to argue. Suddenly the door to the room opened. Opeli entered in. The castellan of the castle didn't seem too surprised by their presence here to such an extent that she even seemed to expect them here.

 


-Prince Ezran, Princess Aanya.- Opeli said making a bow.

 


-Castellan Opeli ...- Aanya nodded her head.

 


-Nice to see you. May I know where you were last night? I didn't find you in your quarters this morning.- Opeli asked.

 


-I was here all night.- Ezran replied.

 


-I understand. Where were you, Aanya?- Opeli asked. She already knew the answer, but she wanted the young princess to say it.

 


-I ... Well ... I was here. I helped fight alcohol poisoning in Ezran.- Aanya replied. She exaggerated, however, tried to come out of the situation with the face.

 


-You slept in the same room together, right?- Opeli asked.

 


-What? No ...-Ezran objected.

 


-I am afraid that your parents will find out about it ... - Opeli said. She was fed up with young couples sleeping together without getting married for this day.

 


-There's no need to. Really… -Aanya replied.

 


-You realize that you are not even engaged and you sleep next to each other as if nothing happened? You don't even know what a scandal this action could cause.- Opeli replied. As usual, young people lacked imagination.

 


-We don't ... We're not engaged?- Ezran replied. Both he and Aanya were greatly surprised by this information.

 


-You sound like you're expecting something different.- Opeli replied slightly surprised.

 


-Doesn't matter. The situation will not happen again. In any case, would it be possible to get Ezran a Decoction of the White Seagull?- Aanya asked.

 


-The brew that helps with a hangover? I'm going to send someone to get a doctor to give you a Decoction. I'll leave you alone for now - I hope you won't do anything irresponsible. I've already seen too much today ... - Opeli said leaving.

 


-I think she's angry.- Aanya said when they were alone again.

 


-Are you surprised? We broke the rules of etiquette,  probably almost all of them. But anyway thanks for ... - Ezran tried to say something, but Aanya interrupted him.

 


-You don't care why Opeli didn't know anything about our "engagement"?- Aanya interrupted him.

 


-Give me a minute ... Shit, I thought it was water.- Ezran said, picking up the wine bottle. He needed no more alcohol - he needed water.

 


- I'll help you get up.- Aanya said. Before Ezran could say anything, he was already standing on his feet, held with both hands by Aanya.

 


-Thanks. So ... We have two hours to get ready?- Ezran asked, trying to get his balance.

 


-Yeah. You have to take a bath… -Aanya said.

 


-I know, I smell like vomits.- Ezran replied, understanding what she meant.

 


-You're correct.- Aanya said with a slight smile.

 


-Well, see you before the ceremony.- Ezran said, moving to leave the room. Aanya moved alongside him.

 


-I cann't wait.- She said when they came out into the corridor. She kissed Ezran on the cheek goodbye and walked towards her room.


-Can I know what were you doing? You attacked the guard while being drunk!- Eleanor yelled at Geren. Hee got into trouble again, which only irritated the elf more.

 


-I really don't know what got into me.- Geren said, standing in the center of their room. He felt stupid because Eleanor was reproaching him again for the next problems he got into.

 


-Oh, but I know. You are irresponsible and stupid, that's what! What do I have with you… -Eleanor said, turning away from him. She was very angry and felt powerless just as well.

 


-Honey, I'm sorry ...- Geren tried to calm her down somehow. He lightly touched her shoulder, but she pushed his hand away.

 


-Don't talk to me. Why can't you behave yourself? -Eleanor asked, turning away.

 


-I well ... I don't know.- Geren said. He's always been like this, and he thought Eleanor was okay with it. As it turned out, however, this was not entirely true.

 


-You always don't know. By Garlach, it's not the first time and you know it very well.- Eleanor said. Geren got into a fight with the Sunfire Guard as they were leaving Xadia, got drunk unconscious in one of the human cities, and got into another fight while driving into the Katolis capital. And all this only during this trip.

 


-I admit, I did wrong ...- Geren knew that he did wrong and he felt stupid. However, he saw with what anger and regret Eleanor looks at him.

 


-You did it wrong? Very wrong! Dad was right about you!- Eleanor said. Her father never liked Geren because of how immature he was and advised his daughter to leave him. As time went on, however, Eleanor began to see what her father had meant.

 


-El ... Please ...- Geren pleaded with her, wanting her to stop.

 


-And what am I supposed to do with you? You're begging me to forgive you again and you'll do something stupid again.- Eleanor replied.

 


-El ...- Geren didn't know what to say. She was right.

 


-Do something again and we're done.- Eleanor said after a moment's thought.

 


-But ...- Geren was surprised. He knew he deserved the punishment. But he didn't know that Eleanor was so angry.

 


-No buts! Either you behave or I'm leaving.- Eleanor replied. She didn't want to do it, but because of her helplessness, she didn't know what else to do.

 


-Eleanor, please.- Geren pleaded.

 


-I'm done. Now get the hell out of my sight.- Eleanor said, pushing him out of the room. Geren, although stronger, didn't resist, not fully understanding what was happening.

 


Eleanor closed the door, throwing Geren out of the room. With the door closed, Eleanor slumped over it to the floor. She was fed up with how Geren behaved. He was not serious, he joked about everything and got himself into trouble everywhere he went. At first she endured it following the principle of "Rascal loves the most". However, with time, she began to feel ashamed of how he behaved and that she had to get him out of trouble.

 


She knew he was good, but sometimes he was so stupid that he didn't think before doing something. It made her furious. More than once she cried when he, wanting to show off, broke his arm doing a flip or caused problems when he got drunk. The longer they were togheter, the more she wanted to leave him, but it hurt her to think about it - they loved each other very much and she didn't want to end it. Geren's rowdy behavior broke her heart and the events of last night were what prompted her to act.

 


Eleanor suddenly heard a knock.

 


-How many times do I have to tell you ...- Eleanor suddenly fell silent seeing Liadrin, Geatan with their chilhdren. She remembered that Liadrin had kept her dress in her room.

 


-… What?- Asked the Geatan, surprised. Aiden and Arven smiled when they saw her aunt. The girl was holding a sheet of paper in her hand.

 


-Ah ... It's you ... Come in.- Eleanor said, letting them in. She didn't even notice how she started shaking with nervousness and anger.

 


-Are you okay?- Asked Liadrin.

 


-Aunt! Look.- Cried Arven.

 


-I'm fine. How are my favorite kids doing?- Asked Eleanor, pretending the most honest smile she could currently make.

 


-I drew fo you.- Arven said, giving Eleanor a piece of paper.

 


-Really ... Thanks ...- Eleanor suddenly stopped looking at the paper. It showed six figures - Geatan, Liadrin, Arvena, Aiden, her and Geren. The drawing may not have been like Callum's, but Eleanor knew who was who. Seeing Geren in the drawing, she felt her knees buckle under her and tears would spring to her eyes. She leaned against the wall so as not to fall and covered her eyes with her hand.

 


-Eleanor. Are you alright?- Geatan asked.

 


-No.- replied Eleanor.

 


-Auntie, why are you sad?- Aiden asked.

 


-You were arguing with him?- Liadrin asked.

 


-Yes.- Eleanor replied, fighting the burst of tears.

 


-Geatan, can you take the kids to the next room? Liadrin asked.

 


-Sure. Come on, let me show you a trick.- Geatan said. Hearing this, the children cried out joyfully.

 


-Yes! A trick! - cried the children, following their father to the next room.

 


-Did you talk about events from yesterday?- Asked Liadrin.

 


-I don't know what to do anymore. He doesn't know how to behave. He just ... -Eleanor wouldn't talk about it.

 


-He's an idiot,- finished Liadrin.

 


-Yes. By Garlach, I love him. I love him sincerely but I can't understand why he does it. I feel bad about it, but today I was yelling at him ...- said Eleanor, crying. Liadrin embraced her, feeling that her sister-in-law needed help.

 


- He probably deserved it. Listen, you should give him an ultimatum, take something important to him if ...- Liadrin suggested.

 


-I gave. Either he starts to think what he is doing or we break up.- replied Eleanor.

 


-That much?- Liadrin asked.

 


-That much. Garlach, why can't he be like your Geatan... - Eleanor said wiping her tears.

 


-Give him time to think. You'll see, it'll be okay. Don't think about it now. We need to get ready for Callum's wedding, remember?- said Liadrin.


-Almost...- Sarai said, lacing up the corset in Rayla's dress. Rayla felt pressure all over her torso making her feel worse and worse.

 


-Uh ... How tight ...-Rayla said feeling the desire to take off this corset as soon as she could.

 


-I know. Relax, I'm also wearing a dress today. We will both suffer.- Sarai assured her. She tried to tie the corset so that it served its purpose and did not cause Rayla much pain. But there was little she could do.

 


Final preparations for the wedding were underway. Rayla wore her wedding gown with the help of Tiadrin and Sarai. Despite the stress, Rayla tried to stay positive and focus on the person she was doing it for - Callum.

 


-Can we come in?- they heard together from outside Janai's door.

 


-Sure.- Sarai assured. Janai and Amaya entered. Amaya immediately began giving signs in sign language.

 


Hey Sarai.

 


-Hello. How are you? -Sarai asked while Rayla was buttoning the last buttons of her dress with the help of Tiadrin.

 


-Alright. Thank you.- Janai replied.

 


Janai got us two Lux Aurea dresses. Do you mind if I wear one today?

 


-No. You don't have to upset any barons today, beat the counts, or prove anything. Do what you think is right-. Sarai replied. Amaya tucked in with a smile.

 


Thanks. How are you Rayla?

 


-Since I got into that dress ...Baf. Even in plate armor I feel comfortable ...- Rayla replied. She definitely preferred to go to the altar in the armor now than in this ... Something.

 


-You do this for Callum, remember.- Tiadrin reminded her.

 


-I remember mom ... I remember. Don't you have another elven dress on hand?- Rayla asked.

 


-Unfortunately not.- Janai shook her head.

 


-Eh...-Rayla muttered under her nose.

 


-Alright. Just the make-up and you're ready. -said Tiadrin. Rayla slipped on high-heeled shoes and started walking towards the chair.

 


-Be careful, these shoes are hard to walk on.- said Sarai. Indeed, after a while Rayla started to balance to keep her balance.

 


-I see ... Whoah!- Rayla suddenly stumbled and the only thing that saved her from falling was Lain and Runaan entering the room.

 


-I'm holding you.- Lain said catching her from falling.

 


-Uf ... Thanks Dad .- Rayla said getting up.

 


-I can't believe it's today...- Runaan said, helping Rayla to stand up evenly.

 


-Me too.- Rayla said.

 


-Listen ... I want you to know that me your mother love you very much. Very ...- Lain suddenly hugged Rayla.

 


-Dad. Relax, I'm not dying.- Rayla embraced him as she heard him cry. Her mother rolled her eyes as she saw how touched Lain was.

 


-I remember when you were little like Aayla. And now ... Garlach, when have you grown up like this?- Lain said, wiping his tears away.

 


-Lain, you will stain her dress with tears. But don't be mad at us, Rayla. In the end, we put you fully under the care of Callum. -Tiadrin said, hugging her daughter as well.

 


-I know. I love you too. Very much. -Rayla said, embracing both of them.


-So you were responsible of Callum's education?- Harrow asked. He and Ibis waited for Callum to leave his room dressed in bridal clothes.

 


-I was. I had no more disciplined student than him.- Ibis replied. He considered Callum his best student so far.

 


-I'm glad to hear that.- Harrow replied. He was proud of who Callum grew up to be.

 


-And me that he became an archmage. I knew he would achieve a lot, but I didn't expect him to do so quickly.- said Ibis.

 


- I don't think that's weird. He did what he needed to be in the right place at the right time.- Harrow replied. It seemed that if gods existed, they lead Callum to greatness.

 


-Probably. However, he had to do a lot to achieve everything. I still remember the times when he was afraid of his power.- Ibis laughed, recalling the beginnings of hisfriendship with Callum.

 


-He was eleven then, if I remember correctly.- Harrow recalled.

 


-He was. He stood out from the crowd of little Moonshadow Elves. I helped him draw the first rune ... and in the way, I was his first opponent to be defeated.- Ibis replied.

 


-It means?- Harrow asked.

 


-The strength of his spell threw me against a tree.- Ibis replied.

 


-Ouch.- Harrow replied, imagining the whole situation.

 


-It hurt. However, such power and talent are rare among young Elves. Abilities not exercised disappear until the Arcanum needs to be awakened through severe stress and life-threatening conditions, which does not always work.- Ibis said. Acquiring magical abilities was very complicated and took years of learning to understand the whole thing.

 


-I understand. How else can such abilities be acquired?- Harrow asked.

 


-Well ... There is no greater rule. Mostly you either have to be born or inherit it somehow. It can also be worked out with heavy exercises or the above-mentioned stress.- Ibis replied.

 


-Mhm. So setting up a mage training academy would be feasible?- Harrow asked.

 


-Of course. Although it would have competition in the form of elven schools in Glowstone or Lux Aurea.- Ibis said.

 


-I think it's worth a try. Katolis would be a better place with doctors and scientists doing magic.- Harrow said. Magic could make life easier for doctors, farmers, scientists and sailors a lot.

 


-But also a place where generals would have the supplies and posibilities to form entire squads of battle mages. Magic is a gift that must be used prudently, Your Majesty.- Ibis replied.

 


-I understand-Harrow replied. He understood Ibis, but he had no intention of expanding the borders of Katolis at once - the war was not on his side now.

 


-I'm ready. How do I look?- Callum left the room. He wore a white shirt with silver trim, a red vest with gold patterns, brown pants and black polished shoes.

 


-You have a button unfastened.- Ibis noted, looking at the vest.

 


-This vest is tight, I can't ...- Callum argued.

 


-Don't whine, just buckle up. You're getting married today.- Harrow said.

 


-Okay, okay ... And how about now?- Callum asked feeling pressure on the entire length of his torso.

 


-Perfectly. I'm sure Rayla will be very impressed.- Ibis replied.

 


-I also hope. Callum said.


The time to prepare all the guests passed very quickly. In an hour and a half, all of yesterday's drunkards managed to cure their hangover and prepare festive clothes. The first guests began to take their seats in the room. Callum was walking nervously in front of the room - half an hour and it would be all over. After all, he wanted it ... Or maybe not? What if it's a bad choice? What if she destroyed Rayla's whole life like that? What if it leads to a divorce? He didn't want to spoil it all.

 


-Prince Callum.- Callum heard behind him. He turned to see Opeli standing behind him with a strange smile that was unlike her.

 


-Castellan Opeli. It's nice to see you.- Callum replied.

 


-I'm glad too. Half an hour until the ceremony. How are you feeling? - asked Opeli.

 


-Even good.- Callum replied. He lied because he could barely stand on his feet and held back so as not to tremble with fear.

 


-I can see you don't. But that's normal - my husband was also stressed before our wedding.- Opeli replied. This in no way calmed Callum, who was trying to keep his legs from breaking underneath him.

 


-I understand.- Callum nodded nervously.

 


-I'm glad. I am also glad that young people like you, responsible and patient are among us.- replied Opeli. After today's adventures with Soren, Zennya, Aanya and Ezran, she admired Callum and Rayla for their patience.

 


-I don't understand that anymore.- Callum replied in surprise.

 


-I chased you around the castle for weeks and you silently performed your duties without using a single spell. You've held up until today and haven't even tried to meet Rayla for two weeks.- Opeli replied.

 


-It was just the way it was.-  Callum said, scratching his neck. He didn't want to destroy this moment of joy with the fact that he had sat cuddled with Rayla all last night.

 


-As you can see. Well ... Even though today I have mixed feelings towards younger generations, I still believe in youth thanks to you. - Opeli replied patting him on the shoulder.

 


-Thank you?- Callum answered hesitantly.

 


-And now, come into the room, we will start soon. The guests should be coming in now.- Opeli said.

 


-I understand. And thank you for helping me prepare everything .- Callum bowed slightly.

 


-It was a pleasure.- Opeli replied. Callum entered the room after this conversation - the ceremony began any moment.

Chapter Text

Everything was ready.

 


Well... Almost.

 


The hall was already decorated earlier. Callum saw the small crowd that gathered. His parents sat in the front row. Runaan and Ethari were sitting right next to them. Next to them sat Tiadrin with Aayla on her lap, who was making faces to Ethari sitting between them and Runaan. Next to them was a empty place for Lain who had to lead Rayla to the altar.

 


In the following rows, Callum saw Geatan and Liadrin with their children, Eleanor and Geren, Amaya and Janai, Dmitri with his wife and son, Aanya and Queen Neha, Ibis and Lujanne, Opeli, Ellis with Han, Feren and Hader, Zennya sitting at the far end next to Soren. Only the invited Nolan and Emily were missing, but Callum already knew why they won't be there. They had both died in a district fire in Evenere a month earlier. Despite the regret that remained after them, Callum was glad that so many people attended his wedding today.

 


Ezran has agreed to be his witness, as has Claudia. Chairs by the altar were prepared for them and the young couple. The ceremony was to be led by Hesse, the priestess of Garlach from Silvergrove.

 


Callum waited, feeling most of the eyes looking at him. Everyone waited in silence, whispering at most so that nobody would hear a quiet murmur. Even though Callum knew and liked each of the people here, he felt bad. His legs buckled under him, he was sweating heavily, and he felt that this was just the beginning of the stress. All the bad scenarios of what was about to happen were going through his head.

 


-Are you holding up?- Ezran whispered. You had to be blind not to notice how stressed Callum was.

 


-No ... I can barely stand. Where's Rayla?- Callum also whispered. She should be in the room by now. What if something happened to her? Maybe she needs his help and he is standing here idle like an idiot.

 


-Calm down. She's coming soon. You'll see, it'll be okay.- said Ezran.

 


-What if it won't be okay?- Callum replied.

 


-Calm down. You make the situation worse.- Ezran replied seeing how the guests were looking at stressed Callum.

 


-What if she backed out of it?- Callum asked softly.

 


-No way. You know she wants it too.- Ezran replied.

 


-What if something happened to her?- Callum whispered.

 


-You are just panicking.- Ezran replied softly.

 


-But...- Callum wanted to ask the stupid question again, but Ezran interrupted him with a whisper.

 


-Calm down. Hell, I hope I won't panic at my wedding like this.- Ezran interrupted in a whisper.


-Ready?- Lain asked. They stood in front of the doors to throne room, ready to enter. Rayla, however, seemed terrified. She was pale, let alone feeling a little shaking.

 


-No.- Rayla replied. She was afraid of what she would find there. What if Callum has backed out and is gone? Or will he say no?

 


-Calmly. I know it's a lot of emotions in short moment.- Lain replied putting his hand on her shoulder.

 


-What if ... If this all ends up badly? If Callum says no?- Rayla asked hesitantly.

 


-You know he won't. He asked if you want to marry him. You still want to do this, right?- Lain asked.

 


-Yes ...- Rayla agreed. She dreamed about it for two years and it finally happens. They will stay together until the end and nothing will separate them anymore.

 


-Come on. It will be fine. Relax, in the end, I should be the nervous, not you.- Lain said hugging his daughter. Suddenly he felt a strong embrace full of stress and fear. He had to admit she was very strong.

 


-I know. It's just… -Rayla didn't finish, not knowing what to say. She felt dumb and bad.

 


-Calmly. We are about to start. Are you ready?-Lain asked. Rayla took a deep breath.

 


-Yes.- she replied hesitantly.

 


-Okay ... Eh, play music.- Lain said introducing her into the room.


Suddenly they heard soft music usually played at similar events. The door to the throne room opened slightly. Seeing who was there, Callum froze.

 


Rayla walked with Lain's arm in a slow, measured walk. They took their time, as if they wanted their march to be as long as music actually played by musicans in corner of the room. However, Callum didn't care about this starring at Rayla. She wore a tight white gown that widened from the knee down to accentuate the waist perfectly. The lower part of the dress was finished with a spectacular train. The sleeves of the dress were long, and the entire dress was embroidered with symmetrical patterns. On her head was a wreath of flowers that she had prepared the day before. Her hair was arranged in a long braid. She was holding a bouquet of white roses in her hand.

 


She looked beautiful, Callum thought. On seeing her all fears, worries and stress magically disappeared. Seeing him, she smiled. He also involuntarily smiled. He always told himself he was more fortunate than smart to be with her, but now ...

 


Now he knew why he asked her to marry him.

 


-There she is. Your future wife.- Ezran whispered with a smile.

 


-Yes. She's beautiful.- Callum replied. He felt free from doubt.

 


-And focus on that.- Ezran whispered.


Rayla began to walk slowly arm in arm with her father towards the altar. Callum, Ezran, Claudia and Hesse were already there. Rayla's attention shifted to Callum, however. He wore a white shirt with a red vest on it, brown pants and black polished shoes. She immediately noticed that he was staring at her with longing and tenderness.

 


She smiled making eye contact with him. He shyly smiled, making her happy. Seeing his smile all doubts she had disappeared. Now she understood what she was doing in this room, which she had agreed to a year ago. She will be with him for better and for worse.

 


-You see, nothing bad is happening.- Lain whispered to her.

 


-I know.- Rayla whispered.

 


-You know, your mom had doubts too. But after entering the room everything was fine.- Lain replied. It was normal and sometimes it took a little help to get everything working.

 


-Yes.- Rayla agreed.

 


Once they were at the altar, the music stopped as slowly as it had begun. Callum smiled even more nervously looking straight into her eyes. Rayla started to guess again what might be on her mind. Callum: Maybe he's afraid of screwing up? Possible. Maybe he feel the pressure of his surroundings? Probably. He has changed his mind and wants to back out. She hope he wasn't.

 


-Well, Callum. Look after her.- Lain said, taking his hand away from Rayla.

 


-I will, I promise.- Callum nodded.

 


-Sit down, the sermon will be long.- Hesse said. Everyone sat down in their seats. Rayla sat down in the chair next to Callum.

 


-There comes a time in the life of every human and elf when we change. When we decide that the time has come to bind ourselves to someone close to us in a holy marriage bond. Today that time has come for Rayla, daughter of Lain and Tiadrin, and Callum, son of Harrow and Sarai. They decided that they would go on together through life until death do them part ...- Hesse began the sermon.

 


-You look beautiful.- Callum whispered, ignoring the religious and beauty of the wedding sermon. His beautiful future wife mattered to him more now.

 


-You are also not bad. Although, to be honest, I'd rather get rid of this dress. It's so tight...- Rayla whispered with a mocking smile.

 


-You know, it's only the beginning of the Ceremony, so it's gonna be a while.- Callum said.

 


-Well ... I hope tonight my husband will help me get rid of this dress.- Rayla said. Callum blushed slightly at that.

 


-Is that an offer?- Callum asked quietly.

 


-Definitely. I miss r you and for evenings together in one bed. Speaking of which ... I hope Claudia's book was interesting.- Rayla replied. The last time she forgot to ask Callum about it and fearing that he would forget it again, she decided to ask at this point.

 


-She told you?- Callum asked, feeling his face blush.

 


-Yes. You don't even know how embarrassed I was when I found out.- red Rayla also whispered.

 


-She pressed the book in my hand. Besides, you didn't complain about my ideas.- Callum replied.

 


-Because you didn't say where you got them from.- Rayla whispered.

 


-I just wanted you to be happy, okay? Sometimes I don't know if I'm enough for that ...- Callum said, looking down. Rayla looked at him and rolled her eyes.

 


-Callum, in a few minutes you will have a living proof that you are enough and even something more that I would ever want.- whispered Rayla.

 


-I thought you were angry.- Callum whispered in surprise.

 


-Because I'm. But you'll make it up to me somehow.- Rayla whispered, winking at him.

 


-I think I even know how.- Callum said with a smile.

 


-Where's that shy human helper of an elven blacksmith?- Rayla laughed softly.

 


-He's getting married today, getting married to the most beautiful elven assassin ever.- whispered Callum.

 


-Toady.- Rayla whispered.

 


-Only yours love.- Callum whispered.


When the elf began her sermon, Aanya was finally able to whisper to her mother. Neha avoided her eyes, but now Aanya had a moment - everyone was focused on the sermon and guessing what Rayla was whispering with Callum.

 


-Rayla looks great in this dress.- Aanya whispered. Neha nodded.

 


-Yes. It reminds a wedding dress from my wedding.- Neha whispered back, remembering the old days when she was married. It was a long time ago, over 20 years ago.

 


-I hope you let me choose a dress at least.- Aanya whispered. Neha looked at her - Aanya stared at her without conviction.

 


-Listen...- Neha froze. How will she explain to Aanya that she wanted to help her by selling her? What she did was pointless.

 


-I am listening, and it is with curiosity. How did Claudia convince you?- Aanya asked.

 


- She explained what it looked like. Then she said you needed a shock that would make you have to talk to each other about it. We haven't signed anything yet, but we're going to. Of course if you want.- Neha replied.

 


-It's not just me. Remember.- Aanya said, then nodded towards the altar. Neha turned to see Ezran sitting almost next to Callum.

 


-I remember. And how is it going with you and Ezran?- Asked Neha. It was the stupidest question she could ask, but she didn't have any other questions.

 


-We will answer you at the wedding party. Besides, promise me one thing.- Aanya said, looking her straight in the eye.

 


-Yes?- Neha asked.

 


-The council will not press on us with need to "make" heir to the throne of Katolis or Duren.- Aanya replied.

 


-I can't promise that. I wish I had grandchildren ...- Neha said with a smile. Aanya chuckled softly.

 


-Mom ...-Aanya broke the soft laugh.

 


-I'm kidding. I'll see what I can do.- Neha said. She could agree to that.


Geren waited for Hesse to start speaking. Everyone then focused on Rayla and Callum, and partly on the sermon. He finally had a chance to talk to Eleanor. In a whisper, but still.

 


-Hey.- whispered Geren. Eleanor looked at him with a smile.

 


-Hi. How are you holding up?- Eleanor asked, turning away. She felt bad about what happened in the room. She was right ... But she didn't have to say it that way.

 


-Well. Thanks for your concern.- Geren whispered.

 


-Listen in the room...- Eleanor began. She had to talk it over with him somehow to finally come to an understanding.

 


-You were right. I screwed it up badly.- Geren replied. He knew he had done wrong but there was nothing he could do about it.

 


-I understand you spoke to Hesse?- Eleanor asked.

 


-I didn't know, what to do. I don't get into trouble on purpose. Somehow it works out by itself. And ... Well ...- Geren turned, not wanting to upset her. He didn't do it on purpose - it came out by itself when he was either inattentive or drunk.

 


-Just don't tell us to take a break from each other.- Eleanor whispered, looking him in the eye.

 


-No. I think maybe ... Could spend a few weeks in Katolis?-Geren asked.

 

-Seriously? Vacation? -Asked Eleanor.

 


-Mhm. We'll ask Callum to recommend a quiet place to rent. Just you, me and some old house in the middle of nowhere.- Geren replied. They would take a break from everyone and talk about everything.

 


-And what are we going to do there?- Asked Eleanor with a smile.

 


-Anything. From picking mushrooms from the neighborhood to what you love ...- said Geren.

 


-You don't have to speak out about it. And not here.- Eleanor said, blushing slightly.

 


-I thought you liked...- Geren tried to say, but Eleanor put a finger on his lips.

 


-Because I like. Anyway, we can try something new. -She said blushing.

 


-You mean?- Geren asked as she took her finger away.

 


- I'll tell you later. Focus on the sermon for now.- Eleanor said, turning towards the altar.


-Sarai?- Harrow asked. His wife sniffed and seemed to ... cry?

 


-I'm fine. I just got something in my eye ...- Sarai said, wiping her tears.

 


-Come on. I'm crying too.- Harrow said, embracing her. Sarai looked at him only to notice that he was crying too.

 


-My child ... So grown up ...- Sarai whispered. All memories with Callum from his birth to his stay at Xadia and his return came back, destroying her like a wave.

 


-I know. You did your best to raise him.- Harrow said, shedding his tears.

 


-We. We did.- Sarai whispered. They fell silent for a moment to watch Callum listen to the sermon.

 


-Are you wondering what will happen when Ezran gets married?- Harrow whispered.

 


-Honestly, I don't  know. After all ... I can't get used to it. If we actually sign this offer, we'll see him every six months.- Sarai said. According to the contract, Ezran and Aanya would have to travel a lot, which can be problematic with Ezran's leg.

 


-I know. It makes me feel lonely when I think about it.- Harrow replied.

 


-I always next. Anyway, maybe Callum will soon have children. He will come with them on vacation and winter solstice...- said Sarai. Harrow smiled as he thought of his grandchildren.

 


-Grandchildren. Yeah, remember how we laughed a year after he landed at Xadia that he could be back maried, or even his own child?- Harrow asked. Sarai smiled as she remembered that moment.

 


-Yes. It was a joke then. Rayla, your daughter-in-law ... Now that will be a fact .- Sarai replied.

 


-Yes. I hope they will have a peaceful life after marriage ...- said Harrow. He hoped that at least they would avoid being troubled by politics.


-Look at them. I still can't believe these are the kids we raised for 10 years.- Runaan said. Even though he rarely showed any emotions, now he simply smiled as he saw the children he once raised getting married.

 


-Yeah. I'm getting old Runaan.-replied Ethari. He didn't even notice when those 13 years had passed. It ... It hurt him.

 


-Only what is happening to you is that you are going through a midlife crisis.- Runaan replied, trying to calm him down. Ethari was dramatizing again, thinking about his age.

 


-Half life behind us. We could have spent our lives better ... - Ethari said looking out the window. They could be better, more tender for these kids.

 


-I think we couldn't have done better. And Callum and Rayla are a living example of this.- Runaan replied. According to him, it was a well-spent life that was still going on.

 


-Maybe yes. Hopefully they'll finally be happy.- Ethari replied. Runaan was quite right - maybe it wasn't that bad with this life?

 


-Yes. Maybe they will.- Runaan replied.


-... As Garlach also dictates, they choose to live in the family so that they can create a future together.- Hess concluded, then nodded to Callum and Rayla. The wedding music began to play again.

 


Rayla and Callum recognize this moment as the moment they come to the altar. Callum got up and with the help of his hand Rayla stood up. They both approached Hesse and faced each other. Claudia stood behind Rayla and Ezran stood behind Callum.

 


-The people getting married here consciously make this decision as a free human and a free elf. Do you, Rayla, take this Callum as your husband, promise to be faithfully with him in health and sickness, in poverty and wealth until your days end, until death do you part? -Asked Hesse. Rayla took from Ezran the small gold ring that Ezran kept for her.

 


-Yes.- Rayla agreed, putting a wedding ring on Callum's finger.

 


-Do you Callum, take this Rayla as your wife, promise to be faithfully with her in health and sickness, in poverty and wealth for the end of your days until death do you part? - asked Hess looking at Callum. Callum picked up the silver-adorned gold horn cuffs that Claudia kept for him from the box.

 


-Yes.- Callum nodded, putting cuffs on Rayla's horns.

 


- So I declare you husband and wife. If anyone sees something against this marriage, speak up now or be silent forever. - Hesse replied. However, no one spoke, and no one who might disturb the ceremony burst into the hall.

 


-I can see that no one is agains. You can kiss the bride.- Hesse replied.

 


The second after the last word, Callum and Rayla touched each other with their lips. It felt good to close their eyes, as if they were kissing again for the first time. They didn't care that their passionate kiss lasted a while, or that the applause that had lasted for a while had already died down. Only they mattered to themselves now.

 


After a while, they separated, knowing that they had to breathe fresh air. They turned to face the guests, seeing almost all of their parents, including Runaan, crying with happiness. Callum looked at Rayla and smiled - it wasn't just the love of his life anymore. It was already his wife.

Chapter Text

-I feel stupid accepting these gifts. - Callum said. While they had already gone to the hall where the wedding party was about to take place, all the guests returned to their rooms for gifts for the bride and groom.

 


-Me too. But it's not polite to not take them, isn't it?- Rayla replied.

 


-There is something in it, my dear wife. - Callum said, embracing her. Rayla rolled her eyes at his words. 

 


-Marrying you was a bad idea. I'll have to listen to your awkward compliments for the rest of my life.- Rayla said, hugging him as well.

 


-It looks like you're stuck with me, darling. - Callum said with a mocking smile.

 


-I will not regret it, my beloved husband.- Rayla also replied with a smile.

 


-Ekhm.

 


Only then did they both noticed that Callum's parents were standing in the hallway behind them.

 


-Forgive us. You know, two weeks is a long time. - Callum said, stepping away from Rayla.

 


-We understand. Well, we wish you good luck on your new way of life. - Sarai said, drawing both of them to her. Harrow joined the hug.

 


-Thanks. You are great. - Callum said when they split up.

 


-We know son. Here it is, the gift is according to tradition. Purse full of coins as a symbol of the wealth the family will gain. We put inside almost 300 denars. Not much but I am sure that you will spend it well. - Harrow said, giving them a purse.

 


-We also give you a bag of sugar to keep your lives nice and sweet, and two coats and two scrafs. Turquoise and red colors, hope you'll love it. - Sarai said, handing them two coats and scarves. Rayla looked at her scarf carefully - it was a perfect copy of what was around Callum's neck. The only difference was the color - her scarf was turquoise. Rayla smiled looking at this gift.

 


-Thanks. And this bag? - Callum asked looking at bag Harrow had in his hand. 

 


- Inside you have a set of travel pots. In case you need to cook something on the way between Katolis and Silvergrove.- Sarai said, wiping a tear away.

 


-Mom?- Callum asked. But Sarai just hugged him again.

 


-Just visit us sometimes, alright? - Sarai said, hugging Callum tightly. She just felt that it would be worse from now on with the contact between them and she didn't like it. However, she hoped to see her son once in a while.

 


-We promise. - said Callum. Sarai smiled and moved away after a moment.

 


-See you at the party.- said Harrow as he entered the room. Before they could disappear into the room, the bride's family appeared around the corner.

 


-How are you two feeling?- Lain asked as he approached the young couple.

 


-Everything's all right. Thanks Dad. - Rayla replied. Aayla, who is now on her mother's arms, seeing her older sister stretched out her hands towards her, as if she wanted to announce that she wanted her attention. 

 


-Rayla. - said the little elf with a smile.

 


-Hey there little one? You missed me, didn't you?- Rayla said, placing her hand on the little elf's head. Aayla laughed which made Tiadrin and Lain smile at how well their daughters got along.

 


-Rayla.- The little elf laughed looking at Rayla.

 


-She couldn't wait to see you guys. It's up to us so that you can travel between Silvergrove and Katolis with no problem. After all, we'll have you all the time and Sarai and Harrow once every six months. - said Tiadrin. Lain handed them two backpacks which amazed both Rayla who knew the equipment and Callum who knew how expensive the equipment was.

 


-The backpacks are made of the leather of the Xadian spine-legs. Durable, almost waterproof. - Lain said.

 


-Top class. - said Callum.

 


-Thank you. It's a great gift. - Rayla said, drawing everyone to her.

 


-We know. See you at the party, Tiadrin said as soon as they split up. Rayla waved for Aayla who just laughed.

 


As soon as her parents and sister were out of her sight, Rayla's smile vanished. She wanted to spend more time with Aayla.

 


-Relax, I'll see her soon. - Callum said, placing his hand on her shoulder.

 


-I know. This little one is probably my second favorite person as I know. - Rayla said.

 


-Who's the first?- Callum asked with a smile.

 


-You silly.- Rayla said, pulling him closer.

 


-Hi.

 


Rayla and Callum jumped at Runaan's voice. Although he had known for a long time that they were together and from today that they are married, they still couldn't get used to him when he sometimes appeared out of nowhere very close to them.

 


-Oh, hello. - Callum said, scratching his neck. Runaan and Ethari stood before them, looking at them with something close to pity 

 


-I can see you missed each other a lot these two weeks. - Ethari said.

 


-We do. - Rayla said.

 

-We know. We have something for you. The first will be Rayla's gift. - Runaan said, handing Rayla the long sword. While holding the sword, Rayla looked at the hilt and instinctively moved her hand to push the sword slightly from the scabbard with her finger to see the blade.

 


-I've never liked long swords, but ... BY GARLACH!- Rayla screamed in surprise as she felt the blade burn her thumb. Screaming, she dropped the sword, which, as it turned out, was covered with special runes.

 


-Rayla!- Callum immediately moved closer to her, as did Runaan, equally surprised.

 


-Ouch....-Rayla hissed holding her finger.

 


-Sorry. I should say this sword has runes on it. - Ethari said. The gift was good, but what happened was what he did not want.

 


-I noticed ... Nothing happened ...- Rayla said, gritting her teeth. Seeing her pain, Callum drew a rune.

 


-Aspiro Frigilis.- Callum blew lightly at her finger. In a second, a small lump of ice appeared on her finger, which immediately relieved the pain.

 


-Thanks. - Rayla said with relief.

 


-For you everything, love.-Callum said with a smile, helping her straighten up.

 


-Well ... I tried my best with the sword. - Ethari said. Rayla looked at him disapprovingly and Callum looked at him with some anger.

 


-You see ... You don't usually use Sunfire Elf runes for this type of product.- Callum said knowing that Ethari would not have omitted information about the sword on purpose. He was surprised where he changed his production style - usually Ethari didn't do that sort of thing.

 


-I made an exception, wanting to create my best sword so far.- Ethari said.

 


-It was ... A very interesting surprise ... I did not expect a sword whose blade could burn me.- Rayla said.

 


-Sorry. I didn't want to. We also have gloves for Callum similar to those Lain once gave him. They can turn with your hands into wings .- Ethari said, giving the dark red gloves reaching to the middle of Callum's forearm.

 


-Useful, thanks .- Callum put on the gloves immediately. They fit perfectly.

 


-Of course. Best for you guys.- Runaan said, drawing the two to him. Rayla and Callum hugged him the same as Ethari did theirs. After a while, they both moved towards the hall. Rayla hissed, still feeling a slight pain.

 


-Ouch ...- she said, holding Rayla's thumb.

 


-Maybe you'd want go to a healer?- Callum asked.

 


-No ... It's okay. Thanks for your concern. - Rayla replied.

 


-Something happened?- Janai asked. Rayla and Callum turned around to see her and Amaya in dark brown dresses. 

 


-Nothing special.- Really. Rayla said.

 


-If you say so. We wish you best. - Janai said hugging the bride and groom with Amaya.

 


-Thanks. What is this?- Callum asked, looking at the dark bag as Janai and Amaya gave them. 

 


-This? Well...- Janai felt stupid. It was against the tradition of the Sunfire Elves, but Amaya convinced her to give them such a gift. Likewise, Amaya decided to translate them both in sign language.

 


We decided that we should give you a packet of sweets. After all, you should start the new phase of life as best you can.

 


-Thanks. So see you at the party.- Callum said. Jana nodded and she and Amaya entered the room.

 


-Aunt Rayla!- Rayla heard to suddenly feel something ramming at her leg height. Rayla looked down to recognize Aiden and Arven looking at her with a smile.

 


-Hey kids. What's up?- Rayla asked, placing her hands on their heads.

 


-They couldn't wait to see you. Everything best. - said Liadrin who was a few steps behind the children.

 


-Thanks. Where is Geatan?- Callum asked noting that she was alone.

 


-I am! Uf, there you go. - Geatan said, following Liadrin into the corridor and setting the barrel of wine he was carrying on his back.

 


-But ... That barrel ...- Callum didn't know what to say. The barrel was huge and Callum didn't know what to say.

 


-I know. It is huge. - said Geatan with a smile.

 


-If you ration it, your grandchildren will drink from it.- Laughed Liadrin.

 


-Thanks. Really useful thing.- Rayla said, also shocked by the size of the barrel.

 


-I know. See you at the party. - Geatan said.

 


-Will you play with us then, Aunt Rayla?-Aiden asked.

 


-Sure. - Rayla agreed. Aiden and Arven called out for joy and moved with their parents to the center of the hall.

 


-Lovely little ones. - Rayla said, looking after the children. Callum had seen this look many times before and knew what Rayla wanted.

 


-You know ... Maybe we could work on our own today ...- Callum said, placing his hand on her shoulder.

 

-Well, maybe we can lock ourselves in our room for a week. We'll have a lot of privacy ...- Rayla said, turning towards Callum.

 


-Let me move to the guest room at least.

 


They both jumped again when they heard Ezran. He stood in front of them with his arms folded and his expression fixed on his face.

 


-Forgive Ez, we just ...-Callum wanted to explain it somehow. He felt a little silly.

 


-I know. You missed each other. I have  little thing for you, but just right for Callum - three blank sketchbooks. From what I hear, the family is going to get bigger so you will need them to capture your little one's best moments.- Ezran said, giving them three thick blank books.

 


-Thanks Ezran. But you know, I'm not even ... - Rayla tried to explain but Ezran stopped her with a movement of his hand.

 


- I heard, what I heard. Anyway, Uncle Ezran sounds good. Hang on, folks. - Ezran said as he slowly walked into the room.

 


-Thanks Ezran. I'll see you at the party. Just don't get drunk like yesterday.- Callum said after him.

 


-I will take care of it.

 


Callum and Rayla jumped again at the voice behind them. Again, someone approached them from behind. This time it was Aanya and Neha.

 


-Your Highnesses.- Callum and Rayla bowed seeing the monarchs in front of them.

 


-Prince Callumie. Good luck on your new way of life.- Neha said making a slight bow as well.

 


-Thank you. - Callum said. He noticed Aanya looking at Neha ... with strange frustration.

 


-We have some books about  blacksmithing for you, your mother mentioned that you love blacksmithing and you are very good at it.- Neha said, handing Callum more books.

 


-I would call myself an amateur, but I know something. Thank you.- Callum said, putting the books on the ever-growing pile of wedding gifts.

 


-For Rayla, we have this. Crafted by the Master Archers of Duren. One of the best ever created. - Aanya said, handing Rayla bow. The weapon was perfectly made - horsehair string, yew wood, golden ornaments on the weapon.

 


-Thank you, Your Majesty. So ... We'll see you at the party.- Rayla said.

 


-Yes. See you.- Neha replied entering the room. Aanya followed, apparently still angry on her mother.

 


-Did you see how Aanya and Neha looked at each other?- Callum asked.

 


-Yes. They seemed to be furious on each other. - Rayla said.

 


-It's probably about a political marriage.- Callum guessed.

 


-Probably.- Rayla replied.

 


-Hi!

 


Rayla and Callum jumped in surprise at hearing Soren. Before the time he appeared in the corridor, they knew long ago that he was coming. Moments after they heard him, they saw Soren wearing everyday but clean clothes.

 


-Soren don't scream, we can hear you.- Callum said.

 


-I know. I wish you best, guys.- Soren said, patting Rayla and Callum on the shoulder.

 


-Thanks dude.- Callum agreed.

 


-Well. With a gift ... Well ... - Soren nervously started scratching his neck.

 


-There's no need to. If you don't have one, we won't be angry.- Rayla replied.

 


-It's not the point. Let's say it's late. Around midnight you'll see what I mean. Then look towards the gardens.- Soren said. He had a plan to thank his friends and make Zennya have a good time.

 


-We will. I'll see you in the hall.- Rayla said. Before Soren could completely disappear into the room, they heard other guests.

 


-Callum.

 


Ibis and Lujanne came out of the corridor.

 


-Welcome. How are you doing?g Callum asked.

 


- Better than you at the altar. I thought you were going to faint down therdle. - Lujanne laughed.

 


-Thanks Lujanne.- Callum said unconvinced.

 


-Believe it or not, Ibis fainted on our wedding day.- Lujanne said, nudging Ibis with her elbow. Ibis only rolled his eyes at that.

 


-That was a century ago. But anyway. We have something for Callum. But I think you both will benefit from it.- Ibis said, giving Callum a huge book.

 


- "Dwarven craftsmanship" ... - Callum read the title. Suddenly he understood what was in his hands. He looked incredulously at Ibis.

 


-That's right. I went to the Great Library in the Dragon Mountains to find it. It took me almost a week to find the book, and I finally did. Everything you know about Dwarven craftsmanship. With this knowledge, you will outdo even the best weapon and armor makers in all of Xadia. Even Ethari won't know how to do the things you find here.- Ibis replied.

 


-I don't know what to say ... Thank you.- Callum said. What he was holding in his hands was simply priceless and the knowledge contained therein even more.

 


-No problem. I'll see you in the hall.- Ibis said, and with Lujanne they entered the room.

 

 

-See you. Callum said after them. He looked again at the inconspicuous book. Curiosity about what was inside suppressed all previous emotions. After looking at the book for a while and the temptation to read it, now suddenly Callum felt a hand on his shoulder.

 


-Callum, take it easy. You will have time to read this book. For now, we have other priorities.- Rayla said. Callum smiled stupidly - he got excited like a child.

 


-Oh, yeah. - Callum replied, putting down the book.

 


-Are you okay with your finger? - asked Zennya who came into the corridor. She looked with surprise at Rayla's thumb.

 


-Yes, Zennya. Everything's all right.- Rayla said hiding her injured finger behind her hand.

 


-I'm glad. I owe you a lot so I think that this should at least a little reward you our friendship.- Zennya said giving them her gift. She owed her life to Callum and boyfriend to Rayla. 

 


-Wait, is that ...- Rayla stared in surprise at what had just landed in her hands.

 


-Yes. Hunting arrows from Brown Woods. They cost a bit, but I'm sure Rayla will use them well.- Zennya agreed. These arrows were magical, and people used to say that when fired from a good bow, they always hit. Their price was horribly high.

 


-Thanks...- Rayla said, not knowing what to say.

 


-Not. Thank you. See you in the hall.- Zennya said entering the room. Callum looked at Rayla examining the arrowheads curiously.

 


-I don't know if it's a good idea to give you a bow and arrow on our wedding day. - Callum said.

 


- I could have shot Barris years ago. Anyway, she already gave up ... - Rayla joked recalling the old rival.

 


-Hi.- Geren and Eleanor entered the corridor. They had a small box in their hand.

 


-Welcome.- Callum greeted them.

 


-We have some jewelry for you. And the matching diorite bracelets.- Eleanor said.

 


-Rare material... -Rayla muttered softly. Callum turned to her slightly surprised - Rayla, however, listened to what he was saying sometimes about what he was doing.

 


-Thank you.- Callum said turning towards Eleanor.

 


-You're welcome. We will be in the room, see you.- Geren said, then grabbed Eleanor's hand and they entered the room together.

 

 

-Did you just...- Callum looked at Rayla again. She slightly brushed her hair with her hand.

 


-You know, I look over your shoulder at what you are doing in the workshop with Ethari. Often.- Rayla said.

 


-It's nice to know you're listening to my talk.- Callum smiled.

 


-Hello, friends. - King Del-Bar and his family entered the corridor. He had a shield in his hand, and in the other hand he was holding a small, blond boy. His wife, who seemed to be pregnant again, was walking next to him.

 


-Hello Dmitri. How was your journey?- Callum asked.

 


-Quite well. I'm glad to see you. - said Dmitri.

 


-We too. Will you introduce us?- Rayla asked.

 


-Of course. This is my wife Catherine and my son Vlad.- Dmitri introduced them. Catherine nodded.

 


-Hello. - she said in a calm voice.

 


-Nice to meet you. - Rayla said.

 


-Yes. Here is a gift for you. The Del-Bar tradition requires such a shield over the fireplace. - said Dmitri, giving Callum the shield. It was in red and gold stripes - the national colors of Katolis.

 


-We understand. Thank you for the gift and we invite you to the party. - said Callum.

 


-Thank you too. See you later. - said Dmitri, entering the room with his family.

 


-Hi! Callum. - They heard the voice from outside the corridor again. Moments later, Ellis and Han appeared in the corridor. Ellis was carrying a sizable oblong bundle.

 


-Oh, hello. How are you feeling after yesterday?- Asked Callum.

 


-Well ... I got biggest reprimand in my life for getting drunk... - Han said looking at Ellis. Ellis looked at him with anger in her eyes.

 


-But I've forgiven him already. And we wish you the best guys.-Ellis interrupted.

 


-Thanks. What is this?- Callum asked looking at the strange object in their hands.

 


-See for yourself.- Ellis said. Callum picked up the item and removed the cloth from it.

 


-Is that ... Staff?- Callum asked, looking at the item in his hand. It was a gray wood staff used by mages in Xadia as a support for their spells.

 


-Yes. In the middle is Lunar Opal. It helps create powerful illusions. - said Ellis.

 


-Useful thing. Thanks .- Callum replied.

 


-I have something else for Rayla. Here. - Han replied, giving Rayla a small box. Rayla opened the box to see the contents with a smile.

 


-Nice set of throwing knives. Thanks.- Rayla thanked.

 


-You're welcome. Forgive Callum for this gift, but I had no other idea .- Han replied with a smile. Callum just shook his head.

 


-There's a good chance Rayla won't throw them at me. - Callum replied looking at Rayla with a smile.

 


-Maybe. See you at the party. - Ellis replied. She and Han entered the room.

 


-Almost everyone ...- Callum replied, trying to count the guests.

 


-Almost. - answered the voice behind them.

 


-Hi. How are you? - Rayla asked Feren as he entered the corridor, his son in her arms.

 


-Okay. All in all, I knew that you would succeed one day, but never that you would invite me. - Feren replied.

 


-It's been over. - Callum replied, patting him on the shoulder.

 

 

-Yes. Hader found it in the attic and well ... I think you will need it more, even if you only had to hang it over the fireplace. - Feren said, handing them the sword. This time Rayla carefully inspected the blade to discover that this sword had no runes on it.

 


-Dragon Guard Sword?-Asked Rayla.

 


-Ceremonial. Useless, especially since I got a new one. You guys have a big house, and I'm sure you can put it somewhere.- Feren said.

 


-We'll hang in a prominent place above the fireplace. In memory of Feren, the furious creep of Silvergrove. - Callum joked. Rayla glared at him, but heard Feren's soft laugh.

 


-The biggest creep. - Feren specified, then entered the room.

 


-It just was rude. - Rayla said as Feren was in the room.

 


-I'm not offended. - Feren managed to say from the room before the last of the guests burst into the corridor.

 


-Wait! Still me. - Claudia called as she entered the corridor.

 


-Relax Claudia, we're just waiting for you. - Rayla replied.

 


-I know. Also ... I know that you will definitely need it. I bought it especially for you. Claudia replied, giving them the book. Seeing the title and cover art, Rayla and Callum blushed with embarrassment and shame. Callum shook his head.

 


-Oh no ...- he said, placing his hand on his forehead.

 


-Oh yes. Part expanded with any items. You will see how much nicer your night will be .- Claudia laughed.

 


-I'm really starting to lose faith in you Claudia. - Rayla said, seeing how proud Claudia was of herself and her gift.

 


-You sound like I have to worry about it.- Claudia replied winking at them.

 


-Eh ... Where is Ves anyway?- Rayla asked.

 


-She? She had to do something in town. She will join later. - Claudia replied.

 


-We understand. Come on in, everyone is here- Callum said and all three of them entered the room.


-Your Majesty's advices are accurate, but the Del-Bar society is not ready for such radical changes. True, this income tax will change things, but will be introduced slowly and over time in all areas. I also can't overstate, after all, few people can afford such taxes. - replied Dmitri. He, Harrow and Runaan sat down at the end of the table to discuss politics.

 


The guests seemed to be divided into groups where they talked on specific topics - Sarai was telling Tiadrin and Lain stories from the young life of Callum, Janai and Neha talked about sculpture, while some of the guests talked about their everyday life in a larger group. At the very end there was a corner where all the children that Feren was watching were sitting, talking to Soren and Zennya.

 


-I understand. - Harrow replied.

 


-Did you try to subsidize the farms?- Asked Runaan.

 


-We can not afford it. There are plenty of such farms in Del-Bar. We couldn't make it. - Dmitri denied.

 


-From what I've noticed, Del-Bar's economy is based on agriculture. What if farmers were to be exempted from taxes? They would be able to afford additional tools and other necessities for them. - Runaan noted.

 


-We can try. - replied Dmitri.

 


-There are they. - said Harrow. Runaan and Dmitri turned to see Rayla and Callum come in, talking to Claudia about something.

 


-Happy couple. Few people are as lucky as they are. But everything has yet to start. After all, marriage is not that simple. - said Dmitri. Quarrels, raising children, reconciling married life with work, and constant fear and jealousy. Dmitri felt that soon they would have such problems.

 


-I believe in them. They have always been close and had many quarrels behind them. Runaan said. He had seen their biggest quarrels since they were friends. He knew they could handle it.

 


-Dad, can you come over for a moment?- Ezran said, coming to the table.

 


-Forgive gentlemen. I'm on my way Ezran. What is going on?- Harrow asked, getting up from the table.

 


-Nothing big. Can you wait at the entrance?- Said Ezran. Harrow looked at him in surprise.

 


-Alright?- Harrow replied uncertainly. Together they walked towards the hall entrance while Ezran stood in the middle, looking for someone in the crowd.

 


Ezran waved at Aanya after a moment. Aanya waved at him and walked over to him.

 


-Ready?- Aanya asked. They wanted to announce to their parents that they were together. She was a little nervous.

 


-Nope. Yet we have to talk to them finally. - Ezran said.

 


-I know. I wish it was over ...- said Aanya, embracing him. He hugged her too.

 


-It's gonna be alright. You'll see ... - said Ezran. After a while they both hung up.

 


Together they walked towards the door where their parents were waiting. They were to tell them that they were together and that they could accept the marriage offer. It would help their countries and also help heal the wounds from a year ago.

 


They stood in front of the door. Ezran looked at Aanya uncertainly. She also looked at him. She smiled - she was nervous about it, but knew that Ezran was nearby. Together they'll be fine.

 


Ezran approached her. She instinctively kissed him on the lips. The kiss lasted a few seconds, but it gave both of them a lot of courage. Finally they started walking towards the door together.


-Alright. A band for three. And one, and two, and one two, three. - Jared started playing the lute while the rest of his friends played other instruments.

 


Happy music began to play. Callum recognized the song right away - it was the song he and Geren had bought at the New Moon Inn on Geren's first date. Callum looked at Rayla - she remembered the tune too.

 


-Will you honor me and dance with me?-Callum said, making a slight bow.

 


-You don't have to ask me, I'm your wife. - Rayla said, coming up to him.

 


-Then lead the way. - Callum said with a smile.

 


There were already a few couples on the dance floor who were quietly dancing to the rhythm of the melody. Callum and Rayla stood quietly in the center of the room. Rayla approached Callum and put her hand on his shoulder. He put his hand on her waist. Rayla grabbed his other arm and stretched it slightly.

 


-I'm leading tonight too, okay?- Rayla asked with a smile. Callum blushed slightly.

 


-Let it be so. - Callum nodded, recalling some pictures from Claudia's book.

 


Callum took a step back while Rayla took a step forward. They danced slowly and calmly, arranging their steps to the music. Callum was staring into her eyes as much as she did.

 


-You know, I can't even say how happy I am. - Callum said. Rayla smiled.

 


-I can see it from you. You're grinning like I'm laughing at one of your nasty jokes. - Rayla replied with a smile.

 


-Because you did. Thirteen years long, said Callum. He had no better friend and no more loved person than she was.

 


-And I will do this until ...- Rayla suddenly fell silent.

 


-Rayla?- Callum asked. Rayla's smile faded.

 


-Callum ... I ... Now I realized ...- Rayla felt tears appear in her eyes.

 


-That I will die early?- Callum finished. Rayla nodded.

 


-By Garlach ...- whispered Rayla, hugging him. Only now she thought about it deeply and she knew that he would surely die earlier than her. She hadn't been so restrictive about it before, but now that they were married ... The whole thing looked gloomier.

 


-Don't cry. I promise that the next few years will be your best .- promised Callum, hugging her tenderly.

 


-I ... Sorry ... I don't know how to get along without you now. And then ...- Rayla didn't even want to imagine such a life.

 


-Do not think about it. You'll see, everything will be fine. We have time ... - said Callum. Rayla reluctantly smiled.

 


-Yes .... We have time ...- She said wiping her tears.

Chapter Text

-Wait, what?- Harrow asked, surprised. Only now he found out about Claudia's plan and its execution by Sarai and Neha. Both queens looked to the floor after admitting their deeds.

 


-We tried to help them. We really didn't have a better idea.- Neha replied. Harrow shook his head, knowing the plan sounded stupid.

 


-You weren't sure it would work. You could only make it worse.- Harrow replied.

 


-You would have done the same in our place.- Sarai said, looking up at Harrow. The king stopped to consider it. Years ago, he suggested this solution to Ezran, and he was ready to help his son in that way.

 


-... Eh, you're right.- Harrow replied, knowing Sarai was right.

 


-Because I have. But I think what we did is wrong.- Sarai replied leaning against the wall. Harrow walked to the door to look out for the young people who were about to show up.

 


-So what do you think they want to talk to us about?- Neha asked. Sarai looked at her, seeing that she was also torn by remorse.

 


-Either our plan worked or we finished what was between them.- Sarai replied. She wanted well and used her possibilities as best she could - with varying degrees of success.

 


-I hope not. Ezran is a good young man. I'm sure that if we gave them time, he could get along with Aanya.- Neha replied. She wanted her daughter to bond with someone decent and responsible after all - such as Ezran.

 


-Right. Aanya herself is a gifted young girl. As with Rayla and Callum, I couldn't imagine my younger son being with anyone else.- Sarai replied. She knew that she couldn't imagine a better person as a partner for Ezran.

 


-You know, the choice is still theirs. We will see how they react and we adapt to the situation.- Harrow replied.

 


-Right. So we act together anyway? -Sarai asked.

 


-We act. For the sake of our children. -Neha agreed.

 


-For their good.- replied Sarai.

 


-They're coming!- Harrow whispered. The three of them stepped back and positioned themselves in such a way that they seemed to be busy with something.

 


The door to the hall opened slightly. Aanya and Ezran slowly emerged from inside. They both seemed stressed to see their parents in the hallway, while the parents were hesitate to start a conversation about how they failed  their kids today (not counting Harrow who didn't know much what to say). There was a silence that only showing the awkwardness of the situation. Both sides looked at each other trying to guess what the other side was currently thinking.

 


-Well ... You wanted to talk with us.- Harrow broke the awkward silence. Ezran nodded.

 


-Yes. About this ... The whole deal.- Ezran said. They were going to talk about it - explain everything. He felt insecure, but there was no turning back for them - him and Aanya - anymore.

 


-We thought so.- Sarai replied, shaking her head.

 


-Listen. We were carried away. A lot. We should not take this solution into account. We are sorry and we are canceling the signing of the document. But please understand that we meant well for you.- Neha said. She really wanted to help her daughter and just make her happy.

 


-You fit together and we didn't want to see you suffer through a few mistakes made at a young age. That's why we decided to do something and help you a little. It might not be the best move, but there was a chance that it would work .- Sarai added.

 


-I agree with them. As parents, we want the best for you, and we just want you to be happy. We'll understand if you don't see your happiness like that, and accept that you want to be with someone else… Wait, Ezran, what's on your lips?- Harrow interrupted. Everyone suddenly focused on Ezran's lips, which had a slightly noticeable red mark.

 


-What do I have on them?- Asked Ezran, surprised. Sarai walked over to her son to take a closer look.

 


-Is that a lipstick?- She asked, surprised to recognize the find. Ezran and Aanya both blushed, understanding where the trace of lipstick had appeared on Ezran's lips.

 


-Yes.- Ezran agreed.

 


-Well ... It looks like it is.- Aanya replied.

 


-So ... I see that you have already chosen ...- replied Neha. The monarchs waited for an answer in uncertainty - mostly option appeared that their plan had succeeded.

 


-Yes. Now that you know that Ezran is already with someone, I don't see any point in keeping you in suspense. We… -Aanya stopped. It was really hard to say that. Suddenly, she feared that what their parents were about to hear would be what they didn't want to. Aanya didn't know why she thought that, but the thought stopped her. Suddenly she felt Ezran grab her hand.

 


-... We are together.- Ezran finished. Aanya looked at him with a smile - she felt confident with him.

 


-Your strange plan, though crazy, has worked.- Aanya replied. Their parents looked at them in surprise.

 


-Oh.- Sarai replied.

 


Even more awkward silence apeared. Ezran felt Aanya pressing on his hand, afraid of what his parents would say. Ezran also shook her hand - he wanted to show that he was with her.

 


-Surprise?- Ezran said with a shy smile.

 


-Well ... We didn't expect it to work.- Neha said.

 


-It turned out awfully stupid.- said Ezran.

 


-Yes ... But I guess it helped. So ... Thank you.- Aanya said.

 


-Okay. So ... Welcome to the family Aanya.- Sarai said coming closer to both of them. She hugged the kids, drawing them to her. Ezran and Aanya hugged her as well, and Harrow joined the hug. After a while they separated.

 


-You, Ezran, too.- Neha said, drawing Ezran and Aanya to hug them as well.

 


-Thank you.- Aanya replied. However, her fears turned out to be unfounded - everything was fine.

 


-So ... What about the political marriage?- Harrow asked. Ezran looked at Aanya - he actually wanted to marry her. But not this way. A plan quickly appeared in the young prince's head.

 


-Will you wait until midnight with the decision?- Ezran asked, turning to them. Aanya looked at him uncertainly - he probably wanted to give her a moment to think. She wouldn't mind marrying Ezran herself, but she wasn't the only one who had the deciding vote.

 


-Alright? We have time so I don't see any problems.- Sarai said.

 


-Okay. Mom, Dad, can you stay a while?-Asked Ezran. The parents looked at each other and nodded to Ezran.

 


-Sure.- Sarai replied.

 


-Alright. Aanya, I need to talk to my mom alone. I'll be with you soon. I promise.- Ezran said, hugging Aanya gently.

 


- Alright. See you later.- Aanya said, kissing him on the cheek, then returned to the room with her mother.

 


Aanya closed the door behind them. She was glad she had it behind her. She was afraid that something would go wrong, but everything turned out well.

 


-Well ... I think we have something to talk about, my dear.- Neha said, nudging Aanya lightly with her elbow. There was a smile on the queen's face, which only calmed Aanya down.

 


-Want to hear more about Ezran?- Aanya asked with a certain sense of pride and joy.

 


-Yes.- Neha agreed. She wanted to know more about her son-in-law.

 


-Let's sit at one of the tables. I will tell you everything.- Aanya said as she headed for one of the empty tables off the beaten track.


-And then the Little Red Hood asked: "Grandma? Why do you have such big eyes?". "To see you well." the wolf replied. Little Red Hood hesitantly asked again, "Why do you have such big ears, Grandma?". The wolf replied, "To hear you well." Finally, Little Red Hood asked, "Grandma, why do you have such big teeth?" Then the wolf got up and said "To eat you!".- Claudia said. At the end of her story, she jumped, making her listeners jump in fear.

 


However, instead of the expected joy, all the children who were gathered in one place for the time of the party so that they could be watched more easily, burst into tears. Only Hader did not cry, although he didn't like the fairy tale either.

 


-What happened? - Rayla asked, looking surprised at the corrner in which the children were sitting. At the moment, Claudia was watching over them, allowing their parents to rest for a moment.

 


-Mrs. Claudia tells scary fairy tales!- Aiden said, wiping his tears away. Rayla and Callum approached the children who immediately cuddled up to the adults looking for comfort.

 


-Claudia! These are small kids.- Callum said. Claudia looked at them irritably.

 


-I told them a fairy tale about a Red Hood. This is a fairy tale for children.- Claudia replied. Rayla glared at her furiously.

 


-But not that small children. Come on, little ones, Mrs. Claudia won't tell this story anymore, will she?- Rayla asked. The children looked hopefully at Claudia.

 


-I do. I won't tell you that, never again.- Claudia replied. The children nevertheless looked at her uncertainly.

 


-See? Everything is fine.- Rayla comforted them. Claudia looked at her in surprise. According to her, the children were a curse - they had to be taken care of and there was a lot of work to do with it. However, when she looked at Rayla it seemed simple - as if Rayla could do it like with a calling. She admired Rayla for her patience with children.

 


-Claudia, these are little kids. They are afraid of such fairy tales.- Callum said. Claudia shook her head - her mother told her the same story and it was fine.

 


-I meant well.- Claudia replied.

 


-And now we have a lot of tearful kids.- Rayla said.

 


-Uncle Callum, can you tell us a fairy tale?- Asked Hader.

 


-Alright. I think I can try. Sit down.- Callum said. The children sat in front of him, as did Claudia and Rayla. Aayla and Vlad sat on Rayla's lap. The little elf was still sitting snuggled up to her older sister, looking at Claudia with tears in her eyes.

 


-So yeah. There was a human living beyond the mountains, beyond the forests, beyond the great hills. He didn't know much, he was a bit clumsy and, to put it mildly, not very bright.- Callum started to tell.

 


-Like you, Uncle Callum?- Arvena asked. Callum looked at her with disaprooval.

 


-... Yes. Just like me. One day this human decided to get into a big cart and he went to a magical land full of elves, dragons, magic and cookies.- Callum continued. All the children focused on Callum and his story.

 


-Was there a Moonberry juice?- Aiden asked.

 


-Whole rivers. But that's not what this story is about. When a man got there, he got lost and was taken by a dragon. The dragon put him under the care of the Elves for 10 years and the human moved to the house where the beautiful elf lived. She was beautiful, as if she was not an elf but a goddess. Her hair shone like stars under the moon, her eyes were the color of the most beautiful purple. Besides, she was talented and could kick anyone's butt ... - continued his story Callum.

 


-Is he shortening his life?- Claudia whispered to Rayla.

 


-Quiet. The kids calmed down.- Rayla replied. She knew the story without embellishment because it was actually Callum's story. Nevertheless, the children calmed down listening to Callum.

 


-Oh yeah, he idealizes you in the course of this story.- Claudia replied. Even though it was obvious, Claudia was frustrated by the fact that Callum was idealizing his wife.

 


-So what? I didn't scare a group of children with a story of how a wolf ate half the family.- Rayla replied.

 


-The wolf's belly is cut open at the end and they're all alive.- Claudia replied.

 


-Maybe it's better you didn't get to that part.- Rayla said.

 


-... And she still loved him even though he was a monster. Over the years, the love between them grew until one day they met bad people who wanted to separate them. They fought for a long time using spells and swords, but eventually the evil men left them alone. When it was over, they threw a party with family and friends together. And then they all lived happily ever after.- he finished his short fairy tale Callum.

 


The children looked at Callum more favorably than at Claudia. Callum noticed that the children listened to him with curiosity. He felt proud in a way.

 


-What happened to the elf and the human?- Aiden asked.

 


-I only know they got married. And then they thought about having children. Right Rayla?- Callum replied looking at Rayla. The children also looked at the elf who slightly smiled looking in the eyes of Callum.

 


-True.- the elf nodded.

 


-Where do babies come from?- Asked Arven. Hearing that adults froze, not knoing how to answer that to such small kid.

 


-Oh, someone must have asked.- Claudia said hearing that.

 


-That's the question you should ask your parents.- Rayla said.

 


-Alright?-Arvena replied uncertainly. Callum looked at Rayla in surprise - she never avoided explaining even the most difficult questions to the children.

 


-Rayla? - Callum asked looking at her surprised. Rayla just shrugged.

 


-I am not going to bother explaining this to the children. Not today.- Rayla said.

 


-Okay. Well, Claudia will know what fairy tales she should be telling, right?- Callum asked, looking at Claudia. She looked at them coldly.

 


-I think I understand. Thank you for your help.- Claudia replied.

 


-It's our pleasure. But remember, don't tell them terrible fairy tales.- Rayla said. Claudia just shook her head.


-Here they are. Our favorite drunks. How are you guys doing after yesterday? -Soren said. He and Zennya sat down at the table where Liadrin, Geatan, Geren, Eleanor, Han, and Ellis were seated.

 

 

-We are fine. Thanks for your interest.- Han replied.

 

 

-I heard you had an interesting adventure.- said Geatan with a smile.

 

 

-What?- Soren asked, surprised.

 

 

-You haven't heard yey? These two got into a fight with the guards.- Liadrin said. Hearing this, Geren and Han lowered their heads.

 

 

 


-We were drunk. I don't remember how it happened myself.- Han said. He lied because he was ashamed of what had happened. Hearing this, Soren laughed out loud.

 

 

-Soren!- Zennya hissed at him.

 

 

-Sorry ... but I imagined it.- Soren said. Zennya continued to look at him angrily anyway.

 

 

-Don't imagine too much, will you?- Zennya said. Soren looked at her knowing there was no room for jokes anymore.

 

 

-I ... won't.- Soren said. Seeing this, Han shook his head.

 

 

-Ah, Soren, you are not lucky after all.- Han replied.

 

 

-What? What "I'm not lucky" is supposed to mean?- Soren asked, not quite understanding what the other meant. Zennya also looked at Han in surprise.

 

 

-Shit. It's just ... Soren is a good friend. A good man, helpful, nice ...-Han began to praise him. Zennya looked at Soren.

 

 

-I know well, don't I Soren?- Zennya said, smiling.

 

 

-Mhm...- Soren nodded with a smile.

 

 

-Is there anything we don't know?- Asked Eleanor.

 

 

-Well ...- Zennya replied looking Soren straight in the eyes. Before anyone could say anything, Soren and Zennya moved closer to each other to shock everyone with their kiss.

 

 

-When!? How!?- Asked Geren in shock while rest remained silent.

 

 

-Let's say we had good evening yesterday.- Soren said, stepping away from Zennya. They smiled to each other to look at their interlocutors immediately afterwards.

 

 

-Tell me how it went.- Liadrin said, curious.

 

 

-Believe it or not, Soren was waiting by the fountain in the gardens. Punctually at midnight.- Zennya replied.

 

 

-Punctuality is a good feature. How did you handle the alcohol?- Han asked.

 

 

-Yeah, were you hell of a drunk?- Geren asked.

 

 

-I used the elixir to fight the effects of the alcohol. I had a headache all morning, but it was worth it.- Soren said. This potion was really helpful.

 

 

-And how it started?- Asked Eleanor.

 

 

-Zennya found me practicing what I wanted to tell her.- Soren said.

 

 

-It was the most beautiful monologue I've heard.- Zennya said, embracing him with a smile.

 

 

-Well ... it's a better way than Geatan's one.- said Liadrin. Geatan rolled his eyes.

 

 

-You didn't regret what happened in the forest.- Geatan reminded her.

 

 

-I did for a while - in moment I found out we were going to be parents. But then you calmed me down. -Liadrin said, knocking on the cuffs on her horns. Her pregnancy speeded their relationship much, making them married in three months.

 

 

-Mhm. But such games are a very irresponsible thing. In an instant, all life is turned upside down. Your family turns away from you, friends start mocking you, a loved one may even walk away not wanting to take responsibility for the child. This fear and nerves associated with it - all responsibility for the child is ...- Geatan began to explain. Hearing this, Zennya turned pale. It was only now that she began to wonder about the consequences of what she had done with Soren last night. Unknowingly, she could now have her and Soren's children inside her, and thus risked rejection from family, friends and even her lover.

 

 

-Zennya! Honey...- called Soren when Zennya almost fell off her chair. Soren grabbed her and her wings, stopping her from falling.

 

 

-Forgive me ... I feel bad ...- Zennya said, trying to control her emotions and not to pass out.

 

 

-Do you want to go outside for a while? You will breathe fresh air.- Soren suggested.

 

 

-Yes ... let's go.- Zennya said, getting up from the table.

 

 

-Are you sure? Maybe wine hurt you, sometimes it has a stronger kick, so ...- suggested Geatan. Sometimes his products had a stronger kick which only appeared after a while.

 

 

-No, it doesn't. Really ...- answered Zennya. She felt her legs buckle under her and she was barely able to stay on her feet.

 

 

-Come on. Relax. We're going ...- Soren said, helping her out of the room. Everyone at the table followed them with their eyes.

 

 

-Did I say something wrong?- Geatan asked after a moment.

 

 

-I guess the night turned out better for them than they want to talk about. And speaking of what happened to you ...- Liadrin fell silent, not wanting to confirm her worst fears.

 

 

-Elves have problems having children. What happened to us is a chance of one to hundreds or even thousands. - replied Geatan. Unplanned motherhood was rare, but not impossible.

 

 

-We know. However, Zennya could be scared that she could also meet such a fate .- replied Eleanor.

 

 

-What fate?- Claudia asked. Everyone at the table turned to face her.

 

 

-Does not matter. Who's watching the kids now?- Geatan asked.

 

 

-Feren and Lain. What were you talking about?- Claudia asked, sitting in the seat.

 

 

-About your brother.- Geren replied. Claudia, however, quickly understood what was going on.

 

 

-Ah, about him. As I suppose, the topic was about Zennya. They bragged about being together, didn't they?- Claudia asked.

 

 

-That's right. How do you know? -Han asked.

 

 

-I walked on them when they got dressed in the morning after their frolics at night.- Claudia replied with a mocking smile.

 

 

-So they wen't further...- replied Geren.

 

 

-Funny. Soren once caught me in the same situation with Ves. All in all, it's good that he found someone. I was afraid that he would become old and alone huy and he would not find anyone.- Claudia replied.

 

 

-Don't you worry that your brother can live with her in Xadia and come here once in a while? - asked Geatan. Traveling across the Xadia-Katolis border was difficult and there were many indications that they would not be easier in the near future.

 

 

-Not. In the end rather as long as I live I will be advising the kings of Katolis peace with Xadia.- said Claudia.

 

 

Suddenly they noticed how Ezran almost ran inside (quite smoothly for someone with a wooden leg). He ran up to talking to Ibis Callum and Rayla, and after a few words he pulled his brother out of the room.

 


-What is that all about?- Asked Han, surprised as he watched Ezran pull his brother forcibly into the corridor.

 

 

-Ezran seems to have his reasons. I could see it in his eyes - he was excited, happy ... and scared?- Ellis said. She had known Ezran a long time, and she could guess as well as his humor and well-being from looikng into his eyes.

 

 

-Something tells me it has something to do with Aanya.- Eleanor said.

 

 

-Well ...Let's hope they will be fine.- said Geren.

Chapter Text

-So you want to propose to her?- Callum asked. As Ezran dragged him into the corridor to share his plan with him he knew it would be something around this sunject. Although Callum knew that what was between Aanya and Ezran was deeper, he didn't understand why his younger brother wanted to hurry so much.

 


-Yes.- Ezran nodded without thinking. Callum already knew why - Ezran had a strong feeling for her and it deprived him of rational thinking. Callum, however, had the impression that he and Aanya would rather work things out.

 


-It's gonna be a lifelong change. Are you sure about this?- Callum asked, wanting to make sure Ezran knew what he was doing. His brother just nodded without thinking.

 


-Absolutely,.-said Ezran. Callum shook his head, knowing what the young prince was going to do. It was a stupid idea, but he wasn't the one to decide here.

 


-You will have no turning back from such a wedding. After all, it's political marriage.- Callum said. He could have divorced if Rayla or he wanted to (although he hoped it wouldn't come to that), but Ezran couldn't because it would have meant many proceedings and complicated political consequences.

 


-Callum, you know I love her. Very much. I want to do it right. Don't talk me away from it because I want to be confident about it.- Ezran replied. He was exuding childlike confidence and Callum just shook his head looking at him.

 


-As you think. Why don't you two go for a walk in the gardens, talk about it. Calmly.- Callum replied. But Ezran was already thinking about something (or someone) else.

 


-Mhm. But you know I didn't ask about that.- Ezran replied. Callum, however, had no way of fulfilling his requests as it was beyond his abilities.

 


-I'm not an illusionist. I can't make beautiful lights on the sky.- Callum replied. He was an archmage, but such spells were not his specialty. He could cause a storm, clear the sky, or make it snow in summer, but that was the end of the things he could conjure up in the sky.

 


-And you don't have to.- they heard a voice behind them. Behind them was Ves in a red dress. The woman seemed out of breath, as if she was running here to make it to the wedding.

 


-Hello Ves.- Callum greeted her. Ves bowed slightly.

 


-Sorry for being late, but together with Soren we have prepared a gift for you. These are fireworks - firecrackers from Neolandia. We'll fire it around midnight.- Ves said. This explained her absence and Soren's plans for his wedding gift.

 


-I see. Thanks for coming anyway.- Callum said.

 


-Someone has to watch out for Claudia. Did she broke something already? - Ves asked.

 


-She looked after the children and frightened them all by the fairy tale about the red hood. - Callum replied, shaking his head.

 


-Give her something to do ...- Ves said rolling her eyes. Callum heard disappointment and exhaustion in her voice.

 


-Are you two all right?- Ezran asked, also sensing the strange tension in Ves voice. But she shook her head as if she didn't understand the question.

 


-What? Yes, everything is alright. You just know how it is with her - she has no hand for children.- Ves replied. Claudia never planned and didn't want to have children, so she had sometimes no idea how to behave with them.

 


-I noticed. But now she should be at the tables.- Callum replied.

 


-Alright. I'll find her. And good luck to you, Ezran.- Ves said entering the room.

 


-Thanks.- Ezran said after her.

 


-So where are you going to propose to her?- Callum asked. Ezran already had a perfect plan (according to him).

 


-I have an idea...- Ezran said with a smile on his face which only worried Callum.

 


-I'm already scared.- Callum said, looking at his brother.

 


-I'm thinking of the fountain in the gardens.- said Ezran. Callum looked at him in surprise.

 


-You want to fall inside like our parents?- Callum asked, joking at the young prince's decision.

 


-Very funny. You know what I mean.- Ezran replied. He hadn't planned on dropping by there anyway, but that wasn't a stupid idea in itself for a marriage proposal to remember.

 


-I know. Come on brother, you've got my backup. And as far as I know the blessing of our parents. Get everything ready, and Rayla and I will try to keep Aanya in the room somehow. Callum said. Ezran nodded.

 


-Thanks Callum.- said the young prince, embracing his brother.


-So that's why you needed help.- Harrow replied. He took advantage of the moment when Liadrin had gone to the toilet for a while to talk to Geatan. He finally wanted to meet a secret friend of Callum who he helped start a business years ago. Only now he understood how much trouble this young man was in back then.

 


-Yes, Your Majesty. A bit stupid and irresponsible reason, but I had no other option at the time.- Geatan said. He felt stupid - he finally confessed to the king who had helped him that the source of his problems was irresponsibility and the fact that he couldn't hold out until his wedding night. Even so, Harrow seemed to understand everything.

 


-No worries. Your wine is quite an exclusive good. A good that all aristocrats value, even on far west of the continent.- said Harrow. Geatan, however, did not understand his words - the royal castle in Katolis did not buy this wine in such quantities that it would prove that someone here was a fan of elven wine.

 


-Your Majesty will forgive me, but I don't understand.- said Geatan.

 


-Here your wine is inexpensive, but a lot of the barrels you order are sold west by our human merchants. And it has enormous prices over there, worth even thousands of denars. Our merchants benefited a lot from you, so taxes from their income was much higher. Thanks to such taxes, Crown will soon be able to afford the expansion of many innovations, for example the road network.- said Harrow. Geatan nodded, showing that he understood. He was surprised that his small work was in fact big enough to affect entire trade deals big enough to change income of money.

 


-In short, the wolf is full and the sheep is whole.- replied Geatan, understanding that his trade supported the Katolis treasury.

 


-I could not put it better. By the way, have you known Callum for long?- Harrow asked. Geatan nodded.

 


-Since he landed at Silvergrove. We were the only people in the group who weren't the Moonshadow Elves. He usually stood on the sidelines with the other children, but it was different with us. He trusted us the most and spent the most time with us. We were the first to learn that he is not an elf, but we didn't care. Especially since he was already living next to us for nine years.- Geatan said.

 


Those years have been good. Geatan had good memories of them. He could safely say that Callum was his best friend with who he could always talk about anything. They both knew magic many things about magic, both from Sky and Earth Arcanums. And when it came to praising Rayla or Liadrin, they were both unable to exhaust their supply of words for their loved ones.

 


-And this Feren? Was he friends with you too?- Harrow asked. Geatan looked at Feren who was now playing with Aayla using dolls. Upon seeing him, Geatan knew there was great pain and sorrow hidden within this elf. He felt sorry for him.

 


-He? Not at first, but it passed with time. He went through a lot: his father's alcoholism, his parents' divorce, and eventually his rejection from the community. It took it's toll on him, at first he took out all the frustration on me and Callumie.-Geatan replied. There was no point in hiding it from Harrow, especially since Harrow might know the truth. Still, Geatan had no grudge against him.

 


-And now you're in the same room?- Harrow asked, surprised.

 


-After a while, it passed. His wife helped him. Soon after, she died in the birth of their child. Sometimes I wonder why he himself has not developed alcoholism yet. This elf is a walking trauma.- Geatan said. Harrow looked at Feren - this one was tickling Aayla who was giggling happily. Nothing spoke of the pain that tormented the elf from within.

 


-I understand. Some things are not like it seems to be.- Harrow replied.

 


-Please don't don't do anything against him. It's not his fault he became like that. It took time for the wound to heal, but he's a better person now.- Geatan said. He wanted to spare Feren's trouble - he had suffered enough.

 


-I won't do anything.- said Harrow. Geatan breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the king would not take revenge on his son's bully.

 


-I'm glad.- replied Geatan.


And then Gren said, "This is not my hand."

 


Everyone at the table laughed, which only reassured Amaya that they liked the story very much.

 


-Alright. We'll go swap with Lain and Feren We'll keep an eye on the kids.- Janai said, pulling Amaya away from the table.

 


-Alright. Just don't scare them with some fairytale.- Tiadrin warned them. Amaya nodded, understanding this very well - after all, she looked after Ezran and Callum more than once or twice when they were both children.

 


Janai and Amaya left the table and walked across the room towards the corner where the children were sitting. The adults present there were entertaining the children.

 


-Your change has come. We'll take care of them.- said Janai.

 


-Alright. But no madness, the kids are sleepy.- Lain said. In confirmation of his words, Aayla, seated next to them, yawned. Hader yawned immediately after it.

 


-But I'm not sleepy.- said the little elf. Hearing that, his father shook his head.

 


-As expected from a Dragon Guard. Now focus on helping Janai and Amaya, okay? -Feren replied. The little boy just straightened and nodded.

 


-Yes, sir.- Hader replied confidently.

 


-The little one will be good Dragon Guard one day.- Lain patted Feren on his shoulder.

 


-Maybe someday...- Feren replied. He may have, but Feren wasn't sure he wanted such a life for his son.

 


-Okay, little ones. I have an idea ...- said Janai as the adults departed from the children. Janai took the candle and set it next to the wall. Then, between the candle and the wall, she started making patterns with her hands, making the shadow of which created various shapes on the wall. Amaya looked at her in surprise and asked in sign language.

 


Shadow theater? Seriously?

 


-I liked it when I was little. I think they'll like it too.- said Janai, seeing the interest with which the children looked at the whole show. Amaya noticed it as well and just shook her head.

 


It won't hurt to try.

 


The next hour Janai showed the shadows of various animals - from wolves, rabbits, birds to deers, bears and even elephants and dragons. As the show continued, the children who were fully interested in it began to fall asleep. The first child to fall asleep was Aayla who fell asleep on Amaya's lap. Vlad fell asleep right after her, leaning against Arven who fell asleep after him. Aiden then fell asleep sitting by wall to leave Hader struggling with sleeping alone.

 


-Hader, why don't you take a nap?- Janai asked, watching the little elf trying to stay awake, leaning on her wings.

 


-But I don't want to.- Hader said rubbing his eyes.

 


-All the children went to bed.- Janai said.

 


-But I don't like sleeping. You can't play with the children then.- replied Hader. Janai suddenly realized that this kid must have lived in Storm Spire. There were no children there and the little one must have felt very lonely.

 


-You rarely see children?- Janai asked.

 


-Yes...- yawned the little elf- In the Storm Spire there is only Zym. But he doesn't say anything. And he doesn't have such pretty hair as Arven ...- said Hader looking at the elf sleeping next to Amaya.

 


-Hmmm ... And what else does Arven have so interesting?- Janai asked. Hader blushed slightly.

 


-Well ... she has a pretty face. And nice horns ...- answered Hader. Both women looked at him knowingly.

 


-Hmmm ...- muttered Janai. Today's wedding came out of such a crush from childhood. It was possible that someday they will also follow in the footsteps of today's newlyweds.

 


-But you won't tell her, will you?- asked Hader.

 


-Without a word. But you have to go to sleep.- Janai said. The little elf grunted in anger.

 


-Alright. Gosh.- The little elf rolled his eyes.

 


-Do not whine. Time to go to sleep.- said Janai.

 


-Why isn't Amaya saying anything?- Asked Hader, lying down on the pillow he had brought.

 


-She speaks but she uses her hands.- Janai said. Amaya waved him smiling.

 


-Ah...- said Hader, surprised. Seeing the uncertainty on his face, Amaya shook her head.

 


They always ask.

 


-They're kids. They like to ask. They are curious by nature.- Janai replied. Amaya just conveyed unconvinced in sign language.

 


I know. But I never got used to pointing with a finger like that ...

 


-I think you have enough wine for today. You'll start whining.- Janai said, seeing Amaya start shaking her head. Usually Amaya didn't care, but after drinking the alcohol, Amaya might have weaker nerves at the moment. Even so, she nodded at Janai's suggestion.

 


Mhm. I think I'll go to sleep with the kids. I'm tired.

 


-As you think. Good night, General.- Janai said as Amaya sat in the chair next to her. Amaya only managed to deliver four words in sign language.

 


Good night, Your Majesty.


-Have you seen Ezran?- Aanya asked as she walked over to the table where Ibis was sitting, Lujanne playing cards with Dmitri and Catherine.

 


-Unfortunately not.- Dmitri shook his head.

 


-I have not seen. Something happened?- Ibis asked. Aanya shook her head. He was about to join her a moment ago, and now she's gone like a stone to water.

 


-No ... Nothing ...- Aanya said, not wanting to share her doubts with others. After all, Ezran was fine, right?

 


-Ask Callum. -whispered walking next to her Rayla with Aayla in her arms. Aanya looked at her, but she showed her that she must be quiet - the elf on her arms was asleep for a long time.

 


-Okay. Thanks. Aanya agreed, walking towards Callum. This one was currently talking to Soren.

 


-Callum, haven't you seen Ezran?- Aanya asked just as Soren started toward the corridor. Callum turned to her shaking his head.

 

 

-What's the matter?- Callum asked.

 


-He promised to come after he talks to his parents. He's gone for a while.- Aanya replied. Was it wrong that she was worried? After all, nothing bad happened, right?

 


-Unfortunately, I haven't seen him. Did you ask Rayla?- Callum asked. Aanya grunted in frustration.

 


-She sent me to you.- Aanya replied. Callum just looked at Rayla who was giving her little sister to her parents.

 


-I see. We can look for him together if you want.- Callum said. Aanya nodded without saying a word.

 


They both left the room. In the corridor, Callum stood by the window overlooking the garden. He silently watched the garden as if he expected something concrete. When Aanya was about to ask him what was going on, he spoke up.

 


-So ... How do you plan to solve the whole thing with this political marriage?- Callum asked. The question surprised Aanya. She hasn't spoken to Ezran yet, it's their both decision, after all. Anyway, she has not thought about it so far.

 


-It doesn't just depend on me. After all, it's our decision, not only mine.- Aanya replied. Ezran was important to her, as was his opinion.

 


-I see. What if you were the one to choose?- Callum asked. Aanya thought about it for a long moment.

 


-Well ... I ... I don't know.- Aanya replied. She loved Ezran, the fact was, but the wedding was ... Big. Very big.

 


-You have to make a specific decision. This is an important issue.- Callum pressed her. Aanya considered that.

 


-Why are you so interested in this?-  She asked, wanting to gain more time to think.

 


-Because I know it's not an easy decision. It's easy to propose, but all courage disappears on the wedding day. It is a lifelong decision that will affect you to the end. In addition, from this marriage you will not be able to divorce - after all, it will be a political marriage. Do you understand why?- Callum asked. Aanya knew it all. But she had to think about it.

 


-I know. Honestly ... I doubt I'd find anyone more funny and understanding me than Ezran. I don't even think I should have problems. - Aanya replied honestly after a moment's thought. She didn't quite understand why Callum was so interested in it, but she had the impression that she had to go through his strange game.

 


-So, it means yes?.- Callum asked, as if he expected her to say yes.

 


-That's right.- Aanya replied. Callum shyly smiled looking ahead.

 


-I think I have an idea where Ezran is. I think he's in the gardens.- Callum said looking at her again. Aanya muttered dissatisfied again - he could have told her before.

 


-And you're just telling me now?-Aanya asked in frustration.

 


-Trust me. I can finally be your brother-in-law.-Callum said. Aanya rolled her eyes as she walked towards the garden.

Chapter Text

Ezran felt confident. His plan was almost perfect. He had to wait until midnight when the fireworks were going off. Then he will have the perfect opportunity for a proposal.

 


He didn't quite believe he was doing it. A few days ago, he wouldn't even think he had a chance, but now he was sure of everything. He loved her and he wanted to show it to her.

 


He didn't expect it to happen someday. He was even willing to attend her and Ian's wedding if that would happen, only out of respect for her. However, fate had other plans for them.

 


-You're here. Can I know where you've gone? I've been looking for you for a good hour.- Aanya said as she approached him. Ezran was standing by the fountain. From here there was a perfect view on the sky where the show was about to start.

 


-Hey. I had to walk for a while.- Ezran said, turning away.- Aanya looked at him in surprise.

 

-Did something happen?- Aanya asked, coming up to him. Ezran hesitantly smiled as he reached into his pocket. With his hand he found the box with the ring his parents had given to him.

 


-No, nothing.- said Ezran, taking his hand out of his pocket.

 


-Ezran, please tell me.- Aanya asked. Ezran was acting strange towards her. He seemed to be thinking about something and refused to say what.

 


-I can't tell yet.- replied Ezran. Aanya had a situation once before when her boyfriend refused to say what was going on. And the idea that it might have happened again was really just scary to her.

 


-If you are deadly ill and you don't want to tell me about it, I will kill you.- Aanya said, trying to hold back the tears that involuntarily fell to her eyes.

 


-What? No, I'm fine...- said Ezran. Aanya breathed a sigh of relief that her little fear was unfounded. But she still wondered what Ezran was thinking.

 


-If you are fine then what is it?- Aanya said. Ezran smiled shyly.

 


-One more moment.- he said, waiting for the moon to be seen from behind the clouds.

 


-For what?- Aanya asked.

 


-For a surprise. Will you wait with me? I promise I'll explain everything at midnight.- Ezran said as he sat down on the edge of the fountain. Aanya hesitantly sat down next to him.


-So Soren left you alone with the fireworks?- Feren asked. He was passing by when he saw Ves carrying boxes with fireworks and setting the above-mentioned firecrackers around the garden by connecting the fuse.

 


-Yes.- Ves nodded, sitting down on a nearby bench. She was about to launch some fireworks into the air as planned by Soren.

 


-But why did you agree to it?- Feren asked.

 


-He meant to do it for Zennya. He wanted to be with her on one of the balconies at night. You understand, show her something wonderful, have some kissing with her and then move the play to a private room.- Ves said.

 


-I see. And you do it?- Asked Feren.

 


-Yes. Claudia is already drunk in our room and I owe him a favor.- Ves replied.

 


-I see. I think I'll stay here , until midnight .- Feren replied, sitting down on the wall next to him.

 


Feren looked up at the sky. The moon was new, which made him feel bad, like any Moonshadow elf. But now he felt fine.

 


-What happened to the boy's mother?- Ves asked suddenly. Hearing this, Feren jumped.

 


-Why is everyone asking about it ?!- he asked furiously. Everyone asked about it, despite the fact that he has already mentioned several times that he does not want to talk about it.

 


-Because people are worried. She is not around and the little one doesn't even seem to know anything about her.Everyone can see that you are hiding something and that you smile artificially sometimes .- Ves explained to him. Feren squeezed his fist with anger. He didn't want to talk about it.

 


-Nope. Anyway, I don't have to confess to you.- he said, turning away.

 


-She's dead, isn't she?- Ves asked. Feren felt something inside him snap.

 


-She died at his birth-. Feren confirmed. He had no strength to pretend otherwise.

 


-That explains why a kid cuddles up to any woman who seems very "motherly" to him. He even asked me if I would be his new mom.- Ves said. Feren looked at her in surprise.

 


-He… What ?!- Feren asked, not quite sure what to say. This was the first time, and he didn't know how to react.

 


-Yes. The kid needs a mother. You may not see it yet, but kids raised without their mothers become callous and often violent. I heard King Harrow ask Geatan about you. You stayed with your father?- Ves asked. Feren nodded reluctantly.

 


-I ... Yes.- he replied. Ves seemed to be a step ahead of him in the conversation and Feren was unable to deny her.

 


-Can be seen. Quiet, insensitive, you stare at everyone, and at the same time you are harsh when someone offers you help. Not to mention that you avoid the subject like fire.- Ves replied. Feren was speechless, understanding that Ves was right.

 


-I ... I don't know what to say...- Feren replied. He didn't want to nod her, even though she was right.

 


-But I know. You have to go out to people after all. Find someone in who you can find support because eventually you will look for it in a child who will not have a way of providing you with this support.- Ves said. Feren was surprised that Ves knew what to do in his situation.

 


-You know a lot about traumas ...- Feren replied.

 


-I know. I was raised by my stepfather, so I know how it is to live without a mother.- Ves replied.

 


-I see. I'm sorry.- Feren replied. Now he understood understanding his case from Ves.

 


-It's fine. Look, I'm not saying that you should marry a random woman, but that you should finally stop hiding behind a wall of "fatherly duties" and go out to people. It will all come out naturally. It may take years, but in the end you can change not only your life but also your son's life.- Ves replied. Feren considered. Maybe he was exaggerating - he tried to spend as much time with his son as possible. He even doubted whether he should go to Callum's wedding, but he was convinced by the fact that there would be other children beside Hader. His son rarely had a chance to play with other kids, which was mainly why Feren had come.

 


-Maybe some day...- Feren answered hesitantly.


-... Callum has been drawing since I can remember. He spent his first day in Silvergrove drawing. He spent half his life looking at sketchbook. He was deeply devoted to this passion, so much so that he could fill such thick sketchbooks in a month.- Ethari replied. Together with Sarai, Harrow, Runaan, and Neha, they talked about the newlyweds.

 


-Talented mage, blacksmith and artist, all rolled into one. Your Majesty's must be proud of your son.- Neha replied.

 


-We just showed him interesting things and he started to improve what he learned.- Sarai replied proud of her son.

 


-And tell me, he's been with Rayla for a long time that close?- Neha asked.

 


-For a good 11 years. He had been in love with her since she kissed him on the cheek when they were kids. And over time, children's crush turned into love. This, in short, is the great love story that is the reason for this wedding.- Ethari replied.

 


-Well, years of learning habits and making friendship.- Neha agreed, nodding that she understood.

 


-And it's still how. You wouldn't find better-tuned kids than they are. They had a bit of a hard childhood, but we did our best with Ethari.- replied Runaan, also proud of his pupils.

 


-I understand...- replied Neha.

 


Suddenly something exploded outside the window. A huge red light appeared in the sky and then disappeared. Immediately after that, a ball of light with a green tail flew upwards to explode in green. More lights began to fly in from the garden, and an esplosion swarmed the sky.

 


-Damn me...- said Harrow, turning to the window. All the guests who had not left their rooms so far turned to watch the explosions through the window.

 


-Neolandian fireworks?- Neha asked. But no one answered her because everyone looked at what was outside the window.

 


-I did not expect ... that it could be like this ...- Runaan did not finish. The show was more beautiful than anything he had seen in his nearly 90 years with Xadia.

 


-Beautiful?- Harrow asked.

 


-Yes.- Runaan replied.

 


-Neither do I.- Harrow said, nodding.


-Surprise.- Soren said, removing the blindfold from Zennya as they reached the right balcony.

 


Zennya opened her eyes to see the fireworks. Those exploded with a bang above her head, far in the sky. Seeing this show of colored light, the elf stared with shock and delight at the sky. There, every now and then, a rockets were launched from the gardens to explode with bright light in the sky.

 


Soren also stared, not at the fireworks, but at the delighted Zennya. Her admiration made her look gorgeous and Soren couldn't turn his back on her.

 


-But ... what is it?- Zennya asked, surprised. Soren scratched his neck and smiled.

 


-Fireworks from Neolandia. It was my gift idea for Callum and Rayla for their wedding. I ordered it at Xadia ...- said Soren. He was glad that Zennyi liked this show so much.

 


-But it's ... beautiful.- Zennya said with delight.

 


-Glad to see what you like it.- replied Soren. He was glad his plan worked as he wanted.

 


-Like it? I love it. It's beautiful.- Zennya said turning to him.

 


-I wanted it to look its best. So you would see that I can ...- Soren paused.

 


-That you can what?- Asked Zennya.

 


-That as a human I am worthy of you and that I can do something that will you love. Forget what I said...- Soren said. Throughout their trip to Xadia, she had shown them all sorts of wonders in this part of the world and Soren just wanted to do the same for her in this part of the world.

 


-Soren. You proved it a long time ago, and if you don't believe in that, know that by arranging this show, you have proved it now .- Zennya said walking up to him. Soren smiled shyly.

 


-Thanks. It's getting late. Maybe we'll go to my house? We'll take some food from the hall and spend time together tomorrow. I'll show you the neighborhood and… -Soren said when suddenly Zennya kissed him, cutting him off. Soren returned the kiss without hesitating.

 


-Just spend time together. Your house sounds interesting.- Zennya said with a smile.

 


-And what could we be doing there, hmmm?- Soren asked, looking at her. Zennya slightly stretching his wings looking at him smiling.

 


-Something that would infuriate Opeli.- Elf replied.

 


-Then lead the way, love.- Soren said, grabbing her hand. Zennya pulled Soren with her, leading him inside the castle.


-And this is supposed to be the surprise? Fireworks?-Aanya asked. Little rockets flew over us with their heads and exploded with colors in quite a beautiful and loud way.

 


-Beautiful isn't it? Soren made arrangements with his wedding gift.- Ezran replied.

 


-Fireworks are expensive, how could he afford it?- Aanya asked. Soren wouldn't have a chance to buy back fireworks on his salary.

 


-I gave him some money. We both needed fireworks.- Ezran replied.

 


-Really?- Aanya asked.

 


-Yes. Now I was going to confess my love and ask for your forgiveness, but this stage is already behind us...- replied Ezran with a smile. Aanya smiled involuntarily and rolled her eyes.

 


-Eh, why did I agree to be with you? Now I'm going to struggle with your bizarre ideas and terrible sense of humor.- Aanya said. It was obviously a joke, Ezran had the right sense of humor according to her.

 


-Probably my magnetic character, great personality and my scars draw you to me.- replied Ezran. Aanya chuckled softly at this deliberately terrible joke.

 


-Maybe unlike your horrible flirting.- Aanya replied.

 

 

-I'm sure my dad wouldn't have done it better.- replied Ezran.

 


-You have humor after him, do you think that an apple has fallen far from an apple tree here?- Aanya asked.

 


-Not at all.- Ezran replied.

 


Sitting silently, Alanya moved closer to Ezran. He hugged her gently as she slightly moved closer to him. In silence, they both watched the fireworks display.


-So they both put the gift together?- Callum asked. They both went out with Rayla on the balcony to watch the fireworks.

 


-Yes. It looks beautiful, doesn't it? -Rayla asked.

 

 

 

-I can't deny it. This is the second most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Right after you.- Callum replied. Rayla, however, walked away a bit from him.

 


Rayla leaned against the balcony railing. It happened - they were married. Rayla felt happiness combined with relief - now she was sure that death would separate them. She doubted sometimes that they would succeed one day - either someone would kill them on their strange adventures, or one would retreat. However, in the end it turned out as she wanted - they were married.

 


However, the fear that she would be alone still was making her feel bad. Right, Callum will be with her, but for how long? 50 years? 60? 70? In the end, she would be left alone, which she feared the most. The thought of getting up every day without him made Rayla feel sad.

 


-Rayla?- Callum asked, feeling Rayla needed him.

 


-I'm sorry about that in the hall ... It's just ... I haven't realized so far ... That you ...- Rayla fell silent. Callum asked her many times about that and she always said yes. She felt stupid and had only now understood the situation they were in.

 


-Hey. Relax. Look, you know it doesn't change anything. Right, I might die, but what is life if not a constant risk? We can die tomorrow, in a week, in a year, in twenty years or even a hundred. However, we have each other, and until then we must enjoy life. I promised you today at the altar that I will love you till the end. And that's what I'm going to do. We have what to do, after all, someone wanted to work on the children ...- Callum said embracing her. Rayla smiled involuntarily and hugged him as well.

 


-Not today. It's just ... I'm in no mood. Besides, there's a new moon and ...- Rayla tried to explain why she didn't want to spend the night like this. She wanted to ... sleep with all of this.

 


-Okay. I understand, you don't need to explain yourself. So what do you want? Callum asked, wanting the best for her.

 


-Go to sleep and cuddle up to you.- Rayla replied.

 


-Let it be so. Well, though, I think it's time for us.- Callum said, extending his hand to her. Rayla smiled seeing his effort.

 


-What about the guests?- She asked.

 


-They'll think we went to consume our marriage. Let them think what they want, now we don't have to hide it .- Callum replied. The last three years they had been hiding with that they are sleeping with each other, after all it was their secret. But now no one had to worry about it - they were married, after all.

 


-At last.- Rayla said taking his hand.


-It looks like after the show.- Ezran said. Moments earlier, the fireworks had ceased and had disappeared from the dark sky. There was silence, uninterrupted by anything.

 


-Mhm. We should be back before… -Aanya said. Ezran suddenly felt his normal leg unresponsive as he stood up and leaned back towards the fountain.

 


-Whoaaa!- Screamed Ezran, trying to find his balance with his hands just before falling into the fountain.

 


-Ezran!- Aanya cried, grabbing him by the caftan. However, instead of stopping him from falling into the fountain, Aanya fell in with him - Ezran was too heavy to hold by her.

 


Before both of them could react, they were both sitting in the center of the fountain wet as hell. As they fell inside, Aanya hit the tiles in the fountain with her elbow and Ezran hit his head against the wall of the fountain. In an instant, Aanya wiped the water off her face and turned to face Ezran who was brushing his hair from his face.

 


-Bloody hell! Ezran?- Aanya called, getting to her knees and moving closer to him.

 


-I know, I'm sorry. My leg went numb and ... You see.- Ezran felt stupid. This was not how he planned it.

 


-Everything's alright? I saw you hit your head against the wall.- Aanya asked. Ezrand is tempted to feel the pain. However, he neither saw blood nor fainted, which only reassured him.

 


-Nothing wrong. Brrrr .... It's cold in here.- Ezran said, feeling the cold water seeped into their clothes.

 


-Yes. Although, we have to get out of here and dry ourselves...- Aanya said, helping him to sit up.

 


-Aanya wait.- said Ezran, putting his hand in his pocket. That wasn't the plan, but the situation was good too - he had the opportunity to propose o her in a unique way now.

 


-What? For what?- Aanya asked, getting up.

 


-We didn't talk ... About ...- Ezran said, rising to his knees. Aanya looked at him as if he was crazy - they fell into the water of cold water where they should go out and warm up, and yet he suddenly felt like talking about a political marriage.

 


-We'll talk about our marriage elsewhere.- Aanya replied.

 


-It's not the point. Look ... I've already made up my mind. I understand if you don't see it like I do, but it's hard. If I have to, I'll wait.- said Ezran. Aanya didn't quite understand what it was about.

 


-Ezran about what are you...- Aanya suddenly understood as Ezran reached into his pocket for a small box.

 


-About that. I wanted to do it right. So ... Aanya, will you do me this honor and ... Will you marry me?- Asked Ezran. Suddenly he felt a strange fear - what was he doing best? He explained nothing, told her almost nothing, and he did it in a pretty bad situation. It couldn't work.

 


There was silence. Aanya didn't know what to say. After all, he still wanted to be with her, even marry her. Aanya smiled seeing this unusual engagement from a prince so loved by him.

 


-Yes.- Aanya replied. Ezran looked at her in surprise while she smiled. Instantly, Ezran was overcome with euphoria and joy.

 


-There is! Woooo!- Ezran shouted, almost jumping up. Suddenly his wooden leg slumped, causing Ezran to fall again, this time on his arm, into the water.

 


-Ezran! Are you okay?-Aanya asked, kneeling beside him again. Ezran at that time kept the box with the ring open, away from the water.

 


-Yes ... Brrrr ... It's cold.- replied Ezran, standing up. He was all wet.

 


-Let's get out of here. One more moment and you'll catch a cold.- Aanya said, pulling him out of the water. With her help, Ezran got out of the water and the two of them went to the castle.

Chapter Text

Callum got up in the morning cuddled up to Rayla. Opening his eyes, he noticed that she was hugging him tightly, being as close as possible. Callum smiled knowing how much his wife needed this closeness.

 


His wife. He didn't believe that they would ever succeed. He hoped that they might be together someday, but in the end they made it and now they were both sure of their love. Callum felt happy.

 


-Callum?- Rayla raised her head slightly, feeling that he moved.

 


-Yes, honey?- Callum asked.

 


-What time is it?- Rayla asked, rubbing her eyes.

 


-It's long after dawn. Somewhere around noon.- Callum said, looking through the window. They slept for a long time, but now they could do it. No saving themselves or world, no worries about future - everything was fine.

 


-So, it's still "Good morning" my love.- Rayla replied opening her eyes.

 


-Mhm. Did you sleep well? -Callum asked. Last night, her mood was in poor shape, but now Rayla seemed even fine.

 


-I am much better. Thanks.- Rayla said looking at him.

 


-I'm glad.- Callum replied.

 


There was silence. They sat in silence for a long moment, simply enjoying themselves, but then Rayla stretched and moved closer to Callum.

 


-Haven't you forgotten about something?- Rayla asked with a strange smile.

 


-About what?- Callum asked.

 


-I hope you locked the door.- Rayla said looking at the door to the room.

 


-Closed. So ... How are you feeling?- Callum asked, not quite knowing where it was going.

 


-Quite well. But now I have other needs.- Rayla said, climbing herself onto Callum. He blushed slightly.

 


-What "needs"?- Callum asked.

 


-Well ...- Rayla whispered the rest of the words in his ear. Hearing this, Callum blushed deeply.

 


-Oh ...- Callum blushed, imagining what Rayla had described to him. He was sure - his wife was in a very good mood. Seeing his reaction, Rayla laughed.

 


-Sorry ... Your reaction was incredibly funny.- Rayla said trying to stop the laugh.

 


-I know. You are the best in making me feel embarrassed . But yeah, I'll do it.- Callum replied buttoning off his pajama shirt.

 


-I hope. After all, someone mentioned working on children yesterday.- Rayla replied.


Aanya woke up hearing a sneezing next to her. She opened her eyes to discover that she was laying next to Ezran. She quickly jumped out of bed in case anyone would walk in here. She was wearing Ezran's shirt that he lent her as her pajamas.

 


-Ugh ...- Ezran groaned. Alanya touched his forehead which felt very warm. Even so, Ezran was shaking like it was winter and someone opened the window.

 


-Who could think about that? Your proposal backfired.- Aanya asked, guessing that Ezran had caught a cold.

 


-End me. Please ... -replied Ezran, curling up in the cold.

 


-Come on, sorry. How are you feeling? -Aanya asked as he sat down next to him. The question sounded stupid in her head - it was obvious that it was wrong with him.

 


-Badly. Everything hurts, I sneeze, and I give my word it's damn cold.- Ezran replied. In confirmation of his words, he sneezed loudly.

 


-Eh, poor guy. Wait here, I'll help.- Aanya said, covering him.

 


-I wonder why ... you want ...-replied Ezran.

 


-We are engaged. Why should I not worry about you? -Aanya asked, getting up from the bed.

 


-I don't know ... My head hurts.- said Ezran.

 


-Stay here. I'll go to the hospital wing for medicine.- Aanya said, checking if her clothes were already dry. As it turned out, they are already dry.

 


-Thanks...- Ezran sneezed loudl -You know I love you, right?- Ezran asked as Aanya entered behind screen that Ezran had set up in the room the night before.

 


-I know. I love you too, Ezran.- Aanya replied.

 


Aanya quietly dressed in her clothes and left the room. She headed towards the castle hospital. It was only then that she noticed that she was wearing a ring that Ezran slipped on her finger as they went to sleep. Aanya smiled - if this was her fate, she was glad that she would share it with her beloved prince of Katolis.

 


Thinking about it, she entered the room where the hospital was located. The room, despite the beds, equipment and cabinets, was empty. On;y inside sat Sarai who was obviously not in a good mood.

 


-Your Highness.- Aanya bowed as she entered the room. Seeing her, Sarai smiled without conviction.

 


-Hi. Where were you with Ezran? You disappeared at the end of the wedding.- Sarai asked.

 


-We had an honest conversation at the fountain. Later we went to sleep.- Aanya said.

 


-I see. I hope it only ended with the ring. -Sarai said looking at Aanya's hand. Alanya looked at the ring, a little surprised.

 


-What? Oh yeah. Nothing else happened.- Aanya replied blushing. She wasn't that close with Ezran.

 


-Relax. I believe you. -Sarai replied, seeing the princess's reaction.

 


-Thank you. And what is Your Majesty bringing to the hospital? -Aanya asked.

 


-This time of the month. I'm here for some healing tea to calm me.- Sarai replied.

 


-I see. Nasty thing.- Aanya answered, understanding the pain Sarai was going through.

 


-Yes. But it is natural. I hope Ezran did it right yesterday.- Sarai replied.

 


-With a ring? Yes, Your Majesty.- Aanya agreed.

 


-Easy. Call me Sarai.- Sarai replied.


-We ... We never had such an order.- replied Liadrin. Until now, they had produced a modest 100 barrels a year, but the current order was larger than others they had previously had.

 


In the morning, through Harrow, Geatan and Liadri met the merchant Victor van Graff, a local alcohol merchant. They had already done business with him and knew that he was a reliable merchant who respects the people he does business with.

 


-I see. But I hope you can deliver 500 barrels within a year.- Victor replied. Geatan, however, was quickly calculating. The advance payment and their savings were quickly converted into material, employment of assistants, transport and transit across the border in his head.

 


-Fine. We can do it for the initial bid. Expect the first delivery in two months.- Geatan replied after a quick calculation. Liadrin looked at him and nodded, also counting the pros and cons in her head.

 


-I see. It's a pleasure doing business with you.- van Graff replied, rising from the table.

 


-Pleasure is ours.- answered Liadrin, and the merchant shook hands with both of them.


-Relax. You know what my mom is like. After all, it shouldn't be too bad.- Soren assured her as they walked through the gardens.

 


-What if she won't accept me?- Zennya asked.

 


-You know it won't be like that.-Soren said, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

 


Soren lightly tugged Zennya with him. She reluctantly followed him to the elderly woman sitting on the bench. Soren's mother admired the flowers in the garden. Seeing someone coming, she turned to face them.

 


-So? It took a while for you to admit to me you are together.- The old woman said looking at them holding hands. Soren lightly scratched the back of his neck and Zennya looked down slightly.

 


-Yes, well ... it turned out bad last time, so on we came to do it right. Zennya, this is my mom, Lisa. Mom, meet Zennya, my girlfriend.- Soren said. Seeing this, Lisa smiled.

 


-I can die in peace now.- she laughed at which Soren looked at her with concern.

 


-Mom!- Soren exclaimed, not wanting her to joke like that.

 


-I'm kidding. I'm glad you are happy.- Lisa replied.

 


-Thank you.- Zennya replied.

 


-Well, my dear. I fried pancakes, you will eat some and tell a little more about it.- Lisa said getting up from the bench.

 


-Alright.- replied Soren.

 


-I'd love to.- Zennya agreed.


-I wasn't expecting that it will end this way.- said Tiadrin. They just got up because Aayla woke them up. The little elf was hungry and after feeding her, she wanted very much to play with Tiadrin's hand. For several minutes she had been looking at hand with interest, squeezing on it her fingers.

 


-Like what?- Lain asked, sitting down next to Tiadrin.

 


-Our daughter married a human prince. Ten years ago I would have laughed it off.- said Tiadrin. In the past, she would not have expected it to happen, but time has verified it.

 


-Now it's hard to argue with that. Callum's a good guy, you know.- Lain said.

 


-I know. Who would have thought that by pure chance and the political movement of Avizandum, we would have a son-in-law?- Tiadrin laughed.

 


-Nobody expected. But what can we do about it? Now we can only expect grandchildren.-Lain laughed.

 


-Lain!- Tiadrin lightly hit him with her elbow, laughing.

 


-What? I'm sure Aayla would like to be an aunt. Right, little one?- Lain said, tickling the little elf's belly. But instead of laughing Aayla looked at him displeased.

 


-She would like you to rewind her. Do you feel?- Said Tiadrin. Lain sniffed and smelled a full diaper as well.

 


-Unfortunately, yes.- Lain replied, picking up the little elf.


Han woke up early in the morning. What surprised him, Ellis was not next to him, although she was the one who slept longer than he did. The bodyguard sat down and examined the room they were in. The small room was full - inside was a wardrobe, a table with a mirror, a chair and a desk. It was the desk where he noticed that Ellis was in her pajamas writing something.

 


Han quietly got up from the bed and kissed Ellis on her neck when she put away the pen from the book in which she was writing something.

 


-Heavens! Han! -Ellis screamed in horror.

 


-Good morning, honey.- Han laughed, glad that he managed to scare his fiancée.

 


-Damn it, I told you not to sneak like that.- Ellis replied looking at him furiously.

 


-I couldn't help myself. What are you writing?- Han asked looking over her shoulder. He hugged her from behind and looked at what Ellis was doing.

 


-Nothing much.- Ellis said, giving him the extensive book she was working on.

 


Han looked closely at the book. The cover was titled "The Tale of Callum and Rayla - Heroes and Lovers Who Brought Peace". Han read a few pages from the half-written book to discover that it contained all of Callum and Rayla's story with their adventures. The whole thing was extensive and only seemed to be half finished.

 


-The story of Rayla and Callum?- Han asked.

 


-Yes. You know, their history is long and interesting. This is material for a story about life, politics, love, tolerance, common decency and being great despite wanting to be small. See what path they have traveled, what they have achieved together, how many lives they saved, how much they have done and what our known world owes to them. It's a long story, but neatly summarized in a book.- Ellis replied. She wanted to somehow write down their adventures that changed the world. Ellis knew this story would be a great-selling book.

 


-Not finished as I suppose.- Han replied, seeing that the book was halfway through.

 


-Not. You know, every book needs a good ending. Every story deserves a proper ending. However ... Their end, although they lived happily ever after, is not exactly what the readers would like. They would prefer action, romance, surely a few dirty scenes, blood and guts and a few sarcastic jokes.- Ellis replied. Today people wanted something to happen and the calm plot wasn't exactly what they wanted.

 


"You don't have to worry about the latter, Rayla will give you plenty of it," Han replied. Ellis laughed slightly.

 


-I know. It's just ... It's hard for me to believe it's over. Not the beginning of the end, nor the end of the beginning, but the truest end. That after I publish this book it will be enough - no more will be known about the fate of Rayla and Callum. That no one will want to write a sequel that is boring.- Ellis replied.

 


-You know ... There is something in it. But isn't that better? They deserve a quiet end and peaceful life in the comfort of their home.- Han replied.

 


-Yes. Though readers would prefer the story to go on.- Ellis said.

 


-Who knows, maybe someday we will need someone to describe the continuation about Rayla and Callum from Silvergrove.- Han said, embracing Ellis even tighter.

 


-Maybe ... Maybe someday...- Ellis said with a smile. She even knew who exactly about who Han was thinking.


Finally, the world has become a better place. Wars, famines, and plagues had bypassed the continent for centuries. It was a Golden Age for the Human Kingdoms and Xadia.

 


Katolis and Duren were connected by a personal union which for centuries made these countries united into a power capable of competing with Xadia. Despite separate armies, treasuries and inside politics, the two countries did not try to connect completely - history has already known cases of such efforts being not worth it making only ruins remain.

 


Del-Bar grew into power very quickly and in few decades lost it very quickly. Nevertheless, it became a relatively powerful kingdom that could rival Katolis by power. It also overshadowed Neoland and Evenere, who were not fortunate enough to develop so rapidly.

 


Xadia lasted for centuries and nothing indicated the collapse of this enormous state. On the throne sat Azymondias, who was known for his sympathy for humans and unusual friendship with a young elf named Hader.

 


Everyone who came to Callum and Rayla's wedding returned to their homes and activities a few days after the wedding. Some did it slowly and lazily, others had to do it efficiently and quickly - as it happens in politics.

 


Runaan and Etharii continued to live in Silvergrove. Although it was not the same when Callum and Rayla lived with them, they continued to enjoy their lives, always advising the young couple they raised until the end of their days.

 


Lain and Tiadrin dedicated themselves to raising Aayla, who joined Silvergrove City Watch as she grew up. Then she became one of the most distinguished and most decorated officers there. Her parents were proud of both daughters who achieved so much.

 


Liadrin and Geatan continued their economic activities in the production of wine. Over the years, their little winery has grown to become one of the largest wineries in Xadia, and under the leadership of them and their children, it has become the main distributor of wine to the human kingdoms. The quality of the wine, despite the increase in its number, has not decreased, which has earned the winery a good name and loyal customers.

 


Janai and Amaya never married. They kept their romance a secret for decades to come. This was helped by the fact that due to the alliance between Xadia, Katolis and the rest of human kingdoms, the Katolis army held a garrison as a form of support for Lux Aurea. Since then, the rumor of an alleged romance between the Queen of Elves and a certain General of Katolis has been high-profile.

 


Feren remarried to the Sunfire Elf after a few years. Together with her, he raised Hader to be one of the best Dragon Guardians of his time. He died with his second wife during a fight in northeast Xadia. The bandits responsible for this were brought to justice by the son of the killed Guardian - Hader Thunderbearer.

 


Soren and Zennya moved to Katolis. In the outskirts of the capital, they lived in a house that always smelled of fresh bread and where guests were welcome at any time of the day or night.

 


Neha ruled Duren for many more years until a heart attack took her life 7 years after Callum and Rayla married. Her funeral was one of the largest ever held in Duren.

 


Claudia advised the kings of Katolis for many long years. Over time, she began to be regarded as a high authority, and thanks to her influence, she managed to found the Katolis Academy of Magic and Wizardry with Ves, where she taught the use of Primal Magic to young talented humans who began to replace the Dark Mages. Thanks to this, less than thirty years after the Academy was founded, Dark Magic was forgotten and its last users either adopted Primal Magic or were imprisoned. It was an irony of fate - in the past those mages who were now shackled were respected with full honours.

 


Despite the clashes between them, Eleanor and Geren finally got married and spent almost 230 years together. They both died at the age of 250, becoming the longest-lived Moonshadow Elves the world has ever seen.

 


Ellis and Han continued to travel the world and wrote many books about Xadia and the human kingdoms. It was only when their first daughter was born that they decided to settle in the Moon Nexus. From then on, they were the new keepers of the Nexus to the end of their days.

 


Harrow and Sarai ruled Katolis until they felt they had enough. Eventually, Harrow abdicated, returning the throne to Ezran, while he and Sarai settled down at Banter Lodge. They lived and rested there during their "retirement", often playing with their grandchildren until the end of their lives.

 


Dmitri tried to be the best ruler Del-Bar has ever had. Under his supervision, his country became a military and economical power, and after his death, people called him Dmitri I Great. The irony of fate, however, was that his son Vlad III Impatient had to waste his father's achievements by his wrong decisions. As always, nothing was permanent.

 


Ibis and Lujanne spent the rest of their lives living in Moon Nexus. It was a peaceful and quiet place where longing magicians could finally spend the last moments of their lives in silence. Lujanne died twenty years after Callum and Rayla were married. After her death, Ibis headed east to disappear without a trace. At the same time, the Archmages of the Skywing Elves who look after the Great Library reported two ghosts that appeared in the old library.

 


Ezran and Aanya, despite the accumulation of duties, tried to maintain the union of Katolis with Duren. Eventually, their children sat on the thrones of both kingdoms, starting a long alliance lasting up to 400 years. In addition to their sense of politics, they both tried to focus on development and became the founders of two Academies - Ezran became the patron of the Academy of Magic and Wizardry in Katolis and Aanya of the University of Modern Medicine in Duren. Despite this, their lives were not always colorful - Ezran sharply criticized the choice of his daughter's husband, with which his wife did not agree.

 


As for Callum and Rayla, you probably know how it ended. They lived happily ever after in their home in Silvergrove. After all, they wanted it, right?