The tension in the throne room made Kun's already labored breathing even worse. He could feel the gash in his abdomen opening with every quick breath he took. The weight on his shoulders seemed to double in size with every second that passed.
Kun could feel his body getting heavier and heavier, making his already wobbly legs shake even more, threatening to give up at any moment. The only thing keeping Kun from hitting the ground was Yukhei's sure but careful grip, one of Kun's arms wrapped around his neck and with his other arm, Yukhei wrapped Kun's waist in a side hug, supporting the older man's weight fully against him. Kun's free hand was trying to press on the wound in his abdomen, but he shouldn't be doing a good job since Yangyang's hands were also there to help.
Still, even with the environment so oppressive around him, Kun couldn't find any strength inside him to leave.
And how could he when everything that's happening now was partly his fault?
“I can't decide if you take me for a fool or if you're one yourself, Your Majesty” The Dark Elf King's deep and powerful voice made every hair on Kun's body stand on end, and not in a good way.
Kun wasn't used to that cold tone his king carried, perhaps it was the fact that before he called Sicheng ‘King of the Dark Elves’ , Kun was used to just calling him Sichengie — or perhaps, and that much more likely, Kun wasn't used to the coldness in the man's voice and actions because his king never behaved that way towards Kun.
Sicheng was one of the more reserved members of the royals, but not with his Kun-ge, not with the other elf who had treated Sicheng for hundreds of years as if he were his little brother. But the situation they were in demanded his firm and impenetrable stance.
“I understand your fears, Your Majesty. I would be surprised if you didn't suspect me and our intentions.” Jaehyun's voice carried the same tone of determination and coldness as Sicheng, but at no time did he seem to be acting with sarcasm or mockery, which if Kun was being honest, was what he half expected from the King of the Light Elves.
“So, as a King,” Sicheng interrupts Jaehyun, not giving him space to continue, “you know how difficult it's for me to open the doors of my castle and take the word of one of my enemies.”
“We are not enemies-” the voice that sounded next to the King of the Ljósálfar made Kun close his eyes. Yongqin is always so stubborn. He was grateful that Yukhei and Yangyang were there supporting his body, because if Kun hadn't passed out before he was very close to it now.
“We are not allies either.” Doyoung, War General of the Dökkálfar , cut off the speech with a look as sharp as his tongue. Kun was grateful for that.
Everyone in the throne room was visibly nervous, all they didn't need was Yongqin's explosive behavior and sharp tongue to show off.
“You're right, General. We aren't allies, but we aren't your enemies, at least not anymore." King Jaehyun took back control of the conversation “I know that it's hard to take my word for it, but I cannot offer you more than that for you to believe me.”
The silence that followed was unsettling. Restless.
“I take your word for it, Jaehyun. It’s just… disturbing to receive with open arms in my house the King of the Ljósálfar answering a cry for help that was never sent to them and with a promise of an alliance with the Dökkálfar .” Sicheng reflected, his voice now much closer to the tone Kun was used to.
The question that all the elves who were witnessing the discussion in the throne room would be asking themselves was just one: why?
However, the reason that none of the dark elves or light elves had asked such a question, was because all of them knew the answer. They already knew the reason why for the first time in hundred years the Elven Kings of Ljósálfar and Dökkálfar came together.
Kun and Yongqin were the reason.
For thousands of years, the elves remained separate and that is exactly how it should be. After all, they were, by nature, different from each other. Light Elves ( Ljósálfar ), were not meant to mix with Dark Elves ( Dökkálfar ), nor the other way around.
It was better this way, according to the ancestors. The dark and light elves wouldn't be made of such different essences if that wasn't how the gods wanted them to be.
The two elven peoples lived in harmony, in a way. They all dwelt in Alfheim , a world given to them by the Great Gods.
The Ljósálfar stayed South of Alfheim, close to the beaches — their home was always warm, even in winters the sun didn't lose intensity; the land living up to the name of the Light Elves. Meanwhile, the Dökkálfar inhabited the lands of the North, closer to the dense forests and crystal-clear waterfalls — their home was much colder than the South, but just as beautiful and kind to the Dark Elves because they didn't judge by appearance, knowing how to admire the beauty of what was different.
In the early years that they inhabited Alfheim, light and dark elves minimally interacted with each other. Over the years and as each kingdom began to settle, its population grew and thrived, their differences were further exposed by the prejudices of their leaders, they severed the already fragile ties of their relationship once and for all.
Over the centuries, hatred and contempt penetrated like a plague into both peoples.
The Ljósálfar taught their children from an early age to fear and hate the dark elves, saying that the fruit of their magic was evil, that they were cruel and corrupted the souls of anyone who got too close, disturbances of peace and balance they were called.
The Dökkálfar grew in spite and contempt for being judged so cruelly for being different, though their powers thrived in shadows and had a certain fondness for war and taste for blood, they weren't evil and never afflicted evil for pleasure; weak and manipulative, was how they described light elves.
Still, not even the years and years of separatist tradition, of beliefs fueled by prejudice, hatred, and rancor couldn't stop the overwhelming passion that blossomed and united the heart of Ten, a Ljósálfar , with Kun's, a Dökkálfar .
The story between Kun and Yongqin was complicated, and if they were being honest, it sounded like a stupid fairy tale story that doesn't fulfill the role of scaring the kids and teaching them a lesson.
They met at random, most with Kun nearly getting run over by Yongqin's horse, which had knocked his owner down and fled after an attack by a Draugr . The dark elves had been suffering for over a century from the presence of these creatures that still walked even after death. They managed to come out pretty well, but in the last decade the Draugrs appeared more often, they were stronger and in greater numbers as well, killing more and more dark elves.
Kun used his powers to calm the horse (and an apple he carried in his pocket). The scent of a Draugr's rotting blood on the animal's fur didn't escape the elf's attention, so with another spell, Kun sent the horse back the way it had come.
Kun never liked the killing. He was the Tutor and Sorcerer of the royal family, not a soldier. But the constant attacks and deaths of the elves drastically reduced their numbers and even if Kun didn't like it, it was his duty to protect everyone, either using his sword or his magic. Kun is indeed powerful, but magic exacts a very high price when used — and the number of his enemies was frighteningly high for Kun to be able to do anything before magic consumed and killed him; something that almost happened once.
Following the frightened horse had had an effect, Kun found and killed three of the monsters that attacked the animal, and the owner of that mount.
Kun saved Yongqin's life.
He didn't have the duty or even need to save that idiot light elf who was reckless enough to take a chance in a trail infested by Draugr's . But that wasn't Kun's nature. He wasn't an indifferent elf, and even though a small voice in his head told him it was better to just go away, Kun knew that he couldn't leave a wounded elf behind, no matter what species he was.
The Ljósálfar slept all the way to the house that Kun had nearby. It was a little abandoned, as he spent more time inside the palace than in his own home, but still provided everything Kun needed to bring the light elf back to consciousness and to — not without a little discomfort and fear for Kun —, treat and keep the other elf there for two weeks while Kun healed the deep cut on Ljósálfar's leg that prevented him from mounting his horse and going home.
And for the longer Kun and Yongqin were in each other's presence, more their hearts and senses drifted away from the conceptions of fear and danger they were taught when they were children.
Kun discovered after a few days that the Ljósálfar he saved in the forest was called Yongqin. And only after he was completely convinced that Kun wouldn't kill him, Yongqin revealed that he was part of the Kingsguard of the Ljósálfar and that he had, quite shamefully, been lost in the forest that delimits the two elven lands.
For Yongqin's defense, this was the first time he was sent to the border between realms. It was usually a task given to other soldiers, but Jaehyun was forced to send one of his personal guards when the villagers asked for help and intervention from their king to deal with the monsters that the Dökkálfar had supposedly sent to terrorize them — which now Yongqin knew wasn't the truth, and with Kun's help, Yongqin was able to understand what kind of monster the dark elves had been fighting for so long.
Contrary to what Kun believed, Yongqin's departure didn't mean that was the last time he would see a Ljósálfar — or Yongqin himself.
“S-sorry for my impoliteness in interrupting, Y-Your Majesty…” Kun was feeling a little dizzy, he didn't recognize the owner of the soft voice that was present in the silence of the hall until their eyes met, “I-I'm Xiao Dejun, Royal Advisor and most likely the culprit for your disturbance now, as I have advised my King to come here.” The counselor dared to look at Sicheng, waiting for any sign of discomfort or anger. He was nervous to be intruding like this (and mentally thanked when he felt his lover, Hendery General of the Ljósálfar , get a little closer to him, always protecting and supporting), but when neither Jaehyun nor Sicheng interrupted, Dejun continued
“I know that I do not carry the weight that Your Majesties carry on my shoulders, nor will I be the one who will have to deal with any consequences of the decision made here today, but one of yours…” Dejun’s gaze shifted from Sicheng to Kun, “showed and made us see how much we're losing by living based on the beliefs of our ancestors. The story doesn't have to continue as it is. You are the kings now and you both know there is more to us than just being a Dökkálfar or Ljósálfar .”
“We don't need to change everything, our customs or our lives. But your enemy can and from the way they are moving, will become our enemy as well. We can fight against them now. Together.” Jaehyun said.
“It won't be easy…” everyone's attention turned to Kun, surprised. Almost as if wondering how he could still speak or even be conscious after being wounded by a Draugr and used so much of his magic to scare away a group of them alone. But Kun couldn't pay attention to anyone other than Yongqin, who also had his eyes fixed on Kun and practically burned with the intensity with which he stared at him. Kun could tell that the younger was struggling to not run over there.
“But if we join forces now, I think…”
“That we will finally live in true peace.” Kun couldn't help the feeling of pride swelling in his chest as Sicheng completed his words.
He watched the way his king managed to get all the elves to release the air they were holding, giving discreet smiles and relaxing with the words that confirmed an agreement being sealed between the two peoples.
However, Yongqin's happiness didn't last long, not when with horror he saw Kun's smile fade as the darkness embraced him and he passed out in Yukhei and Yangyang's arms.
“He'll be fine,” Taeyong said in a soft tone but Sicheng was able to hear the tiredness in the other elf's voice. After all, Taeyong had spent the last few hours tending to the wounds on Kun's body and his magic.
“Are you sure?” Yongqin couldn't help but ask, not that he didn't believe the Dökkálfar's word, but the sight of his Kun lying on his bed… he looked so frail, so pale, purple marks under his eyes proving that he hadn't slept well in days and that damn wound in his belly…
The Ljósálfar entourage bumped into Kun, Yukhei, and Yangyang on their way to the dark elves' castle and they were under attack. The Draugrs had never come so close to the castle and their numbers were frightening. Many were already dead, but others were still standing and resisting, and even though the light elves helped to eliminate those that remained, Yongqin couldn't shake the guilt from within his chest, Kun's wound was caused when Yongqin called out to him, diverting Kun's attention away from a Draugr that plunged his sword into his abdomen.
“Yes, Yongqin, I'm sure of it. However, Kun's magic took a lot from him, the wound only made it more difficult but he'll recover, all his body and magic need now is for him to rest.”
“Thank you, Taeyong. Kun told me you were the best healer they ever had.”
“Oh, that sounds like our Kunnie.” Taeyong smiled “And as the best healer, everyone should obey when I say it's time for us to rest, hm? It has been a very long day and night, and other days like this still await us. But for now, we must rest.”
No elf dared protest the healer's words. Sicheng was the first to leave, followed by Yukhei and Yangyang, Jaehyun said goodbye with a slight wave, followed by Hendery and Dejun.
Nobody asked why Yongqin stayed behind.
Unfortunately for Yongqin, his sleep was short. Even though he was tired from all the events, he couldn't sleep for a long time. The light elf didn't mind that, he much preferred being able to watch the peace and serenity on Kun's face as he slept. He didn't even notice his beloved awakening until he heard his voice.
“Hi, darling” Yongqin didn’t know his heart could beat that fast, just a glimpse of Kun’s dark eyes and smile and he's already completely surrendered, “How you feeling?”
“As if I had been trampled by an army of Valkyries,” if it weren't for the playful tone in Kun's beautiful voice, Yongqin would have run as fast as he could to call the healer back.
“You scared me so much when you passed out, Kunnie.” Yongqin watched Kun's eyes change from confusion to realization, the dark elf probably didn't remember how he ended up in his room.
“I'm sorry… I-I just… I didn't think of myself when one word and all of you could have been hurt, everything could get even worse. I-I had to stay there. I wouldn't forgive me if you-”
“Shh, shh… it's okay baby. Don't think about it too much, okay?” Yongqin interrupted Kun's confused words with a soft kiss on the elf's full lips. Partly because he didn't want to stress Kun any further, and partly because he was dying to taste those sweet, soft lips of Kun's again.
“What matters now is that it worked. We managed to make this meeting happen. Everything will be fine. We are fine.”
Kun's smile stole all the air from Yongqin's lungs, maybe he should be really worried about the way the other one affected him easily.
“Thank you, Yongqin. I couldn't make it without your help”
“I promised you, didn't I? If not here, then in Víðbláinn. But-”
“But we stayed together.” Kun completed with another perfect smile on his face that drew Yongqin into another kiss.
“Our kings accepted the deal, maybe it's a sign from the Gods saying we don't need to get to Víðbláinn to be able to stay like this, you know?”
“Hm, you're right.” It wasn't difficult to read Kun's words between the lines, both also prayed that heaven wasn't the only place they could be together.
“We still have a long way to go…”
“Yes, we do. But right now, the only way I want to take is the one that leads me to your lips.” Yongqin couldn't hold back a smirk when he saw Kun's cheeks turn a beautiful shade of red, praise gushing from his mouth nonstop like an endless waterfall. He couldn't quench his thirst for Kun with just one kiss, so he gave him another.
And another one.
Not for the first time since meeting him, Yongqin wondered if ever in history a Ljósálfar fell as deeply in love with a Dökkálfar as he was in love with Kun.