The war is now over, thanks to the companions. Revanth and Astrid stay in her father’s castle, though his uncle takes his army home.
“I promised you something,” Astrid said later that night after dinner. She and her friends had gathered in the solarium to talk.
“What’s that?” Alton asked.
“I made Velda a promise that once we returned, I would help you find a place to call home. Papa has agreed that anywhere which meets your needs, will be yours. So, tomorrow, we will ride about the kingdom, and see what we can find; a place of water and trees, where you can live.”
“I would like that,” Alton said. “We have wandered far too long. This is most gracious of your father.”
“You have saved us all more times than can be easily counted,” Astrid said. “You gave me back Revanth and saved my parents and our home…. You are a hero, Alton, and will be treated as such.”
“To both our peoples,” Revanth added. “Not to mention, that fire trick is pretty handy. How did you manage all that? I didn’t think you had that much power.”
Alton sighed, bowing his head. “I must confess, I didn’t, until I killed Topaz. Somehow, her energy didn’t dissipate with her death, it filled me instead. I now channel her power within me.”
“Aren’t you afraid that you’ll become a target for someone like Rialtia?” Astrid gasped.
Alton shrugged, shaking his head. “You saw what I can do. And you still worry?” He smiled, leaning forward. “And what of you? Dropping fireballs with just a word. That, my lass, is impressive.”
“But at what cost? It might have killed me if I’d continued.”
“Only because I wasn’t there to help you. I think if we work together, along with Velda, we will make a formidable team should anyone come hunting.”
“What of Revanth? Can he help us?” Astrid asked, taking her husband’s hand.
Alton made a disgusted face, trying not to laugh. “Certainly, if there’s oats to eat. The magic in him is so weak, it’s practically nonexistent. But since he’s a good fellow, we’ll let him join us.”
He winked at his friend. There was more to Revanth than the others knew, and he intended to keep that a secret as long as possible. Were it known that the Crown Prince and his wife could wield magic, there might be some who’d be tempted to come along and test it.
The following day, they rode out early, making a breakfast on the crest of a sunny hill. Below, in a shallow valley, they found the perfect spot for Alton and Velda. There was a deep, clear pool with a rushing stream leading to and from it. It was surrounded by trees, who housed a group of wood sprites. These folk welcomed them happily, little caring that Velda was a naiad. The water nymphs were delighted to see her and made her feel right at home.
“We’ll build a home here,” Velda decided. “It needn’t be large, just for the two of us.”
“There will be more one day,” Alton said with confidence. “I promised you children, my love. I shall give you children.”
She grew very quiet, not believing, but not wanting to lose hope, either. They made plans to come back in a few days, and start building their home. Already, Alton had plans, and he shared them with the wood sprites and naiads, but would not tell Velda anything.
“It’s a surprise.”
That night, there was a feast, and they all stayed up late, drinking, dancing and having a wonderful time. A messenger came from Olster that he was safely home, and confirming that he and his sister-in-law would visit soon.
Gathered once more in the solarium, the women sat apart, making plans for the new home, and even talking about a place for Revanth and Astrid to live nearby. The men sat together, sipping wine and talking quietly.
“How can you be so sure that you can give Velda the children she craves?” Revanth asked.
“It’s something little known about my people,” Alton said. “And I swear you to the greatest silence here.”
Revanth nodded solemnly.
“You know we gad about, my folk—especially the men. As much as we share our seed, we’d have saplings hither and yon. You wouldn’t be able to piss without splashing one of us. So….” He leaned closer. “We men can make ourselves infertile by eating of a special herb. Until we make a commitment to a special woman, we don’t allow ourselves to beget children.”
“But you could have done this at any time?”
“Until she was ready to commit, to accept me as her husband, I didn’t want to. How would you feel if you had to walk away from your child? What if she grew angry, pushed me away? How could I do that to my son or daughter?”
“I take your meaning.”
“I quit taking the herb after taking Topaz’s power. If she’s not already with child, she will be soon. Speaking of which…. I hope you’ve got a room for a babe chosen.”
“A what? A—do you mean?”
Alton touched the side of his nose and winked.
“How do you know?”
“Two heartbeats. These pointy ears are good for something other than tracking game.”
Revanth’s family came as planned and both young couples renewed their vows before the family priest. The guests had brought gifts for all. Velda found herself in possession of more trinkets and gadgets than she’d ever dreamed of. Her favorite gift was from Astrid’s parents. They’d had a necklace crafted from river crystals in shades of blue and green. In a collar shape, each piece dangled from a silver chain in irregular droplets like rain.
That night, Alton was extra attentive, seeing to it his wife lacked nothing—not food nor drink. He danced with her, leading her around the dance floor as if his feet had wings. Later, in their room, he made quiet, gentle love to her, caressing her body with assiduous care. As they lay together later, he cradled her head on his chest and smiled, for he heard not just two heartbeats, but three. Laying his hand on her belly, he sent a gentle wave of golden magic to protect their children, and help them grow. Smiling to himself, he kissed Velda’s brow.
“I promised, my love. I promised.”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes