Contest Excerpt 4

Hesitant to leave Cana alone with VelvetWind, he paused. Turning to face VelvetWind, he looked deep into her eyes, as if to search out her answer on whether this was acceptable to her.

“I will be fine,” Velvet said.

“It’s not really you, I am concerned for, my love,” he stated, plainly referring to Cana.

Just go, please, I promise not to kill her until after we recover the armor,” she thought, irritated.

“You may change your mind, after you hear the rest of my ‘lies by omission’, as you so rightfully call them,” said Cana, calmly.

“And that!” VelvetWind said. “Constantly feeding off our minds and intruding on our thoughts. Don’t think that has escaped my attention.”

“I assure you, hearing your thoughts can be far more painful and damaging to others than you could possibly realize,” Cana argued.

“And I suppose it troubles you Zathyrens, what we pathetic Ethyreans, restrained by all our Codes and morals, think.”

“No, only what you think matters to me.”

“Really? Well, that’s news to me.”

Elrick shook his head as he walked away from the two women as they continued to argue. Determined to be available to her if she needed him, he granted them their distance and strained to hear them over the surf of the Safyr Sea.

“Do you really hate me so? Sit down, my child,” he heard Cana say. “I fear you will not hear the rest of this tale so easily.”

Elrick watched from afar as the other Brethren settled in around the LifeFire. He turned and saw Xandreus staring intently at his Mother and Lady Cana. He shook his head as if to say he did not know, and turned back to watch VelvetWind and Cana once again.

Xandreus knew the importance of what was being said, and the impact it would have on his Mother. He could see the weight of worry on his Father’s shoulders, and he couldn’t help but wonder who exactly he worried for. He was not worried about his Mother and her capability of processing the rest of Cana’s truth. He knew she would have some internal struggles as she came to the important realizations necessary to ensure the integrity of their quest, and more importantly, the fulfillment of all of its many interwoven prophecies.

He watched helplessly as he observed his Father wrestle with his natural instincts to protect his Wife from any pain. He could feel an overwhelming sadness radiate from his Father, then he realized, his Mother was crying.

Oh, now that’s enough,” Elrick thought.

Starting out of the cave towards them, Elrick was surprised to see Cana turn and shake her head as if to say “no”. Torn between the love of his life and the orders of the Sorceress, Elrick simply stopped and stared at them from where he stood.

Xandreus watched his Father shift his weight nervously, as he clenched and unclenched his fists. He could feel his Father’s natural response to his Mother’s obvious heartbreak at what she had just been told. Xandreus had felt it, too. He suddenly felt Elrick’s undeniably strong desire to comfort her, as if it was his own, and was completely caught unaware by the sheer intensity of the emotional weight it contained.

Xandreus knew that the love they shared was remarkable in its strength. Their connection was undeniably a union put into place by Fate but had never been mowed over by as intense a sensation as this. Fate had obviously had a purpose gifting them with a capacity to love like they did, and one he now understood fully; or at least, he thought he did.

His Father’s DreamWalking gift had been a blessing from some unknown God, maybe Wrenzwyck’s JéVa, and it had been meant to ensure the sanctity of their union would go unchallenged. He was the intended consequence of that union, or so it seemed. But, it had only been in that moment, as he watched his Father struggle with being unable to hear anything that was being said, and while feeling his response to her immense pain, that he had ever felt a sample of what their love was really like.

He was suddenly bewildered by his Father’s knowing his wife had suffered a pain that he could feel and share in, but not fully understand. He could sense a vulnerability in the man he had revered his entire life; A vulnerability that made Xandreus love him even more.

Turning slowly, he quietly observed his Father’s reaction to this situation with interest. He had long ago learned to study his Father; his actions, his mannerisms, his tone, his treatment of those around him, and even his personal belief systems. They were all important elements that made up the man he longed to emulate.

His Father worked hard right alongside his own people. He loved hard, passionately, and intensely. He treated people with kindness, patience, and equality; never putting his own personal needs above the people of his Kingdom. But most importantly, his Father was an honorable, trustworthy, loyal, and self-sacrificing, brave, but simple Brethren who upheld and lived by the Codes of their Order. In short, Elrick was the epitome of everything he hoped to one day be.

Elrick walked back into the cave and punched the vines that hung across the entrance to the hidden little cove in frustration. The other Brethren, laughing and drinking wine, were oblivious to his personal dilemma. Impatiently, he paced the entrance to the cove and Xandreus could feel his Father’s frustration building.

Elrick kept staring out at Cana and Velvet, sitting on the edge of the lagoon, and then pacing the entrance to the cove. Then he would return to staring at them, talking quietly, and return to pacing, until finally, he simply could stand no more.

Xandreus almost laughed aloud as he heard his Father decide that he was King, and that she was his Queen, so he would simply overrule Cana and go to his wife.

Elrick burst through the vines, his mind decided, when much to his surprise, he saw them standing in a long embrace.

Xandreus rose from his spot by the fire and parted the vines to watch as slowly, his Father approached them as they embraced.

Cana quickly disrobed and turned, diving into the rejuvenating waters of the Pool of Rejan for the first time since coming to Myr.

VelvetWind turned and smiled bravely at Elrick, but Elrick  knew instantly she struggled to suppress her tears.

Xandreus watched as Elrick opened his arms and waited as she rushed to him. Tenderly Elrick gathered her into his arms and allowed her tears to flow. After what felt like an eternity of pain for anyone to bare, he lifted her face out of his chest to look up at him.

Xandreus felt his Father’s overwhelming rush of anger and pain as it flood into his heart again, as he wiped the tears off her cheeks with his thumbs. Xandreus looked to Shandiya sitting beside the LifeFire, unaware of his scrutiny and emotions, and suddenly he understood what his Father’s heart felt when he reflected on everything his Mother was to him.

Xandreus felt perhaps he had intruded on their passions long enough. He already knew the impact of Cana’s final truth. He had figured it out for himself back in the mine. Besides, it felt almost intrusive to bear witness to his Father’s own vulnerability where his Mother was concerned. It was a bit overwhelming and confusing to say the least.

Elrick always marveled in amazement at those rare moments when VelvetWind allowed him to see her own vulnerabilities for himself. It was occasions such as those, when she was completely herself with no walls around her heart or mind and was wrapped tightly in his massive arms, that he realized how small and fragile she could be. A tremendous Warrior and a powerful Mage, she was also his Wife, his Queen, and his lover. But more importantly, she was still a woman, and one he loved through the depths of his very soul.

Wiping away the tears that glistened in the moonlight, he kissed her lovingly. Softly he whispered into her ear, “Do you want to talk about it?” he asked.

Slowly she shook her head “no”, and together they turned and found themselves being watched very carefully by their son. VelvetWind knew immediately that Xandreus had already known what she had never even suspected. She knew she would have to face that, when the time came, but now was not that time. For once, Cana had been right, and she, surprisingly, had agreed that what Cana had done had been for the best. She stared deep into Xandreus’ eyes, and he reassured her that all would be well. She smiled sadly, feeling an inordinate amount of personal loss and substantial doubts in her own self for the very first time.

Elrick could feel the sadness roll off her heart, and saw the tears well in her eyes as she stared at Xandreus. He searched her soul and felt loss, fear, pain, and a sense of pride. But he no longer felt the anger, or the resentment, that had been boiling in her for so long. He found an understanding existed inside her; an understanding that Xandreus somehow gave to her now. He could see she was shielding the conversation with Cana and the secrets they had shared. He could tell though, whatever the truth had been, it somehow had begun to heal her in a way he simply didn’t need to understand. He turned her cheek to face him, and stared deeply into her eyes.

“I love you,” he said simply.

VelvetWind had always loved this man, and as she felt in his soul his acceptance and understanding of everything that had happened, she actually loved him more intensely now than ever before. She understood their love, and their connection, with greater comprehension than he, and he knew it.

He loved her ever as deeply as she did him regardless of the reasons. To Elrick, she knew that love was really all that mattered. It was his true LifeBreath, and it was a wonder to know and share in it.

“And I love you,” she replied with a smile, ignoring the Brethren standing in the entrance to the cove, watching them now.

Everyone watches, my Lord,” she thought.

“Then we shall show them how it is supposed to be done.” Elrick winked. He wrapped one arm tightly around her tiny waist, and pulled her in tightly. Caressing the back of her head in his other hand, he kissed her passionately, and a little longer than he probably should have.