Twenty Two

Twenty Two

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
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Gevin meets with the Elven horsemen

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22.

 

‘There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.’

-- C.S. Lewis

 

 

Gevin could have heard a pin drop in the heavy stillness of the air as he walked out of the Woodedge fort and approached the Elven band of horsemen.

As he neared, some of the horsemen moved around him so that in a moment’s time he was in the middle of a circle of Elves.    No-one on the wall dared to protest their action because it was clear that this was a fragile moment balanced on a sword’s edge.

With his head held high, he walked over to the leader of the band, who was glaring suspiciously down at him.

“Terib Atlonneix?  I am Gevin, the man whom you seek.”

“You are indeed a brave man, Sir Gevin, or the most foolhardy.”

“There is little difference between the two.   All I ask of you, sir, is to hear what I have to say to you.   If afterwards, you still seek retribution, so be it, I will not lift a hand to stop you.”

“We shall see; go ahead and speak.”

“Your son and some of his friends came here and raided and stole from innocent people.”

“So?   Isn’t that what your king and your father did here first?”  Terib replied coldly.

“And what good has either act done, Terib, to your people or the dynasty of King Corston?   Albsidhe lays waste.   Men under my control set fire to the last of the forest in this once fair land, and now look at it!    The land is mostly desolate, wild and free of the voices of your people.”

“Well, who is responsible for that, Sir Gevin?”

“I know who is responsible for it, Terib.   I am.”

For a long moment Gevin just met the Elf’s icy stare.

“So you have come to terms with whom and what you are.   So what?   It changes nothing, nor brings back the forest or those who died defending their land from a greedy human king and his equally greedy men.”

“No, it doesn’t, Terib, and if after I finish speaking to you, you or your men put an arrow in my eye, I imagine that after the satisfaction of my execution has passed, you will find that not even my death will change how things are.”

“Your actions, half-breed, have consequences for a multitude of people.   I did not know you were Half-Elven until my son told me.”

“My mother was one of your people, Terib.    The Black Duke took her as his slave.    After she gave birth to me, she jumped from a tower with me in her arms, but unfortunately I didn’t die with her.”

Terib smirked, “Are you hoping to move me with that, Sir Gevin?”

“No, frankly, I imagine there is very little I could tell you about my life that would move you.    I could swear to you that I have deep regrets for my part in destroying the woods and leading the army, and that I loathe the Black Duke for the legacy that he has thrust upon me.   I could tell you that I recently sought to put an end to my life but was foiled, yet I doubt that would impress you.”

Terib snickered, “Words, Gevin, mere words.   Why would you want to die?”

“I don’t know if I wanted to die as much as to stop living.   It is a terrible thing to not age amongst those who do and to have those people look at you as a monster for your agelessness.”

“You are a monster, Sir Gevin.    You nearly killed my son.”

“After your son nearly killed me, yes, it is true.   Your son has the stupidity and arrogance of youth, combined with his father’s - and people’s- bitterness at humans.”

“That is the legacy that you, your precious king and your ‘loathed’ father left for us, Gevin.    It is something that we have borne and it is bitter.   Our souls are scarred and the scars are leathery and tough now.    You are wasting your time trying to appeal to any sympathy for you, for I have none.”

“Nor do I expect it.   But I do expect you to have more sense than your foolish son.   Ask yourself this, Terib; how is it that your young men are able to raid and loot the farms around this town?    It is due to a coup that is shaking Greidour right now.    Their grip on Albsidhe was never very strong and completely dependent on the number of troops in the garrison behind me.    Now King Corston and his entire family have been killed and the nobles of Greidour are fighting for the crown.    That is why the garrison had most of its soldiers recalled.   Apparently there was a plan for some time and some of the soldiers were pulled out by some of the Barons in preparation.”

“We didn’t know of Corston’s assassination.”

“It was recent and it will be some time before anyone regains control of the kingdom.”

“So why are you telling me this?”

“Because I have decided that I do not want to be involved in any of the power struggles and no longer want to live in Greidour.”

“That does not change my people’s opinion of you.”

“I have agreed to try to help Woodedge stay independent and they have asked me to lead them.    If I survive this encounter with you, my intention is to try to restore Albsidhe into an independent state, preferably with any of your people living alongside any of the humans remaining in the garrison in unity and peace.”

Terib tilted his head back and laughed, “That is certainly the stupidest idea I have ever heard!   My people would not have anything to do with the soldiers and their w****s who live around this hated garrison.   It is ridiculous.”

“Is it, Terib?   Well, let’s say that you’re right and nothing comes of it.   The garrison is weak and in a few weeks or months, you will eliminate them and the hated humans will be gone.    Then what?   You go back into your holes and hide again?   The once proud Elven race living like rodents!   Eventually one of the nobles will gain the upper hand and sooner or later he will march north and siege this area.   If the garrison is destroyed by you, they will merely rebuild and more hated human soldiers of Greidour will be stationed here.   Your people will live to the west as vagabonds.   I am suggesting to you that your people - if they worked with the humans that want to be free of Greidour’s control- could build up a defense that could repel any forces.”

“Preposterous!   A Greidour army of thousands of men against a few hundred determined Elven archers is madness.”

“By themselves, yes, that is true.   But if I could supplement your men so that your forces were evenly matched, perhaps you’d have a chance.”

“Oh, and of course you would assume control of this newly formed alliance?”

“No, I would gather the disillusioned humans and Halflings.   I would train them to defend the garrison and if your people would allow it, they would help your people regain their kingdom.”

“Surely you don’t think I believe this foolishness, Sir Gevin.”

“It is a risky idea, Terib, but I honestly don’t want anything from all of this other than just to try in some small way to offer restitution to the people of a mother I never knew.   I am a knight, Terib and I can train men to fight.   I know how the Greidour nobles think and I know what each of them can do.    I could offer your people tactical suggestions that might help them repel the invaders.”

“And do you honestly think that we would trust you?”

“Why would I double-cross you?   I have absolutely nothing left to gain.   Unless I grovel to the proper Greidour noble, I will be a traitor in the eyes of all of the others.   I am not trusted by the humans in Greidour; they look at me like I was a witch; they are respectful but fearful of me.”

“So you believe that this would justify your sins against my people?”

“I don’t know if it would to them, but I would rather die trying to do something that would help the Elven people just once rather then causing pain and hurt.    I’ve been responsible for too much destruction, it was always under orders of a human king and I want to just do what is best for once, completely on my own accord.    This is a rare chance for your people, Terib.   Oh, you can kill me easily enough - I am unarmored as I said I was- and perhaps that will polish your tarnished pride- but it will do nothing to improve your people’s condition.   If you simply kill me, that rare chance for you to perhaps restore your people to their land will fade.   You’ve hated the humans for what they did to Albsidhe, and certainly things can’t go back to exactly as they were before Greidour destroyed this kingdom, but if an Elven remnant could live securely here with humans and Halflings living with them, under an Elven ruler, then I could die happy.”

“Who would rule this restored kingdom, Gevin?   You?”

“No, I do not want to rule anyone, Terib.   I have a desire to restore the people that I helped devastate.   I have heard of the richness of Albsidhe in its glory.    I’ve heard stories of the nobility of the Elven race.  Now to see Elven boys like your son and his friends, lost in banditry, or Elven men like Troem Agis living like a monk, dreaming of the glory of yesterday, it sickens me, to realize that I have at least in part caused this degeneration.”

“Words, Gevin, mere words of a desperate man.    A foolish hope for a reprieve or perhaps forgiveness.    A plan like yours would take considerable cooperation between your garrison and my people and neither side trusts each other.”

“Nor will they ever if we don’t take that first step, Terib.    If you think my plan is foolish, then put an arrow in my back and gather some more men, then take this fort.   A few hundred men should do it.   Butcher all of them inside if you must, then fortify this fort and move your people here and work out your own defense.    But if you work hand in hand with those now in the fort and the village you would have enough to defend this area and proclaim its independence.   I don’t want to be the ruler here, merely a tool to at least partially redeem my crimes against your people.    Surely restitution is better than the satisfaction of simply killing me.”

Terib just stared blankly at Gevin for a long time, his men surrounding the Half-Elf completely silent as they waited.   Gevin just stood there, also waiting.

“You think I can make these decisions for my people?   I am just one man, Gevin, and I am more than a little suspicious of you and your motives.   As a father, I want to slit your neck for hurting my son, even if he is a bit headstrong.   There are also the corpses of Crois’ companions that cry out, along with their parents, for your blood.”

Gevin nodded, sighing wearily, “Well, I tried, Terib; you do what you must.   I will at least die keeping my word; I will not defend myself against you.   Extract justice according to what you feel is best.   I will spend my last moments in prayer to Yesh for his mercy.”

Gevin folded his hands together and bowed his head with his eyes closed.

Terib glanced up at his companions and they shared his indecision.   From the back of the group, Crois rode forward to his father’s side.

“What are you going to do, father?” the boy asked softly, sensing the weight of the moment.

“What would you have me do, son?   You were the one who told me of him and led me to this fort.   Before us we have one of our people’s hated enemies.   You have learned that he is a half breed of our own race, which perhaps makes him an abomination and his crimes more repugnant.   You bare marks from his hands, several of your friends are dead at his hands, yet he claims he was attacked first.   He left his stronghold where he could have easily defended against us, to come out here, unarmed, to speak to me.   You have heard what he said and probably share my skepticism.   Now he stands before us, in an attitude of prayer, deferring to our judgment.”

“He should die for what he’s done!”  Crois exclaimed, but his passion was forced and he wrung his hands in indecision, “Father, what should we do?”

“He is yours if you seek to kill him.   I will not try to stop you, it is perhaps justified.   He probably expects that reaction from you.”

Crois frowned, for he wanted to be thought of as mature in his father’s eyes, “What if what he said was right?   If we could restore Albsidhe…”

“That is a far bigger task than anyone realizes, son.   Still, he is not at all what I thought he would be.   This is our best opportunity.”

“Yes, but our best opportunity to do what, father?”

The question hung heavy in the air and the other Elf horsemen shifted uneasily on their mounts, no clearer of decision than Terib and his son.

Long moments of uncertainty passed and still Gevin stood reverently in prayer, which only made the Elves less sure of what to do.   On the parapet wall, Gevin’s friends and the garrison force stood transfixed but anxious in the situation.

Then, very slowly, almost imperceptivity, a blue-white glow began to cover Gevin.    He did not stir as a holy light covered him in a gentle, pale light.   The horses stirred nervously and the Elves whispered to each other, while those on the wall murmured in amazement as the soft glow intensified subtly.

“What sort of trick is this?”  Terib said to his son, and his voice made Gevin open his eyes and look up, but seeing the glow covering him, he flinched in alarm, looking at his arms.

“Is it some sort of sign?   From God?”  Crois mumbled to his father and a few moments later a loud clap of thunder directly overhead made everyone jump in alarm.

The sky was perfectly clear.

“I’m not sure what is happening,” Gevin told the Elves, who were trying to calm their horses after the thunder, “But I think peace is important to Yesh and perhaps He wants all of us to know that.”

Terib slowly shook his head, “I cannot speak for all my people, Sir Gevin; I will need to meet with them and tell them what you propose.”

“Fair enough; I am not going any place and I welcome any inquires they might have regarding my sincerity.   I am trying my best, Terib, to see things differently and to make restitution in any way I can.   I can’t change the past, but I am trying to keep the future from being tainted by my past actions.   All I ask is that you will present what I have said to your people and talk it over.   There are not many of us here, and either your people or any Greidour noble that can raise a respectable army could probably destroy this keep and us as well.   But you know they won’t be happy to just do that and return to Greidour.   I want Albsidhe to be free and independent of Greidour, with a ruler - or rulers- selected from those with the greatest right to live here - your Elven people.”

“It will take a lot of convincing for me to persuade them to give you a chance.   In fact, I am not entirely convinced of your sincerity, despite the strange glow about you and the sounds from the heavens.   However, I am weary of a nomadic lifestyle and living in bitterness and frustration.   I will tell my people what you have said.   You have a reprieve of judgment - for now.   What you do now will greatly express your true character.   I am taking a big chance on you, half-breed, and going against my desire for revenge.    I hope you prove yourself worthy.”

“I will,” Gevin replied with a bow, and then Terib gave a shrill whistle and the Elven band uncircled themselves from around the Half-Elf and a moment later all were galloping off to the west.

Gevin watched them go, noting the glow now fading from around him as cheering came down from the parapet wall.

A minute later he was once again surrounded, but this time by his companions and excited humans and Halflings all there to congratulate him.

“You did it!”  Applemint got to him first and hugged him tightly, then, blushing, pulled back as the others swarmed around him.

“I think I had divine help,”  Gevin replied, looking skyward, but his reverent moment was broken by a snicker from Zaeya.

He glanced at her, offended, to find her quite amused, “They were simple spells, really, and at one time all of the Elven races knew them, but apparently magic has been forgotten.”

“You made the glow?”  Gevin asked.

“You needed some help.   It’s called ‘Faerie Fire’ and my people use it all the time in the Underdark.   The thunder was just a simple noise making distraction spell that any Drow child could cast.   They were quick and easy to cast and I really didn’t think they’d have much of an effect, but they did.   Surface Elves are superstitious, it would seem.”

“Well, at least it was used for something good.   Thank you, Zaeya, you surprised me as well.”

“That is what sold it to them - your startled expression when you opened your eyes and saw the glow was very convincing.”

“Hopefully they’ll never get wind of this!”  Applemint said to her and the Drow woman smirked.

“I don’t plan to go visit them, do you?”

“Well, at least Sir Gevin is still alive and well.   You must have been convincing on your own, lord, for them to listen to you.”

“I just spoke the truth to them, and I honestly do feel that God intervened - perhaps by moving their hearts a bit, then Zaeya’s magic sealed it for them.”

Applemint turned to Troem, “Do you think the other Elves will favor his plan?”

“Well, my people do not like death and conflict, so I’d say it would be very enticing to them, though they will be cautious and perhaps a bit paranoid.   It will be extremely important to be upfront with them from this point on,”  He turned to Zaeya, No more theatrical effects, my dear.”

Zaeya grinned and to everyone’s surprise, kissed him in front of them.   Applemint and Gevin didn’t say anything and Troem seemed relieved at their response, so he slipped his arm around the Drow lady’s waist.

“Well, I’d say that is about enough for today; let’s all return to dinner,”  Gevin suggested and they walked back to The Wood Chip in good spirits.

***

 

They sat and ate and talked until late into the evening and there was quite a festive spirit at the inn.   The Halflings sang some of their favorite folk tunes and there was a lot of laughter and joy all around Gevin.   It was very strange to him, for he had isolated himself from everyone for many, many years and he actually felt a bit alarmed when he found himself feeling happy and smiling.

He talked to the Pondertorts for most of the evening, and Mangle seemed to be much more at ease around him and did not seem bothered by Applemint sitting beside him the entire night.

As the evening flowed on though, Gevin began wondering if he was foolish to set such lofty plans for the little village and fort.   He’d cringed all evening when some of the locals, pleased with how he’d handled the Elves, addressed him as ‘Duke Gevin’ or ‘Your Grace’ and finally he politely asked them to just call him Gevin or at least Sir Gevin.    They thought his request was humility and this only endeared him to them more, but honestly it was due to a complete feeling of inadequacy on his part for the role.

Late into the festivities, some of the Halflings brought out musical instruments and decided to teach the locals some Halfling dances.   By then most of those in the Wood Chip were merry with ale and wine and so the tables were cleared and the little people demonstrated.    Applemint was conscripted by her brother to dance with him, as Devin could not find any Halfling girl who hadn’t a dance partner.   She protested and grumbled about dancing with her ‘stupid brother’ but agreed after her mother gave her a certain look.   She was slightly taller than he was (much to Devin’s chagrin) but they joined about a dozen other young couples in demonstrating the lively dances of their people.

Gevin watched for a while, quite familiar with the steps from years of being around the Pondertort family, and finally he excused himself to Mangle, telling the Halfling that he was rather tired and wanted to get some sleep.

They bid him goodnight and he nodded at Troem and Zaeya, who were laughing at the lively dancing, then climbed up to his room, relieved that few had saw him leave as they watched the tipsy Halflings clamber around.

The sounds of laughter and music from the room below filtered up cheerfully as he paused at the door to his room, and he knew that it would make sleeping impossible.   Stretching his muscles, he wondered if perhaps he should try to get some exercise before turning in for the night.   At Whiteberry, he’d frequently worked out in the training and fitness yard when the rest of the palace was asleep, but there was no similar place here for exercise, except at the garrison fort and it was too late for him to go over there.

Then he remembered something that Nevon had told him earlier when they’d toured the village.   He’d said that just to the east of the village the Coldrun River - or whatever smaller stream it became after it flowed out of the large clay pool north of the village- was gathered in a millpond that the locals used to swim in.   Though it was late, the thought of swimming around and stretching his muscles in the cool water by moonlight sounded wonderful to him, so he decided to do something spontaneous and get some exercise by making some laps in the millpond.

He slipped down the back stairs and out of the inn, encountering only a handful of older men sitting on the wraparound porch of the inn smoking their pipes.    They hardly gave him a glance, not recognizing him in the dark as he casually headed eastward up the street, past small shops closed up for the night and scattered houses around them.   Most of the homes of the village were abandoned.   It wasn’t a long walk and soon the sound of the millwheel turning told him he was nearing his destination.

The moonlight shimmered off a fairly good sized artificial pool, to the southwest of the turning millwheel.   Water leaving the mill had been diverted into the large pond and then flowed out as more of a stream on the south end.  

Nevon was right; the water was crystal clear and very cool as he dipped his toe in it.   He hesitated for a moment, then decided what harm could be done and stripped down to just his linen underpants and entered the water.  

It was about three feet deep and much colder when he was waist deep in it, but once he began swimming, it was not bad at all.

The exercise felt wonderful and as he swam, he worked to sort out all that had happened in the course of the past few days.  He’d been there perhaps a quarter of an hour when he heard someone approaching.   Fighting an urge just to hide until the person went away; instead he just floated in the water and waited to see who was coming out here this late.

“There you are!” exclaimed the voice of Applemint, but there was a slurring of her words and he noticed as she neared that she was stumbling around slightly, which told him that she was intoxicated.

“What are you doing out here at this hour?”  He asked her as she stopped at the edge of the pond.  

“I could ask you the same thing!”  She responded, swaying as she spoke.

“Apple, you’re drunk.”

“I am?  Really?   It’s my brothers’ fault.    They insisted that I join them when the townsfolk bought all the dancers something to drink.”

“And your father let them buy you something?”

“He didn’t know…mom and dad went to bed after we got done showing the townspeople how to do the Fast Stomp, Twirly-Gig and Short Waltz.   They loved it!   Then they ordered ale, beer and honey mead for all of us!   It would have been rude to refuse, you know.”

“Have you ever drank before?”

“A few sips of ale…but you know what?   That honey mead is really good!”

“How much did you drink?”

“Well, I was thirsty after dancing with my stupid brother, so I gulped down the first cup and…I think I had three or four more.   I lost count, but my brothers thought it was funny so they kept giving me another cup and daring me to chug it.”

“And you did?”

“I liked it, but now I feel really weird, sir.   I feel good, but everything seems to be moving around or something…I guess I’m drunk, aren’t I?”

“Yes, you are and you’ll probably get sick later and throw up.”

“Oh, that doesn’t sound fun at all!”  She leaned her elbows against the rock wall of the mill pond, “Hey, are you skinny-dipping in there?”

“No,”  He responded, but the thought of it made her giggle in her drunken state and when he raised out of the water to prove to her that he was still wearing clothes, she hooted and whistled at him.

“Look at those muscles!” She called out and as his face turned red in embarrassment, to his dismay she began taking her clothes off.

“Apple!”

“I’m going to join you!” She replied, already wiggling out of her dress, even though she was having a hard time standing upright as she did.

“Not a good idea, Apple,” he said, but he was too far away from the edge of the pool.   In a moment’s time she was unclothed and showing him everything as she worked to step over the stone ledge into the pool without falling in headfirst.

“Apple, for heaven’s sake, are you trying to get me killed?” Gevin asked, wading over to her, though he suspected that wasn’t the smartest thing to do right then.

“How’s that?”  She responded, slurring her words as she stepped into the pool.   She waded over to him, the water coming to just beneath her extremely ample bosom, which only highlighted it more.

She certainly didn’t look like a Halfling teenager, Gevin thought as he forced himself to look away as she neared.

“Your father would kill both of us, Apple, but me first and rightfully so!” he said to her, attempting to go past her to retrieve her dress and convince her to slip it back on.

“You’ve seen me naked before!  Remember?  The pool up in the mountains just a few days ago.”

“That wasn’t deliberate on your part, you were unconscious and your whole family wasn’t nearby to lynch me when they stumble upon the situation.”

As he started to pass her, she slid her arms around his neck and pulled herself close to him.

“Apple, don’t…”

“What’s the matter, don’t you find me attractive, lord?”  She purred in a very mature sounding voice that unnerved him.

“You’re drunk, Apple and when you realize what you did tomorrow morning, you’ll be embarrassed and awkward around me.”

“I know you find me desirable; you look at me all the time,” She slid her hands down onto his bare chest, her touch electrifying him.   He reached up to pull them free but he had to lean over to do so and suddenly she was kissing him.   Even though he could taste the alcohol on her breath, the wild intensity of her lips and the firmness of her grip around his neck sent him out of control with desire.

Her breasts were pressed against him as he found himself returning her passionate kiss, standing there in the millpond.   She wrapped her legs around him and he felt the warmth of her groin pressing against his belly button and he sensed her trying to reposition herself lower, any inhibition lost in her intoxicated state.

He was flushed with intense desire and was like a panicked rabbit that was helpless except to rush to his own demise, which would, in his case, probably be at the hands of Mangle Pondertort.  

But abruptly she pulled her lips away, her eyes wide with horror, he heard a gurgling sound and abruptly she threw up violently all over him as the alcohol and sexual arousal overcame a heavy meal in an unsettled, full belly.

For a girl her size, she certainly could vomit and in a few seconds time both of their heads and upper torsos were covered in a stinking mess.

“Oh God!” She gasped in absolute dismay.  

It was too much for even his strong stomach and Gevin turned away and also puked up dinner, though he missed both of them with careful aim.

Applemint began weeping in shame as he emptied his stomach’s contents into the pool.

“Oh, lord, oh…no…” she groaned as she washed off in the water and watched as he began to do the same.

“It’s alright, Apple,” he replied, finding the whole thing somewhat humorous, “I think that was divine intervention.”

“I just threw up all over you!”

“Yesh works in unconventional ways.”

“I think I will simply die,” She did not sound drunk at all now, “Father will not have to kill me; I’m simply going to die.”

“No-one has to know, Apple.”

“You won’t tell on me?”

“No, then I’d have to tell him that I was about to ravish his only daughter.”

“You were?”

“Couldn’t you tell?”

“No…I…I don’t know…I…”

“Well I am not that strong of a man, Apple; please don’t tease me like that again, because you can use drunkenness for your excuse, but I didn’t drink that much and yet I lost control.”

“You would have stopped yourself.”

“I doubt it; then what would have happened?   Your parents would have been heartbroken and your father would hate me for breaking my oath to him.”

“What oath, lord?”

“That I’d take care of you and never try to take advantage of you.”

“When did you promise that?”

“Recently, but that’s not the point-“

“You talked about me to father?”

“He was concerned about you.”

“He’s always concerned about me.   Why would he think you’d take advantage of me?”

“He’s male, Apple; he knows how we men can get around beautiful women.”

She sparkled at the compliment, “He trusts you, lord, even around me.”

Gevin just smiled knowingly.

“Really?”  Applemint finally said, “What did he say?”

“He wanted you to go visit your relatives and your great grandma in Southport.”

“What?  He never said anything about that to me!”

“I talked him out of it.   I told him I needed you here with me.”

“You did?”

“Yes, and I do need you here, Apple.”

“Why?”

“Why?”

“Why do you need me here, lord?”

“Because I…I’m…um…I’m fond of you, Apple.”

“Fond of me?   How do you mean that, sir?”

“Yesh have mercy, Apple!”

“I’m embarrassing you!”

“Of course you’re embarrassing me!   You’re standing there buck naked.”

“That’s not all of it, though.   How are you fond of me, lord?”

“Come on, Apple, you’re still drunk and we need to get out of this pool before-“

“Lord, tell me; what do you mean ‘fond of you’?”

“Apple, it’s not-“

“Gevin, you tell me!” She demanded, and it was the first time she’d ever addressed him by just his name alone.   Hearing her say it like that thrilled him, for it was as if they were equal, common people instead of a servant and a knight (or duke, or whatever).   He paused, smiling at her and she gently took his hands, “Please tell me.”

“I will, but under one condition,” he replied, looking into her gorgeous eyes.

“What, lord?”

“No more titles.”

“Huh?”

“I don’t want you to call me ‘Sir Gevin’, or ‘sir’, ‘lord’ or especially ‘duke’ or ‘Your Grace’.   I just want you to call me ‘Gevin’ like a friend would call their friend.”

“But that wouldn’t be proper, sir!   Father would be appalled.  Did I do that a moment ago?   I’ll bet I did; I guess I’m still drunk, sir.”

“I want you to just call me by my name, like a common person.”

“But you’re not!”

“Yes I am, Apple; I’m no better than anyone else.”

“Yes you are, lord!”

“I want you to just call me ‘Gevin’, Apple.”

“But-“

“Don’t you see?   It has everything to do with how I feel toward you.   You asked what I meant when I said that I am fond of you.   Well, I feel like…we are…um…friends.   Close friends…and I…I…well, I…love you…as a friend would love their close friend, of course!”

Apple grinned, “Of course!”

“And friends…they don’t address other friends with titles, you know, friends that…that, um…well, t-that…that love each other…they just use their friend’s first name…and that’s what I want.”

She looked deeply into his eyes, “Well won’t that upset my parents…Gevin?”

“I’d be fine if they just called me ‘Gevin’ too.”

“Because they’re your close friends too?”

“No, not close friends, just friends…do you understand?”  Gevin squirmed, not sure what he’d conveyed in his very awkward revelation to her.

Applemint smiled affectionately, “I understand…Gevin…but perhaps I should use your proper title around everyone.   I could use your name when nobody was around…or those that wouldn’t mind it, such as Troem and Zaeya.”

“That is a reasonable compromise, Apple.”

“Then I’ll do it, Gevin.   By the way, I love you too.”

“Like a friend?”

“Something like that…” Her look caught his eye and for a hanging moment they just stared in each other’s eyes.

From somewhere nearby, outside of the millpond, they heard someone deliberately clearing their throat.    They spun around to find Applemint’s mother Andrie and Mangle’s mother, Tori, standing there quietly waiting.

“Oh no,” Applemint whispered, though her words reached her mother and paternal grandmother.

“It’s not what it looks like,”  Gevin said to them as Applemint rushed to get out and dress.

“We know, we heard everything; she didn’t even know we were following her, but I was afraid she was drunk and that she’d get into mischief,” Andrie said as Apple left the pool.

“Andrie, it’s not her fault, I-“

“You’d better just get dressed and get to bed, lord; you have a lot of work to do here.”

“I’m sorry, Andrie.”

“Don’t be sorry if you love her, Gevin, but please just let things happen slowly and naturally.”

“Okay,” he replied, noting how Andrie had addressed him by his first name.

“If you take it slowly, you will have my blessing…and Mangle’s too, though he will take some getting through to before he fully accepts your…’friendship’ with Applemint.”

“I’ve already breached the subject with him.”

“Well then you should be encouraged as he has allowed you to still be around her.   We’ll take my errant daughter back to her room to let her sleep off her foolishness.   Goodnight, lord.”

“Goodnight,” he returned their farewell and the two older women led away Applemint, who was once again dressed and walking with her head down in shame.

His mind no clearer than when he’d came there to swim, Gevin dressed in his outer garments and went to his room to try to get some sleep.


 



© 2020 Eddie Davis


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Added on December 1, 2020
Last Updated on December 1, 2020
Tags: Synomenia, Nihility_Gate, fantasy, elf, sword_and_sorcery, magic, knights, Halflings, Drow


Author

Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

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