Later that morning, Alceren had prepared his things to leave; he left Aveyna in charge of his letters, as she had taken an active interest in them with him. To Aranaytha he left the duty of finding intelligence in the area, which would not prove difficult, for mixing drink with the appearance of a beautiful woman is enough to make many men spout information of a useful nature. Yvellen and Luan scouted the forests together, as the talented lion and his master were skilled in the deciphering of scents and tracks. Telthar’rion, standing with Alceren as he assembled his belongings outside The Overfilled Flagon was simply told,
“Behave yourself, and please, for the love of L’Eysharia, try to have some tact.” This caused Telthar’rion to smile, and he nodded, saying,
“I will do my utmost.” Having spoken thus, the five elves who had been given their instructions, said their goodbyes and went back inside, following Telthar’rion.
Alyxandra was torn, wishing to follow the others, but at the same time, feeling a little unprepared to say goodbye. The fear that perhaps she would lose her friend during the siege, and should thus spend a few more moments with him, fought with the fear that he would think her foolish for doubting him. It was the fight between these conflicting fears that kept her weighted, yet uneasy, trying to leave, but finding herself rooted continually. Fortunately, Alceren turned to her in way which suggested that he wanted her to stay. Alyxandra relaxed, her shoulders lowering, as she turned to face him. As she struggled inwardly for something to say, two words were enough to show him how she felt.
“Be careful.” Alceren smiled, replying,
“Of course. I have my friends and they rely on me, and I on them - I shall do my best not to let them down.” It was Alyxandra’s turn to smile then, despite the fact that her fear still remained, rooted deeply within her being.
“How can you be so sure?”Alceren placed on arm across his chest, before placing his folded arm across it. He leant upon his hand, deep in thought, searching for a reasonable way to answer her question. His eyes glimmered and a smile danced about his lips as he found one.
“Alyxandra, it is not a question of evidence - I do not know my future and I do not wish to. I simply have faith that, having already come close to death on those walls once, I shall not have that experience again. Besides which, I have trained hard since then, and I shall not repeat my mistake.”
“Yes, the mistake I made in falling in love.” Alyxandra was not quite sure how to react to this. She herself had never had a love of the kind that Alceren had lost, but she had always imagined it to be a beautiful thing, something to be treasured and kept close, rather than to be renounced and labeled a mistake. Perhaps I am simply naive, she thought, managing only a nod in response to all he had said.
Feeling both encouraged and somber at once, Alyxandra turned to leave, dissatisfied with her farewell. “Wait,” he called after her, a hint of desperation in his voice, Alyxandra turning to walk back as he continued, “there is something I wish to give you.”
Now facing him once more, Alyxandra watched as Alceren rummaged through his robes, when he smiled, removing a small object, a circle on a chain, and handing to her. On closer examination, she found it was made of silver, and inlaid with ruby, iridescent in the morning light. It bore the crest of the royal family, identical to the one found engraved into Alceren’s now concealed circlet. Alyxandra gasped as she studied it, lowering her voice to an awed whisper, saying,
“It’s beautiful.” Smiling, she draped it around her neck, hiding the amulet beneath her tunic as it lay still against her chest. Alceren gave her a relaxed salute, and turned away to leave, when it was Alyxandra’s turn to stop him, as she felt about her belt for something to offer him in return. “It would not be right for me to have something of yours if I did not return the favour.” Saying this, she removed her dagger from its sheath at her hips, handing it to him with a smile. “My father made it for me when I was much younger.” She pointed at the amber stone inlaid in the small golden hilt. “He told me that it was a caring eye that would watch over me, but I think it shall serve you better now.” Alceren gently examined the dagger, nodding and saying,
“Thank you, Alyxandra, I was not expecting such a personal memento - I was not expecting anything at all. But perhaps I should have expected it, what with your unpredictable, but generous nature.” She smiled, saying a quiet thank you, before waving after Alceren, as he turned to leave, his horse braying impatiently. “Until we meet again,” he said, smiling as he walked backwards towards his horse.
“Till then, Alceren,” Alyxandra replied, as Alceren mounted his horse, waved one last time, before gently commanding his horse to move, at first slowly, then with a gentle clicking of his tongue and the utterance of a few words into his mount’s ears, his horse broke into a gallop, and they disappeared into the trees that lined the eastern road. As they slipped from view, Alyxandra touched the amulet, before returning to The Overfilled Flagon, ready to see what his absence would bring.