Chapter 18 - Part 1

A few days passed, with the six of them serving each day to ensure that the Stygian forces would not return. Once almost a week had passed, during one evening, the Blades of Twilight prepared themselves to return to Thornhurst, their duty complete, and their bravery required elsewhere. As they stopped for a brief moment in the main room of the tavern, sipping at a goblet of wine each, aside from Luan, who was given water, and Telthar’rion, who drank nothing, merely sitting on his stool, deep in thought. Presently, Aveyna stood saying,

“I must finish my preparations for tomorrow. We have a long journey ahead of us.” The others nodded, with Yvellen (and consequently Luan) following her with an announcement of similar sentiment, as did Aranaytha, who left also. Alyxandra smiled as she met with realisation for a moment - she was sat by the fire once more.

She looked to her left, and found Telthar’rion sitting there, his eyes fading from black to amber as she watched. His lips seemed to move, but she heard no sound. His mouth continued to form various shapes, and she became able to hear the repeated words that left his mouth.

“Simply incredible...” he said, resting his chin upon his hand, which in turn rested upon his thigh. Alyxandra furrowed her brow in confusion at his words.

“What do you mean, Telthar’rion?” His mouth moved into a half smile as he laughed quietly to himself.

“I mean you, of course.” Alyxandra was a little taken aback by this, unsure of whether or not she could detect sarcasm in his voice, or whether or not he meant it as a compliment or a buried insult. Telthar’rion could see this in her startled eyes, and continued to laugh. “I’m not intending to frighten you, or to overwhelm you in any way, although I should let it be said,” he leant closer, and Alyxandra mimicked this movement, curious, as he continued, “I have been told that I do have a certain effect upon women.” It was Alyxandra’s turn to laugh now, as she shook her head.

“I’m sorry, Telthar’rion, I’m afraid I do not feel it myself.” Telthar’rion shrugged, saying, “Perhaps you would feel differently if it weren’t for the fact that your affections seem to preoccupied.” He smiled, laughing again, his trickery obvious in his tone, as he said, “Such a shame.” Alyxandra laughed herself, before asking,

“What do you mean when you say that my affections are preoccupied?”

“Exactly what I say.” He came closer and pointed to her chest. Confused for a moment, she slapped his hand away, when she suddenly realised the true target of his gesture. Reluctantly, she took the amulet from its place at her chest and allowed it to hang in Telthar’rion’s view. Telthar’rion smiled, saying those words again.

“But, it is not an affection of that kind that I link with him.”

“Oh?” Telthar’rion questioned, “well then, how would you describe your feelings then?” Alyxandra’s tongue froze in her throat for a moment, her mind overflowing with the words she would use. Eventually, her tongue loosened, and she spoke.

“Alceren,” she paused at the sound of his name, despite the fact that it had come from her own throat, “is a good friend to me, a good and faithful friend who has been kind to me.” Telthar’rion smiled.

“Now, Alyxandra, you have done a very clever thing.” Alyxandra cocked her head in confusion, her ears swaying a moment as her head moved to the side. “You have spoken much, but told me nothing, other than the fact that he is kind. Surely there must be more to it than that if you fondle that amulet so much each night?” Alyxandra’s cheeks flushed as he said this, closing her eyes in embarrassment, not of her actions, but of being caught in such a reverie, when she had been sure that everyone was asleep. She knew inwardly that there was more that she had to say, words of thanks and admiration that she had never found the opportunity to say. Smiling, she spoke again.

“You are correct, Telthar’rion, there is much more to it than that. Alceren allowed me to heal the inner wounds that I had been preventing from closing by continuing to rub in the salt of my grief, causing me constant pain. In my suffering, I felt that the pain was positive, feeling that the more pain I caused myself, the sooner it would pass. How wrong I was.” Her eyes began to glisten as she continued. “My nightmares have deserted me, the dark demons have fled from the light, the soothing balm, of Alceren’s presence, allowing me peace and comfort. I feel stronger now.”

“And why has that happened, do you think?” A flurry of Alceren-filled memories began to rush through her mind - their first meeting, the battle they had fought side by side, that same night in which she had divulged everything. She remembered Alceren’s revelation of his royalty, and she felt again that sadness she had experienced as she heard of Zelandria and her terrible fate, their unspoken love. It was then that another realisation hit her, a realisation that she began to fight; she stood before the fire, the moistness in her eyes now spilling out over her cheeks, as she turned to face Telthar’rion, she uttered, murmured in a quiet, but certain voice.

“Alceren is my strength.”

The End

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