The four of us remained silent as we ate. The elves gathered at the table whispered amongst themselves, many glancing over at Camila. She was clearly uncomfortable but did her best to remain enigmatic. I wondered what she and the queen had spoken about.
The war meeting was longer than King Orist thought it would be. The goblins had been sending weekly messages threatening war if the king and queen did not relinquish some of the realm. It was impossible to do so, though, because the goblins could not live in our climate. The goblins lived mostly under the earth.
So, since nothing could be achieved with the goblins yet, we spoke about the humans. Many doubted they would actually attack but I did not question Theodore's threat. He was a cruel man and he had vicious intents for poor Camila. We studied the map that showed the borders between our realm and theirs. Her king and queen were close to the edge of our boundaries; a little too close for King Orist.
He wanted to attack first once the two weeks were over. We had nine days left, though, and the rest of the elders wanted more time to discuss it. So the meeting ended on a sour note. While we waited for the women to come back inside, he led me to the room Camila and I would be sharing. However, he delivered not so welcome news.
"You must consummate your union tonight," he said and I sighed.
"King Orist, I do not know if she wants to. I will not force myself on her.
He put his hand on my shoulder. "You cannot truly be mates until this happens. You understand what that means?"
"That I will be on the frontlines should we go to war," I nodded.
The frontlines were basically a death sentence for an elf such as myself. I was not trained in combat. I could only hope that Camila would be open to the idea. I considered explaining it to her but I didn't want to make her feel obligated. Eventually, I decided to just be frank with her since she had been just as honest with me.
"Did you have a pleasant walk?" King Orist asked his queen and she nodded.
"Camila was a wonderful companion." Camila blushed. "What was your favorite part of my gardens?"
"The flowers," she said instantly. "I have never seen such large and small flowers in all my life!"
"It is our magic," King Orist said.
"I wish we had some," she lamented.
"How tall do your flowers get?"
"We have sunflowers that reach almost 6 feet tall."
"I must say, I'm surprised you are not a giant," an elf down the table said and Camila fidgeted.
"Well, I was told that you were little folk," she said with a small laugh and the queen smiled.
No one else was very amused. Some were insulted and I considered letting them know that calling her a giant was insulting, as well, but Queen Keishara spoke up.
"We all have our own legends," she said loud enough for everyone to hear and the elves returned to their meals.
"It is time for us to retire for the evening," King Orist announced shortly after, standing up. "Please, go to your rooms. Elders, we will meet in the room again tomorrow at first light. Elwin, we will seek you out after the afternoon meal to discuss... tonight."
"Yes, King Orist," I whispered sadly. "I'll show you where we are sleeping, my love," I added, holding my hand out for Camila's.
She took it and I led her up the stairs. I didn't speak and I could tell she was incredibly curious. I didn't want to tell her about what the king had ordered. There was a war going on in my mind and I couldn't hear Camila's gasp as we walked into the room.
It wasn't anything extravagant. There was a large bed draped in green felt blankets and soft silk sheets. I kept my eyes averted from the bed for now, though.
"You-You had a pleasant time with the queen?" I asked, closing the door softly behind me.
"Yes," she nodded. "She is a fair and just she-elf. How did the war meeting go?"
I took my boots off and she did the same. "It went poorly. The goblins are sending impossible demands. And as far as the humans go.... Many of the elders are divided on what to do. Some want to attack now, some want to ignore the threat, and some wish to wait."
She nodded. "I see. Elwin, what worries you so?"
I sighed and stood in front of her, putting my hands on her waist. She jumped a little at my touch and I bit my lip.
"King Orist.... He wishes for us to consummate our marriage tonight."
She stepped back nervously. "Oh."
"I do not want to force you to do it," I said quickly, "and neither does he. But it is... required."
She turned her back on me and I waited patiently. She bowed her head and I realized she was crying.
"I'm sorry," I said. "I do not wish to upset you."
"It's not you," she whispered, "or the king. It is me."
I frowned and walked in front of her. I had her look at me.
"What do you mean?"
"I am scared," she said. "I fear you will hurt me."
I sighed and pressed my lips to hers. I put my hand on her lower back and pulled her to me. She hesitated at first but eventually kissed me back. Her hair was soft as it tickled the back of my hands. I could feel her shaking in my arms as I untied her tunic.
"I will be gentle," I breathed against her lips. "I swear to it."
She looked into my eyes. Hers showed nothing but fear but she untied my tunic slowly. It fell to the floor and she put her hands on my stomach, kissing me again. She was still shaking as we made our way to the bed. I pulled the blanket away and we slid under the sheets.
She closed her eyes tightly and I kissed her deeply before moving into her.
It was a beautiful night. I didn't know such an act could feel like that. I was expecting pain and harsh words. He was careful with me, though, and timid. I knew most of the timidity was because he had not had this kind of experience with a woman.
In the beginning it felt strange. We were two different races but, as I looked into his eyes and felt his body moving with mine, thoughts of our differences disappeared. All I knew was that I loved him. He had laced our fingers together as we were both reaching our peak.
With one last movement, his body rested on top of mine. He was panting into my neck and I knew I was doing the same. Then I felt a pain in my right hand and gasped.
"Just wait," he breathed, kissing my neck. "Just wait. It will pass."
"What's happening?" I whispered as the burning continued.
"The goddesses," he answered.
I turned to look. A golden light was surrounding our hands. It pulsed until, finally, the burning subsided. He let go of my hand and I stared at the back of my palm. There was a strange mark. It was a circle with a triangle inside of it.
"One point for each goddesses," he whispered, lying beside me and showing an identical mark on the back of his left hand. "It is the sign of our union."
I stared at it for a while longer. Elwin was facing me and playing with my hair. The skin was red but it no longer burned. For some reason, every time I looked at it, I felt a sense of pride and joy.
"Do you feel that?" I asked.
"I had touched it and it sent a warm sensation up my arm.
"Yes. It goes both ways. Watch."
He touched his mark gently and the same sensation made my skin break out in goosebumps.
He kissed me, caressing my cheek and I moved closer to him. I was exhausted from our encounter, much like with Theodore, but this time I was pleased to be so tired.
He wrapped his arms around me and placed kisses on the top of my head. I smiled and put my head in the crook of his neck.