Carmen and Karn'el stood in the entrance hall, the main doors wide open on a Sunday evening, their friends standing by to say farewell. Their suitcases - worn down and fit to burst, stood in the corners. Carmen pulled her new coat tightly around her, thick and pale pink with black buttons, sweeping at her knees as she waited nervously for the one who would take them from the Sanctuary. She saw everybody that she loved around her, all but one person.
She sighed, she'd known that a day hadn't been enough for Will to accept their decision, he imagined it was a form of protest by not seeing them off, leaving the horrible things he'd said lingering between them.
'Don't worry,' Sayara said, noticing her sadness, 'I'm sure he'll be here.' Carmen smiled back, she hoped so, but she doubted it.
Suddenly, in the distance, appearing down the pathway came the dark carriage, which sped down the road towards them, stopping in front of the doors, the hooves of the horses crunching the gravel delicately and huffing in the summer air. The carriage door swung open, revealing the passenger, somebody who Tayna, Andrel and Sayara recognised, causing their eyes to widen and their mouths to drop open.
'Elena?' Sayara asked disbelievingly. The leader of the Raido clan was dressed smarter than she had been on the hillside, her duster with leather-patch elbows done up loosely, tan knee-high boots and tight black trousers.
'Taryn, Andrel, Sabrina. What are you all doing here?'
'Wait!' came a voice from above. Carmen turned and couldn't hold back a grin as Will bounded quickly down the stairs, jumping two at a time to reach them, composing himself just as he reached the grand stairs. He felt dizzy, and held onto the banister as he descended towards them.
'You came,' she smiled. 'I thought you wouldn't.' Her smile dropped to a flat line as she remembered what he'd said to her, wondering if she should be angry. 'I thought - I thought you would protest us going.'
'I was going to,' said Will, he turned and gave Sayara a knowing smile, 'but something changed my mind.' He stood in front of his sister who shoved her hands awkwardly into her pockets. 'I'm sorry about what I said. I didn't mean it. Well, I did sort of. I mean, I just don't want to lose you straight after I found you again. I had it in my head that if you left, I'd be alone just like I was before I met Paradam. I realise that was wrong, and I shouldn't have said what I did.'
'Will, you're not going to lose us,' Carmen said softly, as Karn'el stood beside her, showing just how identical they were. 'We'll stay in touch, and we'll see each other again. Hopefully we'll meet you again as a prince that Maegard can be proud of.' The twins wrapped their arms around him, there were no tears, there was no more love that they needed to show. Will looked up and saw Elena, who had stiffened as straight as a pin, her eyes wide.
'Did you say...prince? Wasily...you're...' Elena's face exploded with realisation and she shot to the floor in a low bow.
'Oh dear,' sighed Tayna, 'I think she's worked it out.'
'Wow,' said Andrel, 'she didn't figure it out before now? Those names were pretty pathetic.' Tayna whacked him on the arm, took a deep breath and stepped towards Elena.