The two rode for three days, high into the mountains and then down into a dense forest area that covered the whole mountainside like a blanket. As they reached the edge of this forest they dismounted and let the horses loose, they would be more of a hinderence here.
They proceeded down a long slope, a bed of leaves covered the hard ground. It was a long and winding road, the two traversed giant plateus, a river and uncountable trees. The ground was tough to keep a foothold on considering it had rained for the past two and a half days, the sun had yet to show its face today.
"Are we lost Rickard?" Zephiel yelled, he was so very tired. He was not used to travelling this much and he felt weak when he saw Rickard up ahead, still going strong. It felt like a crippled donkey chasing a wild stallion.
"Of course not my lord!" He yelled back in a booming cheerful voice, he stopped a moment. He was just visible through the trees. Zephiel ran and was beside him in a few moments. They were in a clearing and inside was the most breath taking view imaginable.
The clearing had in the centre a ring of white cliffs, atop which a town had been built of pearl white. It had a narrow path leading up the cliff to the city and had no gate or walls to speak of. The land around the cliffs were lush and green, a few trees were dotted around and a great river rushed down the mountainside nearby. Animals played freely here and seemed to live in harmony with the city, great majestic birds could bee seen hovering over the town and the suns rays began to peek through the clouds, bathing the land in its golden warmth.
"This my king" Rickard began, a great broad grin stretched across his face, "Is Haven!"
The proceeded down the track and up the path into the great city, they were halted by a guard at the top.
"Halt!" The woman said, she wore a wreath crown and a beautiful green dress, she had brown hair that swayed majestically behind her back. She walked over and stared closely at the two ragged companions. "Rickard? Is really you?"
"Oh my goodness Rickard!" She threw her arms around the plate mailed soldier, he could not actually feel the womans embrace he enjoyed, and returned it just the same. "I haven't seen you since the war!"
"Twenty years back now at least!" Rickard beamed, Zephiel had never seen him look so happy. This gave Zephiel a warm glow inside and he smiled to.
The two were taken to the bath house, they had a long and relaxing soak in the hot baths, given clean robes, water and food. They were granted permission to stay as long as they pleased. That night Rickard and Alana stayed in eachothers company, Zephiel wandered off to explore the amazing paradise his captain had taken him to.
The town was always full of life, there were small market stalls that didn't close until late at night, children played peacefully and even animals would join in. Adults would sit around lazily on the grass and talk in a carefree manner. Everyone here was completly happy, Zephiel loved Haven. He was also deeply hurt by it.
"Why couldn't I make a kingdom like this?" He thought to himself, the rest of the night had these thoughts in store for Zephiel. He returned to the bath house at around midnight to find Rickard and Alana still talking. The twos spirits hadn't dropped since the morning and Zephiel was surprised to see they had so much time and energy to give to eachother.
"My lord?" Rickard called in a softer voice to his king. "I have agreed with the council that you are to stay here for as long as is necessary."
"Thank you" Zephiel smiled, bowing to Alana cordially. He knew he was not king here and he would show respect as such.
"No not at all" Alana flashed a stunning smile as she spoke. "After your kingdom rescued us in the war, we are happy to repay the favour no matter how small. We realise this may put Haven in danger, we are however willing to take the risk."
"I on the other hand will be leaving in one month" Rickard continued. "You will be in good care hear, I have things to see to however."
Zephiel nodded, he didn't like that at all but resolved to bring it up another time. He went to bed and rested better than he had in many a long year.