Finishing the tale (part 2)

Luckily, one of them did.

It was Kiana Soar who proposed that Calvin Terra should travel to Fireland Castle, posing as a potential suitor for Vanessa. Once in her company (as her parents would surely be delighted by the idea of her courting someone else and forgetting her undesirable attraction to the Wavian High Prince), Calvin would explain the pretence and ask Vanessa to come with him to the Land of the Boulders where Henry would be waiting.

Henry thought this was an excellent idea but it took both his and Kiana's persuasions for Calvin to consent. Henry settled his doubts about acting as if he were in love with his best friend's fiancée, promising that he'd only have to kiss her hand and pay her compliments.

And so, a month after Henry's engagement, a few days into the New Year, the High Prince of the Land of the Boulders set off for Fireland, dressed in his finest clothing. His parents had been informed of the plan by the Emperor and Empress of Majesteria who, like most Eagles, were rather keen on seeing the Phoenix-Dolphin Conflict breached by royalty. Neither Charles nor Corinne Terra wanted to see their son imprisoned for aiding Henry and thus promised to keep the actual details of the plan a secret, lest untrustworthy characters were about, spying on his actions.

Calvin rode on his own horse to reach Fireland. She was a beautiful creature, with sleek black hair and a mane as soft and fine as silk. When Calvin arrived at the castle, the stable-hands gazed upon her admiringly and looked honoured to look after her while he was inside the imposing, solitary fortress.

When he knocked upon the great wooden door, he was greeted by a butler whose face took on a startled look as he regarded the lone Dragon prince.

"Good afternoon," Calvin said calmly, well rehearsed in his part. "I am Calvin Terra, the High Prince of the Land of the Boulders. I have come here to express a potential interest in Her Highness, the High Princess of this land."

The butler looked stunned. Quickly regaining his composure, he said "Follow me, Your Highness," beginning to walk through to one of the castle State Rooms.

Calvin entered, closing the door behind him. He glanced around him at the impressive Entrance Hall before taking the same route as the Butler.

The room he was to wait in looked comfortable, with armchairs and settees standing around small polished wooden tables.

While he waited for the king and queen to be asked down to see him, he took a seat upon a black velvet couch and remembered the practices he had done at Majesteria Palace involving Henry as a rather convincing butler and Kiana as Vanessa Flame. It had been hilarious to think of compliments to give the latter and the ease he had felt around both had helped him feel more relaxed and confident in his task. In fact, only two practices had been required to cause him to feel capable.

As he was reminiscing about the time Henry had dressed as a jester to make everything seem wonderful fun, Their Majesties of Fireland walked into the room. He rose to his feet and thought of the last thing Henry had said to reassure him: "Remember, you were always a good actor when we were younger."

And, luckily for him, he didn't appear to have lost the talent. Without stammering, he repeated what he had told the butler with what he thought to be a convincing smile on his face.

Like the butler, the Firish king looked startled. His wife, however, looked delighted. She sent for her daughter immediately. She warned Calvin that she "might have a slight attachment to someone else" but assured him that it was nothing that couldn't be "cured".

"You know the follies of young love," she said, smiling.

Calvin nodded to remain in character but inside was sickened by Vanessa's mother's reaction to her daughter's affections for someone, especially since that particular someone had been his best friend for over twenty years.

When Vanessa entered the room, he didn't blame her for wearing a scowl before attempting to smile in order to be polite.

Still, he had to keep up appearances.

Striding forwards, he took her hand and kissed it, saying "You are truly as beautiful as I have heard." Letting go and straightening up, he continued "It is an honour to meet you, Princess Vanessa."

There was a sadness in her eyes as she bowed her head and said "Thank you, Prince Calvin. It is a pleasure to met one as charming as you."

Calvin bowed his head. He turned to her parents and asked "Would it be possible for your stunning daughter and me to be left alone to become acquainted?"

Beaming, the queen replied "Of course." She and her husband exited the room.

As soon as the door had been closed behind her parents, Vanessa sighed.

"Could I ask you a question, Prince Calvin?" she asked, surprising him.

"Of course. And you do not have to address me as ‘Prince' all the time."

Looking directly at Calvin, she asked "What is the Dragon stance on the Phoenix-Dolphin conflict?"

Smiling, he replied "The majority are impartial."

"The majority?" Vanessa asked, her brow furrowing.

Calvin nodded. "I personally disagree with it - Henry Waterfall is my best friend and his views inspire me."

"You know Henry Waterfall?" Vanessa asked, surprised.

Calvin nodded again, his smile widening. "That is the reason I am here."

Vanessa looked confused. "You are here because you want to court your best friend's fiancée."

"No," Calvin said, still smiling. "I am here to take you to Fireland so you can be reunited with him."

Vanessa blinked. Suddenly she'd thrown her arms around him in a tight embrace.

"Oh thank you!" she exclaimed. "A hundred thousand thanks. Oh, you cannot fathom my gratitude. These last few weeks have been insupportable! I wondered if I would be imprisoned until my parents quit the throne."

Calvin patted her back slightly awkwardly. "Henry would not have allowed such a thing to happen," he assured her. "He has despaired even though he was aware of this plot to rescue you."

Vanessa stepped back, releasing Calvin, and smiled. "It will be so good to see him again."

Calvin nodded. "And you are prepared to lie to your parents in order to achieve this?"

"Of course! Pretending to be charmed by you will be no difficult feat. I would take part in a wedding ceremony with you if it meant seeing Henry again."

Calvin smiled. "I am happy that you are that devoted to him - he deserves the most loving and loyal fiancée on Thrift. You seem to adore him to the right extent."

Vanessa's smile widened. "I am glad you approve of me. Henry is blessed to have such an admirable friend as you."

Calvin's cheeks reddened slightly. "You are too kind," he muttered.

So the Firish king and queen were called back into the room. Vanessa easily convinced them that the High Prince of the Land of the Boulders had swept her off her feet and after thanking him profusely, they allowed him to take her back to his homeland to ‘show her the Dragonian culture'.

Vanessa rode with Calvin, experiencing mounting excitement as they drew closer and closer. How indescribably wonderful it would be to see Henry again. How amazingly gratifying it would be to feel that aura of love and protection radiated from no part lesser than his soul surround her.

It seemed like an age before she arrived at The Dragonian Palace but eventually Vanessa was handing the reins of her horse to the stable-hands and walking into Calvin's home. She was led into the gardens where to her elation she was greeted by the High Prince of Wavia.

"My love, it has been too long," Henry said in an incredibly warm tone as he clasped Vanessa's hands and gazed into her eyes.

The Firish High Princess felt as though she could drown in the blue depths holding her gaze.

"I agree," she replied weakly.

And their mouths met and their hearts reunited.

When Vanessa returned to her home, she was allowed her freedom, her parents being none the wiser about her encounter with the man she so despised. Calvin paid her frequent visits and she was elated about the new amount of time she could safely spend with her love.

On the eighth day of February, Henry boldly sent out invitations to the rulers of each the countries for his and Vanessa's weddings which was to take place on the eighteenth day of that same month in the Land of Boulders. He hoped that their parents would change their minds about the whole affair but, having sense enough in him to worry if they did not, did not return to Wavia Palace that evening. Vanessa, who had been with him for that day and had fretted a lot more than Henry, went home with Kiana. Over that week, each prepared for the wedding, enjoying themselves deeply but never daring to go home.

On the day, Kiana and Calvin's families assembled in the church. There was no sight of any Phoenixes or Dolphins, save for Henry and Vanessa's favourite servants. Calvin Terra was Henry's best man and Phoenicia Fyre Vanessa's bridesmaid. Kiana's parents had offered to be witnesses.

Everyone who watched the Wavian High Prince and Firish High Princess make the vows was deeply moved by the act and inspired by their bravery and determination. All the women cried and all the men were proud to know Henry Waterfall. Everyone present was honoured to have been invited. 

After the reception at The Dragonian Palace, Henry and Vanessa enjoyed a sensational honeymoon: first taking a boat out into the ocean surrounding Fireland, Wavia , the Land of the Boulders and the grassy plain on the soil of which Majesteria had previously stood; then staying a few days in the hotel on that floating city in the room with the balcony on which they had shared their very first kiss; and finally visiting the caves in the Land of Boulders where precious stones grew like flowers, sustained by the water vapour in the air and illuminated by tiny glowing potted plants which lined the walls of the cave - these were watered daily by Dragons who enjoyed gardening.

After this glorious fortnight, the couple began to plan out their lives.

The End

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