Kiya opened her door and walked out into the hall. It was vacant, not a maid or any other person in sight. Silently she made her way towards the dining room, with the long tail of her sapphire gown trailing behind her. Her mother and father were already there. Her father was wearing leather boots and a pair of red silk pants and matching shirt. Her mother was wearing a beautiful gold gown with a long trail. Atop both their heads were crowns. They both greeted Kiya in turn, and then she took her place at the table.
A door opened and Meko and Sasha came in, and between them they supported Raúl. Meko was dressed similar to her father, though no traces of the battle lingered on his face. Sasha’s hair was no longer matted together with blood and her face was clean. Only her eyes remained stained and cloudy with grief. Her dress was white and red, and had no sleeves. Raúl walked slowly, as if every move she made caused her immense pain. Her long hair was shiny and it flowed down her back in a river of curls. Her dress was deep ivory and had long sleeves.
The procession of three slowly made their way to the table to be greeted by their king and queen, and take their places at the table.
“Are you feeling better, my daughter?” Korth asked, after everyone was seated and they began eating.
“It still hurts, though not as bad,” Raúl said. “Have you found any sign of him?”
“Not yet,” Vasili said, “He’s not among the living, unless he’s wounded and he was left on the field. The men are going to continue searching for him and others soon.”
“It’s a shame. Kaliki was one of our best warriors.”
“Kaliki’s missing?” Kiya asked. Her mental shields crashed, and everyone at the table flinched at the strong emotions filling her.
“Yes. No one has seen him since the battle began.”
Longing flooded from Kiya as she thought of Kaliki. The only thing that persuaded her to come to Balkan Ramas was the reassurance in his beautiful green eyes.
“You love him, don’t you?” Vasili asked gently.
“Love is a strong word, but yes,” Kiya said. “I didn’t realize it until now.”
“He loves you, too,” Raúl said. “I felt fear and longing coming from him in immense waves the morning you didn’t come back.”
“I must search for him!” Kiya said, standing up from the table abruptly.
“What about your dress?” Vasili asked.
“I’ll change!” Kiya said. “Vamas!” Her extravagant gown faded to a shirt and pants and her high- heeled shoes became leather sandals. Everyone at the table stared at Kiya. “There, that’s better!” Kiya exclaimed, and seconds later she bolted out the door.
“I better follow her,” Raúl said. “Vamas!”
“Let’s go,” Sasha said, “Vamas!”
Together Meko and Sasha darted after Raúl and Kiya. On the battlefield, which was what had been the garden, Raúl, Meko, and Sasha searched for Kiya, but they yielded no results.
At last they heard a solemn weeping, the only sound to be heard in the dead silence. Quickly they rushed to Kiya, where she sat weeping beside a mangled Kaliki.
“He’s dead!” she sobbed.
Raúl grabbed Kiya by the shoulders, and with Meko’s help, she began dragging Kiya away.
“Wait!” Sasha called. “He’s still alive, but only barely alive.”
“Can you save him?” Kiya asked frantically.
“I don’t know,” Sasha said. “I’ll do my best, though.”
“Come on, there’s nothing else you can do here,” Raúl said, coaxing her sister to leave the battlefield.
“Did you find anything?” Vasili inquired when they reached the castle.
“We found him,” Raúl said. “He was almost dead.”
“Kiya, I think it would be best if you went to sleep,” Vasili said.
Kiya walked slowly to her room. After washing off the blood that had collected on her hands, she climbed into bed. She was grateful for the warmth of the thick quilts and she drifted asleep before she gave herself the chance to think.
Kiya awoke the next morning when her mother sat on her bed and began stroking her hair. She sat up and looked at her mother.
“Kaliki is doing better. He’s asked for you a little while ago.”
“Where is he?” Kiya asked.
“Get dressed,” Vasili said, “I’ll take you to him.”
Kiya put on a blue dress and followed her mother to Kaliki’s room. Neither of them said a word as they walked and the short trip to his room seemed to take days. Perhaps this was, at least in part, because of Kiya’s anxiousness to see Kaliki. When they went into his room after knocking gently, Kiya saw that he was lying in his bed. His face and arms were covered in bruises, and overall he seemed languid. Kiya could barely look at him, and as she did so, tears began to streak her face.
“Don’t cry, Kiya,” Kaliki said. “I’ll be fine. The bruises need to heal, and other than that I only have a couple broken ribs.”
“It’s just not easy to look at you being hurt, knowing that all of this is my fault. The soldiers lying dead in the field, Shauna and Ruick being killed, and so many other people being injured. All of it is my fault!” Kiya began sobbing.
Kaliki beckoned her to his bed and sat up. “It’s not your fault. You had no way of knowing what was going to happen, and all of these men and woman chose to fight. You didn’t force anyone to do anything they wouldn’t have done, had the situation called for them.”
“Yes, but I brought him back. It is my fault.”
“Kiya listen to me! It is not your fault!” Kaliki gently grabbed Kiya’s chin and made her look at him. She pulled away crying when he gasped with pain. Again, he made her look at him. “You have to understand that this isn’t your fault!”
Kiya jumped up from his bed and ran back to her room. Kaliki made an effort to get out of bed and follow her, even though he was still weak and every movement screamed pain. When he reached her room, he found that she had locked her door using magic.
“Kiya, open your door, please. I just want to talk.”
“No! Go away! You should hate me for the pain that I have caused you!” she yelled.
“But I don’t hate you,” Kaliki said. “I can’t hate you.”
Kaliki heard a sob filled mumble from behind the door and then it opened moments later. Kiya stood just inside of the door and looked up at Kaliki. Tears streaked her face and her eyes as well as her nose were red. After a second’s hesitation, she embraced Kaliki. She buried her face in his chest and cried for several moments. He stroked her hair to comfort her, and gradually her crying stopped.
“Kiya,” Kaliki said.
“Yes?” she asked, looking up at him without moving away.
“Will you marry me?” Kaliki asked, returning Kiya’s long look.
“I…” Kiya was at a loss of words. “I don’t know!” Kiya began crying again, and Kaliki pulled her in close to him.
“If you aren’t sure if you can marry me because of the battle and all of my injuries, none of that matters to me,” Kaliki said.
“Yes,” Kiya said hesitantly. “I will marry you.” She finished the sentence more strongly.
“Great. Now let’s go tell your parents the good news.”
Together they walked down the hall towards the meeting room. Both her parents and her sister were in the room as Kiya walked through the door, with Kaliki following her closely. Everyone in the room looked up as the couple entered the room.
“Mother, Father,” Kiya said.
“Yes, darling,” her parents said, almost in unison.
“Kaliki and I have something to tell you,” Kiya said.
“We’re listening,” her mother said.
“Kaliki asked me to marry him and I said yes.”
“Congratulations!” her mother said, and her father embraced her in a hug. Her sister beamed with happiness.
“When shall we have the wedding?” her father asked.
“After Kaliki heals, of course,” Kiya said.
“Of course,” Korth said.
“Excuse me,” Kiya said, “I must go tell Sasha the news.” Kiya made her way to Sasha’s room alone. She knocked on the door, and Sasha opened it.
“I have some exciting news,” Kiya said.
“Oh really,” Sasha said, and raised an eyebrow.
“Yes,” Kiya said. “Kaliki and I are getting married!”
“In about a week or two. We’re going to wait until his bruises heal.”
“I might be able to heal those, you know,” Sasha said.
“You can?” Kiya said.
“I’m not promising anything, but I can try.”
“Can we try now?” Kiya asked.
“If you want, and if he’s alright with it,” Sasha said.
Together they walked back to the meeting room. Neither of them said anything to the other while they walked side by side down the hall. They entered the room and found no one but Kaliki remained.
“Sasha says that she might be able to heal your bruises so that we can have the wedding,” Kiya said.
“If that’s what you want, then it’s fine with me.”
Sasha walked over to Kaliki and began weaving her net of magic. Slowly Kaliki’s bruises faded and at last they could no longer be seen. “There, that should do it,” Sasha said, carefully observing her work.
“Then we shall have the wedding service the day after tomorrow,” Kaliki said.
The rest of the day Kiya spent in her room, sifting through all of her hair pins and jewelry. When it was time, she went to the dining room and ate dinner with her family, and then returned to her room and went to sleep. The entire next day was spent getting ready for the wedding ceremony. The dress was made from magic and Kiya tried it on to be sure that it fit. The rooms were redecorated in white and light violet. Fresh candles were placed in the crystal holders on the walls. At the end of the day, Kiya was ready for the wedding. Her dress was ready, and all the rooms were decorated appropriately. She went to bed that night feeling very satisfied.
The next morning Raúl and Sasha came to wake Kiya. They gave Kiya her dress and helped her into it. The dress was white and gold and the train was extremely long. It was heavily sequined and had no straps. The veil, with its edges made of beaded gold lace, came down to her waist and covered all of her hair. The small crown that held the veil to her head was nothing short of astounding. It was made of solid gold, and it had diamonds set into it. Kiya left her hair mostly down, holding it partially back using only two diamond hair pins. The necklace that she chose was made of diamonds and it fanned out.
The three women made their way to the throne room, where the ceremony was taking place. Raúl handed Kiya a bouquet of white roses and then she and Sasha went into the room, leaving Kiya to stand with Meko. When it was time, Meko took Kiya’s arm and led her towards the small pedestal in front of the thrones where her parents stood. Upon reaching the pedestal, he left her with Kaliki and went to stand off to the side. Kiya and Kaliki stood beside each other on the pedestal and faced her parents.
“Kaliki, do you wish to have Kiya for your wife? Will you stand beside her as king of Avlon, when her time to rule comes?” Korth asked.
“Kiya, do you wish to have Kaliki for your husband? Will you have him stand beside you as king of Avlon, when your time to rule comes?” Vasili asked.
“Then by our power as king and queen of Avlon, we now pronounce you husband and wife,” Korth and Vasili said in unison.