A week or so after we had spread the word, all my birds had returned, fully replenishing my magic. The word was all over the region. Now, my followers would come out of hiding. I just hoped I had some, if any... I had also sent a few specific messages to trusted families, giving word of my imminent return, and my need for gold, and weapons. I offered the reward of royal favor once I got back into power.
As usual, I was up and dressed early, my long hair tied back in a braid. I dressed in brown leather leggings and a shirt, and followed Percival outside to begin training for the day. But instead of finding him warming up, like I usually did, I found him staring down the mountain.
"What is it?" I said, hurrying over. I feared the worst. Maybe our enemy had gotten word of my return, maybe.. But there was only a single figure, a young man, leading his dun gelding up the steep slope. Percival was squinting, clearly trying to get a good look at the man's face. When the man reached seeing distance, his face broke into a grin, and he began to run toward us.
"Father!" He yelled, over and over. "Father, it is I! Your son!" Percival's jaw dropped. By this time, a curious Odele and a sleepy Flinn, with hair sticking every where, had emerged to find out what was going on.
"Fyren? Is it really you? Oh my dear son!" Percival cried, holding out his arms. The young man dropped his horse's reins and ran to Percival's embrace, his face streaked with tears of apparent joy. When they broke apart, a good few minutes later, both of their cheeks were wet.
"Oh father.. I knew you were alive! Mother didn't believe, no-one did, but me. I believed. As soon as I was old enough, I began expeditions to search for you. I have searched for three years, but now, at least, I know my search was not in vain..." Fyren looked as though he were going to say more, until he linked gazes with me. He was Percival's son, who was my age, the one he had left behind to protect me.. He looked almost a mirror image of his father. His hair was short and golden, very wind-swept. His pale cheeks and chin were dotted with golden stubble, and his warm brown eyes shone with moisture. He was wearing a simple green tunic and creamy leggings, with brown boots. "My Queen..." He murmured, dropping to one knee.
"I am no Queen yet, squire. Arise." I said gently. I stepped forward, and took his hand in my own. "Fyren, I hope you will accept my deepest apologies. You were without your father for eight years because of me and my selfish ways.." I sighed, and fought back tears. "Please. I know you must have gone through such hardship, living without him, but I hope you will accept this, as my apology." I pressed a golden force-gem into his palm.
"Wh-what? It isn't your fault! You are without a mother and a father! My lady, I cannot accept this gift! What is it, anyway?" Fyren's face was confused, and his warm eyes sought mine, and seemed to look right into my soul.
"A force gem is made when a person's spirit over flows with gratitude, or, as in this case, sympathy, or apology." Flinn recited, as if from memory. "It is made from the purest gold. Boy, I would advise you keep that. The gold it could get you would feed your family for a good decade."
"Oh my princess, take this back.." Fyren said, trying to thrust it back at me, but as it touched my hands, it just shot back into his. I smiled.
"It knows to whom it belongs. You must truly need to get rid of it if you are to give it away. The only way you can get rid of it is to sell it to me, and unfortunately, though I am a princess, I am a poor one, and could not give you anywhere near the right price." I said, grinning. Fyren sighed, accepting defeat, but when he turned back to his father, I saw a grin appear on his face.