My month in the elven realm had reached its end. Lillian went up to commune with Adelpha one more time before we left. This time she asked I remain behind. Though I was curious, I respected her wish. Besides, I was still trying to figure out what happened at the shrine last week.
It had felt amazing to kiss her. I had never felt like that before and I now knew that's what my father had meant when he spoke of the first time he kissed my mother. But there was still the question of the different races. She may say that Adelpha gave her permission, but I could sense the fear and uncertainty coming from Lillian.
At least I wasn't the only one.
The next morning, on our way to the Meeting Hall, the elves had made an aisle leading from the front of her hut all the way up to the steps. As we walked, they tossed beautiful purple and gold flowers into the air and sang a song in their native language. Not all the elves were there which I could feel bothered her but, at the same time, she didn't need them. The support she was getting right now was more than she needed. One day she'll realize that.
When we got to the Meeting Hall, she sat beside Elder Arlan again and I sat beside Elder Donne. He was giving off a strange aura again and I glanced at him.
"How was your month?" Elder Arlan asked.
"It was... informative," I said finally. "I did enjoy myself so thank you for that."
"We have a few gifts for you," Elder Arlan said and I looked to Lillian.
Judging by the look on her face, she wasn't surprised.
"Okay," I said.
"The first one is from Petunia Oaken," Elder Arlan said and put something on the table that made my skin tingle.
"How about you open it?" I said and the corners of his lips twitched. "Aw, come on," I groaned as a silver chopping knife rolled onto their side.
Lillian giggled. "It was a joke," she said. "Give him the real gift."
Elder Arlan set a book on the table and I reached over. I opened it but it was in Elvish. Lillian was tugging at her hair like she did when she was nervous or overwhelmed.
"I'm confused," I said.
"That book is the complete history of the elves," Elder Arlan said and I looked at it, excited. "However, there will be only one person who can translate it for you."
I looked up at Lillian.
"S-So you better be nice to me," she said, trying to joke and I scoffed.
"Maybe," I joked back.
"This gift is from me," Elder Arlan said and put a small bag on the table.
Inside were a few items. Curious, I shook the bag until they were on the table. Upon closer inspection, I saw they were different pieces of gold jewelry. I frowned, confused again, and looked up. Lillian was covering her face.
"Those belonged to Lillian's father," Elder Arlan said. "He put me in charge of giving them to her husband should anything happen to him."
I blinked a few times. "I- Thank you," I whispered.
"The final gift is from Lillian," he said.
She was pink as she passed me another bag. I opened it and laughed softly. It was the pelt from the deer she killed.
"A deer for my dear," we said in unison and she laughed, tugging at her hair again.
"Thank you very much for these gifts," I said, packing them all into the bag with the pelt. "I will treasure them."
"Now, I'm sure you're wondering if young Lillian will be able to return before the wedding," Elder Donne said. We both nodded. "It is up to you, Roan Dragomir."
I frowned. "Me?"
"Once you marry, Lillian will only be allowed to visit her realm once every five years."
"What?" Lillian shouted.
Elder Arlan shook his head, looking angry for the first time since I've known him. It was clear whose decision this was.
"If you choose to go back before the wedding," Donne continued, "you will have to decide then if you will do the five year agreement, or not come back at all."
"When were you going to tell her this?" I demanded and Elder Donne looked shocked.
"It's just five years," he said. "Besides, how can she bear your child if she's gone all the time?"
I groaned. That was the wrong thing for him to say. Lillian jumped to her feet, looking on the verge of attacking Elder Donne. She sufficed with flipping the table and storming out, shouting curses in her native tongue.
"When were you going to at least tell me?" I asked, helping put the table upright. "If I had known-"
"Exactly," Elder Donne interrupted. "If you had known, you would have told her."
"This is her home, Elder Donne," I said. "You're going to keep her from it every five years?"
"In one month, it won't be her home anymore. Our realm, your palace, your bedchambers, will be her home."
My jaw dropped. "You intend on keeping her locked in my bedchambers!?"
"Until you impregnate her," he nodded.
"You don't even know if she can get pregnant!" I argued.
He narrowed his eyes. "Then that will be a good incentive for her to try."
"Elder Donne, you can't force a woman's body to bear a child!" I shouted. "It's impossible!"
He didn't answer. Instead, he turned and left the Meeting Hall. I looked at Elder Arlan, lost for words.
"It was the one condition he made me agree to," Elder Arlan whispered, tears running down his cheeks. "I could not sway him from it."
"You're willing to let your-your-your daughter be locked away!?"
"Of course not," he said. "The condition he made me agree to was the five year return. The part about her being locked away.... That's up to you, Roan. You've seen the side of Lillian I wanted you to see. The free side, the side unhindered by the immensity of what she's about to do."
He sighed and stood up.
"She's sacrificing a lot by marrying you," he whispered. "I know you are making sacrifices of your own, but just remember that the next time the two of you argue." He smiled a little when I blinked. "Every couple argues, whether they are in love or not. Now I need to go find her."
"She's probably with Adelpha," I mumbled. "I'll go check her hut, though."
He nodded. I was almost certain she was with Adelpha but I wanted Elder Arlan to be the one to comfort her. I had my own problems to deal with now.
I stood outside the Meeting Hall doors and looked to my side of the realm. Elder Donne had always been a friend of my father's. Did my father know about this condition he had made? And there was still the question of why they chose Lillian in the first place.