AOH – Chapter 41

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CHAPTER 41: LOVE CONQUERS ALL

OUTSIDE THE CITY GATE

RHYSSA RENASI

1014 LIGHTMONTH

‘Well come back again …or don’t’ says the guard escorting us out.

After the healer heals us we were escorted out of the city, and we are also given some money and supplies.

The young lord must think of us as a wandering martial artist and give us some money.

I looked at the guards posted in the city tower. They look at us, watching us if we try to make a scene outside the city.

The old me would shouted outside the city gate demanding another fight. But I know what I promised. I will return home

I will return back. For the first time I learn how to admire and respect someone other than myself

‘Not going back there princess?’ Arturo asked his hand is still trying to adjust to the crutch.

In a few days he will heal but for now…the crutch

He knows me. I’m stubborn. Headstrong. He must be worried that I try to enter the city again when we have been given a warning

‘No Arturo’ I shake my head.

‘Not today’

The city has begun their busy day and the sun has shown itself after the storm yesterday.

I look at the mighty city wall and the largeness of this great city and I turned to Arturo

‘Hear me Arturo.’

‘Yes princess?’

‘One day, I will come back here and I promise I will find him, Arial the Dragon and beat him’

And with that I formed a smile. The young handsome lord. He is what I want and someday I will come here again to claim both my win and his heart.

I never felt that excited or scared before, or the level of attraction I have ever felt in….ever.

Who says that only man can make a move?

Grandma Rhaessa once said to me, sometimes you just have to take what you want because the world will not give it to you, unless you really, really fight for it.

And I’m sure I will fight for it

‘Why are you smiling Princess?’

‘Nothing Arturo. Nothing.’

And I jump into my horse and began riding home. Wait for me, dragon. I will be back.

*************************************************************************

SEAWORTH

KYLE LETHE

1014 LIGHTMONTH

‘What are we doing here sister?’

The sea breeze and the windy that smells the smell of the ocean washed us in the comfort of the Seaworth castle.

‘You heard what Lord Aries said. He wants to make a surprise for Arial.’

‘And the surprise?’

‘Oh, the surprise? It is, I don’t know maybe HIS FIANCEE!’ Lisa yelled at me

‘Alright, fine. Don’t yell.’

‘I mean can you be that stupid? Why else would we come here?’

‘The food? The entertainment? The lovely maiden?’

My sister just rolled her eyes at me.

‘Like you had in Seren? That tanner’s daughter?’ She said at me

‘Alright, let me explain. First of all, it wasn’t my fault. How should I know her heart has already been spoken? And..’

‘Shut it. I’m too young to hear your dirty stories, brother. ‘

‘Seriously? What do you think of your brother?’

‘Not anything good’ she replied

‘You will be pleased to know I treat her like a gentleman.’

‘And how is that?’

‘I bed her, give her a charming kiss in the cheek during the night, and sing her love song’

‘And disappeared’ she said ‘and how is that gentlemanly?’

‘Of course it is gentlemanly’ I said

‘You realize you broke her heart’

‘Why would she be? I told her I had to go trading in Vorthy, facing dangers an-‘

‘I told her’ I couldn’t believe what she said. She told her?

‘OH MY GOD! I HOPE YOU’RE DELIGHTED WITH YOURSELF.’

‘WHAT! ‘

‘You broke that girl heart.’ I said

‘Me?’ She said puzzled

‘Yes, you. She’ll probably never trust a man again’

‘You’re blaming me?’

‘Yes of course you. You should let her believe what she wants to believe’

‘Fine, I’ll tell mother’ she threatened

I quickly kneeled to ground.

‘Alright dear sister, sorry.’

She glared at me.

‘How about really, really, really sorry’

She sighed.

‘You know brother, you should be careful. I am curious brother, why among the 4 of us, you, me, Arial and Helia, you turn like this’

I looked at her.

‘I wonder about that myself’ I said, smiling a bitter smile.

‘Hmmph. Alright brother. I will meet Helia in the garden in the evening. Would you like to join us?’

‘To tell about old stories?’

‘And new stories.’ My sister said

‘I’ll pass.’

‘Fine. And don’t go around the castle seducing the handmaiden or the maid.’

‘What if they seduce me? Is that allowed?’

‘Don’t flatter yourself, brother’

‘Why not? You clearly won’t flatter me and Arial is always brooding so it is up to your poor brother to flatter himself’

‘Whatever’

My sister exit herself from the room. And slamming the door really hard. She really is annoyed this time.

I looked outside the window. I could see the shores of the beach.

The waves roll back and forth from the shore, crawling slowly. I sniffed and I could swear I could smell the salty air like the very water of the ocean.

I stare down at the lonely shore. The pebbles and the small stones at the shores sparkled in the sun; emitting light and the small waves till hit the shores, almost like beating it down.

Helia

I spoke her name like it is a whisper, a dream I could never reach. I sit at the window edge feeling the air.

This is where she lives.

Surrounded by beautiful beaches, and fresh air, living in a castle, a lord daughter.

I love Arial.

He is my friend first, lord last. And my family is sworn to him. But that is not the reason I am friend with him.

His character was as nearly perfect as it is possible. Honorable and kind. A son of a farmer, but now a son of a High Lord, a military commander, and lord of a city.

He inspires, he commands. He is a hero

I have never encountered any man that possesses his bearing that is the same age as him. He looks far and high.

Where? To the highest mountain? Or beyond it? Or is it the sky and stars he is aiming for? I do not know. I never did know. And I fear that I will be left out.

One can’t gaze too long at the sun else I be blind and burn. Helia, I said her name again like a chant

I still remember the first moment I met Helia. She was beautiful, her eyes sparkle, her voice was like a song, her laughter is like joy itself.

And she was nice to me and my sister. She respect us, make friend with us.

And join us in our quest and sooner, and inevitably I might say, I fall in love with her. How could I not? She was the perfect girl.

But I could, no, I have not the courage to let my heart, my deepest wish and desire to be known.

For I was a son of a hunter back then and so I treated her kindly and hoping, praying someday she would open her eyes in the morning and felt the same emotion that I felt.

There was a time, when we were in the academy, that we almost….but…misunderstanding and the mishap after that…prevent us from ever…falling in love.

But alas, that is a dream. I did not hear whispers of love. Was it because of my undecisiveness? I wanted to blame life.

Maybe. Almost. This words…this thing called fate is….torturing. I like to say we gave it a try.

Thinking back, I thought maybe we weren’t meant to be…..but deep in my heart, I know it is a lie.

So…close. So close to being in love.

Or maybe, she always knew who she loves. I blame not the beautiful lady for she has done me no wrong.

It is not her predicament that I fell in love with her. It is mine. Imagine my shock when I heard she has accepted the betrothal of Arial.

She will be my lady and I will love her as such…..no matter how much it hurts…no matter how it tear me apart seeing her in another man arms….seeing her in Arial arms.

I just hope my feeling won’t show…hide  it I decided.But I need time. The feeling is bitter. Regret fills me.

Question of time whether I should have asked her, try to make a connection with her in those time we spent together, could it be, will it be that I might have a chance to win her heart?

Agonizing over the things I have done wrong, of the things I say or didn’t say, of all the life that I could have with her….thinking ,imagining a life with her.

What heaven that would be!

But time has decided for me for I was too late in deciding….too much misunderstanding not resolved….A misunderstanding that I never had the chance to correct.

And then it became too late. She chooses him.

I…am no match for Arial, either in prowess or the minds or even status. He was the perfect choice. He bitterly mused.

He was the perfect choice, true, but could he make her happy? That is the only thing he hopes from his friend. To make Helia happy…the way he never could.

I turn back to see the shore. Lord Aries and Lady Julia seem to be strolling around the shores and smiling.

A perfect embodiment of love. I’ve been accompanying them for months now and I could say with certainty, their love is the kind of love I want.

They respect each other, help each other, they argue yet they forgive, and they will always have a kiss in the morning and night, whispering song of love.

My sister always complained to me that I like to play around. I don’t like it. I didn’t do it ebcaus its fun.

I do it because I am in sorrow. Because I’m sad. Because I don’t know how else to drown this covetous heart.

Because seeing her….with another man….break my heart apart, feeling like my heart is being ripped by  a thousand shreds, bleeding and gasping for air…it hurts.

It is painful. It is tormenting.

I try to forget Helia but I could not. My head is filled with her, my heart beating uncontrollably seeing her.

She grows to be more and more beautiful each passing year ….but I could not bend her will to me. I could not make her fond of me the way she is fond of my friend.

She loves Arial. And this…what I’m feeling…is like a betrayal to my brother. Will this pain fades? Will this feeling disappear? I hope so.

And then the door creaked

‘Who’s there?’

‘It’s me, Kyle’

I know that voice. Helia. She entered the room. And by God she looks beautiful

Her white skin glistened like the pebbles I saw in the beach, emitting light and her gentle brown eyes look at me.

She is wearing a blue gown, hand stitched, seeing her in dress is a rare occasion for I always see her donning her armour.

‘Kyle will you not join me having an evening tea?’

‘I’ll pass’

She smiles

‘Even if it is me asking?’ She said her brown eyes look at me. She was seductive even without trying.

‘Won’t Lisa be there?’

She chuckled ‘Yes. Why? Does she bother you that much?’

‘No…I just..’

‘Come on Kyle. After the wedding I would not be so free anymore would I? I will have to help Arial govern and give him wise counsel. Rarely we could meet again in such casual manner’

‘Would you not miss it?’ I asked

‘Miss what?’ she said

‘The freedom?’

She chuckled again. ‘Why do you think my freedom would be lost?’

‘You said it’

‘I said I will not be that free. Responsibility is not a prison, though I suspect that Arial like to think so. He treated like his responsibility cannot be shared, like he is the only one fit to bear that burden. Arrogant isn’t he?’ Helia said looking outside the window, her eyes shows a trace of loneliness.

She always wanted to save. If there is one flaw of Helia it is this. She believes everything that is broken could be mended.

I did not answer her question, just admires her visage, trying to see through her.

She continued

‘I want to soothe him, heal him for he looked like he bears a heavy burden and every time I see his melancholic look, my heart ache for him. Had any man look so beautiful?’

‘Do you love him?’ I asked, the only thing that matters. If she did not love him….if I would have the chance, I would have taken her in my arms, carried her off, and married her.

‘Of cour…’

‘I mean, really love him?’

She looked at me. Staring intently.

‘I do. I could not explain it to you but I do love him. I could drown myself in his clear blue eyes, but one day I will heal his wound and scar when we are wed. Really’ and she smiles

‘Then it will be fine.’ I said, the voice sound hoarser than I intended.

‘I hope so. After all Love Conquers All doesn’t it?’

‘Yes. I do sincerely hope so.’

She pulls my hand and brings me out of the room like she did so many years ago.

And I could not help but pray for her to be happy, for her eyes when talk about Arial was full of hope, longing and joy. Such love. Such affection.

When will it be my turn?

*********************************

GARDEN

LISA LETHE

The gate was wood, big and ivy vines cascaded over the fence, growing in every direction. On the side of the stone path are flowers.

The lawn is ill with beautiful green grass and a huge tree is in the center of that garden with a swing under it.

Rich colours fill the garden, the scarlet and saffron hued primroses, the iridescent blues and greens, and the whites and orange.

Just beside the big tree is a canopy, and here I am talking to my friend and with my brother.

‘Remember the quest we had in Salisbur?’ My brother said

Helia chuckled

‘The Missing Hand Quest? Remember that Lisa?

I nodded

‘Yes, that was hilarious’ Helia said still chuckling remembering our days in the Academy.

Helia still did some quest but that was before the Knight Academy closed its door.

‘Who would have thought that, that man tries to disappear from his wife and cut off his own hands?’ Helia continued

This time my brother laughed out loud. Then we talked about other things and finally the topic turned to Arial

‘What do you think? Will he like the surprise Lisa?’

Arial parents decided to bring Helia back with them to Acro, to live with them for a while.

Lord Helve has agreed, after all it is common practice It can also strengthen the bond between the betrothed.

‘He would love it’ I said

‘Do you think Arial love me? I love him so I hope he loves me too.He is neevr to clear on this. Always stoic and his face is always full of worry’

‘He loves you. He would be stupid not to love you’ my brother said. Helia chuckled nervously.

Though his smile are bitter. Why?

‘Truly?’ Helia asked

‘Yes, truly.’ My brother answers. Helia smiles again

A young handsome lord and a beautiful lord daughter. A match made in heaven, I would say.

I look at Helia

She is the perfect girl for Arial

She is kind and clever, with a gentle heart and a sweet wit. He would be a fine companion for Arial.

Arial parent is also very fond of her, Helia even started calling both of them as father and mother. They are pleased of course, to gain such a beautiful daughter in laws.

Helia speak with my brother and I looked at the huge tree in front of us. Helia and Arial.

From my childhood, Arial is my friend and our leader. He would play soldier and we follow him in his mischief, in the jungle, in the creek, in the river and we hear his order.

I was born a hunter daughter; we live by what my father caught. And in my childhood I was weak so nobody really plays with me.

But not Arial.

He plays with me, guarded me, teach me, accompany me and protect me from the village scoundrels.

He is to me, a prince like in the old stories. Handsome and charming, honorable and strong, commanding and inspiring.

By the time I could know the feeling of like, I like him.

It is not that surprising. The 4 of us is always together. It is normal some of us developed feeling towards each other. Not to mention, he always help me.

But Helia beat me to it. But I’m not complaining. I was late. Helia was fast.

And in the end, Arial make his choice. He chose Helia. I’m happy for both of them.

They’re both my friend, so I could not help but be happy. Arial always complimented me saying that I’m a brave woman.

Forget it, let it blows by the wind. I am not a brave woman. Killing people? Now that’s easy. Yet confessing my feeling? Now that’s hard.

I could not tell him, tell him I love him too, and I do not have the courage to tell him to be mine. We’re just friends.

I will not ruin the friendship I had because of some lingering feeling.

‘Lisa, what are you thinking about?’ Helia question brought me back

‘Oh, nothing. Old memories’

‘Which one?’ My brother asked

I smile and said ‘the good ones’

I look at the garden and the flowers and the vegetable patch and I looked back at Helia and my brother teasing each other.

This is good enough. This friendship.

I still remember when we go hunting together and messing around with Arial, the brooder one in our group, pranking my brother and sometimes even pranks Helia, the kind and gentle Helia, who never did get mad at me, though sometimes he plotted with Kyle to prank me back, the flour falling in my hair the second year in the academy comes to mind.

I also remember Arial and me stuck in a forest behind the school, and he saved me, though that was a long time ago, Arial the most mature one in our group.

He is smart and capable, the strongest actually in our group of four, but he also felt distant sometimes. Like he is older than us. Like he could disappear and leave us, anytime he wants.

And the only thing we could do…is look at his lonely back.

He sees more than us, his eyes always looking at the future. For what? We never know.

 I also remember our rest in this beautiful river, though I don’t know what the river is called because it was in the middle of nowhere, just sitting there laughing and singing and dancing, a river so still that the moment seems so precious.

That friendship.

I felt a little jealous but that would not mean I would try to steal Arial from Helia. Not that he would respond. He is too clueless sometimes.

I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to fight for them, make an effort in it and let them fight for you.

Don’t walk away, don’t get distracted, and most importantly don’t take them for granted. It is a powerful bond, not to be ignored or underestimated.

And then we got up and began rushing to the beach, and I smile. There will be many more days like this.

A day of love and peace.

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