Chapter 12



ightfall was approaching, and it was a fine evening. Of course, it would have been much finer if they hadn't been tied hand and foot, waiting to see if they were dead meat or just meat that was in big trouble. Chelsea tried not to panic, but it was becoming extremely difficult. She closed her eyes and laid her head back against the post they were tied to. Jeaine sat stifling tears on the other side, and Mark hummed to himself as if he wasn't in grave danger. Landon hopefully hadn't been captured, and that was probably the only thing that was keeping her sane. A horrible sense of guilt crept up insider her. She had no idea what they would do to them, but all she could think about was how she'd gotten her friends into this. She should have left when the Blackmasks had first attacked. She should have at least told them why. There were so many things she should have done. But, deep down inside of her, she was glad she hadn't left. If she had, she would never have kissed Landon. And for that reason alone she didn't regret her decision.

            But now she may never see him again.

            Blinking back the oncoming tears, she tried to think about something else, but the only thing she could think of was how much her wrists hurt from the ropes. All her life she'd been kept in, protected from the world outside. Only her brother could make her truly smile. But he left, leaving only a note with one word: Aroth. There was no one left she could trust. She had been surrounded by people and yet she'd never felt more alone. Leaving to find him had been the biggest decision she'd ever made, but it was the right one. She had to keep telling herself that.

            But when she met Landon, he made everything okay. After a lifetime of fake smiles and false friends, she had given up on people. But when she'd stepped out of that life, she'd made true friends that really believed in her. Friends that cared. And above all, she'd found her true love.

            Opening her eyes, she found a new strength. She would not give up. She would not cower. She would stay strong until the end.

            Examining the situation, she scanned her surroundings. They were somewhere with a lot of trees. Blackmasks swarmed about small tents that were clearly temporary by their shabby build and lack of particular order. Several guards were standing watch over them. Some wore full facemasks and others just covered part of their faces, but it gave her the creeps. She felt like she was in some sort of dark masquerade.

             After being pulled out of the water and tied up, they'd floated downriver for a time, taking them farther away from Aroth. Frustration consumed her.

            "How can you hum at a time like this?" she whispered fiercely to Mark.

            "It's what I do when I'm nervous. It also makes them confused and angry, and you know how much I love that," he explained nonchalantly. She rolled her eyes.

             "We found him, sir," a Blackmask announced, throwing Landon's limp form out in front of them. All hopes of rescue vanished and she finally let herself panic. It took her a heart-pounding moment to realize he was still alive, just unconscious. It was a small comfort compared to the situation she was in now. But to her it meant everything.

            A rather revolting man stepped out from one of the larger tents. He had greasy black hair that hung into his face and a crooked nose that fit well with his shadowed eyes. He seriously made her want to bathe herself. She noted that he was also the only one not wearing a mask.

            "Ah, yes. I have waited a long time for this day," he said in an oily voice as he peered down at Landon. "Tie him up." The others did as commanded, placing him between her and Jeaine. He started to wake up from all their manhandling, but he was still too woozy to resist. As he slowly regained consciousness, the leader began circling them, hands behind his back in a picture of ease. "Landon Evers. The boy who killed a king. What a pleasure." Jeaine choked on her own tears. Chelsea's mouth fell open. Mark continued humming.

            He must have made some kind of mistake. Landon couldn't be an Evers. They were dead! Well, the legendary Evers were. Was it possible that they'd had family? So many questions and so little answers. Landon had a lot of explaining to do if they ever survived this.

            Landon—who was fully awake by now—just sat there in unspoken defiance, making no denials. His intense eyes burned with hatred.

            "And what do we have here?" continued the leader, circling around to stand in front of her. "Well, well, well. I have to admit I was not expecting to see you here. The Princess! How lucky am I." Jeaine squeaked and Chelsea felt Landon stiffen beside her. Mark was still humming as if this wasn't news to him. Maybe it wasn't. You could never tell with him.

            She felt awful about the truth being broken to them this way, but the same had been done to Landon. She couldn't say that he deserved it told like this. She was still a little bit mad from the whole Windsinger incident, though. She couldn't be blamed. So, he was an Evers, he was a Windsinger, and—by the way this man told it—he'd killed a king. Could it have been him who killed her parents? Had he been using her the entire time? She banished the thought from her head. Landon wasn't like that. He was kind and sweet and the most sincere person she had ever met. And she loved him.

            She lifted her chin defiantly. She had to be the image of composure for her subjects.

            The man moved to examine the others then retreated back into his tent with orders to guard them well.

            "A princess?" Landon whispered in disbelief. "All this time I've been in love with a princess?"

            Chelsea was both relieved and angry by this. Relieved because he had pretty much said that he wasn't using her and that he'd had no idea all along. Angry because he was being a complete hypocrite.

            "You're one to talk! You're Landon Evers! You're a Windsinger! And not to mention you killed a king!" she snapped. That was two more rather huge secrets than hers. If anything, he was even worse a liar than she was.

            "That was an accident," he said defensively. "I didn't mean to kill King Carlon. He murdered my parents and I got mad. I was only seven. Besides, I didn't even know about any of this until a day before we left. You want the truth? I'm going to the Palace of Songs. King Carlon's son has been trying to kill me all spring. And, yes, I am a Windsinger. I was going to tell you eventually. I guess I was too cowardly to face the truth." He slumped against the post in resignation.

            So that was what his "receiving of the sword" was all about. That was the day he'd found out about his past. No wonder he was always so troubled. Sometimes he would even wake up in the middle in the night from nightmares he couldn't talk about. She had to cut him some slack.

            "I wasn't much better. I was too afraid you would judge me by my title instead of who I really am. I should have known you were too good for that. The reason I snuck out was because of Blaze. I suspect that he murdered my parents, but I didn't have any evidence. My brother, Stefan, left to rally up an army against the increasing number of Blackmasks. My guess is he went to Aroth to ask your King for assistance. I decided to follow him because I guess I was afraid of Blaze, which is silly, I know. But I couldn't just sit around and do nothing. So here I am."

            "Well, when I said I'd come along I didn't dream of traveling with a princess and a legend," Jeaine said quietly. "But I'm glad I did. Thanks for the adventure." She talked as if it was the end. Chelsea, however, refused to give up.

            "I don't intend to die like this. We're going to bust out of here," Mark reassured.

            "And how do you suppose are we going to do that?" Jeaine asked skeptically.

            "I haven't gotten there yet," he stated coolly. She smiled weakly and held his hand.

            Chelsea was still bothered by one thing. "How long have you known, Mark? About me, I mean." There was no way he had just found out about her true identity and not been at all surprised.

            He contemplated this for a moment. "Since the tavern incident. I suspected Saldian nobility from the beginning because of your natural leadership skills and annoying display of never-ending etiquette. But there was little room for doubt about your royal blood after hearing all the gossip in Middleston. Really, Chels, if you want to keep a secret then you should stop dropping hints all over the place. Someone might take a nasty trip on them one of these days." He made it sound so obvious. She made a mental note to never underestimate Mark again.

            "Why didn't you tell me?" Landon asked, sounding more than a little agitated.

            "As you would have so faithfully said, Landon: It was her secret to tell. Besides, it was kind of fun to watch and see what would happen." That was Mark for you.

            Landon shook his head. "Wait, if you're a princess," he said slowly, "then aren't you forbidden to court a commoner?"

            She sighed. Why did everyone have to be so stereotypical? "Not necessarily. You see, my brother is the one that has to marry nobility. But even then he could refuse and marry a commoner if he wanted to. Stefan is next in line to take on the throne, so that leaves me free to marry whom I choose," she explained. It wasn't the same for all kingdoms, but Saldi preferred freedom over politics. "It wouldn't matter anyway. You forget that you are in no way common."

            There were more questions to be asked, but all conversation was cut off by the reappearance of the oily man. He surveyed the scene with dark eyes and put his hands in the pockets of his black coat. He moved in closer, right in front of Landon. This man was the definition of a creeper.

            "Where is your power when you need it? There is nothing to save you now," he taunted, sneering evilly. As much as she hated this man, she had to admit; that was a good question. Landon was a Windsinger, but why was he doing nothing?

            "I'm just waiting for the perfect moment to unleash the full force of my power on your sorry hide. You'll be the first to know when I've found it," Landon threatened. She may have imagined it, but she thought she saw the faintest flicker of fear in the Blackmask's eyes. The tiniest waver in his sneer. He was afraid of Landon.

            But Landon was completely defenseless. Not only had they confiscated his sword, but she could tell how tired he was after escaping from the dragon. She had learned a little bit about Stormsingers growing up with Blaze. It took energy to control the power. After using great amounts of power, they felt extremely tired and were unable to control their talent until they had regained enough strength. She remembered Landon on his hands and knees, creating a windstorm with all the might of his being, and concluded that he probably couldn't blow a breeze at the moment. But of course, the Blackmasks didn't know that.

            Most people say that what they don't know can't kill them, but she found that in most cases, what they don't know most likely will be the death of them.

            The leader leaned down, placing his hands on his knees to look at Landon face to face. "I'll tell you what; you can join us and become the greatest man who's ever lived. We can offer you power and glory. You can rule over nations. You will never be hunted again." He paused for dramatic effect. "No one else will make this offer, and I will only offer it once. So consider carefully before answering. Remember, you could be a king if you join us." Landon didn't even hesitate before spitting right in his face. Unfortunately, the leader didn't tolerate disrespect very well. Wiping the saliva out of his eyes, he landed a blow to Landon's face, his eyes shining cruelly. He motioned for Landon to be brought out before him. Then they began to beat him. Landon could do nothing as they kicked him, laying there without resisting. She watched with wet eyes as he was thrashed for the entertainment of the other Blackmasks. Watching someone you love being hurt cuts deeper than any physical pain. Every blow struck her heart as if they had been beating her as well. It was torture beyond anything she had ever experienced.

            Finally, they dragged him into a tent and she thought it was finally over. But then the screaming started. There was no doubt it was Landon making the horrible noise. This scream was different from the one he had made earlier that day. This one rang of pure agony. She couldn't imagine what they could possibly be doing to him. Or rather, she refused to imagine.

            The screaming went on all night until he ran out of voice. After that came the moaning. Long, terrible moans of someone who was in pain. She tried to make herself sleep to escape it, but she couldn't. That was the longest night of her entire life.

            In the wee hours of the morning, she thought she might just drop dead for several reasons. She had just stayed up all night listening to the screams of her love. Dropping dead began to seem very appealing.

            To the right of her sat Mark with his fingers intertwined with Jeaine's. She could practically see the gears turn in his head as he thought hard. It was really a bad sign when Mark was out of ideas.

            Two Blackmasks approached them. They were the first female Blackmasks she had seen so far, but that didn't soften her hatred towards them. They appeared to be identical twins about her age, maybe a little older. Both had blonde hair, but one had a long braid down her back with sea green eyes and the other had short, spiky hair with eyes that were strikingly bright green. They both wore breeches and boots like hers, except they were dressed all in the customary black as all Blackmasks did. Chelsea glanced nervously at the swords strapped to their backs. These were not women to be trifled with.

            They sauntered over and gracefully unsheathed their swords. For a moment Chelsea thought they were going to execute them right then and there, but they did something nobody was expecting; they took out the guards. Their swords moved in perfect unison as if they had rehearsed it. Four guards dropped to the ground—dead—before they even knew what had hit them. Then they calmly wiped their swords on the clothes of the dead men and strolled with lethal grace to where they sat, staring. Cutting their bonds, they signaled for them to be quiet.

            "What's going on?" Jeaine asked, confused.

            "Quiet! If you want to make it out alive I suggest you save your questions for later," the spiky haired one snapped.

            "Be a little more optimistic, Mindi," the other one scolded. "They're probably frightened out of their wits. Nobody wants to go through what that poor guy in the tent did. He's still alive, but barely conscious." Mindi snorted in response.

            As soon as they were free, the twins made their way into the tent where Landon was being kept. She heard a few thuds as more Blackmasks hit the floor, taken by surprise. After a minute they returned with Landon slumped sloppily between them. He was in a very bad state. His face was bruised and there were burn marks on his hands. He was barely coherent.

            Without thinking, she rushed up and hugged him with all her might. He hardly responded, but she had the feeling he knew she was there. "Take it easy. I think he has a few broken ribs and most definitely a broken arm," the braided sister warned.

            "Unless you want to break a few more for him...." Mindi suggested darkly. Chelsea stepped back, embarrassed. The Blackmask sneered. "Yeah, that's what I thought."

            Chelsea didn't know what she thought of her saviors, nor did she care. They had saved their lives and she was grateful.

            "Let's get out of here before Bernard wakes up," said the braided one, handing Mark Tempest and his weapon belt.

            "Ah, Kira, can't we just kill him now?" Mindi whined, looking to her sister for permission. The one called Kira shook her head.

            "We don't have enough time. He sleeps with crowd of guards outside his tent, anyway. It would cause too much noise." Mindi grimaced as if she had just been denied her favorite treat.

            They began half supporting, half dragging Landon out of camp, trying to remain inconspicuous. Chelsea followed obediently, relying on them to lead her through the maze of tents. Occasionally a Blackmask would pass by, but they managed to hide just in time. The majority of them were drunk, celebrating the capture of their foe. She couldn't help but feel a strange satisfaction that they were going to wake up in the morning to find that they had escaped. Then they would be forced to search for them while suffering from hangovers. Normally she wasn't a fan of revenge, but this seemed like a plausible exception.

            A few close calls later, they were out of the camp and safely covered by the shadows of the trees. Mindi and Kira laid Landon down for a quick rest.

            "Who are you?" Mark insisted. At least there was one thing he didn't already know.

            "Kira Merrin, former Blackmask extraordinaire, at your service," Kira introduced, removing her fancy mask. Mindi cleared her throat rather loudly. "Oh yes, and Mindi, my sister." Mindi scowled but let it slide.

            "Yeah, that's wonderful," Mark remarked sarcastically. "We've already figured that much out. What I don't get is why."

            Mindi shrugged, taking off her identical mask. "It seemed like the perfect opportunity to snap some necks." Kira sighed, exasperated at her sister's bluntness.

            "What she means is this: this was the biggest project the Blackmasks have had in years. We figured that this was the choice moment to expose ourselves as double agents. For whom? I don't know. Truth and justice, maybe? Something along those lines."

            "Revenge?" Mindi suggested.

            "That might be it," she pondered. "Anyway, we've been doing this since we were young. It all started when they murdered our parents—"

            "Welcome to the club," Chelsea muttered.

            "—and looted our house. We, naturally, were very angry. So we joined them."

            "Excuse me?" Jeaine said, taken aback.

            Kira rolled her eyes as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "We joined them so we could infiltrate their plans and foil them. You know, kill them from the inside. I've done things I'm not proud of, but it was all for the bigger picture. You lucky ducks, however, were the highlight of our career. Prince Blaze was in a frenzy about exterminating the half-dead one, here." She indicated to Landon. "Nearly did it, too. But it was his own fault we got this guy out in time. The Prince wanted him delivered alive. Wanted to do the honors himself, I guess. So he sent out this annihilation squad to fetch him. This being the most important mission since the Song War, we decided it was worth it to blow cover to save you."

            "It'd better be worth it," Mindi scowled. Jeaine's eyes widened. "Is anyone going to explain exactly why it was necessary to risk our necks for you?"

            "Landon is the son of the Evers," Mark explained with that unbearable air of nonchalance he always used in times of distress. Kira's eyes widened and she turned to stare at Landon with awe. Mindi's ever-present frown went from a scowl to a sign of unease. "He killed King Carlon when he was seven. Oh, and not to mention he's a Windsinger. Talk about amazing, eh? And he calls himself unfortunate. He just doesn't know what a legend he is yet."

            "A modest boy. Cute," Kira said admiringly. An unexpected wave of jealousy overcame Chelsea and she was about to do something rash, but Mark saved her the trouble.

            "A little too modest, in you ask me. He's taken anyway."

            Kira didn't look at all dismayed. In fact, she smiled and her eyes flicked in Chelsea's direction. Mindi rolled her bright green eyes in disgust.

            "Shall we go before they find us?" she recommended. Kira nodded tossed her braid over her shoulder, preparing for another flight. Together they heaved Landon back up and set off upriver. They ran for the better part of the night, occasionally taking breaks to catch their breath. Chelsea's heart still fluttered every time she glanced at Landon, who moaned whenever his wounds were being disturbed—which was practically the entire time. The other half of the time he was knocked out cold. The thought that he might not make it was unbearable.

            "Why don't you just heal him?" Mark asked Jeaine. Of course! In her worry for Landon she had totally forgotten what Jeaine could do.

            Jeaine frowned nervously. "I don't think I can, at least not right now. It takes a lot of energy to be healed, and I'm afraid that if I try to heal him in this state I might kill him. I think we should wait the night and let him rejuvenate, and then I'll heal him in the morning. Is that okay?" Mark nodded slowly, but Chelsea was still in a bit of a panic state.

            "What if he doesn't make it?" she asked worriedly. She knew she sounded desperate, but she couldn't help it. She was!

            "No offense, Princess," Mindi answered, sounding bored, "but I've had worse. I think he can pull through." Despite her harsh manner, the confirmation that Landon was probably going to live calmed her desperation and replaced it with hope. However feeble that hope may be.

            Kira nodded and told them they would be spending the night there. In the morning they would change direction and start toward Aroth. She also announced that her and her sister would be acting as their personal bodyguards since they really didn't have anything better to do. And thus, the party of unusual young adults became larger yet, dramatically speaking. There was no arguing with the twins.

            Mark shrugged and eyed their swords, a small smile of interest lighting up his face. He had changed somewhat from when she'd first met him. Before he would have worshiped the ground they walked on. He would have marveled at his luck when he'd found out who and what Chelsea was. He would have stuck his tongue at her every time she won an argument. The hard times and new people he'd met had changed him, if subtly. Now he was much cockier and probably believed that he could beat the Merrin twins by himself. Now he didn't care who she was; to him she still just Chelsea. Now when she outdid him he would admit defeat, though never without getting even in one way or another. He was still the same old annoying Mark, only he had....matured. Instead of making a fool of himself in the act of being stupid, he was much worse. He was a clever fool who was always mysterious and unpredictable. When he knew something, he didn't flaunt his knowledge as he once would; he withheld it, giving him the advantage over the situation. Luckily, he had matured enough not to misuse it. He was always learning, growing, and fulfilling his potential, even as they spoke. It was as if his fantasy of adventure had turned into reality, and in the process it had changed him.                    

            She was just glad that he was on her side.

            "Would you slice me to ribbons if I asked to see your swords?" Mark asked innocently. He raised his eyebrows as if to challenge them. Knowing him, he sincerely hoped they would try.

            To Mark's dissatisfaction, Kira shrugged and unsheathed the two swords from her back. He wasn't disappointed long. Taking the swords, he examined their thin blades with admiring eyes. Through all the changes in him, that mischievous glint in eyes was still there. She didn't think he would ever outgrow that one.

            "Strikers," he identified. Mark knew everything there was to know about swords. "Nice. I haven't had much experience with one-handed swords. Have you named them?"

            "Stargrazer and Featherblade. Mindi's are Quickslash and Raven," replied Kira proudly. "You have a nice collection yourself."

            "Stinger, Pointblank, Susan, and Glorybite," he listed, naming off the names of his swords. "And that one is Landon's. He calls it Tempest. His dad had it storm-forged for him when he was a lad. I'd kill to have one of those."

            Kira looked at Tempest, then to Mark as if to ask permission. Mark nodded and Kira gingerly picked up the sword as if it were a baby. Weighing it in her hands, she asked, "Is he any good with the sword?"

            "Good?" Mark scoffed. "I've been practicing my whole life and he can still catch up to me in one lesson! He's a natural." Everyone's eyes turned to Landon, who was sleeping soundly on a pallet they had rolled out for him, covered in blankets. He seemed so helpless now, but Chelsea couldn't help but think that he was much more dangerous than he seemed. He was a legend. In a way, he was the most dangerous of them all. He just never chose to demonstrate it.

            Mark and Mindi sparred for a little while, teaching each other tricks and showing off their sword skills. Chelsea sat with Jeaine, chatting about trivial things to take her mind off of her worries. Jeaine had a lot of questions about what it was like being a princess, and she answered politely, but her eyes kept on wandering back to Landon. Being totally and completely in love was much more than kissing and flowers. You always had to be worrying about him. It was a full time job.

            Finally, they retired into their beds and extinguished the small fire. Chelsea stayed up most of the night, soothing Landon whenever he woke. He never stayed awake long enough to wonder what was going on, though. Smoothing his hair out of his face, she sang him a lullaby to help him sleep. In truth, singing calmed her down just as much as it did Landon.

            The next morning, she anticipated the moment when he would be healed. They were going to have to leave a little later than their normal schedule so he could recover after healing. He woke early, staying awake longer than usual; however, he was still confused and rather incomprehensive. Jeaine figured it was the ideal time for healing. Chelsea bit her lip nervously as Jeaine placed her hands on his head and sent a wave of healing power through his body. He tensed and squirmed a little bit, but he soon didn't have enough strength for his body to instinctively resist. Chelsea watched in awe as his bruises and burns faded away. When she was done, Jeaine sat there for a moment, regaining her breath. Landon had fallen back asleep and seemed to be okay. Chelsea thought she may never be able to repay Jeaine.

            "Thank you," she whispered to her. Jeaine just smiled tiredly, feeling proud of herself. Kodan—who had disappeared after falling down the waterfall and reappeared sometime during the night—sat down next to her, licking her hand affectionately. Mark kneeled by her side and put his arm around her.

            "Are you okay? You should rest," he suggested, concerned.

            "I'll be fine," she answered lovingly as she stared into his eyes. Chelsea wished she had someone to comfort her.

            "I'm going for a walk," she announced. She needed a few minutes to herself.

            "I'll come with you," Kira said. Her tone invited no opposition. "You need a bodyguard. It wouldn't due for The Princess to be kidnapped again." Chelsea shrugged indifferently. She had a point.

            Setting off in no particular direction, they walked in silence until they found the river and then followed it upstream. "May I ask you something?" Kira inquired after a while.

            "Sure," Chelsea replied, wondering what she wanted to know.

            "You love Landon?" It wasn't so much of a question as it was a confirmation.

            "I love Landon," she stated as-a-matter-of-factly.

            "And he loves you?"

            "Yes. What are you getting at?"

            Kira looked a little embarrassed. "Oh, I don't know. It's my understanding that you've been traveling together for some time and neither of you knew about each other's true identities until yesterday? Why is that?"

            Chelsea thought that was a very good question. "I'm not sure. When we first began traveling together we both knew that we had secrets we couldn't share, but neither of us knew how drastic the other's secrets were. I don't know about him, but I guess I was afraid of his reaction. I knew I was being selfish, but I figured that I wouldn't tell him unless he told me. I believe his reasons were similar. I must admit I was a little bitter when I found out the truth, but our secrets kind of canceled each other out. I'm just glad it all worked out okay."

            Kira nodded thoughtfully and inquired about how they'd found each other. As they headed back to camp, she recounted the events from the time she'd left the palace. It was a far stretch of faith that she was telling her this, but she felt she owed her. Her and her sister had saved their lives, after all.

            They returned to camp to find Landon's bed empty. "Where did he go?" Chelsea asked, confused, as she scanned the camp for his presence.

            "Relax," Mark sighed. "He woke up, tried to kill Mindi—don't worry, I took care of the situation before either of them could hurt each other—and then climbed a tree and has been up there since." Asking for the exact tree, she shuddered at the thought of being so high off the ground. Staring up through the branches, she could barely see him lounging more than halfway up. I can do this, she thought to herself as she climbed onto the first branch, don't look down. Slowly but surely, she made her way to where Landon sat, staring out the city lights in the distance. It was much closer than she thought. Excitement coursed through her.

            "Isn't it amazing?" he whispered without even looking in her direction. "I'm sure you're well acquainted with big cities, but I've never been to one before." She blushed at the mention of her royal blood.

            Sitting down next to him, she asked, "Are you still mad at me?" He looked at her for the first time. His dark eyes were so beautiful.

            "Mad?" he repeated, confused. "I was never mad at you. Just....surprised. The question is: Are you mad at me?"

            "Of course not!" she said, shocked. "I might have been for a moment, but I couldn't stay mad at you even if I wanted to." He smiled that irresistible smile and put his arm around her, pulling her close. She smiled back, savoring the moment for all it was worth.

            "What a night. Those Blackmasks really know how to do their job well. And then there are those twins. I haven't met the other one, but Mindi nearly gave me a heart attack. Who would have guessed we owed a Blackmask our lives? I'm just glad it's all over." He paused, looking down at her. "Are you crying?"

            "No," she said, rubbing her eyes. "Yes. I'm just glad that you're okay. I was worried sick about you."

            He wiped a tear from her cheek and kissed her, soothing her fears. "Well, I'm here now. I'm fine. And I love you. We're almost there. I'll help you find your brother, I promise. I won't ever leave you."

            She snuggled up against him and they watched the sun rise over Aroth, feeling at peace for the first time that day.


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