Marking of the Daysby Sincline Koutaishi
Dawn at the Beach
When the morning comes I drag myself out of bed and do my best to find food that is still preserved in the kitchen area. I will need to go gather some supplies if I wish to keep being fed. That much is very clear to me, even with the haze that has taken residence in my head. What little I find I bring to the back patio space where I pull down the awning with some effort. It is always difficult after being locked upward for so long. At last, there in the canvas-made shade, I eat while watching the waves and sea birds, squinting at the bright day. Every part of me feels numb... The relaxing scenery is having no effect.
Shortly I notice that someone is approaching from the wooded area down the beach. He hails me with a wave as he comes closer and I raise a hand in reply. It is the neighbor from farther down the beach. He is like one of the pink humans with slightly darker skin.
“Hoy, Vikoa.” He joins me under the canopy and pulls out a chair to sit, “Thought I heard your ship come in last night. Looks like I was right!”
“You look like crap.” He smiles, “Drink a bit too much?”
“And you are so short on the conversation...”
“That I am... How are you Djarond? How is your family?”
“All are well... Good to see you again, even if you do look like this. Take a wash and then come over.”
“Perhaps not today.”
“Perhaps yes today. Do not make me have to come back here and force you.”
“Do not grumble, Vikoa. You need diversion, it seems.”
I look up at him from my glass of water. He has been a good friend over the years. He has no idea of who I really am... and in truth, I do not know who he really is either. He could be just like me. A weary king of some far flung world I have never heard of, just here with his family from time to time... though now that I think of it, he has only been absent once during my visitations.
While I am lost in thought, he gets up from his chair and comes closer, clapping me on the shoulder, “You have one ahn to show yourself at my residence. After that, I will send my children over to get you... and you don't want that!”
“May the Gods help me...” I manage a smile as he turns to go back the way he has come.
As he disappears into the woods, I sigh then head inside to get cleaned up. I know from past experience that he is not kidding about sending his children over to get me. At least this distraction may take my mind off the reason for my feeling so numb.
When I have dressed in the vacation clothing that I keep here, I wander down the beach to the path in the woods. Half way there I meet up with Djarond's children, Meteran and Avned.
“Aich!” I pretend to run from them but they catch up and for a moment I am happy just to be hugged by them. They pull me along with them to their home where their mother greets me and offers refreshment.
“You look a bit better.” Djarond notes.
“Cleaning will do that for just about anyone.” I nod to him.
“What shall we do then? How about a hike? The boys are full of energy today. Already broke one of the planters on the back deck.” He nods toward the destroyed thing. “Marnye is going to head into town to buy another and see if she can save the poor plant.”
“I am not sure I am up to that.”
“Of course you are! Boys! Sifu Vikoa is going to have a hike with us!”
“Rrrrhhh...” I put my hand to my head and sigh.
I cannot say no to their enthusiasm so shortly I am on the trails with them. We reach a high spot and sit on a rock outcropping, watching the two boys still have enough energy to run about and look for animals in the loose stone.
“So much energy.” I mutter and shake my head.
“Once I was that way... A very long time ago... And so.” He turns to me now, “You are in your 'off' journey are you?”
“It seems that every other time you are here, you are not in a good way... The last time you were quite content with life and so I knew that when I heard your craft come in last night I should get some sleep so I would be ready to bring you some cheer in the morning. And I was right!”
“You were.” I laugh at him.
“What is going on?”
“Ehh... It is no matter. I will get over it in time.”
“You do not think so?”
“I have concern for you.”
“Leave it that I have loved and lost.”
“Ahhh... That would explain it... Is she pretty and blue?”
“Yes and no. She is more like you in coloration.”
“Have no fear... Our gods will never let true love go so easily. Not sure about your gods…”
“My people's gods are rather fickle it seems.”
“Everything will work out for the best in the end.”
“I hope so.”
Djarond and his family distract me well over the next two seyhks. He is a good man and has a wonderful family. With their presence, the haze begins to lift from my mind so that I may make sense out of what has happened... what I will do with myself after this time away has ended.
Perhaps one day when Shilne settles with a wife I will offer him some of my land here and we can all enjoy this peace. Shilne would surely love Djarond's children. By then, he will likely have children of their own.
One day we take a fishing trip with the boys in the very early morning. Upon our return it is my job to take the squirming, excited children out of the skiff. I toss them into the sand as they are trying to play with the day's catch. Finally we settle them with a task of their own and they sort through the equipment while I begin to head up the walkway to my home... I almost fall over with shock when I see my Princess there, dressed in the flight uniform I had given her and waiting on the back patio for me. She rises from her seat under the awning, blushes at my certain expression of shock and laces her fingers together... So beautiful... My heart rushes. I wonder if she is just part of my imagination here to torture me... No... She is very real... and I smile like a fool at realizing it.
“Hello.” She says to me, breaking the silence.
“Hello... This is a surprise indeed!... Where are your guards?” I ask, managing to take a few more steps toward her.
“Ah, you have escaped them again.”
The other three were coming up the path, carrying fishing poles and such. I shake myself out of my stare as they arrive alongside me.
“Djarond... Meet a friend of mine...Fao.” I fluster in naming her something other than who she is, “Fao, my friend Djarond and his children Meteran and Avned.” The introduction is in trade language, so she should be easily able to understand and communicate with them.
“I'm glad to meet you.” She smiles.
“Glad to meet you as well.” He puts up the equipment and comes to greet her, “Did you just arrive?”
“Yes. Came to visit... You've been fishing.”
“Caught a lot too! We'll eat well tonight. My children prefer playing with the catch over eating it... Vikoa, I'm going to take the boys back to our home. Will you be by for supper?”
“I hope to be. I will let you know a bit later. Say hello to your wife.”
“I will do more than that!” He smiles at her now, “Perhaps you can come along as well if you are going to be staying?”
“That would be very nice. Thank you.”
“Later, Vikoa.” He leaves the equipment and hustles his boys along down the path away from the house toward the woods.
I wait until they were out of eye and earshot then bow to her, “Forgive me for not being formal with you... I did not think I should let them know you are a Princess and I Emperor.”
“You don't have to be formal with me. I think you know that.”
“Mhh... Would you like something to drink?” I have no idea what else to do and it seems to be the way that Djarond often begins to repair my state of mind...
“That would be wonderful.” She follows me into the house and to the kitchen, walking much better on her leg. “They really don't know you're royalty, do they?”
“They do not.” I bring her a glass of filtered water, amused by how quickly she drank it, “Aich... Slow down!”
“My mouth has been so dry...”
“Princess... Why have you come so far?” I ask at last, taking the empty glass from her. Not that I am not glad to see her!
She bites her lip and looks toward the floor, seeming to be thinking a great deal.
“Princess?” I have to know.
“I can't let you leave like this... I just can't... I love you.” She trembles before me, unable to meet my gaze.
My heart swells and I sigh, coming closer to her and reaching out, smoothing tears from her cheeks, “I know... I am sorry I left the way that I did... but I had to.”
“Why??” She sobs, “Were you lying when you said you loved me?” She looks up to me and I try to steel my self against her sadness.
“No... No. Never... It just cannot be. No matter how much it is that I have felt for you, I cannot be with you.”
“I don't understand!”
Deep breath, “You understand that your people hate me. You understand that they will never accept me as your love, as your husband, as your King. You understand that it would put you in great danger if we should be together as they would continue to try to cause me harm... and you would feel the need to defend me even if it hurts you...” I touch the spot on her side where I can feel that there is a bandage still covering her reopened stitches, “I could not bear that.”
“I don't care about any of that.” She takes my hand away from her side, wrapping it in her warm, delicate fingers, “Please just tell me what it is in your heart that you want. What you want... Not what anyone else wants of you.”
I feel myself waver and then shake my head, squeezing my eyes shut. “I want for you to be safe and happy.” I urge out of my mouth.
“No! What you want for yourself!”
“Please!” She is holding my hand so tightly, “If you really don't want me, I'll go. You'll never have to see me again. Just please tell me. I have to know the truth!”
The truth? I want her... I need her... “No...” I fight it.
She will not let me be. “Vikoa...” She says so softly, sending an overwhelming rush of emotion up me through my denial, melting my steel, “I love you so much.” She kisses my hand, and I hold her hand in return now, breaking.
“I love you... How I love you and want you!” The tears come. I can't help it, “But I cannot have you!”
“Yes you can. You can... I want to be with you... You used to threaten me with marriage... Now that I offer myself to you willingly, you would turn me away?” She brings her little body against mine, clasping my hand against her so that I can feel her heart beating... She speaks to me in a way that I cannot have imagined she ever would, “Please do not marry that woman... Be with me. We can do something to make this work. I know that we can. Please... Please help me to be with you.”
It is all over now... I cannot refuse her. I don't want to refuse her. “Huaahhh...” I gather her and lift her into my arms, my mouth finding hers in tenderness and salty tears... She is kissing me again and it is so beautiful... “My love... My love... Be my wife.” I beg of her between our kisses. I do not care about any of my worries any more. I just want her.
“Yes..... Yes.” She breathes and wraps her arms about me, embracing my lips over and over with her own, “My husband... My love... My Vikoa... Always and forever.”
I fade into her completely, my only thoughts for the moment are of her warmth and our kiss. I begin to grow weak from the outpouring of emotion, the joy at her presence and her wanting to be mine. I can feel my body shaking, trying to remain standing while holding her. Gods be blessed for bringing her to me again. I am a fool. I have again tried to make a decision for her. I should have asked her what she wanted. I shouldn't have cared what anyone else thought but her.
I break from her with a gasp, “I have to put you down... I am going to fall over.” She slides down from me as I carefully relax my hold on her so she will not fall. The last of my strength I use to go settle on the sofa, relieved of my own weight and hers. I tug on her hand, and bring her into my lap, my arms finding their way around her again, my lips finding her forehead, “You have made me weak, my love.” I whisper to her.
“Only for the moment... I think you are surprised to see me still.” She smiles and gently kisses the corner of my mouth, then strokes my cheek. “It will wear off and you will find me annoying again soon.”
“No...” I press my forehead to hers, “Ah, what are we going to do?”
“I do not know... Perhaps I could leave my position as Princess and then there would be nothing to worry about.”
“You would never do such a thing... and I would not want you to.”
“I have no ideas at the moment. I have been unable to sway a single person in your house towards thinking I do not mean harm. I understand this sentiment, though it is annoying... I do not want to think on this now... I just want to feel you here beside me... Ahhh, I love you... Thank you for coming to find me.”
She says nothing in reply, just looking upon me in the way I have dreamed of... Slowly she comes close and kisses me again. It is still just as much of a miracle to me as it was the first time. There will be no interruption now. There is nothing to do but give in to her... My fingers find the ties that hold her hair and release it, letting the golden strands fall about her... It flows between my fingers and she finds the same curiosity with me... I hold her there for so long in this tender fascination.
“Hnnn...” I come out of the trance we have both faded into, “What is the time?” I look to the clock, “Two ahn!”
“Mmh?” She kisses my throat, nestling her head against my shoulder. “What do you mean?”
“We have been just sitting for two ahn...”
“It does not feel that way and yet the clock shows the time has passed.” I smile upon her. She seems so comfortable here in my arms. It is a miracle indeed, just to be able to reach out and touch her, to feel her kiss. I rest my forehead against hers, stroking her silken cheek, “Let us break from this silence... We should come to know one another further. You may change your mind about me!”
“I don't think so.”
“In a few days you may be begging me to marry someone else!” I chuckle.
“Oh, stop... And call your marriage off right now!” She insists, half commanding, half worried that I won't.
“Nnh... I have something you will be surprised to see.”
“Show me then.”
l lean over to the table and pull a piece of paper from the pages of a book, “Read... See my foolish heart.”
It is my draft note to the Tastian royal family, in trade language so they could read it as I knew none of their language for writing... The one I have sent to call off my marriage.
She reads the final piece aloud, “I must be with the one that I love, or I must be alone.” She sighs and her blue eyes turn to me again, “Your heart is not foolish... Only foolish to think of being alone.”
“I wrote that after you pestered me about having a look at her picture, while you were at the Medlab.”
“Yes... This letter has already been sent... My arranged marriage is over...” Out comes more of the truth for her to hear. “I was hoping, during those two years of border closure, that I could forget you and move on with my life. That I should see to my duty as Emperor and marry for political ties for I could not have the one that I loved. Then when I woke to hearing your voice in distress that night in my cruiser, I knew I could never be with any other than you. My heart beat so fast upon hearing your voice... and I rushed to you... enraged and murderous towards those pirates that tormented you... To see you there in that wreckage, my heart almost broke for I thought you dead... but then you gasped and I used every ounce of strength to move you from that place. If I had not freed you I would have joined you in death that day. I would have stayed by your side. I could not have left you there alone.”
“Why are you so wonderful to me?” She sighs, resting against me again, her head laying upon my shoulder and my arms warmly holding her to me.
“I am not. I have not been. I know this as much as you do... but this is how I have wanted to be. Your protector and mate. Always beside you.” I sigh and cherish the feeling of her being so close, “My love, my heart was so heavy upon leaving home for this last vacation. I felt like a man going toward his own execution instead of a marriage. I knew I did not want what I was heading towards, for you. I wanted you to find love instead of the obligation I was going to have... Before I left I was finally told of the conditions of the marriage... Things such as assurances of fertility and division of children... It made me sick inside. Everything I had always dreamed of with you had become a contractual horror for me to face... without you.”
“I'm so sorry.” She kisses my cheek and snuggles her face against mine, “I know how that feels—to want love and be told you will have to settle for politics. I was so scared when I turned 18. I thought they would force me to choose someone. They only pressured me instead... I wanted to have a husband not a contract. Almost every night I wished that I wasn't who I was, that I could just run away and be only me... I wondered where you were. What you were doing. I wanted you to talk to me and I thought I was going crazy for caring... but I missed you.”
“Oh my, Fao...” My heart aches. She has felt for me even before I rescued her.
“I am so happy now.” She whispers, “I am so happy... Never let me go, Vikoa. No matter what anyone says. Please... Promise me.”
“I swear it to you. There is nothing that will come between us now.” Her fingers are taking hold of my shirt, her body pressing closely to mine as though she wants to be certain we will not part again. “Even though we have been parted you have brought us together again. Thank you for that. For your courage in the face of my stupidity.”
“I couldn't let you go. I love you so much. I felt like I had died when I woke and found you gone. It was so awful.”
“Can you forgive me?”
“Yes.” She sniffles and I feel her tears against me again.
I hold her away a little, smoothing the tears away gently, gazing upon this woman I have dreamed of for so long.
“Can you forgive me? For all of it? Everything from the past... Can you put it aside?”
“Yes.” She reaches back, touching me gently. “I forgive you.”
“I am truly blessed. I can hardly believe... My love... You will never be a contract or an obligation to me.”
“I know...” Her nose brushes against mine and together we fall into a slow and tender embrace.
“I love you... I love you.” I breathe to her between our kisses, my heart and mind having ached so long to speak such softness to her. “You are everything I have ever dreamed of... Hoped for.”
“Stop talking like that.” She sighs.
“Because I'm just going to cry more... You make me so happy.”
“There are no words.” I break from her a little.
“One day you will have to tell me of what has happened in your life. There must be so much to tell... You had the power to destroy us utterly, but you didn't.”
Ah, she wants more truth still, but I do not want to talk about the past now, just the future.
“I will tell you some this evening. That I promise. For now I would like to take you to find some clothing that will not make you look as the Princess that you are and the future Queen you shall be. Here, we are simple folk you and I. No other worries than to enjoy the days that pass.”
“Will we have dinner with your friends?”
“I would like to if you would be willing.” She seems amused by the prospect.
“I am. Take me where you will, I will gladly go along, even just so you can call me lumpy.”
“You have had most of your larger dressings removed or made smaller, so I cannot have as much fun with it as I would like to. I am impressed that you can fly with your leg like that.”
“It took some concentration, but I managed.”
“Do you mind that I have re-named you?” I wonder.
“Not at all. I think I will change my name to Fao gladly.”
“At least here we can keep these names and simple lives. Now you know why it is I love to be here.”
“Yes, I certainly do. The beauty of the land and the freedom both.”
I am reluctant but I know we have to do something other than sit together, so I help her out of my lap and to her feet, standing beside her... Staying here may lead to things I am not yet ready to have happen, but want nonetheless. There is an order to such things for her people and I must abide by it, “Have you need of any medication?”
“No, not yet. I have some that I can bring with me if we will be gone for a long time.”
“That may be a good idea. We will go into the town and depending on how particular you are about what clothing you will like, it may take a longer or shorter time to fix you up.” I stop short as a worrying thought crosses my mind. I am being presumptuous again, assuming that she will want to stay here with me. I decide to ask her for a change of pace, “Will you stay here with me for some time? Or must you hurry home now that you have found me?”
“I would like to stay with you until your vacation is done, if it would not trouble you.”
“It would cause me no pain whatsoever.” I smile. Asking her things is not so difficult after all! “Come along, lumpy.”
She smiles, “I've missed that.”
“You will hear it often.” I warn and go with her out onto the back patio, “Where is your ship? I did not see it when I came in.”
“Over there.” She points down the beach to a place where the grass goes back into the trees, “It was the only place large enough to land with your cruiser on the landing pad. Is it alright there?”
“It will be fine.”
“I didn't even know if it was part of your land... but I thought that the owners might forgive me.”
“It is and you can make it up to me in some way... I will have to think of a suitable punishment for you.”
“You are very good at that.” She lets me pick her up and carry her over to her little antique craft where she gathers a satchel. “I am ready now. Where are we going?”
“You will see when we get there.” I debate over making her walk back to the landing pad to keep up with her exercises, but realize we will be doing plenty of walking as it is so I carry her again. I set her into one of my local transports, the one that does not smell of fish from the day's expedition and she rewards my effort with a kiss.
“You never need thank me. Your kisses are more than a reward.” I assure her and climb in beside her.
The journey down the cleared dirt roads through the woods to the town is not terribly long. Along the way she finds much amusement in looking at the strange plants and trees. When my hand is free of having to use any of the controls, she is holding it. I wonder if I am dreaming! She seems so happy to be with me... and of course I ruin this with another worrying thought.
“While you were at home, after I left, did the Alliance send you any medical people to have a look at you? Perhaps do some sort of surgery on your one deep wound?”
“No... They asked if I wanted any assistance but I always said no. After you left, Shilne and a couple of the other men stayed about. They seemed concerned for me. I didn't want the Alliance to arrive and cause them any pains.”
“He is a very sweet man. So much energy!”
“That would be himself.” I nod and laugh.
“He was worried for you as well. I told him to take good care of you... and he said he had no choice because not only were you his commander and king, you were his best friend and dear brother who raised him. I hope you feel the same way about him.”
“Nnh... That I do. I have been honored to know him over the years.” I am glad that he has a care for her, that he stayed behind to see to her safety.
The woods open up into the outside of town and we join other vehicles on the better made roads here. It is quite the community here by the seaside. Housing, parks, people, and a town that seems to jump out of the geography.
“What is the name of this place?”
“Omwan m'tervra. It means 'the town of Omwan by the sea' in the local speak. They speak trade language as well, as you noticed with Djarond.”
“It amazes me that it has reached so far out into the galaxy.”
“You would be surprised that it reaches further still. The commerce carries it along with it.”
“You have been outside of the galaxy?” She looks at me in surprise.
“That I have. There are many others out there. Our galaxy is more like a town... Much like this is. Simply on a much larger scale.” I smile at her expression, “We have other neighbors in other towns... Did you ever attend a university on your home world?”
“No.” She said, blushing suddenly and looking away from me, “We don't really have such things... I had always had tutors.” She is embarrassed.
“There is no shame in that. At least you have education.” I offer and set the transport down in a public facility. There are flying and rolling craft here, waiting in orderly rows for their owners. I lean across the center console kissing her ear and speaking to her softly, “Perhaps one day when you feel settled with me, you will seek out some university learning.” I unhook the catch on her safety harness.
“Do you think that would be good?” She looks back to me and I catch my breath, still in wonder of her closeness. I reach out to her and stroke her cheek.
“I think you would enjoy it. You are a curious sort. I believe you will admit that. You will find your curiosity more indulged when you are taught by people who are not from your home world. There are so many different perspectives out there. It does open one's eyes.”
She nods, “I have learned so much already just from coming to know you... I wish I had known you earlier... Then maybe... maybe I would have married you back then. Maybe none of this would have happened.”
I shake my head and sigh again, “If you had known me when first I had met you, you would not have married me. I was not myself. I was very pained, my love. I have changed very much since then. I have become what was fighting to come out of me again and again over the years... I do wish that things could have been different... I do wish that-” She stops me by placing her fingers to my lips.
“No... Don't... Remember it's past. It's done... Gone... I forgive all of it, my Vikoa... I know that I will have questions for you about the past as time goes on... but always know that it is curiosity. I am not hoping to blame you or accuse you or have you beg my forgiveness. I have already given it to you. No one can say how things happen, or that all of this didn't happen for a good reason... We are together now, and I am so happy. I hope you know that.”
“I do, yet I have a hard time believing that this is not a dream of mine. It seems that I do not deserve this.”
“I think you do... I think that you have suffered more than enough in your life for all that has happened.”
“Mmh... I am not sure about that either.”
“Then let me be sure about that.”
“I will trust your judgment.” I agree to let her make the decision for me and she comes and kisses me again.
“Will you help me out of this? I am feeling a bit uncoordinated.” She smiles brightly and presses her nose against mine.
“Of course I will help you!” I manage to steal one more kiss before helping to set her feet on the ground once again, “Will you be able to walk on that?”
“Yes. It's a walking brace. They were tired of seeing me labor around the halls and so put this lighter thing on me. The doctors were quite angry with me that I would not keep still, with my leg up as much as they wanted.”
“They should not have been surprised! I would have thought they would know you better. Did you at least leave them word that you were going to be taking this little vacation?”
“In a manner. I left a note for the Minister, letting him know I had some things to do that would not wait and that I would be back when I had finished with them.”
“Good. At least they will not be too worried that I came back to kidnap you again. Ah, the good old days!” I laugh along with my Princess and lead her into the town.
My little wanderer leads us about the town and I find myself quite pleased with just following her into the shops to let her find some simple clothing. The clothiers enjoy her enthusiasm for the task, even though they do not speak the same language. She has a way of charming people.
“It all looks so strange on me.” She looks at herself in the reflecting panes.
“From where I stand, it all looks so wonderful on you.”
“You are biased.”
“What is biased?”
“It means that you have good opinions of me because you love me. You are swayed by your emotions.”
“True enough. Yet it still all looks wonderful on you.”
“Are you sure? At least at home I know what is proper.”
“Do you think I would clothe my future wife in a foolish way?”
“Based on my prior colorful experiences... I would say so!” She smiles with remembering her bright clothing on Kyerst.
“It was all in good fun. I had to wear the same as you.”
“True... You have no idea how long it has been since I have had new clothing.”
“Many years. There are no funds for such things. We have been so busy rebuilding and trying to grow.”
“I see.” I had not thought of that. “I will change that.”
She comes over to me with a serious expression and speaks quietly though these people have never heard her language before, “I hope that you do not mean to give me luxuries... I would rather have my people fed.”
“There is room for a bit of both, my love. I know how you feel.” I assure, “We will speak more of this later... For now, do try to enjoy yourself. Nnh?”
“I will do my best.” She smiles again, dropping her serious look. “How long were you planning on being here? I am not sure how many things I should be getting... or what would be appropriate for what we will be doing.”
“15 more suns... Just be certain to get yourself things that will be comfortable. I will be forcing you to go for walks now and then and you will be outside a great deal. At least I usually find that is how I spend my time here.”
She finally finishes with her selections, entertaining me all the while with watching her. She removes her flight clothing and dresses herself in one of her new sets of clothing for the remainder of our walk through the town. Leaving her things in the transport skiff, we walk the streets. I know most of these people and they greet me as we walk on. They have been drawn to me as I am unusual in my size and coloring. I have come to find that blue skin tone is far less popular for the various races of the universe than the pinkish and brownish colors of humans. Even so, with my mother blending with my father, I am blue instead of pink. I start to wonder what our children will be like... and then I feel a new smile claim my face at the thought that we might have children.
I introduce her gladly to everyone I know as my future bride. They are pleased for me, their neighbor Vikoa.
“Let us get to the food shop. I haven't much left in the house and would like to bring something to the gathering this evening. It seems to be the tradition. The neighbors gather and bring things and we all have a relaxing meal.”
She grins at me, “How strange.”
“What is that?”
“You have friends and neighbors.”
“If only they knew what a tyrant I am, nnh?”
“I wonder what they would think.”
“I shudder to think of it.”
I take her to the food shops with me and watch her continue to be entertained by all of the different types of people that live here. While we wait in line here, I take out my Katsuna and send a message to Djarond, letting him know that we would be coming for late meal. Shortly there is a beep and I check the message reply from him, smiling more than I have already been, “It appears that the gathering will be large tonight.”
“Yes... Djarond has a big mouth. He has told everyone that I have a female guest and they all want to see.”
“You're known to the neighbors as a confirmed bachelor.”
“I rather am. I have been coming here for years and I have been one of the local oddities... How are you feeling?”
“A bit tired... but very happy.” She leans on me a little and I slide my arm around her. Such simple pleasures to be shared in the place far from our responsibilities and titles.
“How long do they think it will be until your bones knit fully?”
“Probably another month.”
“Not too bad.”
“They don't want me to run or do much more than walk about for two more months. I'm very excited to get to the end of those months.”
“You can get back to causing trouble again, my Fao.”
“Exactly.” She smiles, watching another strange person go past. It is remarkable how comfortable she is feeling in this place. Perhaps it is because there are so many creatures that look at least somewhat like her.
With food purchased, we head back to the transport skiff. She tries to climb in by herself this time and manages to get her leg brace stuck on the lip of the craft. As I am stowing the last of the food and parcels I hear her, “Oop!” And I look up to see only her foot sticking up out of the skiff.
When I stand I can see her laid out in the craft, face red, “Do you require some assistance?” I smirk at her condition.
“No.” She grumbles and bends in half to try and loosen her leg.
“Are you certain of this?” I ask again.
“Mmhh.” She sighs and just lays back, looking up at me, “No. Please help.”
I lift her leg and set it free, watching her settle herself in the seat and begin to buckle herself in for the flight. “My poor little clumsy one. How you blush…” I shake my head and climb in with her.
“That was not how I had planned it.” She says, folding her arms.
“Obviously.” I laugh and pull the canopy down. If I know what is good for me I won't make fun of her further about this. Half way back to the house, she has settled and is willing to hold my hand again.
I gather most of the things to take inside so that she does not have to have any extra weight on her leg. She is looking a little worn out from the trip but is still curious enough to look through the doors and drawers of the kitchen.
“I can hardly believe that you can make your own food.” She comments.
“Of course I can. What good is a soldier that cannot feed himself?”
“Amazing... I have a great deal to learn about you.”
“That you do... You look tired. Would you like to have a short sleep before we depart again?”
“I would love a nap... What I would like even more is to have a bath. I've been flying for a week with only wash cloths. Do you have a bathtub?”
“Mhh? I have a bathing room. I do not know what a bathtub is.”
“Show me the bathing room.” She smiles and I lead her there, “Ah you do. How does it work?”
I show her how the fixtures work and leave her with some of her new clothing to change into after she bathes. I sit out in the main room, waiting, thinking to myself that she is only a few steps away and... Hhhnn... I will never think of that room in the same way again! I decide to divert my attention with gathering the rest of the things from the skiff and reading the news feeds. She comes back to me well freshened and settles beside me on the sofa.
“Is it sleep time, my clean one?” I kiss her forehead.
“Umm hum.” She sighs and leans on me, arms sliding around me. I put my feet up and lay back with her.
“Close your eyes...”
They fall shut with little hesitation. She is very tired, “I missed you...” She whispers.
“I have missed you too.” I sigh and hold her as she falls to sleeping... She brings such softness to my heart, “I love you so...” I drowse beside her, relaxed in a way I have not been for ages.
I wake to softness just as I went to sleeping. My Princess is kissing my face.
“I hope that is you, my Fao.” I smile.
“Who else might it be?” She asks, “One of the millions of women who you claim would love to see more of your flesh?”
I laugh and open my eyes, glad to see her, “So you have remembered my little humor.”
“How could I forget?” She kisses me again, “Such an ego.”
“Of course! I would not be who I am without it.” I yawn and stretch then notice a strange look on her face. “What is it?”
“I never had such a close look at your teeth.” She says.
“Mmh? You take interest in teeth?”
“When they are long and pointy, I do. You have fangs. I don't have teeth like that.” She shows me her teeth and this amuses me to no end.
“Yes... Much more blunt. Your people are given to eating much in the way of plant in grain. Mine are given to eating more meat.” She closes her mouth, “May I break this moment of tooth sharing to talk of politics briefly?”
“Good. And I must say I do prefer this type of meeting over the ones I usually have!” I kiss her once more, “To the subject we discussed briefly in town... I do understand your sentiment of wanting to make sure your people are fed. I know you have struggled to bring up the standard of living... That it has not been easy for you to recover from the difficulties that both I and my father have brought to your world. So I will say this to you... My Empire has much in the way of resources. We have plenty to share. And I will do what I can to make reparations for the difficulties I have caused your world, including bringing in equipment and food, if you will allow it.”
“What would your people think, though? You would be helping the enemy!”
“You are not the enemy, nor is your world. My people's hostility for your people is due to years of being exploited and displaced from their own land. You have done no such thing. You and yours were simply in the wrong place when we were feeling our need for showing the Alliance that we could do the same as they did to us. You were innocent bystanders whose crops we happened to... burn to ash.” I feel a wave of guilt upon saying these things to her, “In time, things will calm themselves, I am sure. My wife, will you let me help your people?”
“Yes.” She smiles sweetly, “I can hardly imagine the looks on their faces when you turn to assisting them instead of terrorizing the skies above them.”
“I will be sure to see to the equipment for the farms. I would suppose that your people would still rather grow their own food than have me and mine give them any.”
“They will come to be used to you. I know they will.”
I shrug, “They may. They may not. I will not worry on it. And you should not worry on having some new clothing for yourself! You will be a Queen and you will have to forgive your King for wanting to see to your care. I will try not to over do it... No one will go hungry as a result.”
She nods, “I am used to putting my people first.”
“Admirable indeed. And you still will be. Trust in me when I say that there is plenty to be had. I have been very busy over the past two years.”
“I believe you. If there is one thing I am sure of about you, it is that you are stubborn and when you set your mind to something you do see things through. You have turned your energies toward commerce it seems.”
“Indeed. I needed to focus on something...”
“Other than me?” She makes a little humorous face at me.
“Nnh. Yes... I do believe that if we continue to have these meetings, we will be able to sort out a great deal for both of us before having to return to our real lives.”
“Agreed. At least I don't have to get dressed up for them.” She kisses my cheek, “I've never kissed a politician.”
“Eh, politics is not my greatest skill, so you may not have still. Shall we call this meeting done? We should be going soon.”
“Yes. I look forward to the next one.”
“Good, good... You will have to sit up first, my love, or I will just knock you on the floor.”
“Ummh... It is just hard to get up when I am so comfortable.” She picks herself up off of me and stretches a bit.
“There will be many other opportunities for you to crush me with your massive bulk.” I sit up now.
“Massive?? I am hardly massive.”
“No, but you are easily made upset. And I do love your blushes. Would you like to walk the trail or take the skiff?”
“Is the trail very difficult?”
“Not too. If you become tired I could easily carry you.”
“Then we'll go that way. I would like to see more of this place.”
The journey is easy enough for her and she is entertained by my explanations of the local flora and fauna. We find the house of Djarond and family and the gathering that had ensued. The neighbors have indeed come out in droves to see this woman who has come to visit their friend. Their seaside deck is filled with life, music and laughter as we approach.
“A little. More curious.”
“They are all very patient people, but you will find that none of them speak English. I hope you are feeling comfortable with your trade language. You will also find that they do not ask you about where you are from. When you come to this place, you leave all of that behind.”
“I will keep that in mind. Thank you.”
Djarond sees us coming and walks toward us, waving in greeting. “Welcome!”
“Hello again.” I nod and we stop to talk with him. “My friend, you will be the first to know... My Fao has agreed to be my wife.”
“Well! A wonderful thing. Are you happy, young woman?” He asks her.
“Of course I am.” She is blushing again.
“You see there, Vikoa? It is as I said. Real love finds a way to be. You should listen to me more often!”
“You should have seen him, Fao.” He takes her by the shoulders, “A complete horror when he arrived here.”
“Ah, do not tell her that.” I grumble.
“Why not? She should know the effect she has on you!” He laughs.
“Go on...” She encourages.
“How he missed you. I did not think we would ever see him smile again. And now look at him! A bit embarrassed by what I am telling you, but his face is covered in a smile. I see the same on you and so I say, I am so glad for you both!”
“Thank you, Djarond. You are so kind.”
“Welcome to my home. Come along and watch your Vikoa be tortured by our guests as they congratulate him.”
While I begin in discomfort at all the joy for our pairing, I find myself settling into it. I am happy, and my friends are happy for me. This will probably be one of the only occasions upon which we will enjoy such an outpouring of happiness at this news. They are all welcoming to her and so we fall into enjoying the pleasantries and quiet conversation there on the deck facing the sea. She is given sweet wine and it relaxes her further into the chatter. She seems to be feeling quite at home. No one asks her much of her past other than about how long it will take before her leg is healed fully.
The sun begins to set, creating a marvelous display of colors across the sea and sky. Djarond lights some torches about the deck and the conversation continues. She is learning a great deal about all of what one can do to keep entertained here and is quite eager to try some of it herself. Her sense of adventure will not be stilled even though she is recovering from her injuries.
When the hour grows late she begins to drowse, so we say our partings and I bring her home. She is more than agreeable to being carried on my back, her arms draped around my shoulders, legs being held up by my arms.
“Are you all right back there?”
“Umm humm… How can you see where you're going?”
“Better night vision than you little pink things.”
Soon we are home and I set her down on my own bed where she sprawls out while I open the windows to the night air and the sounds of the surf. I turn and enjoy how lovely she looks there... So relaxed. She trusts me and I will not break that trust, thus I plan on sleeping in the secondary room. I break out of my stare and sit beside her, pulling off her new shoes carefully.
“Are you too tired to change into sleeping clothes?” I inquire.
“I will take that as a yes.” I smile upon her, seeing her trying to open her eyes. I pull her further up onto the bed so she can find the pillows for her head, “I will see you in the morning.” I kiss her forehead.
“Mhh? Where are you going?” She murmurs.
“I will stay in the other room.”
“Stay with me. I haven't heard you snoring in so long.”
Her invitation surprises me and I can feel my body respond enough that I have to remind it that she is inviting me to sleep beside her only, “I will be unable to resist this invitation. I hope that you are not thinking I might.” I want to be sure.
And so I climb into the bed with her and wrap her in my arms most happily. There in the peaceful seaside night, we both fall to sleeping there in our day clothing.On to 35