Chapter 15: Goodbye
Elias was quiet as he and Zoey rode toward Varen’s home, slowly. She sat in front of him with his arms around her, holding the reins on Phantom and neither one of them had spoken much as they rode from place to place saying goodbye to her friends. Zoey’s eyes and nose were swollen from crying each time she said goodbye, and she new there would be more tears when they finally reached Varen’s place. She took in a deep breath, glancing up at Elias and chanced to start a conversation, even if it was with Phantom.
“You’ve been awfully quiet, Phantom,” she noticed, trying to smile. “This must be a record. Usually you’re so talkative.”
“I told him not to speak,” Elias replied for him, making Zoey frown up at him. “He will not say a word this time.”
“Well, riding around in complete silence is not helping me get through this any better, Elias,” she muttered, looking ahead again and he glared down at her. “I might as well go to Varen’s by myself if that’s how it’s going to be.”
“Very well,” Elias ground, pulling back on the reins and making her frown up at him with wide eyes again and he only stared at her. “Get down.”
“Oi, Blackwood, what the blazes are you doing?” Phantom finally demanded.
“Keep your mouth shut, Phantom,” Elias snapped as Zoey glanced between them and he demanded again, “Dismount.”
“Elias,” Zoey chuckled, nervously. “You’re not serious, are you?”
“Do I look as though I’m joking?” he retorted.
Zoey set her jaw and struggled to get down from the saddle to march down the trail they’d been walking on as Elias yanked on Phantom’s reins to pull him down the opposite direction. He didn’t see Zoey’s march slow to a walk as her shoulders began to shudder, tears instantly rolling down her cheeks.
“You’re gonna regret that bit of stupidity,” Phantom told Elias as they still walked on. “Don’t think you can pull the wool over my eyes. I know what you’re trying to do and it’s only gonna make it worse.”
“I’m doing nothing,” Elias snapped.
“Oh, so you didn’t just start a fight so that you’re both angry at each other and don’t have to say good bye forever?” Phantom retorted. “Again, I say, stupid.”
Elias pulled Phantom to a stop and sat for a moment before turning in his saddle and looking back at Zoey. It was then that he noticed she’d stopped and had her hands over her face, making him sigh in guilt as he turned to sit properly in his saddle and yanked Phantom the other way to set him at a trot.
“Damn you, stupid horse,” he growled as he came up on Zoey quickly.
Her hands fell from her face and she frowned, glancing around at the sound of hoof beats but before she could turn around, a hand was thrown around her waist and pulled her up to sit her sideways on a saddle. She gave a shout of surprise before she looked up to see Elias staring ahead, sending Phantom at a gallop as she threw her arms around his neck to keep from falling.
“Forgive me, Angel,” he whispered. “I am a fool—”
“Hush, my love,” she murmured. “I know what you were doing. I still love you.”
“General Blackwood! Miss Zoey!” Varen grinned as he hurried toward them when Phantom stopped in front of his door. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Saddle your horse, Varen,” Elias ordered, dismounting as Zoey still sat on Phantom’s back. “Miss Walsh is going back home.”
Varen looked at Elias in disbelief before looking to Zoey with the same expression and breathing, “What?”
“It’s true, Varen,” Zoey nodded, dismounting before Elias pulled Phantom toward the trail they’d come down and she stepped toward the young man. “I’m going home.”
“You’ll come visit, won’t you?” Varen hoped and Zoey swallowed, trying to hold back the tears that were coming.
“She can never come back, Varen,” Elias replied for her as he stepped up next to her. “You remember the place where she appeared, yes?”
“Y-Yes, Sir, but—”
“You’re to take Miss Zoey to that spot,” Elias interrupted. “Go get your horse.”
Varen was about to say something but shut his mouth and turned to do as he was told. Zoey swallowed again before turning to Elias and looking up at him with tearing eyes. He said nothing as he pulled her toward him and held her close as she began shuddering and sobbing against his chest.
“I have to admit, Angel,” he murmured, stroking her hair. “After all the tears you shed today, I thought you would have none left for me.”
Zoey said nothing as she continued sobbing and wrapped her arms around his neck so that they could hug each other tightly before she pulled away slightly, sniffling as he frowned at her in wonder.
“I want you to have this to remember me by,” she explained as her hands went to the necklace around her neck to unclasp it, but Elias lifted his hands to take hers in his grip, making her frown, weakly.
“Keep it, Angel,” he murmured. “I need nothing to help me remember you. I told you, I shall never forget you, my love.”
She jumped and glanced over his shoulder as Elias looked up to see Varen and his horse ready to ride.
“Whenever you’re ready,” he nodded, stepping closer toward his horse to stroke his neck as Zoey turned back to Elias, chewing on her lower lip.
“Do not drag this out any longer, Zoey,” he warned, seeing the look in her eye. “Go.”
Zoey only nodded and turned to head toward Varen, but she stopped after a step or two and spun around to throw herself into Elias’s arms, planting her lips to his as tears flowed down her cheeks. He returned the passionate kiss but soon realized, this was too difficult for her to get through herself. He waved Varen toward them, and the young man pulled his horse toward the two as they remained in their lip-lock before he mounted, ready to make a quick exit. Zoey lowered her head to break the kiss and settled her forehead on his shoulder, both hugging each other close.
“I love you, Elias,” she shuddered.
“And I love you, Zoey,” he whispered in return before lifting her chin to press a tender kiss to her lips.
Before she could try to deepen the kiss, he gripped her waist and lifted her toward Varen who threw his arm around her waist. Her eyes shot wide and she glanced around in confusion before looking back at Elias as he lowered his arms, and Varen sat her in front of him, sideways on the saddle.
“No!” she shouted, trying to shove Varen’s arm from her waist, but he was somehow stronger than she was. “Elias! Wait!”
“Go, Varen,” Elias ordered.
Varen sent his horse at a gallop as Zoey still tried to escape.
“No!” she sobbed. “Varen! Go back!”
She gave way to her sobs and leaned against Varen, her hands over her face as he managed to keep her from falling. It wasn’t too long before they stopped and Zoey lifted her red face from her hands to look around, recognizing the spot instantly.
“We’re here, Miss Zoey,” he murmured and she swallowed as he dismounted, then lifted his arms up to help her down. She jumped down as he helped her and she looked to the hole that was still in the ground where she and Elias had climbed out of the tunnel after he’d saved her from Rada and his men. “Do you need help getting down there?”
“No, thank you, Varen,” she breathed in a raw voice before looking back at him with a weak smile and took his hands in hers. “I’m going to miss you, Varen. I’m sure you’ll make an excellent general some day.”
Varen nodded and quickly pulled her into a tight hug, making more tears come to her eyes as he murmured, “We’ll all miss you, Zoey.”
They pulled away and she smiled again before pressing a small kiss to his cheek then turning to head toward the hole in the ground. She sighed, sitting at the edge and carefully lowered herself into the hole. It was a little deeper than she’d remembered and she gave a small grunt when she fell to the dirt floor but she managed to stand up and dust herself off.
Taking a deep breath she realized that the only light in the tunnel was the sunlight coming in from above. She lifted her hand and murmured, “Éadrom.”
A white light hovered in her hand and lit her way as she cautiously stepped down the tunnel.
“Hello?” she called as she walked. “Is anyone in here?”
When she heard nothing, she continued quickly down the tunnel and soon came to the room she’d seen Rada and Elias fight in after she’d tried to make her escape. Remembering the beginning of her journey in Kalina made her heart clench, painfully. She swallowed and stepped toward the table to hold the light in her hand above the candle, and it brightened the room so that she could see the exact space where she’d been dropped into the room.
She took in a deep breath, knowing there was no going back now and marched toward the gap in the dirt wall and stepped on the exact spot where she’d been standing when the wall around came crumbling down to reveal Rada and his men. She turned to face the room, breathing heavily as her heart thumped, nervously. She opened her mouth to say the word she needed to go back home to her mother, her adopted sister, and her friends, but nothing came out. She was hesitating, or stalling. Either way she was confused by it. She swallowed and tried again, but not a sound came from her mouth.
Her mind suddenly took her back to the day of the ball Kaysar had thrown in her honor and the conversation she’d had with him played over in her mind.
“Why are you giving this to me?” she’d asked, and as she heard Kaysar’s answer in her heard, she rummaged through her pockets.
“Because sometimes, what we think we should do, is not what we truly want,” he’d replied, just as Zoey found the compass he’d given her and she gazed down at it with a small frown.
“Points to your heart’s desire,” she recalled in a mumble then chewed on her lower lip in thought before opening the silver cover over the face and stared at it. The arrow went round and round and round the face of the compass as she swallowed, wondering where it would point. Her breath caught her throat and she frowned when it pointed ahead, making her look up in wonder and her eyes shot wide in disbelief.
There, at the other end of the room was Elias Blackwood, panting from having ran the entire way from Varen’s home to the place he stood now. She stared at him in overwhelming shock as Elias stared back at her, trying to catch his breath before he broke the silence between them.
“Angel,” he panted, neither one of them moving and he shook his head before continuing, “Don’t go.”
Zoey felt her heart race as they both stared at each for another moment. Elias suddenly marched toward her as Zoey ran out of the small space and they met in the middle, throwing their arms around each other and planting their lips to the other’s.
“Zoey, I’m sorry,” he breathed after they came out of their lip lock. “I tried. I truly tried to hold myself back, but I couldn’t. I can’t live without you, my love. Don’t go.”
“Kaysar gave me a compass,” she whispered, making him frown in wonder as they pulled away enough to look at each other and she grinned through tears, explaining, “It points to the heart’s desire.”
She held the compass between them and he looked down at her hands to see the arrow pointing at him and he looked back up at her with wide eyes.
“I’m not leaving after all, Elias,” she murmured and he hugged her close again, lifting her off her feet and twirling her around once before setting her down again and pressing his lips to hers.
Zoey’s room at home...
Christine grunted and groaned as she slid herself across the floor of Zoey’s room on her stomach.
“Christine?” a woman’s voice called from down the hall. “What are you doing?”
The little girl didn’t answer as she shuffled under the bed and grabbed what she’d been eyeing since she’d dropped the doll she was playing with and bent down to pick it up. When she’d leaned over, she saw what looked like a piece of folded paper she didn’t remember seeing there before. Now she stood and plopped onto the mattress of Zoey’s bed that had been left disheveled from the night she’d disappeared. It had been a week, almost two since she’d gone, and Christine had always believed she’d gone to Kalina. Christine opened the piece of paper and tried reading it, but she hadn’t gotten that far in school yet.
She shot her wide-eyed, green gaze at a woman standing in the doorway of the bedroom with curly, fire-red hair and sapphire blue eyes.
“What are you doing in here?!” she questioned, stepping toward the girl.
“I found this under Zoey’s bed,” Christine explained, holding the paper out to her. “Read it for me, Mommy Autumn.”
Autumn frowned in wonder at the paper before she took it and looked it over. Her eyes widened and she threw a hand to her mouth as she choked back a gasp.
“Mommy, what’s wrong?” Christine questioned, seeing her distress.
Autumn sniffled, tears gathering in her eyes as she lowered her hand and sat beside Christine on the bed, still staring at the paper. She took in a breath before beginning.
“Dear Mom and Christine,” it read. “I’m sure you’re worried about me, but I want you to know that I’m happy where I am now. It may sound like I’m dead or that I hurt myself, but I didn’t, and I’m very much alive. I’m living in a place called Kalina with many friends and a General I fell in love with—”
“Elias!” Christine suddenly cheered, making Autumn frown in confusion at her.
“What?” she breathed, catching the little girl’s attention.
“She was having dreams about someone named Elias!” Christine grinned. “She said she didn’t know who he was, but I bet that’s who she’s talking about!”
Autumn said nothing as she turned back to the paper to read, “I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning…”
Back in Kalina...
Elias quickly straightened out his back formal jacket before lifting a hand to smooth out his hair in the reflection of a mirror in the captain’s cabin of the Mela Ear.
“You look so nervous,” Eona laughed, slightly as she sat on the window seat, watching him.
“That’s because I am, Eona,” he replied, not looking at her as he made sure everything on him was perfect. “You would be too if it was Felix out there.”
“Not this nervous,” she smirked, standing and stepping toward him to place a hand on his shoulder and turn him toward her. She straightened his collar a little more and brushed the shoulders of his jacket before nodding in satisfaction. “You look handsome, General.”
“Thank you, Eona,” he nodded, before turning and taking a deep breath as he looked at the closed doors. “I never thought…”
Eona frowned at him when he trailed off then smiled and patted his shoulder, murmuring, “I know.”
He watched her head toward the doors and she opened one, just enough to slip through it, but stopped halfway out to tell him, “I’ll be with Felix today and tomorrow. You’ll have the house to yourself.”
Elias could only nod as he swallowed before she stepped out and shut the door behind her. He flexed his fingers in and out of his palms before marching toward the doors and opening both of them. The ship was deserted for the moment, but when he heard a giggle come from above him, he remembered that he wasn’t alone and smiled at the thought of who was currently at the helm of the ship with Kaysar, King of Kalina.
He hurried up the steps and took in another breath when he saw her. Fire red hair cascaded down her back as it faced him, contrasting greatly with the white train of chiffon that it led to. When she turned he felt his heart skip at the sight of those ice blue eyes he’d spend so much time becoming lost in, and the smile that won his heart the moment she gave it to him.
“There ye are, Blackwood!” Kaysar grinned as Elias somehow found his feet to step closer to him and Zoey. “We were worried ye weren’t ready. Cold feet, eh?”
“No,” he replied, staring at Zoey as she turned to face him in the most beautiful white, chiffon dress he’d ever seen. “Never.”
“Well, let’s get this done, shall we?” Kaysar said, clapping his hands together and glancing between the couple as they only stared at each other, dreamily. “Right. I’ll start. As Captain of this fine vessel, I am given the honor to marry you fine people on this fine day in this fine land. As I have no bible, I shall proceed as I see fit.”
Zoey and Elias didn’t really hear any of Kaysar’s rattlings as they only stared at each other, Elias taking Zoey’s hands in his, trying to resist the urge to pull her close for just a few more moments.
“The short version,” Kaysar continued. “Do ye, Elias Blackwood, take our beautiful Savior, Miss Zoey Walsh, to be your wife?”
“I do,” Elias nearly sighed, making Zoey’s smile grow.
“Cheers!” Kaysar grinned before continuing, “And do ye, Miss Zoey Walsh take our fine General, Elias Blackwood, as your husband?”
“I do,” she nodded, taking a step closer to him as he still held his hands.
“Praise the seas, Goddess Calypso be blessed and ye may kiss the bloody bride already!” Kaysar announced, slapping Elias on the shoulder, which the general either ignored or didn’t seem to notice.
Elias pulled Zoey close by the waist to plant his lips to hers before lifting her and hugging her close, her arms slipping around his neck.
love, brought Balance to their World.