Chapter Three: Parent's Pride
After the funerals for many like Andrew Monin who lost his sister to the Mater Arbor battle, as well as the countless trials, the King seemed to see his position at Evangelis a little more than temporary.
The back room of the library had become an office of sorts while he and Halda, who sat next to him at the desk, sifted through sheets upon sheets of paperwork.
Letter after letter from Alden’s High council, questions and concerns from Salatia’s capital, they made up at least half of the pile they were currently working through, the other half were from the human side of the countries, their concerns voiced more sternly and their demands even more so.
Halda had to admit that his eyes were slowly giving up reading words in depth and instead were skimming over each letter looking for keywords like urgent or desperate.
They’d been sat for hours, Halda would read through them and if they were limited to a time or crying out for help then he’d pass them to the King to reply to, if not then they’d be arranged into piles here and there over the desk, some for Solon to sign, others put aside for later.
It wasn’t just his eyes that were becoming increasingly distracted however, his mind too was drifting to other things.
The hours of silence had given him more than enough time to think through a lot that had been dawning on his mind as of late, after the repercussions had died down- or at least a large majority- time had become something unusual to them.
They had all grown so used to being on the move, planning advancements against an enemy and trying to stay alive while keeping those close to them alive too.
But now they had time to themselves, to relax, he wasn’t sure if it was just him but he didn’t know what to do when he wasn’t with the King working.
Even when he was with Solon though he couldn’t stop his mind wandering even though there was plenty of time on a handful of occasions, focusing hadn’t been his strong point.
Dalamis had been on his mind a lot, their relationship being a massive fraction of it, everything seemed to be going well in his eyes.
He knew it was Dalamis’ first relationship so they were taking it slow, he wanted it to be special for him so they could enjoy the journey one step at a time.
They’d agreed, after having their lives n the line so often, that they’d take every day as it came so they could remember the best parts of the day because it’d be the small things such as that which they could look back on.
But, his promise to the man was heavy on his heart, it was true he was still at Evangelis and so, in theory, was adhering to his words, but when everything was back on track he would depart with Solon and his family for Haven’s Gate.
Halda knew there’d be no talking with Dalamis on the matter, it would turn into a fight and he knew neither of them wanted it, Dalamis would want him to stay and in truth, he couldn’t deny he also wanted that.
But it would be talking to Solon that worried him.
The disappointment wasn’t something he wanted to see on Solon’s face especially when the cause would be him, the other issue would be his position being filled, he couldn’t lie that he was sceptical of anyone being so close to the King other than himself.
Yet another reason he was cautious about confronting the King with the proposition.
Dalamis, however, was right, he needed a life of his own after dedicating fourteen years in solitude away from the rest of the world, he wanted romance and a life of adventure with someone else that he didn’t see every day on the island. A life with Dalamis.
Another scratching scribble of the quill later and Solon had had enough, with a deep sigh the bearded man leaned back in his chair, his usual strong posture faltering as he slouched a touch.
Halda, eyeing him with nerves building up in his stomach, decided it was a better time than any, they were alone and willing to talk in private.
Considering he was never usually nervous when it came to Solon or his family, his hands were considerably sweaty and his heart had changed rhythm choosing a more radical beat that made his body warm up.
Clearing his throat a little less gruffly than he anticipated, he watched as Solon slowly peered out of his one eye, his other remaining closed.
Halda kept his posture straight under the man’s furrowed brows and questioning gaze, swallowing the lump in his throat he spoke “May I speak freely?”
“Of course” Solon replied seeming a little more concerned than interested.
“I have been protecting you and your family for many years now, I vowed on my mother's memory that I would become a man worthy of her pride. I couldn’t protect my own family so instead chose to protect yours, you and Florenta are parents to me and it has been an honour to serve you. My King”
Solon, opening his other eye, sat up and changed his seated self to face Halda, observing the way the younger fae held himself and the way his facial features were set he asked “Where is it you’re going with this Halda?”
As if he was about to tell Solon his deepest and darkest secret he inhaled a lungful of air before continuing on to explain “I have recently found that I enjoy life away from the island. I feel as though I have discovered where I belong and I hope to, with your permission, explore more of the lands.”
“I see, so you are requesting to be relieved of your duties as Captain of the guards?”
“I am” Halda replied simply, thankful that he was the one to clarify what he was exactly hinting at.
“It is clear to me that your heart now follows another path, it has seemed that way for the past weeks. You have changed Halda.”
With an uncontrollable smile on his face Halda replied “I have”
“Ever since I took you in and helped you achieve your dreams, I have wanted nothing more than for you to be happy. It would be an honour to allow you to choose your own path, I would not hinder your growth by keeping you in a place where your heart does not beat completely” he said keeping eye contact with Halda.
The change in Halda’s appearance was massive, his shoulders sat less rigid and his eyes had a colour to them Solon hadn’t seen since he had been a child training to be a guard.
Could it be excitement he thought as Halda went on to say “I will personally see to it that a new captain of the guard is selected and trained to the highest standards”
“I trust you, do what you think is best, although I shall miss you on Haven’s Gate”
“I will miss it also, but I feel as though it is the right decision” Halda assured him, feeling a little more relaxed now that it was done.
“Please do remember that there will always be a home for you should you wish to return”
Unable to hide the subtle smile Halda clearly spoke words he knew Solon would appreciate “Borren is truly lucky to have you and Florenta as parents, he will grow to be a great King as his brother would have”
“Well Borren has had a few rather good role models to look up to”
Taking the compliment Halda turned his eyes back to the stacks of papers, despite enjoying his and Solon’s heart-to-heart chat they had important information to handle, some of which remained time sensitive.
So with a heavy sigh, he responded “We should perhaps attempt to get a few more signed and sorted”
With a grunt in reply from Solon as he picked up his quill, Halda let his fingers choose out the next from the pile, a white envelope with the Water Clan crest on its seal.
“A letter from Nerina” he informed Solon as he handed it over.
Solon took it and opened the envelope pulling out the letter from inside, Halda tried minding his own business as Solon read down the pages.
Dalamis had asked him once if he even thought about peaking at the letters, he’d replied with a no but now he wasn’t too sure he could say it so confidently, what was that man doing to him.
“Halda, gather a group and have them sent to Salatia immediately”
Placing down the papers in his hands Halda turned to Solon, brows furrowed and in question “What is the situation at hand?”
“Salatia is in threat of great damage, the Lamia Rose has had an adverse reaction within the fountain and has begun polluting Salatia’s water supply”
“But Nirvariten’s water all flows from the capital” Halda began but his words were completed by Solon who seemed to be thinking along the same lines.
“Indeed, if it isn’t stopped then it will not simply be just Salatia that is in danger”
Standing from his chair at the ready to spring into action Halda asked “And who would you like me to gather for this task, my King?”
Seemingly thinking it over Solon was quick to reply with a list of names composed of “Evan Jacobs, Monty Blackwood, Nathan Ordon and Fraya Selino”
“As you wish” Halda replied although a little curious with his choice, his feet soundlessly carried him out of the room and towards the sleeping quarters.
Some of the Ravens such as Evan, Nathan, Monty, Kayla and her brother Kai along with Everette and Aveline remained at Evangelis, Zack wasn’t concerned with whether they left or not and in all honesty Halda wasn’t completely sure if Zack would notice if they all left Evangelis and returned to their base.
The Raven leader wasn’t in the right state of mind, he often roamed the halls and corridors in a blank state, his mind thinking and his eyes lost.
Halda felt for him, it clearly took a detrimental toll on him after losing so much in such a short time.
In a way Halda could fathom the pain he was in, but of course no two people were comparable so he could never truly understand.
When there was no more reason for the Ravens to be at Evangelis, many had left, although Zack didn’t seem to understand or particularly pay too much mind as to why the few remained, Halda had no reasoning either but if he had to take a guess then he’d say it was because they cared even if they didn’t admit it out loud, he was after all their leader and friend.
Heading for Fraya’s room first he knocked on the door, instantaneously it swung open displaying her in a pale blue, silk gown.
She was undeniably stunning although he was much too afraid of her to admit any of it out loud.
From the little time he’d known of her, she’d definitely created a reputation for herself, she was a fierce woman which he respected and admired but from a safe distance of course, especially when Zack was in close proximity.
There was hostility between them, mostly from her side, but he didn’t dare get between them when they kicked off, it was a battleground within itself and he’d had enough of anything and everything to do with oppositions and violence.
“King Solon requests your assistance with another mission” Halda informed attempting to hold eye contact with her deep purple irises although it was more of a struggle than he originally thought it to be, they were enchanting but held a hint of mischief of sorts.
“So, you and Dalamis I hear” she replied.
For once in his life, Halda was lost for words, excluding the time he’d woken up to Dalamis emerging from the steamy on-suite bathroom with nothing but a towel hanging loosely around his hips.
It was obvious to the entirety of Evangelis that he and Dalamis were together, so why did she ask? Did she want the satisfaction of knowing such an open detail?
She was a curious individual and it did make one wonder what thought process she possessed.
Seeing as he couldn’t come up with anything to say he retreated from the door and took off at a rather brisk pace down the corridor towards Evan’s room.
Considering how adamant Fraya had been to leave when she’d first arrived, he was surprised to see her stay for whatever reason she had, perhaps she did have some form of sympathy towards Zack or perhaps she was simply awaiting her payment from the King.
Knocking on Evans door he let out a sigh, he really didn’t enjoy talking to people he didn’t usually engage with, but he hated defying the Kings orders more so he often found himself in the same position.
With no reply from the door he knocked again, perhaps he was out he thought but was proved wrong when it cracked open.
Confused and wary with his behaviour as Evan peered through the gap, Halda repeated the words from the King.
“Is that it?” Evan replied, there was something off with his behaviour that put Halda on edge, the man seemed somewhat nervous, but why?
With his brows furrowed and mouth a thin line he observed Evan, or at least what he could see, his brown eyes refused to make contact with Halda’s and seemed to wander around the wall behind him.
“Did you hear what I said?” Halda asked becoming increasingly worried, he always trusted his own judgement and when something made his heart quicken and his stomach knot he took it as a sign there was a threat towards the King.
“I did,” Evan said distractedly as his eyes simultaneously fell to the floor.
As the gut feeling worsened, Halda placed a hand on the door and gave it a shove.
Evan stumbled backwards, scrambling for his footing after his forehead had collided with the wood, Halda barged his way into the room leaving the door wide open.
But the captain of the guard wished he had simply ignored his gut feeling for once in his life, Evan who stood massaging his bruising forehead was completely nude and seemingly bitter about the intrusion.
“I was about to take a shower” he said
Baffled and feeling as awkward as can be Halda managed to respond although he wasn’t sure saying “I am truly sorry” made it any better.
Nevertheless he continued on to say “You seemed to be acting distracted and it was off-putting”
“It is hard to look someone in the eyes when I’m completely naked, especially when you’re stood in my doorway giving me a message from the king”
“Once again, I apologise for the invasion,” he said backing out of the room “It remains between us”
He made a mental note after briskly exiting the room and escaping down the hallway, to never look Eva in the eyes again for as long as he lived.
The second to last door came into his sight, his task ended here, or so he hoped and he dreaded the moment when Solon would ask him how it went, what would he say?
There was no guessing when it came to Nathan Ordon’s room, the man had been at Evangelis for merely over a month and yet seemed to have made himself at home.
A sticker on the door with his name scribbled on it in capital letters was hard to miss, the same could be said about the music coming from within the room.
Unable to prevent himself from rolling his eyes Halda knocked on the door, his eyes staring at the blue ink while he waited for an answer silently crossing his fingers that the interaction would be better than the other two he’d had.
It must have been at most, five minutes before the door opened on his next knock which left Halda eating his previous words.
Nathan, with a towel around his hips, one fixed upon his head also, was singing along to whatever song was playing in the background as he swung his hips to the crazed beat and his fluffy sock covered feet padded around.
His one-man dance party didn’t stop when he saw Halda, if anything it just encouraged him to dance more, even as Halda opened his mouth to speak Nathan cut him off by thrusting his fist towards him as if holding a microphone.
Seeing no fun in the man’s action, Halda slapped his hand away, the muscles in his body tensing in annoyance.
As the song gradually came to an end, it left a panting but smiling Nathan, his eyes looked to Halda as if waiting for him to speak as if the odd performance never occurred.
Halda cleared his throat- and hopefully his memory also- before proceeding to explain, all the while the man taking in the information nodded along.
Nathan agreed to take the task but said nothing else after the fact, he stood staring at Halda as if expecting him to say more, it was unnerving in all honesty to Halda.
“Is there anything more you wish to know?-” Halda began but was caught off guard as Nathan butted in.
“You have a good facial structure,” he said as if in thought.
What was it with weird comments today he thought, a little confused as to why he brought it up Halda asked “What do you mean by that?” trying to hide the fact he was already taking subtle steps back away from the door.
“My mother always says that we subconsciously choose our partners by the shape of their face, it’s like our brains can read everything about them by the way their built”
“And you thought it appropriate to mention that? Why?”
Holding an almost amused expression Nathan smiled continuing on to say “I mean this with no disrespect Halda, but your personality is rather, serious.”
“I see it as no disrespect, one must be serious as captain of the guard,” he said not completely understanding Nathan’s words.
“That’s what I mean, it’s all work. A lot of us have been wondering what it’s like to date you, Dalamis seems to be pretty happy, although his and your personalities are very different. It does make one wonder why he chose you”
Seemingly hitting a nerve deep within his chest Halda lost his usually calm composure “I do not think that this is appropriate, our relationship is not of your concern or any others. I would appreciate it if you could refrain from criticising it. If Dalamis has a problem then we will discuss it” he said keeping his words sharp and clear.
He made sure to watch Nathan’s expressions which did change, although to an emotion he couldn’t quite pinpoint.
With his mind spoken Halda spoke once again having had enough of human’s for one day “Please pass on the King’s message to Monty Blackwood”.
Halda’s legs were quick to lead him away, he knew where he wanted to go and how to get there which is why he wasn’t concerned with the fact he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going, his subconscious would lead him to his destination.
He saw some sense in Nathan’s words, he didn’t know as much as others, having been away from the changing world for so long, but he never thought of his personality being an issue.
It was true he was serious, but he had to be, there was a lot of responsibility he had to carry.
But would he change after leaving the King’s side? Would he like who he changed to? And would Dalamis still want him to stay even though neither of them knew how the future would play out?
It was a lot to think about and the more he did so the more downtrodden he felt.
Opening the door he marched in, considering it was Dalamis’ room Halda seemed somewhat shocked to find him sitting on the bed with a book in his hand.
He sat himself on the window seat across the room from the winged man, Dalamis however could see the cogs turning in the captain of the guard’s head, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for him to see Halda pondering something or other but the dull expression on his face was remarkably different to his usual one of concentration.
Placing his book down he rose from the mattress and sauntered over to the window, his wings becoming silhouetted by the sun filtering through the windowpane.
Cupping Halda’s sun-lit face in his hands he looked into his eyes of the troubled man hoping to find some answer in the mass of swirling shamrock green.
Halda’s eyes were distant and wary, it had been some time since Dalamis had seen the side to him.
The last had been the night he’d awoken to Halda sitting bolt-upright in a cold sweat, his hands had been shaking and his chest was heavily drawing in air as if he’d woken up frm a nightmare but yet still witnessing it in the dark.
He’s asked him if he wanted to talk about it but Halda had refused, saying he couldn’t, he’d honoured his choice but it still played on Dalamis’ mind.
Bestowing a light kiss to the corner of Halda’s lips, Dalamis watched the man slowly react.
“Are you alright?” he asked as Halda was brought out of his daze.
Leaving Dalamis’ question unanswered, Halda asked one of his own which caught his winged lover off guard “Why is it you chose me, Dalamis?”
“I admire how set your mind is, you’re determined but you’re not blind to what your determination may cause. You can be stubborn also but I do feel as though it is a good trait to have. You also stand your ground” he said, his thumb gently running along Halda’s cheek. With more to say Dalamis continued “You are also handsome, but beauty can only get someone so far. It is your heart and soul that appeals to me the most. I do wish to know though, why is it you ask?”
Casting his gaze out the window Halda replied “Nathan mentioned some things to me earlier, it made me think.”
“What things did he say?” Dalamis asked dropping his hand from his cheek to his hand where he entangled them admiring the individual differences.
“He said that I have a serious personality that revolves around work. I believe he was attempting to hint at you preferring me for my looks over everything else”
With a small smile that put Halda at ease, Dalamis spoke “I wouldn’t pay much mind to what he said, he knows little about much, other than his shuriken blades” he stated before adding “Is there anything else worrying you?”
“There is in fact something I wish to inform you about,” Halda said tightening his hands around Dalamis’ “It is good news for once”
“Well spit it out already” he cried out impatiently.
“In a short while, I will be discharged from the King’s detail. I have permission to remain here, with you”
It took Dalamis a minute or two for his words to sink in, he’d heard it countless times before but it had been in his dreams and daydreams so he was beginning to question if he’d fallen asleep reading in bed or if it truly was real.
Choosing to find out for himself, Dalamis rather aggressively tackled Halda in a tight embrace, managing to mumble out the words “I can’t believe you actually did it” into his shoulder.
“You doubted me?” Halda asked teasingly, his hands resting on the winged fae’s waist.
“A little, but I still wouldn’t have been able to blame you if you had left with Solon,” he said, his fingers wrapping around the necklace, he remembered the words Halda had said to him “It was my father’s when he died it passed to my mother who mourned him and died of a broken heart. I wish for you to have it, it shows you are special to me”.
He really was a romantic and a sentimental one at that, it upset him how others judged him so quickly despite the fact he had to when they’d first met, but unlike the others, he looked back on his sheltered mind and made changes.
“It was your home afterall and the King is like your family. I’d never want to take you away from them” Dalamis admitted, it was the truth and it hurt but afterall he only wanted what was best for both of them.
He thought he’d said something wrong from the lack of response he received, however, Halda’s eyes said otherwise, they held nothing but pure admiration, so did his lips as they captured Dalamis’.
It was unlike any of their usual shared quick kisses here and there, like before they went to sleep or one’s they shared when Halda would bring him a mug of coffee in bed.
The one they shared now was longer, heavier and certainly drew him in.
Dalamis couldn’t help but think to himself how Halda had done so much for him, he’d now chosen to leave his home and family for him.
A fae who had never experienced love or affection from a partner, a fae who had never had a chance to explore the intimacy between a couple, a winged fae who was seen as the reason for war which included the deaths of Halda’s parents.
And yet, as they embraced he couldn’t be happier, he trusted Halda and maybe felt something else too although it was far too soon to tell, or at least he thought so anyway.
Maybe he’d wait for Halda to say it first, then again maybe he’d never say it.
What if Halda never said the three massive words until they went all the way? Was he even ready for that yet, it was all so new to him and he was thinking they’d been going at a steady pace.
Dalamis often wished he wasn’t so naive, asking Halda would be the clear option but he didn’t want to make it uncomfortable between them by blurting out stupid questions and asking his brother was out of the question.
Stavros despite being his best friend wasn’t particularly the best option although there was no doubt in his mind that he could trust him.
He felt as though his options were limited, it was a topic he didn’t feel knowledgeable about in the slightest which was scary for him, he knew a lot about many things besides this, he felt as though he had no control whatsoever.
Dalamis’ mind however did manage to settle on a possible option, Mayfel.
He was rather layed back and they got along, but if things did go sideways then there wasn’t any particular reason he’d have to interact with him like he would with Stavros or his brother.
Their lips had separated and their foreheads rested together in pale orange glory as Halda’s thumb brushed over the jade stone of the necklace.
There had been many times where Dalamis had tried giving it back to him because of its value but Halda had always been adamant in him keeping it.
He always said that his mother would want him to have it if she could see them both together, it always sounded so sorrowful which is understandable given the circumstances.
But there was always an edge of memory to his words whether they were joyous ones or the opposite.
Halda’s parents would have been so proud.