Crucible Vows

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Chapter 19

Waking up the next morning, I found Luna’s cape resting on top of me acting as a blanket. Pushing it off and rubbing my eyes, I let out a yawn. My eyes scanned the area, and I saw that Luna wasn’t there. But Zealot was still resting behind me. His head was up as he watched the area around us, but he stayed where he was, making sure not to ruin my comfort. I smiled at the horse and ran my hand down his neck.

I stood up, and Zealot followed me. Walking to the entrance of the cave, I looked out carefully to see if I could find the man who had saved me countless times. Eventually, I saw movement that turned out to be Luna walking back towards me. He still wore the Knight’s armor of Obrenor. But with the lion crest on the tunic missing the only distinguishable part that identified where it was from was the lion on the shoulder.

When he saw that I was up, he jogged up and stopped in front of me. “If we move with haste, we could make it to Maulon by nightfall.”

“Maulon?”

He nodded and pat my shoulder. “My home.”

He walked past me and began to prepare Zealot for the ride. I followed and did what I could to help. Handing him some bags, he finished attaching the saddle and turned back to me. He lifted the visor of the helmet and smiled at me.

“We’ll get plenty of rest at Maulon,” he held out a hand to me. “If I know my parents, and I do, they will happily let us stay there for at least a night. They’ll make sure that we have plenty of food.” He paused for a moment and stared off into the distance. “Actually, knowing them, they would try to convince us to stay more than a day to make sure that we were okay.”

A feeling of uncertainty entered my chest and I just stared at him for a moment. He looked back at me with another smile, but it fell away when he saw my expression. Reaching out, he placed his hands on my shoulders and bent down slightly to meet me at eye level.

“What’s wrong?”

I bit my lip. “Will they be okay with an Elf entering their home?”

He jumped back slightly at my question, and I couldn’t help but feel ashamed to ask the question. His hands tightened on my shoulders and I looked down, avoiding his gaze. His grip loosened and he moved his knuckle under my chin. Moving my head up so I would look him in the eye, he stared down at me with no anger in his expression but understanding.

“My parents were the ones who taught me that life, no matter the background or who the individual was, is important.” He expressed softly. “They don’t care if someone was human, Elf, Orc, or whatever. They just care that people are taken care of when they need it.”

His thumb rubbed my jawline for a moment before he lifted me to get onto Zealot. He followed suit while moving the visor back in place and began to lead us out to the forest to continue our journey. He glanced around for a moment to make sure the way was safe and urged Zealot forward.

“Wait...” I said suddenly and caused Luna to stop our progression.

He looked down at me confused.

“Luna,” I began. “I can’t have you always protecting me like this. I need to be able to do some things on my own.”

“I signed up for this when I promised to get you to Alovia.” He responded.

I gripped the fabric of my skirt. “But I need to be able to have some independence too. I can’t always rely on you. You once offered to teach me some self-defense.”

He let out a sigh. “I did. And then everything went to chaos and it never happened.”

I stared up at him as he silently thought.

“If you’re okay with a bit of a delay,” he offered. “We could stay a few days in Maulor and I could teach you there. We’d be working in secure grounds. So, we wouldn’t have to worry about being seen. And you learn how to defend yourself.”

I was silent. I didn’t know what to say.

“Besides,” he urged Zealot forward in a trot as he continued. “My parents haven’t seen me in a while. It would be very difficult to be able to leave after one day. Might as well take advantage of the situation.”

I turned just enough to wrap my arms around his chest and gave him a squeeze. He released one hand from the reigns and placed it around my back to return the embrace.

“I know your eager to get to Alovia.” He whispered. “But it’s not going anywhere, and I know that we will make it.”

I nodded against him before pulling away and looking forward. Luna urged Zealot to go at a slightly faster pace to try to get us to Maulor a bit sooner. A warmth entered my chest as I thought about Luna. And I realized something that gave me mixed feelings. My feelings for the Knight were growing. And yet, I hadn’t told him the truth of who I was yet.

I was scared. I was scared that if I told him, he would change. I was afraid that he would leave. I feared that he would hate me. Though it didn’t seem like him to have that happen, I didn’t want to risk it, or our friendship. And besides that, I was a princess of a Kingdom that his Kingdom attacked. He was a Knight from a Kingdom that hated my kind. Our worlds were completely separate. I doubted that he would ever feel the same way about me.

“You are a noble.” Luna suddenly said and broke into my thoughts.

My head whipped around to look at him.

“That’s my assumption,” he added. “You said you came from a family who valued education. And in Obrenor, only noble families are able to afford education. Thus, you must be a noble woman.”

The fast rate of my heart began to relax at his explanation, and I let out a silent sigh. “Technically, yes. I am of noble blood. But education is free for all in Nythstaesi. No matter their background or status, anyone can learn.”

He nodded. “I wish we had that here.”

I simply shrugged. “Hopefully, things will change for the better.”

“Now,” he glanced down at me. “It’s your turn. Ask away.”

I brought my hand to my chin. “If this Kingdom runs by the standards you said with Education, then I have to assume that the Knights are the same way. You’re a noble.”

He gave a small nod. “I’m the son of a Baron. Only sons of noble families are allowed to become Knights. Only with special permission and a test of skill are commoners able to become squires. But they are never allowed into Knighthood.”

The more he explained on the many restriction of Obrenor, the more I found I didn’t like the place. Though there were many kind people who helped us, I never wanted to stay here longer than needed. But this was Luna’s home. And I knew that if I stayed with him, things would be alright.

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