Crucible Vows

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Chapter 35

It was only a couple of days later that I had to fulfil my responsibility of passing judgement on Arlen. To see a man who once was my friend sink so low that I couldn’t even recognize him was heart breaking. But he not only put me in danger. He risked the lives of so many in Nythstaesi with his plan. He threatened death on Luna. I was not going to allow him to benefit from the situation.

It felt foreign to sit on the throne of my parents and to look down upon a former friend. But I gained strength from Luna standing next to me. I made sure to inform everyone that he was trustworthy and would stay close to me as a personal guard. They didn’t argue.

The weight of the crown upon my head was heavy, but I was prepared to do my duty for my people and country. After much deliberation, I found and selected a new Royal Advisor to help me in my journey to rebuild Nythstaesi. He was a kind noble who was the son of a previous advisor. He had been trained and was ready to take on his father’s role.

“Arlen,” the advisor stated. “You have been charged with treason against the royal blood of the Vifelon family. Not only have you tried to seize power from the royal family through threats and blackmail. But you have also been charged with attempted murder and manslaughter against the Princess herself, along with her personal guard. There are many witnesses against you. Do you have anything to say before Her Highness passes judgement?”

Arlen glared up at me. “I had a perfect plan to make this Kingdom a force beyond any other. Your desires to be a Kingdom of peace is naive. You’ll lead this Kingdom to the grave if you don’t change things.”

My heart ached at the accusation. “I will be honest in saying that this is difficult for me to do. You and I were once close friends. But I don’t recognize you anymore.”

I paused and stared down at him. His glare remained on his brow.

“But I will show mercy.” I continued. “Arlen, for your acts against the throne, the people of Nythstaesi, and me, you are stripped of your title, your rank, and all your assets within the Kingdom. You will be taken to the docks and you will board a ship to a destination of your choosing, I don’t care where. But you are hereby banished from Nythstaesi for the rest of your life. If I ever see you again, or if it is reported that you return, you will be killed on the spot for being a traitor. Am I clear?”

He remained silent, and I took that as my answer. With a wave of my hand, the guards next to him grabbed him by the arms and pulled him to his feet. He was ushered out of the throne room. I remained sitting until the rest of the people within the hall had filtered out. Soon enough, it was only me, Luna, and the Royal Advisor.

“Your Highness,” the advisor walked over to me. “I’d like to go over a few items of business dealing with your coronation coming up. May I speak with you this evening after supper about it?”

I nodded. “Yes, that’s fine. For now, go and take a break. It’s been exhausting.”

He bowed and turned around to leave.

“Thank you for all you’ve done!” I called out to him as he left.

He truly had made a difference in all the work that needed to be done in the castle and for the Kingdom. He made sure that my schedule was precise and efficient. I was able to get more done with him as my advisor than if I had tried to do it all alone. I was glad to have him around to help.

Luna’s hand landed on my shoulder. “Should we go for a walk?”

I let out a sigh and stood up from the throne. My hand lingered on the arm. The last time I had truly been around that piece of furniture was when my parents were still alive. They always sat next to each other and worked together to find the best possible outcome for whatever situation was present. It felt different to do it alone. I had to sort of figure things out for myself.

A hand was held out to me, and my eyes broke from the throne and went to Luna. He offered to act as my escort with a simple extended hand. A small smile came to my lips and I took his outstretched hand. He pulled me closer to him and tucked my hand in the crook of his arm. Luna guided me out of the throne room and out to a balcony overlooking the castle grounds. We stopped and I leaned against the stone railing and let out a sigh.

“How are you holding up?” He leaned against the railing with his back to the world.

“That was more exhausting than I expected.” I said with a small laugh. “It’s not every day you banish someone who was a close friend.”

Luna nodded. “I believe that would be hard. But what you did was what was best for the Kingdom. You’ll make an exceptional Queen, Elora.”

I blushed and looked away from him. “I still have a lot to learn.”

Luna placed a hand on mine. “Life is about learning. But you aren’t alone in this. I’ll be here every step of the way.”

I smiled up at him. “And I’m glad that you are. It’s easier knowing you’re close by.”

My eyes drifted off again as I continue to think about my future. There was still a lot to do in order for Nythstaesi to be strong again. And I needed to start to learn more about how to be a reliable Queen. All the while, Luna would be next to me, but I didn’t consider it fair to him. He wanted to remain with me, but he’d have to wait until I felt like the state of my country wasn’t in peril.

“What’s wrong?” His voice cut through my thoughts.

I looked over to him and gazed into his dark eyes. “I thinking about the future.”

He glanced away for a moment and then pushed himself up to a standing position. Grabbing my hand, he turned me to face him. Both his hands held mine as he placed his forehead on my own. We stood there for a moment and I leaned into his touch. This was home for me. I could go anywhere with Luna and would be happy.

“Listen,” he said softly. “I know things here are a little crazy. You have a lot to do, your coronation, rebuilding Nythstaesi, just getting things back to normal. I know it’s a lot. I don’t want to add to that kind of stress.”

I pulled one hand free from his grasp and placed it on his cheek. “You aren’t adding to that stress.”

He smiled and grabbed my hand before pressing a kiss to my palm. “But I’m not going to add anymore. Meaning, I’m not planning on asking for your hand in marriage until you feel ready.”

My heart began to beat faster. “You want to marry me?”

“I do.” His eyes glowed with love. “I want to spend the rest of eternity with you. But I will wait until things are a little more normal. My feelings for you will never change. And I am yours as long you want me.”

I gazed up at him and felt my cheeks heat with blush.

“So, for now,” he leaned down closer to me. “I won’t propose. But I’ll give you a promise that I will love you now and forever. When you are ready, I will happily vow my life to you.”

My soul was filled with joy and I couldn’t help but beam up at him. “I promise you the same. I will love you forever and vow my life to you when it is time.”

He closed the gap between us and kissed me. Every kiss with him felt like magic. The way he cradled my head in his hands. The soft touch of his fingers on my cheeks. Everything he did, felt so natural. And he was mine. He only wanted me, all of me. And I only wanted him. He was my family. And I knew I would be happy with him. No matter what challenges were to come, he would stay by my side. And I would be with him through anything he encountered. He was the love of my life. I knew that if none of this had ever happened, I would have never met him.

Though it was terrible what my country had to go through, I felt that there was a purpose for it. We would be stronger because of it. We would prosper more. We were able to grow from it. And as long as I had breath in my body, I’d fight for my people to be able to live in peace and happiness. And along the way, Luna would be with me. This was the start of a new chapter for Nythstaesi. It was a new chapter for me and Luna. It was a new chapter, to a new story.

The End

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