Korom followed Tulip out of their apartment later that morning. After making love again, they had decided that it would be unfair to wait to tell Bor and the others.
As they entered the main dining room, where Bor, Lilly, Rose, Tark, Violet, Keel, Freyna and the king’s mother were all having breakfast, he felt the mood of everyone seated.
His mist could sense the sadness they were all experiencing. The loss of so many males weighed heavily on the ruling family of Toria.
When Tulip walked in, a huge smile on her face, Bor and Lilly were the first to look up.
When Bor saw Korom follow into the room behind her, his face paled and his eyes went wide.
“Korom?” He breathed, his green eyes glowing in the bright light of the Torian sunshine coming through the large windows. Gasps echoed from around the table, but he held his brother’s eyes.
“Hello, brother.” Korom said, releasing Tulips hand to go over to his king.
Without a word, Bor stood up and engulfed him in a tight hug. They stood there for a moment, Bor’s body vibrating with emotions. He felt something wet drip onto his shoulder, which made his own eyes tear up.
Finally, Bor released him and stepped back, blinking to clear his eyes.
“How… How is this possible?”
Korom smiled, “Our old friend from the Eye. Kurmar pulled Lorzarian and I out of the ship before it blew. It was a close call, brother,” He turned to show Bor the scar on his head, “A second later and the metal shard would have been in my brain.”
“He has my eternal gratitude. He saved your life twice now. I owe him a debt.”
“I doubt he will ever call it in. He’s too honorable for that.”
Bor nodded, “Perhaps. But it’s here nonetheless. Where is Lorzarian?”
“He stayed at the Eye. He said he wanted Kurmar to help him find something. I wanted to get back to Tulip too much to ask questions.”
Bor smiled, nodding at him. “Yes, I can imagine.”
A soft hand fell onto his back and Korom turned to see Lady Lilly standing behind him, tears welling in her eyes, but a wide smile on her face.
He turned to his Lady, allowing her to pull him down into a tight hug.
“Thank God,” she whispered in his ear, “Thank God you’re okay.”
“Thank you, My Lady.” Korom gave her a smile, before greeting and hugging everyone else.
As they sat down to eat, Korom reflected how lucky he was with the life granted to him. He had so many people around him that loved and cared about him. He had a female that he adored and the hope of having a family of his own with. He had a home he loved, and a job he enjoyed, despite the risks it came with.
“So,” Rose said once everyone was seated again, “As I was saying. I was offered the opportunity to model for a company in Tortaria. And I was wondering if the offer to live in the apartment you spoke about is still available?”
She was speaking to Bor, who looked up at her, then nodded. “Yes. The apartment is standing empty at the moment. You are welcome to move into it if you wish, Rose.”
She smiled wide, “Yes, I’d love to, thank you. It would make it so much easier to get to the modelling house every day and not have to travel from the Keep.”
“Rose,” Lilly spoke up, “I’m not sure it’s a good idea for you to be out in the city all alone. We have no idea how anything works out here, what parts of the city are dangerous or even how to drive. Don’t you think you should take someone with you. Someone to help you learn and adjust. Even just for a while.”
Rose seemed to think about this, then nodded. “You’re probably right. Knowing me, I would get lost on my first day there and end up having to call you guys to come save me.”
Korom sat forward, “Tark, you will go live in the city with Rose. You will keep her safe, teach her how life in the city works, and make sure she has everything she needs.”
It was an order from his commander and Tark wouldn’t dare refuse it. The male stiffened his shoulders and nodded.
“Good,” He turned to Bor with a raised brow to see if he disagreed, but Bor just nodded.
“And Violet,” Lilly said with a light tone, “You get to go back to school in two days. Yay!”
“What!” Violet burst out, “Two days! But… But…”
“But? No buts, Vi. We agreed that you would go back to school. And the new term begins in two days. Bor already arranged with the academy that you will join them and they agreed to give you extra lessons to help you catch up.”
Violet narrowed her eyes. “Fine. You want me to go back to school, then I want something too.”
Bor raised a brow, but Korom saw the slight twitch at the corners of his lips. “And what is that?”
Violet’s cheeks turned a rosy pink, but she tilted her chin up and said, “I want to enlist into boot camp.”
“Boot camp?” Bor frowned.
“Vi, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Lilly said, not answering Bor’s question.
“No boot camp, no school.”
“Please?” Violet interrupted.
“May I say something on this matter?” Bor’s mother, Saruma asked.
They all turned to look at her. The king’s mother sat at the other end of the table, her beautiful face pulled into a sweet smile.
“Yes, mother, of course you may.” Bor answered, giving her a nod.
“I say let the girl go.”
“But mother-” Bor began, but Saruma silenced him with a raised hand.
“My son. My daughter, Lilly. I know you fear for the youngest of your family, but I can assure you, I have seen what Violet can do. And I firmly believe that if a female wishes to be a warrior, she is allowed to follow her dream. I see no reason why Violet cannot attend the academy during the day, and train with the warriors at this boot camp, as she calls it, after her lessons. Many warriors train in the afternoons and evenings while they study other professions in the morning.”
Korom waited to see how Bor and Lilly would react. Lady Saruma had a point. Many times Korom himself had to turn away females who wished to train as warriors because of the rules on Toria. Now, if Bor allowed it, not only would Violet be the first female allowed to train, but she would also be the only human warrior they had. And Korom had seen her practicing her skills with Keel in the gardens many times. She would be a fine opponent and a pleasure to teach.
Finally, Bor sighed and turned to Korom. “What do you think, brother?”
Korom shrugged, “You know how I feel about females being warriors. How many times have I told you that I had female applications to the training program.”
“If I agree to this, then she will be under your training, Korom. You will keep an eye on her and make sure she is safe-”
“I don’t want any special treatment. That’s the quickest way to lose friends. I just want to train and learn the same way every other warrior does.”
“And so you will, Violet,” Korom said, pinning her with his best commander glare, “For I will not have any mercy on you. Just like I have none on the males that I train. You will be judged the exact same way all the others are. Do you agree?”
“Yeah! I mean, yes, sir!” Violet said, sitting up straighter.
“I don’t know about this.” Lilly said, biting her lip.
“I give you my word, Lady Lilly. If Violet is unable to pass each and every test that is in place for all warriors, she will be dismissed from the training program just like any other warrior would be. The training program is hard, but fair. We take care of our warriors, both physically and mentally. She will be safe.”
Lilly thought about this for a moment, then sighed, “Fine. If you want to do it, then I guess I can’t stop you. Just please be careful.”
“I will. And I promise I won’t let my school work fall behind either.”
“I know you won’t,” Lilly smiled, “Okay. Anyone else want to drop a bombshell on us this morning?”
When no one said anything, Lilly smiled wider. “Well I have one.”
All eyes turned to Lilly. With a blush, she twisted in her seat to look at Bor.
“What is it, little mate?” Bor asked, frowning at her.
Silence fell over the room. Korom held back his smile as he watched Bor first pale, then go red in the face, before his eyes glowed so bright they looked like lights coming from his face.
He pulled Lilly onto his lap. “Are you sure?”
She nodded. “Oris told me last night.”
“So that’s where you went after dinner.”
She nodded again. “Are you happy?”
“Happy? Happy! Lilly, there are no words to describe the joy I feel at this news. I will be a father! Is it too early to know if it’s a son or daughter?”
“It’s too early, but Oris says everything looks perfect.”
Korom felt himself smiling wide with the rest of his family. He pulled Tulip onto his lap and kissed her neck.
“Do you want kids one day?” She whispered to him as the others began congratulating Lilly and Bor.
He met her eyes. “Yes. As many as you will be kind enough to give me.”
He nodded. “Five. Ten. Twenty. I don’t mind. As long as I have them with you.”
“Twenty?” Tulip burst out laughing, “I think that might be pushing it. But I could go for three or four. Just not yet. I want to spend some time with just you and me.”
“Agreed. Besides, we need to have our marriage first, do we not?”
“You mean wedding? You want to get married?”
At her wide eyes, Korom frowned, “You do not?”
“I do, I just… Normally guys take a lot longer to get to that step.”
“Why? You are my mate, Tulip. The one I will spend the rest of my life loving and caring for. I know this and you know this. Why wait?”
“I guess you have a point. No going back now that I can mist.”
“No, there isn’t. We are one now. We will be for the rest of our lives. So why not get the formalities out of the way?”
“Okay. Let’s get married.”
“Can we do it now?”
She laughed again. “No! I need to plan it properly. I’ll only be doing this once in my life. I want it to be perfect.”
“Very well. Whatever you want, little one. Just tell me what you need from me and I will do it.”
“What kind of wedding do you want? Is there a Torian custom you want to observe?”
He thought about that for a moment. He wasn’t Torian, but this was his home. He considered the Torians to be his people. All his life he was raised on Torian customs and traditions.
“Yes. I would like to join both celebrations, like Lady Lilly did. We can have the Torian joining ceremony in the morning, then have the Earth ceremony here at the Keep in the afternoon, followed by the after party that night. Would that be alright?”
“Sounds perfect to me.”
He placed a long kiss on Tulips lips, feeling his body react to hers. As they touched, their inner mist began to swirl together in an almost invisible cloud around them, heightening both their feelings of desire and love.
If he didn’t stop soon, he would have a very embarrassing situation when he stood from the table.
Tulip must have felt his problem growing, because she broke the kiss and winked at him.
Bor’s voice broke them out of their little moment.
“You!” Bor called, pointing to one of the female servants waiting in the corner.
She came over immediately, her head bowed, “Yes, my Lord?”
“What is your name?”
“Wetra, my Lord.”
“Wetra, let it be known to all. Tonight... Toria celebrates!”
“What shall I say the occasion is, my Lord?”
Bor looked around the table. “Family. Love. Brothers. The future. Tonight, we celebrate life!”
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