Ragnar and Mary slowly walked hand and hand down the valley road. Neither spoke a word nor neither had to. Both knew exactly what the other was thinking, and words were not necessary.
Eventually, they came to the area where Ragnar had parted company with Healie. The soldier wanted Mary to meet the kind, little monster who had saved his life on numerous occasions. He called out its name and Mary looked up at Ragnar, somewhat confused. He explained that 'Healie' was the name that the children of Izmit had given the healer. Mary couldn't help but giggle. 'Healie' seemed quite a silly name.
Eventually, Healie emerged from the forest west of the valley road and quickly floated over to the couple. Even from this distance, Ragnar could see that Healie's tentacles were waving frantically in excitement.
"Ragnar!" Healie squeaked in delight as it got close enough. "So... glad... see you!"
"And I'm glad to see you," Ragnar smiled, patting the healer's blue head.
Healie then noticed Mary and asked, "Who... that?"
"I'm... Mar-y," she replied, extending her words as if talking to a three year old.
"You don't need to do that," Ragnar chuckled. "He can understand you fine without talking slowly."
"Oh," Mary muttered, looking at the healer curiously. She had never seen a healer this close in her entire life and was very intrigued. Healie extended a tentacle forward, and she backed a bit, startled by the little monster's sudden action. Ragnar laughed and explained to Mary that she was supposed to shake Healie's tentacle as if it were a human hand. Hesitantly, she extended her open hand forward. Healie gently placed its tentacle in her palm and Mary gently closed her hand around it, fearing that she might harm the delicate tentacle.
"Hel-lo..." Healie said, enthusiasm in the healer's watery voice. "My...name...is...Heal-ie!"
"Hello," Mary said, smiling timidly. "My name is Mary. I'm Ragnar's fiancée."
"Fe.. an… say?" Healie asked, looking up at Ragnar.
"It means we're going to be husband and wife when we return," Ragnar explained.
"You... both... leave...?" Healie asked, its tentacles beginning to slow down in their excited movement.
"No, no!" Ragnar laughed. "I meant us. You and me."
"We're going on a journey," Ragnar explained. "Our success will ensure the safety of the Izmit children." He looked at Mary and hugged her close. "And ours," he added softly to her.
Healie, upon hearing they would be able to help the children of Izmit that it cared about deeply, starting to wave its tentacles more rapidly than Ragnar had ever seen!
"You go on up ahead towards the tunnel," Ragnar said, smiling. "I'll be along in a bit." Healie waved its tentacles back and forth rapidly and started to float down the valley road.
Once Healie had floated a bit of distance away, Ragnar turned to Mary, smiling.
"Where will you go?" Mary asked.
"To the country of Endor," Ragnar replied. "Word has it that a tournament for warriors is being held there. If the Hero is as great of a fighter as the Texts claim, perhaps he will be there. If not, it's still a good starting point. Many rumors can come through the City at the Center of the World."
They embraced each other for a long time, saying good-bye without a single word. The wind whistled by, drying the single few tears that trickled down their cheeks.
"I love you," Mary whispered to Ragnar, her eyes closed tightly.
"I love you too," the soldier responded, holding her close.
They held each other for several moments, both not wanting to let go but both knowing that it had to end. Finally, in what had seemed an eternity for the two, they let go of each other. They held a long kiss and Ragnar turned to follow Healie, waving farewell.
Mary waved farewell as well, her tears no longer trickling as she absently touched her belly.
Thus, Ragnar and Healie left on their journey in search of the young Hero, not knowing what to expect to come.
END OF BOOK 1