Chapter 18: Return of the Gray Witch

Chapter 26: Legend's End

Setting: Kingdom of Roid

Characters:

Parn / Deedlit

Slayn/ Leylia

Shiris/ Woodchuck

Liara/ Etoh

Kashue/ Fianna

Shadom

The guests have begun to arrive, the food is prepared and the minstrels are tuning their instruments in preparation for the wedding of two of the celebrated heroes of the War of Heroes. While the preparations are primed in the royal castle's ballroom, just outside of the city limits a nervous couple awaits.

Parn is standing in the center of the clearing, his arms rigged at his sides. His eyes stare straight up into the sky as if expecting it to fall at any minute. He is so tense that he jumps when a hand rests on his shoulder. Behind him stands Slayn, dressed in white robes.

Parn: (surprised) Slayn!

Slayn: (smiling) A bit nervous I see. You shouldn't worry Parn everything is prepared.

Parn: (relaxing a bit) Thank you Slayn. But...

Slayn: (holing up his hand to silence Parn) Believe me I know that nothing that I say will calm you down. I felt the same way when Leylia and I were wed. Try to relax anyway.

Parn: I will.

Slayn leaves to tend to the rest of the preparations. Parn resumes his diligent vigil on the sky. He regains his senses as Woodchuck and Etoh arrive with King Kashue just behind. Etoh is in full formal attire, displaying the crest of Valis embroidered on his shoulder, and a small talisman that marks him as a priest of Faris. Woodchuck is also dressed nicely in a pair of loose fitting red pants and a finely made dress shirt, his customarily 'dirty looks' have been cleaned away by a night's soak in a tub. Behind them King Kashue is dressed in his formal attire and flanked by Shadom, also in dress attire.

Woodchuck: Well my friend, enjoy your last moments of freedom. If you're having second thoughts just say the word. I know this tavern in Valis...

Etoh: (Annoyed) Wood!

Woodchuck: Calm down Etoh. I was just fooling with him.

Shadom: (also getting a bit annoyed) Show some respect man. Can't you see that the young man has enough things on his mind with out your comments?

Kashue: (stepping in towards Parn) Parn.

Parn: Yes sire?

Kashue: I have watched you grow from a young boy with tremendous hopes to a strong man who has accomplished all he set out to do. If your father were alive I know that he would be as proud of you as I am right now.

Parn looks up at King Kashue and smiles. Both men extend their arms out to each other and grasp hands in a firm handshake.

Parn: Thank you sire.

A short distance away in a small cottage along the roadside, Deedlit prepares for her wedding. She is dressed in a gown made of a very well crafted cloth that hangs in all the right places, complementing her slender figure. She had opted to let her hair hang down as opposed to putting it up and the strands that peeked out from around her back reflected an almost golden light when touched with the sun's rays. Around her, Shiris, Lellia, and Queen Rashia make the final adjustments to Deedlit's dress and their own.

The ladies look ravishing themselves dressed in garments that appear to be made by an expert tailor. Shiris's dress is a ruby colored dress that rivals the deep red of her hair. The dress rests just off her shoulders and dips in the rear. Around her neck resting between her breasts is the jewel that had once marked her friend Orson as a berserker. Leylia's attire, while not as revealing, suits her just as nicely. She is clothed in the robes of a high priest of Marfa, in her hair is the wooden comb that had been given to her by Ghim. Queen Rashia stands to the side, dressed in her royal gown and holding a pillow with a small tiara resting on it.

Shiris: (adjusting Deedlit's dress) Deed would you stop fidgeting! I can't get your gown to sit right.

Deedlit stops fidgeting with the engagement bracelet on her arm and looks down at the two women finishing up her dress.

Deedlit: Sorry.

Queen Rashia: (smiling) It's almost time. Ladies, would you mind leaving me with my daughter for a moment, alone?

Leylia: (nodding) Of course your highness. Come on Shiris.

Shiris: (moving to the door) No problem. I have to find Liara anyway. (under her breath) Who knows what sort of trouble she's planning?

As Shiris and Leylia leave, Deedlit and Queen Rashia move towards one another and stop about a foot's distance from each other. Queen Rashia looks at her daughter with a smile and tears in her eye.

Queen Rashia: (holding back tears) My daughter, I have looked forward to the day you would be betrothed and travel to the Dagroth Shrine with both joy and dread. While this is not the sort of marriage that your father and I had envisioned, (Deedlit doesn't flinch) I...We are still very proud of you. I hope that he will make you happy. Now, kneel.

Deedlit lowers herself before her mother. Queen Rashia places the pillow down and ceremoniously, raises it up and places it on Deedlit's head. Deedlit rises up and faces her mother who is not longer holding back the tears.

Queen Rashia: Oh, Deedlit. (she gives her daughter a hug, which is warmly reciprocated)

Deedlit: (also crying) I love you too mother.

A few yards away from the cottage are two grand carriages that have been prepared to take the group to the clearing for the ceremony. Shiris moves toward the carriage and opens the door.

Shiris: (sighing) Your not going to stay in there all day are you?

Liara: (eyes a bit puffy from crying) Why should I come out? To watch the man I love marry someone else?

Shiris: Look, pouting in here won't change things. As much as I hate to admit it, this is one fight neither of us could ever hope to win. In fact, I don't think either of us ever stood a chance.

Liara: Why do you say that?

At that moment, Queen Rashia and Deedlit exit the small cabin. In that moment when Liara sets her eyes on Deedlit, she comes to the same realization that Shiris had, she never had a chance.

Back at the clearing.

King Kashue: All is prepared. Now all we need to do is await the blushing bride.

Woodchuck: Ahhh. Speak of the devil... Last chance, Parn.

Etoh grabs Woodchuck by the collar and starts dragging him off.

Etoh: I can't wait to see what happens when you try to settle down.

Woodchuck: Owww, hey! Etoh, leggo!

Positions are taken. The group is hushed. The ornamented carriages stop and the lead opens up. Shiris, Leylia, and Liara step out and begin to take their places near the rest of the party. Both Shiris and Liara have tears in their eyes, sadness or joy? The question is soon banished from the minds of those present as the second carriage's door opens and Deedlit's parents step out. Each of them extend a hand up and the crowd gasps as Deedlet steps to the forest floor. Parn is dumbfounded. The bride is escorted up to the alter, Parn reaches out a hand and Deedlet takes it into her's. Etoh begins the ceremony asking for Falis's protection for the newlyweds.