His heart was filled to the brim, for the first time in a long time he felt happy and free. He didn't care what she really was, all he knew was that he loved the girl with green eyes, unconditionally. Hopefully she would return his feelings but first thing was first—he had to find her. He had to explain himself and apologize for his foolish behavior.
He willed the girl with green eyes to be seen within the crowds of the city. She hadn't been waiting in the inn when he ended his conversation with the Queen, so the young lord took off into the city. He asked a few people if they had seen her but they had not. They would have surely noticed her she even passed by.
Finally the evening darkened the sky and he was forced to retreat back to the inn, figuring she would have returned by then. Hopefully she was not angry at him but he could picture her laying on the bed with tight lips and narrowed eyes, claiming it for herself since she was annoyed at him.
He entered the room to find Nicolette had abandoned it. He was glad that she wasn't the vindictive sort of girl, slightly naïve—just as much as he—but she had let his decision settle and had returned to her castle without another fuss. His eyes scanned the room, disappointed Avalyn was not there.
However, there was a note on the stand by the bed, a rolled parchment. He thought it to be a farewell note from the Queen. He unrolled it and read over the words and paled. It was a farewell note but not from the hand of Nicolette. His entire happiness drained as he read the words within.
He wished that it had contained anyone Else's words—not Avalyn's.
It is obvious to me that you are happy where you are with the one you love. I shall not be a burden to you any longer so this is my note of farewell. You were not here when I returned or else I would have told you face to face. You were right, my mother cannot be found, and frankly I have tired of searching. She does not want to be found and she certainly wants nothing to with me. I wish you the best in everything.
He crumpled up the parchment and let it drop to the floor, seeing laid also on the table was the amulet with the amethyst jewel. She had always considered it her last hope, and he knew that by its being there the last of Avalyn's hope was gone. Alys was not there, and if she was she would never be found. Jaythen had failed her as well, as a friend for he let himself become sidetracked and at the very last moment when he realized she was everything to him, her hope had died. She was gone. This time however, it wasn't meant just for a fortnight—it was meant for good. How true her words were about happiness when someone was with their love. For now his love was gone and there was nothing but a stinging sorrow at her absence.
The reality had not hit him fully yet. He felt dumbstruck, and bewildered. He rolled onto the bed and fell asleep, wishing and wishing with all his might that the dream of Avalyn would return. However the sky was dark and no falling stars could be seen if they even fell to wish upon.
He awoke alone. His covers had not been stolen, there was no amazing girl next to him to greet him or even settled on the floor out of tenaciousness. He stared at the ceiling with the heaviest of sinking feelings in his heart—as though a part of him had died.
He knew now that his love for Avalyn could fill oceans and found it slightly naive when what seemed so long ago, he had told his dying father that he knew the difference between a lustful tryst and a loving relationship. At that point he considered himself to have had a loving relationship with the princess but after his infatuation cleared from the night before he knew Nicolette was the tryst. He had known her intimately and barely at all as a person, though he had been in her acquaintance over many months.
Yet, though he often shared a bed with the girl with green eyes in a literal sense, he had never been romantic with her. The few kisses they had shared were of pretend, to secure a charade or a debt of promise. He knew a great deal about her, and knew that he would risk his life for her—and their interaction was condensed into nearly two months of time. She had been his greatest friend, they had saved each others' lives, and he loved her—he just wished he had the chance to tell her before she gave up hope.
He dressed sluggishly, wondering how to even begin to look for her. Before, the driving force in her determination was finding Alys, and now he didn't know what would replace that. Perhaps she would return to Marv, the only other being that had been kind and loving towards her. She did love books after all and would probably be content to live there and do nothing but read the rest of her life—human or fey—with an eternal optimistic father figure. She must have assumed he would choose to stay with Nicolette from what he had told her that night in the Prition Gardens, how passionately he described his feelings toward the former princess—and because of that he had now lost Avalyn, and perhaps forever if she were to choose to exist as fey.
He let out a sigh and packed his belongings, putting the amulet into the pocket of his vest before checking out of the inn. Avalyn had taken nothing with her—even the quilt was still in his possession. She appeared into his life through a cloud of mist and disappeared just as swiftly as in a manner of a dream upon waking.
He should have probably gone home but he still felt that he owed it to Avalyn to find her mother, even though the desire on her end had waned to nothing. Maybe it was the end of his gallivanting, maybe it was time to return to Wendbury and face his cousin.
He bought passage on a ship that wasn't scheduled to leave for an hour, so he mulled about the dockside traders market in the meantime. His eyes roamed the goods of the sellers. They shouted at him to make bargains but he tuned them out as his mind wasn't in a state to comprehend much. His eyes landed on a stand of jewelry and they stopped abruptly as he saw a beautiful white-gold banded ring with an emerald set at the center. He had to wonder if it was the ring he had given to Avalyn, for a part of his mind managed to remember the Isles did manufacture a good amount of white gold jewelry. Still—he looked at it and his heart took to beating.
"You see something you like?" the vendor asked as Jaythen had been standing there long enough.
"That ring," he swallowed, "Where is it from?"
"The band is white gold from here—" the vendor began to describe but Jaythen shook his head abruptly.
"No, I mean who owned it before you?"
The vendor gave him a curious glance, "A beautiful girl with hair as golden as the sun. She needed money for travel and so sold it—"
Upon hearing those words Jaythen leaned forward and grabbed the vendor's shirt, pulling him forward, "When?"
"Yesterday evening, sir."
Jaythen let the vendor go and regained composure.
He was hurt that she would rid herself of the only thing she could remember him by. He had told her she could keep it. Then, he supposed if it was hers, it was hers to sell. After all she had no extra money to get home. Still, something in him couldn't bear to leave it there.
"I'll take it."
"How much do you have?"
He dumped what was left of the Saint Toby Lad's purse to pay. "I will give you all of this for that."
The vendor agreed at the sight of so much glitter, not even bothering to count it, just swiping it over to his own finance holdings. Jaythen snatched it from the fingers of the vendor and slipped it his pocket—glad to have at least something that was a part of them both. It was a symbol of their time together, the item that had made all their pretending to seem true.
He paced briskly through the market, now his mind in a blur. If she had sold the ring the evening before to obtain traveling money, then she planned on leaving. The only way to leave was by ship, and ships never departed past dusk so that meant...she was still there. She had either left earlier that morning or was perhaps still on the waterfront, waiting to board the same ship as he. He launched himself into a run up and down through the market searching for her.
He could see no golden hair, she was a tall lass but he was taller and could see over the heads of the people. Nothing. Then, he heard something familiar though the bustle and it caused him to stop his movement. He tilted his head and heard a lullaby that he knew well, faint—but it floated to his senses.
"If I had words—"
He searched around him, pushing through people.
"To make a day for you—"
They shouted at him for rudely knocking into them.
"I'd sing you a morning golden and new—"
He tipped over a basket of fruit and had to hastily help the seller put them back in. The lullaby was fading through the crowd so he leapt up and apologized quickly for not finishing the help.
"I would make this day last for all time.—
His heart was beating so hard as the song grew in tone, although there was no one in his view that had golden hair. Where was she? Where was the girl with green eyes?
"And fill the night with moonshine—"
He stopped abruptly, realizing there was a shorter woman with dark hair in front of him and she was the songstress. She then began to hum the tune as she picked through a display of vegetables.
His heart filled with disappointment, realizing it was not who he sought. The woman turned and made a little yelp of surprise at him standing so near, "Excuse me sir."
"That lullaby—" he breathed, letting his heart pace slow from it's excited state.
She stopped and stared at him with curiosity.
"Yes? What of it?"
He found himself smiling, "Nothing. My apologies—it reminded me of someone dear to me."
The woman smiled warmly and touched his arm, "There, there, I understand. I sing it for the same reason. It reminds me of me dear daughter, though she cannot hear it, I sing it to feel close to her."
Jaythen stopped thinking, he had heard similar words uttered before—finally he started to pay attention. He looked at the woman closely—she was small, pretty, and had the small start of a crinkle around her eyes. Her eyes, a very lush green that had once been bright he could tell, familiar the way they were widened in curiosity at him—
"Alys?" He whispered, sure it was she. Though it was slightly surreal to find a lady who had seemed invisible to the world.
Her smile dropped and she removed her touch of comfort at once, now frowning. Her voice was suddenly hard and suspicious. "How do you know my true name? Who sent you?"
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the amulet, setting it in her palm, "No one sent me—she just wanted to find you but after the years of waiting and the months of travel without a single sighting—she has given up. I believe this is yours, madam."
Alys stared at the jewelry, disbelief and tears welled into her eyes, "Ava. Ava was here?"
He nodded his head, "She was for certain yesterday evening but has since then gone her own way."
Alys sniffed back her tears and gripped the amulet with determination, "I must see her."
"She might already be gone, I'm departing in less than an hour to see if I can catch her—"
"I don't care, I'll be joining you sir." She shook her head and took off towards a structure. He waited at the door, a little perplexed that after all this time, Alys was being proactive in wanting to see her daughter again.
She emerged with a small sack, and bit into one of the vegetables he had bought previously, "Let us go."
"Madam, do you have enough money?"
"Yes, more than enough,"
"How will you find her?"
"I have my ways," she replied cryptically.
Jaythen's anger grew suddenly, "Why do you even care to find her now if you hadn't for the past twelve years?"
She glared at him, "Because for the first time in twelve years I know she is alive. Don't shout at a woman who had thought she lost her heart and soul only to just find out it is not gone forever. You can count on this woman to do anything to get her daughter back—anything. Do you understand me sir?"
His curiosity was suddenly piqued at how in the world Alys thought that Avalyn had been deceased all this while. He wondered about a lot of things that Alys had the power to shed light on but for now his questions would have to wait as they had a ship to board, and perhaps just maybe Avalyn would be there as well.
"What are you called?" Alys called over her shoulder.
"Jaythen!" He replied, making his best to maneuver through the market without tripping himself or others. Alys was even less graceful, often bumping into carts and merchants but paying no mind to their objectionable chiding.
"How did you know I was here?"
"We were told you were here and also that Selendrile wanted to see you."
Alys halted so abruptly Jaythen crashed into her, causing her to loose balance. He caught her by her arm, "What is it? Who is Selendrile?"
She avoided the question and asked another one, "Did he see her? Did he see Ava?"
"Yes," Jaythen answered before he wondered if she meant the Saint Toby's lad or the actual Selendrile. He didn't have the chance to clarify. Alys threw a curse and began to rush even quicker to the docks.
It was worrisome, the hysteric tone of her voice. Was Avalyn in a danger of some sort? Alys bought passage on the same ship as he and they boarded. Within the half hour they had departed back to sea, back to their home realm. Alys and Jaythen walked the deck, looking out for any sign of Avalyn, but since Alys had not had the privilege to see her daughter in many years it was mostly the young lord's responsibility to spot her.
"Why would she have left so soon?" Alys wondered, "If she had just arrived to find me?"
He thought it was because Avalyn had given up her hope to find the woman, "She grew weary in her search for you."
Alys looked struck, then a great sadness filled her eyes, "I should have never given her up…"
"You were supposed to return for her!"
"I was told that she had died! She had died of illness before her sixth birthday."
"Who told you such a thing?"
"A lady who knew of my situation, who helped me find a way to keep my baby safe."
"Safe from what?"
Alys threw him a glare at all his questioning, "Selendrile."
Jaythen was by far more perplexed with the details of Alys than anything he had ever heard. She turned on him, "And what are you to Ava, sir?"
She actually poked him in his chest rather harshly. He brought his hands up and only could feel a slight grin tear at his lips. Alys studied him and she brought her hands to her mouth with a gasp, "Oh dear, you love her! Don't you?"
"I just recently realized—"
Her arms were thrown around him in a sudden approval, but at a loss,"I have missed out on so much—please, please find her. I need to see my daughter again."
"Yes," was all he managed between her tight squeezing.
She was not on the top deck, and if there was any sure place she would be was on the top deck, gazing at the ocean. Perhaps she had left on another boat after all. Or perhaps she flew…
"Did you know that your daughter can…turn?" Jaythen wondered. Avalyn had told him she only had started recently but he wondered if Alys would know since she should knew who the sire was, a fey sire.
Alys scrutinized him, "What do you mean?"
He leaned over and spoke quietly, one word— "Dragon."
He was startled as the lady lost her weight, nearly collapsing if not for him catching her and holding her upward. Alys had made another sharp gasp and seemed to swallow back a wail, "So it is true."
"She told me my child could one day change and that is why I must leave her until I found a safe place for the both of us."
"How is this place safe? Who is Selendrile, why is he after you? How is he a danger?" a tumble of questions spilled out of him, he wanted to know everything of the girl's history to perhaps under stand it better.
"Selendrile, he is—the father," Alys spoke quietly and removed herself from his hold, taking shaky steps down the inner ship corridor as it rocked, refusing to look back at him. Her voice was croaky as if she hadn't told anyone these facts for a long time, ashamed.
"Why would he harm his own daughter? Why does he want to see you?"
"He didn't know," Alys shook her head, and then finally turned to face him with tears starting. "I never told him I was with his child. I ran because I was afraid."
"Why, why would you run?" Jaythen asked dismayed.
"Because he warned me if we were to ever produce a child from our union it would have to be destroyed. I agreed because I loved him and I didn't want to leave him.
"But you left him anyway."
Alys jolted forward from the motion of the ship, "Yes. Though I swear he was getting closer to finding me those first five years I was running from him."
"How could you love a dragon?"
She raised her brow, "Can I tell you something about love?"
He shrugged, not seeing what her words had to do with her previous ones, "Love can run as deep as your soul, but it also can branch and extend to more than one being. We—Selendrile and I were in love and I would have done anything to stay with him. But once I knew I was to have a child my love suddenly was torn because the one thing I would not do was destroy our unborn child for I knew I loved that child just as much."
"Did he tell you why your child should be destroyed?"
"He didn't elaborate," she suddenly acquired a cold look in her eyes, "So I left, it was all I could do. I was afraid he would destroy the child if he found out—and then I found that woman and she told me the way I could be safe. I would have to separate from Ava and find a place to live where fey could not enter—back there in the Isles. It is rich with iron and wards off fey with their iron talismans protruding from the sea. I saw her again when she brought me the news Ava had died and I despaired and remained here in my lonely isolation."
"Who, who is this woman who has told you these things? She cannot be your ally to tell you Ava had died when clearly she is still alive."
"I do not know her name."
"What did she look like?"
"She wore white—"
Jaythen grabbed Alys's shoulders tightly and flipped her around, "Did she have raven hair and dark eyes?"
"Well, yes. Why?"
A dread rose in Jaythen's chest, suddenly very fearful for Avalyn's life. The woman in white hadn't just discovered Avalyn since Scharberlutes—she had known of Avalyn's existence since she was born because she must of known what Avalyn was and would become. The woman had separated the mother from the daughter, but why hadn't she slain the girl with green eyes yet if she knew where the girl would be for the last twelve years? What was the witch waiting for exactly? He closed his eyes with a shaky breath.
"The woman in white is a witch, a very powerful witch who wants to slay Avalyn for her blood," he explained all that knew that he heard from the Saint Toby's lad about the situation, why her blood was so valuable, and how the woman in white could follow the girl's songs. She took it all in, the truth of the danger Avalyn was in, the deceit of all those around her. He repeated the fact to Alys to bring her out of a dreadful daze, "Alys, seventeen years ago you bore a child into this world who was of half, you must know this."
"Eighteen," was all she replied.
"It will be eighteen years tomorrow that I bore a child of half into this world, I know for it was a month precisely after the spring equinox."
He frowned, and realized that it meant that Avalyn would reach her adult age in less than twenty-four hours—in less than twenty four hours she would have to choose which existence she would live or her body would destroy itself from not being able to harbor both her bloods. The boat voyage was nearly a week, and if she was not on board then it would be too late to confess his love.
He stood there with a grip on the peculiar mother's shoulders with his heart crashing at knowing he would probably lose the girl he loved, and at her mother's heartbreak for the time lost to be with her daughter and to know she could lose her again.
"Why do you trust me so easily after all who have deceived you?" he peered down to study Alys. He wasn't just referring to the White Witch's deceit, but also the people who had turned on her when she was just a girl, the fey lover that had not told her the truth about what kind of child they would conceive if they should unite. He looked deep into the woman's eyes that were fearful, tired, and seemed to hold a lifetime of sad memories.
"Because you love my daughter. I trust that you would do anything to protect her, and you're the only way I will be able to see her again."
A tiny, endeared smile played at her lips despite the despair around them, she reached up and held the side of his face in a motherly-fashion which tugged on his own heartstrings for being reminded of his own mother.
"You know how it feels to love a dragon."