Chapter 12

Six years… six long years had separated them. Now, once again, they made their way to the crystal, to their home, to their friendship. One fled from violence, from slavery. One ran from a bleak future. One just led a new one to what he once knew.

Frederick and Chessa were shocked to see them coming, from all angles. Their hopes had never been strong enough to believe that this could happen. The Clavats welcomed them all, even Sophronia. "I never doubted." Frederick said once they were seated. The others were silent.

"You guys doubted?" Chessa asked.

Uday, teeth clenched, tears rising, turned to Miach. "It was your father. I know it was him!" He grasped her by the collar. "He took my sister from me! He killed her!" Still he held that tambourine in his free hand.

"Uday, wait." Frederick put a hand on his shoulder.

He let the small girl go. Miach fell to the ground, terrified. "You could not understand! I have never seen so much blood…"

"We all lost something. I lost my kingdom."

Miach fidgeted. "To an unworthy prince."

"And we have our own stories to tell one another," Chessa added.

"But…" Frederick grinned. "First we have to complete our friendship."

"What do you mean?" all except Chessa wondered.

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Uday could not believe his eyes. "This is a place of refuge," Frederick was saying. "We named it so. And not long after, she came."

Celerina embraced her bewildered brother. "I have been waiting to see you again, Uday!" There was a quiver in her voice.

"Celerina!" He held her tight, as if he didn't believe she was really there. "I thought… I thought…"

As he lowered his arms, the tambourine jingled, a beautiful sound for the friends.

"Together again!" Frederick clapped. "I say this calls for a celebration!"

And it was quite a celebration. Chessa's wind instrument, Uday's tambourine, Miach's and Celerina's dancing, Dhiren's and Sophronia's swaying, and Frederick's laughing was the most happiness they all had seen for quite awhile. They sang together, skipping around the crystal, in childish glee again.

"Round the crystal, round we go

From the lands that we well know!

Circle till we meet once more

Home again and safe and sure!"

"Circle round and sing the song!

Let it ring out, far and long.

Countries to the north and east

And south and west, we'll never cease!"

"Lilty, Yuke, and Clavats too

Plus Selkie twins, a joyous crew.

We run 'round this crystal here

To show, though far, our homes are near!"

The crystal stood, through all those years. A sign of friendship that, though bent and dull, though lost, lived on deep in the children's hearts. Their friendship would never die, though some doubted. After all, they believed in it enough to come together to the crystal's refuge.

.

The Yuke siblings soon journeyed to that small island and founded the town of Shella. The Selkies gave them a gift of the smaller green crystal that stood by their home, which they placed in the center of the town. The Lilty stayed there, as distant from her troubles as she could be.

The Clavats welcomed the Selkies back into their villages, promising forever a safe home to them, whenever needed. The friends always made it a point to meet at the large crystal, though. They would tell their tales to the generations after, showing them that true friendship will always last through even the most violent of wars.

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And generations later, Shella would become prosperous, the Selkies would migrate from their unsafe homes to Leuda, the Lilty empire would end, and Miasma would cover the land. But that was long past the lives of these children and their friendship that stood strong.

.

And the crystal shone on…