Akkarin carefully watched Rothen's reaction to Sonea's announcement; the Alchemist didn't look particularly well, his face was strained and very pale. To say he was angry was rather an understatement. Almost as soon as the Medal Ceremony was over, Lorlen must have told Rothen about the proposed marriage, because he had stormed up to the High Lord and demanded to speak to him privately. So, here they all were in his office, Lorlen, still looking shaken, Rothen who was enraged, Sonea, who appeared embarrassed and himself, eying events with a degree of amusement.
Rothen stared at Sonea grimly, "I don't understand, what has he done to make you agree to this?"
Sonea said calmly, "He simply explained to me about having to leave here and that he couldn't let me. This is the only way I can continue to live in the Residence. It's all right, Rothen. Nothing will happen to me, it'll be just the same as before."
Rothen turned to Akkarin, "I used to think I knew you, I even admired the way you led the Guild. Then I found out about your filthy black magic and the lengths you'd go to protect yourself! But I never, never, could have imagined even you would sink so low as to force marriage on a young girl to further your own ends!"
"Rothen, your anger does justice to your feelings about Sonea, however, let me remind you that whatever I choose to do, I will do and you will abide by it. As you say, I will go to any lengths to prevent news of my….activities reaching the rest of the Guild. Having Sonea as my Novice has worked very well. You and Lorlen remained silent and I discovered I enjoyed having a Novice to look after." Akkarin smiled coolly, "Yes, the Residence has been rather empty for a long time, with just my servant and myself living here. Having a Novice was very entertaining at times! I am sure having a wife will be equally entertaining."
Rothen turned back to Sonea and said urgently, "Sonea, look at me! What has he done to make you agree? You don't seem upset, as I would expect you to be, so I can only think you are under some sort of spell. Don't do it! Lorlen and I will promise anything to prevent you having to do this!"
Sonea looked at him and said carefully, "Please, Rothen, don't make this more difficult than it has to be. I have to agree to this marriage, don't you see? I want to make sure that nothing will happen to you. The High Lord has treated me well while I have been living here and he has promised me that things will carry on as before. I have been perfectly safe and so have you and Lorlen."
Akkarin was becoming weary of the same circular arguments, so he decided to try to bring the meeting to a close. After all, he had a marriage to arrange and a Graduation Ball to attend.
"Look, Rothen, I am willing to swear a binding oath that I will not force Sonea to perform all the duties of a wife. That should reassure you about her well-being. As I've said many times, as long as you three remain silent everyone will be perfectly all right. Now, the marriage will take place before the Ball this evening. I have everything arranged, but you are welcome to come as witnesses, if you wish!"
Rothen was aghast, "This evening? You're getting married this evening?"
Akkarin smiled thinly, "As Administrator Lorlen pointed out to me earlier, now that my Novice has graduated, she can no longer live under my roof, unless she is my wife. I do not want to miss even one day of Sonea's company in the Residence, so the marriage will take place this evening."
Although Rothen continued to make clear his distress at the news, there was really nothing more to say and the meeting eventually came to a close. After Rothen and Lorlen left, Akkarin went over to the wine and poured two large glasses.
Sonea sat down and sighed, "That was awful. Poor Rothen, he was so bewildered by it all, I don't think he could really take it in. I wish we could tell him the truth." She looked up at Akkarin, "I wonder if he would believe us, if we tried to explain."
"He might, at a pinch, come to accept the truth about black magic, but never he would believe that there might be other reasons why we want to be married." Akkarin sipped his wine. "Sometimes I have difficulty believing it myself!"
Sonea suddenly gasped, "We haven't told your family! How do you think they'll react when they find out?"
"My family have been keen to marry me off for years, so I suppose they will be happy I finally found a wife."
"I can't believe they will be very happy you have chosen a dwell!"
"But you aren't a dwell any more, Sonea, you are a Warrior and a fully qualified member of the Guild. Anyway, by the time they find out, it will all be over. They don't come to the Guild very often and I certainly don't spend much time at home any more. Let's think of more pleasant things! Have you a dress for your marriage?"
She smiled prettily, "I have had one specially made you haven't seen yet, so I'm hoping it will be a pleasant surprise! Thank goodness that Guild rules about what magicians wear do not extend to marriage ceremonies!"
Akkarin took her hand and pulled her into an embrace, "I'm sure you will look beautiful, but honestly, I wouldn't care if you wore robes, or beggar's rags, I just want you to be my wife, then the whole nightmare of the last few weeks will be over and you can stay here."
Sonea was right about her dress, he was pleasantly surprised. It was made of a very pale pink silk, embroidered with tiny white and pink flowers. At the centre of each flower a tiny jewel was set, which sparkled with every movement. She wore a coronet of pale pink and white roses and he found her astonishingly beautiful.
He wondered what she thought of his own marriage garments. You are a vain man, Akkarin, he thought ruefully. But I hope she is also pleasantly surprised! He was wearing tight fitting trousers and high leather boots, a white silk shirt with long flowing sleeves, over which was a long sleeveless jacket in dark blue, heavily embroidered in gold thread. He had left his long, black hair loose, which made him look younger and quite different from the High Lord's usual appearance. It was a long time since he had worn such fine clothes and it felt very strange to be out of his black robes.
Only a few carefully chosen people had come to the ceremony, but Akkarin noticed that Lorlen had come alone and he wondered where Rothen was. Perhaps it is best that Rothen stays away, he thought. The ceremony itself didn't take long and finished with an exchange of rings. As he put the gold marriage ring on her finger, he felt her hand tremble in his. He glanced at her and saw the unshed tears in her eyes. She smiled at him and he felt her slide his own marriage ring on to his finger.
It is done! he sent.
Yes! she replied.
Their guests came up to them to offer congratulations, but also to stare at them curiously. Akkarin had been right, the Guild gossip machine was working overtime at the sudden news that their High Lord was to marry his former Novice immediately after Graduation. However, by organising things so quickly, there was little time for the gossip to develop and Akkarin hoped that it would soon die down.
"Now there is only the Ball to attend," Sonea said as they snatched a moment alone, "Then we can come back here and shut everything and everyone else out and just be together."
Akkarin smiled down at her, "That will be perfect, my wife."
This story is now complete. Thank you for reading it and I hope you enjoyed it.
I shall be writing another story soon – there can't be too many stories about Akkarin!