Months later, the queen’s patience and understanding reached an end. It seemed that Selunia was going to live in their palace much longer than previously assumed, and Soris was spending more and more time with her. One day, Melisa went to Soris as soon as he finished his lessons. She saw him blasting out of the room with increasing joy.
“Stop,” she said, firmly planting herself before him. “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to play with Selunia,” he answered, impatient to continue his run.
“Don’t go to her.”
The boy’s joy visibly decreased. “Why?”
“I interdict you to play with her. She’s a bad influence on you, and you need to have friends among the boyars.”
“I don’t want to! She’s no bad influence. We have a lot of fun,” he protested, begging her with his eyes.
“I said no, do you understand? I’m not asking for your opinion. This is a command and you shall obey! Now go to your room. If you don’t listen, I’ll punish you.”
The boy saw the stern glare on her face, so he hung his head and obeyed. Even though Lady Voronchi hadn’t ever come into the palace since Waltario’s action plan, her relationship with the king hadn’t grown nicer. Martin had found other ladies and those were daring to show their disdain and defiance toward her, filling her days with poisonous frustrations and regrets, darkening her mentality and stiffening her character.
Soris went to his room and was so distressed by his mother’s request to the point he could start crying. He’d found such a nice friend in Selunia and dreaded the fact that he would have to break ties with her. Hands resting on his head, he paced the room back and forth, fretting about this. If he missed playing with her, she would get really upset. He should at least talk to her and tell her about this, rather than just show her the cold shoulder on the first occasion they accidentally meet.
He searched through his toys and gifts wanting to offer her something like a goodbye present. After finding a bear, a rabbit, and a golden unicorn, he thought he should bring some sweets and then maybe find a hairpin and then… He stopped, realizing he was wasting time. He packed everything in a bag, and slunk off the room to the girl’s chamber, hoping he won’t bump into Clark or the queen.
Passing long corridors and flights of stairs, his breath cutting short after going around every corner, he reached her room. He knocked superficially and rushed in only to find the girl sobbing greatly. Selunia sat in bed, knees to her chest, face buried in a small pillow, crying her parents’ names.
Soris dropped the bag and ran to her. “Princess, what happened?”
Selunia uncovered her wet face. “Mommy and Daddy aren’t coming!” she yelled, tears rolling down her cheeks. “They’re never coming back!”
Sorrow welled up in the boy’s heart. He started numbering the months and realized they should have returned weeks ago. He hopped next to her and watched her in silence, sharing her sorrow, while her tears tortured him, not knowing what to do. It was definitely not the moment to say goodbye to her, but on the other hand, he was afraid of his mother. He pondered for a while until he finally made up his mind. He would not let Selunia alone. He would lie. He moved closer and engulfed the girl in his arms, hoping this would offer enough comfort to stop her from crying.
“Don’t worry, Princess. I will never leave you,” he uttered. “From now on, I’ll take care of you. I will protect you.”
Selunia’s sobs became quieter under the spell of his innocent embrace.
The next days, the queen was keeping an eye on Soris. He pretended to go out and play with the nobles, and then later he snuck back in the palace making up different excuses. With time, he made up an even better lie.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to play.”
Soris lied that he had a new friend whose name was Karl. He pronounced that name with confidence every time he was asked, feeling at ease that it was only half a lie. Karl from Karleyani, the girl’s real last name. Soon, however, the general caught on the lie. One day, when the boy came into his studio, Waltario asked him, “So you’re going to play with Karl, right?”
“Well, Karl is right here,” he said, stretching a hand toward Selunia, who was sitting on a chair, pretending to brush a doll’s hair.
Soris was taken aback. He raised terrified eyes toward the general.
Constantine folded his arms on his chest, preparing to lecture the boy. “You two know you’re not allowed to play with each other.”
Selunia let her chin down on her chest. Soris did so too, but after a few seconds, he dared to face the general again.
“Can you let us play?” he uttered, shyly clasping his hands at his back.
Waltario pitied him. “Look, Soris, it’s not me who doesn’t allow you. It’s your mother, and I think you should listen to her.”
“But who’s going to play with her, then? Only I can because I can keep secrets,” the boy said raising his tone.
“Why are you so sure?”
“I didn’t tell dad about the bottle!”
The general was amused by his boldness. “Well, true. The king has a hunch that someone has interfered in his business, but he doesn’t care to find out. Once he’s changed his mind about someone, he doesn’t turn back even if it was his fault.”
“So can we play?” Soris insisted, trying to be as sweet as possible.
“Don’t do that to me. Beg your mother, not me.”
“Oh, come on, General. You know Mom will never agree. I told her about Clark and she didn’t agree to change him.”
“I think her decisions are well grounded so I’m not going against them.”
“All right. But if I play, you won’t tell on me, right?”
The general frowned. “What are you implying?”
Soris lifted his chin and grinned. “Well, you don’t let us play, but if we play, you won’t tell anybody, right?”
Waltario started laughing out loud. “Spunky kid. All right. You’re going to come out with me and, after that,” he raised his hands in the air, “I don’t know what you do.”
Soris followed the general outside, hoping that he wouldn’t change his mind the last minute. Constantine turned and said, “Remember, Your Highness, you are not to play with Selunia,” he said with a quick wink.
“Yes, General,” Soris nodded and watched him leaving until he couldn’t see any shadow in the corridor. After that, eyes sparkling with enthusiasm, he slid back in the studio and started a joyous celebration of his victory. Selunia jumped around him with admiration. He’d been able to convince a great man like Waltario to let them play. That was something amazing to her.
One year and a half later, as the two were playing hide and seek in the general’s studio, Constantine came in accompanied by two people dressed in long brown cloaks. They pulled back their hoods, revealing a dark-haired man, and a ginger-haired woman with wet, azure eyes. She could barely hold back her tears.
Selunia ran into her arms. “Mommy, you’re back!”
Waltario shifted to a side to let the three enjoy their unexpected reunion. “Well, Selunia, your parents are alive,” he stated with a smile. “I told you it was possible they were late.”
Selunia, after sharing how much she’d missed them and cried for them, took on an upset pout. Kendel lifted her up and said, “Oh, my sweetheart. Daddy was really late this time. How old are you now?”
“Seven. How could you forget about my birthday?”
“Oh, I never forgot. I was just too far away from you. But don’t worry. When we get home, I’m going to give you many presents to make up for my absence.” Kendel let the child down and embraced her once more, glad he’d found a way to return from the difficult mission.
“You’ll get many presents from me, too,” Inerishia said, then turning to the general, “Again, thank you so much, General. I hope the crystals we gave you will show useful in your research.”
Constantine waved a hand. “You don’t have to thank me. What I did was nothing compared to the help you provided to our kingdom back then. Selunia is a good child. I never had any trouble with her.”
“All right, then we shall leave you in peace now,” Kendel said. “Despite what you say, we know it’s hard to raise a child.”
“Two actually,” Constantine corrected him, pointing at the prince who was slowly stepping to Selunia.
“So you’re leaving?” he asked the girl, with shocked eyes.
“Yes. I’m going home with my mommy.”
He looked down on the floor, pretending to scratch some dust with his feet, then he asked with a heavy heart, “Will I see you again?”
Selunia suddenly understood his sadness. She looked up at her parents who refrained from saying anything but watched her and the boy with compassion. If they were going to meet again, that wasn’t going to be very soon. Selunia returned her attention on the boy and said with determination, “Yes. You will see me again, and when I come back, I’m going to be your protector!”
Soris lifted up his eyes and smiled, joy sprouting in his heart. “You my protector? How can that be possible?” He gave a playful grin.
“Just you wait and see!”
As her parents’ dragged her out of the studio, Soris waved at her and yelled, “I’ll be waiting to see that!”
Selunia nodded, firmly believing that one day she would fulfill her promise.
Will they meet? Of course they will but after 12 years. How will they meet and who will remember who after a long war?
You can read about their reunion in Book #1 (The Mysterious Soldier – Part I), for free if you sign up here.
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