Dawning Skye -
Chapter 79: Hard Cider
Mr. Snare stared hard at the ‘rock’ in Skye’s hands. His eyes lit up a moment, as if in recognition, but he quickly shook his head. Whatever thoughts he had, he was keeping to himself. He got up from his chair and patted Jonathan’s shoulder in mock sympathy before speaking.
“I wish you two a happy, blessed life together. Filled with many years and children. Should ye ever need anything; just ask. He’s an arse, but Jona here is me best friend. He told me what ye did for him, and everyone else at Dragonhorn.. Our city shall always give ye our support.”
Both men stood and bowed deeply to the prince and princess. Tidas chuckled slightly as Skye told them to stand up. He explained that it was their duty to help their people. That their kingdom was their home, and that he believed everyone deserved to be safe and happy in their own home. The small speech brought a lump to the men’s throats. Never would they have expected a royal to have that kind of perspective.
It wasn’t just the way Tidas saw their kingdom; it was the way he wished the world was. His sense of duty was strong, and that led him to always help another person in need. He was a Prince of Alcon, and the Grand Pillar of the kingdom. His responsibilities were greater than that of the Crown Prince. At least until it was his time for the crown.
Being the Commander of the Royal Mage Corp. gave Tidas more authority than his brother currently. Only the king had more than he did, when it came to the strongest branch of their military. He was also in charge of numerous special task forces and various public works projects.
Tidas had established the first public bath houses in Alcon for the commoner’s communities. The prince had based them off of the designs he’d seen in the Sai Republic. It was rare for a commoner to have a bath in their home. Most only bathed every few months, and sickness was common due to lack of hygiene.
The prince was also attempting to establish a generalized education system for all citizens of Alcon. The Royal Advisors were against it, however. They didn’t see the point in educating farmers and servants, which infuriated Tidas to no end.
The advisors had even restricted the prince’s idea for general healthcare to the capital. Anyone could receive medical treatment nearly free of charge. But Tidas had planned on it for the entire kingdom; not just the nobles and their servants. He still continued to push at his father to expand it, but the Crown Prince was also a strong voice of opposition.
Marco didn’t think it was the crown’s responsibility to pay for the welfare of it’s people. That they needed to pay their dues like everyone else. But at the same time, he had no issue accepting praise for the continued funding of the capital’s health system.
Tidas didn’t care about the credit; just the results. More than once he’d caught some of Marco’s underlings trying to redirect some of the funds and supplies. They would funnel the funds going to the hospitals of the commoner’s quarters to the nobility’s. Tidas had had them tortured, but they never admitted to the deeds being ordered by his brother. It was like they feared him more than death..
The death of the king was one of Tidas’ greatest fears. He generally knew what kind of ruler his brother would turn out to be: cold and calculating. He viewed the commoners only as servants to their betters. He idolized days past of slavery and indentured servitude; calling them ‘simpler times’.
When the third prince was a child; he’d seen Marco whipping a servant girl until her back was bloody, and she’d passed out from the pain. The twisted enjoyment Tidas had seen on his oldest brother’s face had literally made him puke. He swore then that if his brother couldn’t be half the king their father was: Marco wouldn’t become King of Alcon, no matter the cost...
Skye, Jonathan, and Tidas had readied to leave while the prince had been lost in his thoughts. Mr. Snare had bid them farewell prior, and was out of sight by the time they’d mounted the horses themselves. Skye had noticed her husband’s preoccupation, but decided to wait to ask about it. It seemed to be something he didn’t want to discuss in front of Jonathan, otherwise he would’ve.
It didn’t take long to reach the small forest just outside Dragonhorn. Skye noticed that the trees and foliage were still much greener than anywhere else they’d seen. Fall had arrived, but one could hardly tell while staring at the tiny flowers that covered the forest floor.
“How is the forest still so green?! It’s nearly the Solstice!” Jonathan’s eyes bulged as he looked about.
“It’s the Cu Sith.. He must be in a good mood today,” Skye commented.
“Probably more akin to damage control,” Tidas remarked under his breath.
The three walked to where the Cu Sith had left them, after it’s fight with Zas. Skye yelled out to it, but they didn’t hear anything approaching. Nearly ten minutes had gone by before Tidas suggested leaving. It annoyed her how quickly he was willing to give up, and Skye stated her feelings openly.
“We need to start off for Moonstone Castle, love. Our time of arrival is already past dark. And you know how against I am on traveling at night,” Tidas retorted.
“Like ye said, husband.. Unless we want to make a trip here every time someone pisses him off, then we best take care of this now,” Skye argued back.
Tidas wanted to continue to protest, but realization shined brightly in Skye’s eyes. She nearly squeaked in her enthusiasm as she bent over, and placed her palms flat on the ground. Jonathan didn’t notice, but Tidas sensed the enormous wave of earth magic Skye had sent out in every direction.
Only two minutes had gone by before the three could hear the distant howls of an animal. A few minutes later, heavy foot falls and crunching could be heard coming towards them. The sunlight broke through some passing clouds as the Cu Sith entered the small clearing; his head held high and his gate majestic.
Jonathan removed his paperboy hat in awe at the creature. The leaves and moss that covered him were changing colors with the season. He looked like a living sunset captured by the forest and bound to it. He sat on a downed tree and smiled widely as he said, “I thought it’d be a beast; ’tis nature’s living art!”
Skye chuckled at Jonathan’s comment as she walked up to the Cu Sith and began to pet it like a large dog. It nuzzled against her, leaning into the ear scratches she happily offered. After a moment of affection; Skye bent down onto her knees, and spoke softly to the Fae.
“I don’t know how long ye have been on this earth, but no doubt ye are familiar with the hubris of humans.. Some don’t believe ye exist; some just want to get a glimpse of ye. Most will be harmless, but ye know how some humans can be.. Just, please; if some enter yer woods... Just don’t kill them..”
Skye gestured to the prince before continuing; “Me husband, Tidas, is son to the current king, and a good man. He will get yer territory proclaimed protected.. But if ye kill a bunch of idiots, the king will most likely call for yer head instead.”
Tidas was astonished that the creature seemed to comprehend everything Skye was saying. It’d even made little expressions as she’d spoken; making him seem less like an animal, and more like a person. The prince was beginning to understand his wife’s extreme sympathies towards the Fae folk.
Jonathan felt like a lad again. He smiled and chuckled occasionally at the exchange between the Fae and the princess. To see such a wonderful creature when he was supposed to be dead made his life seem a wee bit more valuable to him. And seeing the princess petting it like an overgrown puppy had put him at ease. So much so that when the Cu Sith sauntered over to him, he’d pet the creature with almost as much affection as Skye had. Creating an almost instantaneous bond.
The group sat and talked to the Fae a while before Skye and Tidas decided it was time to leave. Jonathan had sat up to leave as well when a bottle of hard cider fell from the inside of his coat. The Cu Sith sniffed at the bottle a moment before licking at it and making a whining noise. Jonathan bellowed out his laughter as he watched his new friend’s tail work itself into a frenzy over it.
“Aye, Cu! We’ll share a drink before I head home; to cement our bond! Hahaha!” Jonathan’s laughter filled the woods as he broke the seal to the alcohol.
After taking a large swig himself, Jonathan set the bottle down on the ground for his new friend. Cu’s tongue had stuck out as he panted in anticipation. As soon as Jonathan pulled his hand away from the bottle, Cu gently bit down on it, and lifted his head up and back. He downed half the bottle before Jonathan yelled out.
“Oi! Ye don’t drink it all in one go! Yer supposed to savor it.. And most importantly: Share!” Jonathan grabbed the bottle as Cu tilted his head back downwards; making sure not to spill.
Tidas and Skye bent over from their laughter, holding their stomachs. The scene was too funny, especially when Cu tilted his head and whined like a pup whimpering for another treat. He’d even put his massive paw onto Jonathan’s lap; begging for more of the hard cider. As Skye and Tidas left, Jonathan and Cu waved them off; Cu howling his thanks and sending their horses into an incredibly fast pace.
Trotting down the road back towards their cottage, they could see the stagecoach waiting for them. Skye was happy she wouldn’t have to ride in her dress on a horse, all the way to her parent’s home. It took hours to get there, and her arse was not prepared for that. Plus, she was looking forward to a little tryst with her husband in the stagecoach.
Skye reached over to her husband as he road, and grabbed the top of his leg firmly. The prince looked to his wife with curiosity, but knew right away what she wanted. He grinned at his wife’s sultry stare and simply said; “Vixen..”
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