Ryker did follow me but did not join us in our camp. He stayed a good distance away. Most likely to let me break the news to my fellow traveling companions. Wouldn't you be a little freaked out if there was man who magically appeared over night sleeping with within your camp? I would.
When my companions woke up, I didn't tell them right away. I waited until we finished breakfast when I looked behind them and saw Ryker in the shadows. "There's something I need to tell you," I said.
Both Lunadin and Guenevere looked up at me suspiciously. "What the hell did you do this time?" Lunadin asked.
I laughed. "No! It's not like that!" I said, "But we have a new companion joining us within our group."
The elf couple looked confused. "Did you sneak off and sleep with someone last night?" Lunadin asked.
"No!" I said, "It's-"
"Tell me he was at least good looking!"
"Lunadin!" Guenevere said.
"GAH! Let me explain!" I said interrupting before this conversation went farther than it already was. I could see Ryker snickering behind them.
I told them about Ryker and how he was the reason we were able to escape from the town. How he followed us. How he was let go from the law and now just wanted to make sure I was safe. How he was a friend of Esteldir's (which they both knew all about by now) and that I thought he was alright to trust him. "You let a guard into our group!?" Lunadin cried.
"But he's not a guard anymore!" I said.
"But he was one," Guenevere mentioned firmly.
"But he helped us escape! He was able to keep track of us the whole time. If he really wanted to turn us in, he would have done it while we were sleeping in the barn! He's alone. And I've already established the way things work around here. He's already gotten in trouble for helping a fugitive once. He's helping us now and could get in trouble for not turning us in right away."
I looked up at Ryker to establish that we still had some dirt on him shall he decided to turn us in. Both Lunadin and Guenevere looked behind them and saw Ryker standing in the shadows. He decided there was no point in staying there and approached our little group. The elf couple stared at him with their natural bitch faces. "Guenevere and Lunadin," Ryker said, "The best thieving duo in history. Thought I'd never have the chance to meet you."
"I bet you couldn't wait to meet us while throwing us in jail," Lunadin said sternly.
"No, actually," he said. He paused for a second and then reconsidered. "Well yes but not like that. I would have been throwing you in jail but I can appreciate a good crime. If you're going to do horrible deeds, at least put the effort in and do it right. You guys exceed what is known as 'the good thief.' Much more actually. You definitely don't disappoint and make the law's job interesting. We can never say it's boring."
Lunadin turned around and did that all too familiar grin. "I like him," she said, "He can stay."
We both waited for Guenevere's response who was still staring at him with a stern look on her face. She stood up and approached him, looking up at him a bit like I had to. But the intense vibe she was sending made her taller and stronger than him. And he knew it. "Now what can I do to win your approval?" Ryker said.
"Not turning us in is not enough dirt on you," Guenevere said, "With the right words and right people, you can still do it without any issue. We need something more. A dark dirty secret that would throw you in jail without thinking."
Ryker didn't know what to say and I know until recently, he had never done a bad thing in his life. He was a good guy. But then I saw Lunadin approach them from behind. She quickly made her way up to him, grabbed his tunic and pulled him into a kiss, their lips meeting. The kiss only lasted a few seconds but Ryker was just as shocked as the rest of us. Guenevere was the most shocked of all. Then before Ryker could say or do anything else, Lunadin grabbed his hands and had him cup her breasts for only a split second and then let go making his hands drop. The look on Ryker's face made me giggle a bit. Guenevere looked at Lunadin with absolute horror and jealousy. Lunadin turned to her girlfriend straight faced. "What?" she asked.
"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT FOR?" Guenevere screamed.
Ryker, still horrified like he was the one who touched her breast and kissed her, even though we all knew Lunadin made him do it. Lunadin kept her straight face, not bothered by the jealous Guenevere or the horrified Ryker. I couldn't help but find myself smiling. "Now we have more dirt. She touched an unmarried woman and violated her."
An eyebrow raised on Guenevere's face as did mine. Ryker still looked horrified. Very smart. And who better to do it than Lunadin? I smiled and Guenevere had a sexual look in her eyes. She admired her lover. Her other half. "I love you," she said softly to her.
Guenevere pulled her in and they both started a make-out session. "Um, guys. I'm glad you're not mad at each other but uh... Could you save it for a more private time?" I asked.
Their lips unlocked but they still stayed close to each other. The duo looked at me. "You get a room. We got here first," Guenevere said.
They looked at each other, noses touching and admiring each others presence. "Where do we go?" Ryker asked finally calmed down a bit.
The two looked at him now. "It's the forest. Figure it out," Lunadin said snobbishly.
And I knew at that point, it was time to leave these two alone. I looked up at the black, purple and green eagle sitting in the tree above us. "Follow us," I thought to Amulgion.
The eagle took off the branch and I motioned to Ryker with my head to follow me. He put his hand to the side of his head to avoid looking at the loving couple. He was only trying to be polite but jeez man.
We walked into the forest deeper and deeper but not too deep that we couldn't find our way back. And be both just stood there staring at each other. "So I heard you're an amazing dancer," Ryker said speaking up.
"I like to think so," I responded.
"Show me a dance?" he said, "We're going to be out here for a while."
I gave him a smirk. "Promise you won't be like all the other horny guards?" I asked.
"Well I'm not a guard anymore. And secondly, no. Like Esteldir, I appreciate the arts."
"Well alright," I said and slipped my shoes off.
The ground was soft here. I didn't worry about hurting my feet. And my dancing shoes were back at the camp. Ryker leaned back against a tree and crossed his arms. He smiled, waiting patiently for the performance. I did a few stretched and then started.
There was no music but I felt that he could hear the music I was playing in my head. It was a beautiful flute solo that I have played once or twice. It was an older song and it was about a Lord who fell in love with a commoner. The fact that they were two different classes made their love forbidden but they didn't care. They met in secret and continued their relationship. When meeting each other one night, the Lord's fiance' to be discovered them in the act and tried to kill the Lord's lover in a jealous rage. He put himself in between her and the sword. And he died in her arms. A wizard owed the Lord a debt for helping him and brought the Lord back to life to pay the debt away. When the Lord went back to his lover, she had already moved on and married the stable boy who the Lord happened to be best friends with. The Lord was heartbroken and lived the rest of his life stern and angry at the world.
I stopped my dancing and looked at the ground. This song was all to familiar. Familiar to a real story I know all to well. This couldn't be happening to me. Oh no. Really no. Was Esteldir heartbroken over me still? Was he going to be a different man now because of me?
I was so busy thinking of the song and how it related to me that I didn't hear Ryker approach me from behind. He placed his hand on my shoulder. "Are you alright?"
I turned quickly around and stared at him wide eyed. Scared and confused. I took a few deep breaths. I wasn't falling for his best friend. Right? I wasn't exactly following the tune. Right? But Esteldir... Poor Esteldir... He had become different because of me... He changed into a more stern man because of me... "I'm not alright," I said to Ryker, "I'm not alright... Poor Esteldir..."
Ryker was confused. "If only I hadn't run away," I said through tears, "If only I had stayed and married him. He would have let me live this impossible dream I keep chasing..."
"Bellynn," Ryker said concerned, "It's not your fault."
I turned to face him again and stared at him intensely. "Did you know I was to be married to him? He was the suitor my parents arranged for me to marry? If I had stayed, we would have been married and living happily with each other. If I had stayed, we could be together! If I had stayed, he wouldn't have almost died for me! If I had stayed, he would have let me follow this dream. This STUPID dream that I keep chasing but know is never going to happen as long as my father has a bounty on me... If only I had stayed..."
I looked down and cried silently. Lost in my own thoughts. I felt Ryker's hand grab my shoulder and gently turn me around. I didn't fight back. There was no point. He lifted my chin up so I could look him in the eyes. "It's not your fault," Ryker said, "You didn't know. He didn't even know until after you ran away. It's no one's fault. If any, it your parents and his parents for not telling you two. Yes, things could have been different. But think of all the adventures you've been on. Think of all the things you've accomplished including not having been caught for the last five years! Think of all the people you've made happy with your gift. Think of it..."
He was right. I might have been happier if I had stayed. But I have also done so much. I have made countless living beings happy. I have been able to dance and sing. Make music! I have met quite a lot of interesting characters among my journeys. I have made stories of my own to tell. But I still couldn't help but wonder what it would be like if things were different... If I hadn't run away. But I smiled at Ryker and said, "Thank you."
He gathered me into a hug and I welcomed it greatly. His warmth comforted me and after a while we went back to camp. Lunadin and Guenevere were no where in sight. But their blankets were gone. "Where did they go?" Ryker asked.
"They got their own space," I said, "Didn't want us to risk disturbing them. They'll be back. Their stuff is still here."
The thought of going back and seeing what things might have been like if I had stayed and married Esteldir. But how was I going to do that? Then a thought occured to me. Perhaps after tonight, it was time to go see my dear friend Casey again...