Twila returned to find Axra waiting for her, leaning against the Inn’s wall.
“Yo,” Axra greeted. “Everything go okay?”
“It went very well,” Twila said. “Thank you for asking.”
“No need to be formal with me,” Axra said. “C’mon. Lilly and I booked the three of us a room.”
Twila followed behind. It wasn’t as large as her aunts’ room, but it was more than enough for the three of them.
“There’s something I need to tell you both,” Twila said. “And I’m going to need you to promise me you won’t say anything until I’ve finished.”
“Oh, of course,” Lilly agreed.
“No problem,” Axra said.
“Okay then,” Twila said. “Eritos getting free was my fault. Lilly’s predicament is my fault. Fixing these problems is my responsibility. So, I want you both to return to Nervius with Velvet and Bonnie. I’ll also ask Lysara and Reginald to move on. It’s my responsibility and I’ll take care of it. I’m certain that I can find something of use against her.”
“You done?” Axra asked. Twila nodded. “It’s not happening,” Axra stated. “I was there when you undid the seal and I encouraged you to do it. It’s easily as much my fault as it is yours. So I’m going to go with you even if you blast me with a spell or something. I will stay by your side because I…” Axra looked away, feeling her cheeks flush. “Because I care about you. We’re comrades, after all.” She turned to Lilly. “You can return to Nervius. My dads won’t like it, but I don’t want to see you hurt.”
Lilly shook her head. “Oh, no. I… I couldn’t possibly leave you. I… that is to say… my place is with you. Not, you know, as a servant… but as a friend.”
“You guys,” Twila protested. “I don’t want to see you get hurt because of my mistake.”
“And we don’t want to see you hurt,” Axra countered. “So we’re going with you. In the morning I’ll offer Velvet and Bonnie the chance to go home. But it’s been settled. The three of us are sticking together.”
“Very well,” Twila said. “I suppose I can’t stop you. But that does leave us with one unanswered question. Who gets the bed?”
Axra couldn’t help but chuckle. It was a stupid thing to laugh over, but she was feeling relieved that the matter had been settled.
She looked over at the single bed. “You can take it,” she told Twila.
“I couldn’t possibly,” Twila said. “Lilly?”
“Oh… it should be Axra who takes it,” Lilly said.
“I already said you could have it,” Axra said.
“We could draw straws,” Twila suggested.
“Ummm… there’s probably enough room for all of us,” Lilly noted. “It is… pretty big.” She glanced from Axra to Twila. “I’m sorry… was that weird? I… I wasn’t trying to sound weird. Please don’t think I’m weird.”
“It is sufficiently large,” Twila said. “Although it will be quite close.”
“Yeah,” Axra agreed. “No big deal. Let’s go with that.”
In the morning Axra summoned Bonnie and Velvet to her side.
“You’ve both stayed by my side and kept me safe,” Axra said. “You’ve fulfilled your duties admirably. And I’ve written up commendations saying as much.” She handed them each a letter. “Now, I’m freeing you of that duty. You may return to Nervius with your heads held high.”
“And you, Princess?” Bonnie asked.
“I’m gonna hang with Twila and Lilly,” Axra said. “Nothing that’s going to require your services.”
“Are you ordering us away?” Bonnie asked.
“Not ordering, no,” Axra said. “I’m telling you to do what you want.”
“What I want is to continue this journey,” Bonnie said.
“Going all the way back by myself is a hassle,” Velvet muttered. “Cooking, setting up camp, getting debriefed, receiving new orders… It’s too much of a pain.”
“We could be looking at trouble with a half-Goddess,” Axra warned. “It’ll be better for you to go home.”
“That’s an excellent reason to remain at my post as your guard,” Bonnie stated.
“I really hate cooking,” Velvet said.
“You guys…” Axra began.
“Didn’t you just say that we can do as we wish?” Bonnie interrupted.
“Well, yes,” Axra said.
“Then it’s settled,” Bonnie said.
The three walked outside to find Lysara holding tightly onto Twila’s arm.
“What’s going on?” Axra demanded.
“I suggested that she and Reginald return to their respective wanderings,” Twila explained. “And this happened.”
“I won’t let go!” Lysara cried. “Going without me is definitely, definitely not allowed!”
“Did you explain that we may have to fight Eritos?” Axra asked.
Twila nodded. “She insists on coming along regardless.”
“Ladies,” Reginald said. “We’re wasting the morn. Let’s continue onward on our valiant quest!”
“So did he,” Twila added.