In the morning Lysara and Twila worked to prepare breakfast while Bonnie and Axra worked at breaking the camp. Lilly and Velvet sat quietly. Lilly had offered to help while Twila changed the bandage over her eyes, only to be gently turned down. Lysara hummed happily as she worked.
“You seem happy,” Twila observed. “Are you that excited to be going back to Nervius?”
“It’s not that,” Lysara said. “I proposed to Bon and she said yes.”
“I was wondering where she got the ring,” Axra said.
“Ring?” Twila asked, she moved over to where Axra and Bonnie were working. “Oh, I see. It’s quite beautiful.”
“C… can you, maybe, describe it for me?” Lilly requested.
“That’s enough,” Bonnie stated, her face flushed. “We should finish up quickly and be on our way.”
“There’s no need to rush, Bon,” Lysara said. “We still have to buy our dresses, find a place to do the ceremony, find a cleric and send invitations. It’s not like we’re going to have the ceremony the instant we arrive.”
“That wasn’t what I was talking about,” Bonnie muttered.
“You can use the palace courtyard,” Axra volunteered. “I’ll clear it with my dads personally.”
“My aunt Reira could do the ceremony,” Twila offered. “If you don’t have anyone else in mind.”
“I bet Rachel knows a great place to get dresses,” Axra added.
Lysara ran up to Bonnie and glomped her. “Isn’t it great, Bon? Our friends are pulling for us all the way! Say, I have a great idea! Why don’t we dress Velvet’s dogs up in little outfits and they can attend the ceremony with the rest of you?”
Velvet glanced at his dogs, they were piled near Lilly and wagging their tails at the excitement. “They seem okay with the idea,” he stated. “I don’t see a problem.”
“Th… the outfits will have to be specially made,” Lilly said. “I… If they, you know, constrict their movements too much they’ll be uncomfortable.”
“This really isn’t the time to worry about that,” Bonnie said. “We retrieved Zerstörelicht and the Einklangümlich Staff for a reason, remember?”
“Of course,” Twila said. “We know that. But we still want to celebrate your happiness.”
“And we’re going to help you plan for the ceremony right after we beat Eritos down,” Axra added.
Bonnie sighed. “We’ll need a plan to do that.”
“We summon her with Lilly’s ring and clobber her,” Axra said.
“I’m loathe to use Lilly as bait,” Twila said. “However, it would seem like the best course. We’ll have to find a relatively quiet area with cover but without any people. I can use magic to try to shield our presences from her and we should be able to ambush her.”
“Won’t she sense your spell?” Bonnie asked.
“That’s the tricky part,” Twila agreed. “With the staff’s power I should be able to pull it off, especially if she’s not alert. But she is a half-goddess. Hiding from her won’t be easy, even with its power.”
“D… do we really have to fight her?” Lilly asked. “I… I think I could ta… persuade her to remove the ring if I just had a chance.”
Axra moved over to Lilly and kissed her forehead. “That ship’s sailed, Babe. We already know she’s not letting you go without a fight.”
“Don’t worry,” Lysara said. “Bon and I will help protect you. Then we can have our wedding and when you three get married you can invite us to your wedding.”
“Are there clerics who hold weddings for three people?” Velvet wondered.
Zero sensed the magic instantly. A powerful force was teleporting through the waygate. He couldn’t recall ever sensing such a strong teleport spell. The same mage who had made that ridiculous snow sculpture in Choltin?
The thought was disturbing, but he had to check. He steeled himself and hurriedly cast his own teleport spell. He was greatly relieved to see the group before him.
“Axra, welcome home!”
“Zero Papa!” She ran to hug him. “I’m home.”
He returned her hug. “I’m so glad to see you well.” He looked at her companions. “I am surprised. I didn’t expect such a strong teleportation spell. You are exceedingly skilled, Miss Magia.”
“Thank you, Sir,” Twila said.
“Axra, are your friends going to be staying with us?” Zero asked.
“We’re going to stay for a little bit,” Axra said. “We still have something to finish, though. I’ll tell you and Axel Papa all about it later, promise.”
Zero felt his throat tighten. “Axra, about that. Axel…” he wiped the tears that came unbidden to his eyes. “Your other father… fell in battle.”
Axra nearly fell to the ground, but managed to use Zero’s shoulder to steady herself. “That isn’t funny, Papa. You shouldn’t joke about something like that.”
“It’s no joke,” Zero said, trying to keep his voice steady. “The Hestial League summoned the great titan, Typhon. Axel took our soldiers and engaged him with the aid of Lulu and the dark elf forces. In that battle Axel, Lulu and Jayko all sacrificed their lives.”
“No way,” Axra muttered. “Papa is… Papa is…” the tears started falling, seemingly without end. Behind her, Twila fell to her knees.
“Uncle Lulu, Uncle Jayko,” she whispered.
Lilly heard the women she loved crying and felt her heart break. She wanted to go to each of them in turn and embrace them, tell them it was going to be alright. But she stopped herself. They both needed to cry. Besides, she had no idea what to say to them in this situation.