Gail pulled away from Lilly. The movement was rough and unexpected, causing Lilly to trip and hit the ground.
“Sacrifice yourself?” Gail asked. She was facing away from Lilly, her back shaking. “Being my bride would be sacrificing yourself?”
“G… Gail I…” Lilly began.
“Don’t even try to backtrack now,” Gail said, harshly. She turned back to Lilly, her eyes reddened, tears welling up in them. She sighed heavily and helped Lilly up, quickly moving away from her. When she spoke again, her voice was softer. “I was prepared to offer you the world. Eternal youth and immortality even. I would have challenged almighty Zeus himself to secure them for you. Anything, just to make you happy.” Gail turned and snapped her fingers. The ring on Lilly’s finger slipped off and fell to the ground. “You can keep that if you want, as a memento. It’s just an ordinary ring now.”
“I… I never wanted to hurt you,” Lilly whispered. “I… I’m sorry.”
“It’s quite all right,” Gail said. “You can’t help how you feel. Neither of us can.” She strode over to Lilly. “Permit me one moment of selfishness before I go.” She leaned down and kissed Lilly’s lips. “Don’t forget me, okay?”
“I won’t!” Lilly declared. “I… I mean, it isn’t every girl who has a Goddess fall in love with her.”
“Or even a half-Goddess,” Gail said. She waved her hand over Lilly’s right eye. Instantly, the murkiness was gone and Lilly could see perfectly. “A parting gift,” Gail said. “Your friends will recover without any permanent damage.” She walked several paces away from Lilly. “We shan’t meet again. Farewell, my beloved Lilly. In my eternity I will always remember you and a part of my heart shall always belong in the time we shared. Please, remember me kindly at the very least.”
Gail vanished then, as suddenly as she’d come. Leaving Lilly alone with her injured and unconscious companions.
Gail was true to her word. Axra, Twila, Fang, Bonnie, Lysara and Velvet were banged up, but they swiftly recovered.
They spent those quiet months in preparation for Lysara and Bonnie’s wedding. Rachel met with both Bonnie and Lysara separately, insisting that she be allowed to make the gowns personally. She even made the outfits for Velvet’s dogs, with Lilly’s assistance.
Finally, the big day was upon them. Lysara’s family came, as did Bonnie’s colleagues, both her fellow knights and her former friends from the Masqueraders. The ceremony was taking place in an outdoor area. Reira had setup the altar beneath some cherry blossom trees. The path to it was laced with petals with seating on both sides.
Bonnie approached first. Her white gown was long, practically touching the ground, with golden trim. She had her hair down. As she approached her fellow knights, including Velvet, lined up on both sides.
Lilly met her at the start of the petal strewn path, holding a bouquet. She fell behind Bonnie as she strode through the salutes of her fellow soldiers. Once they reached the altar, the soldiers returned to their seats. Lilly curtsied, handed Bonnie the bouquet and stood to the side.
Lysara was next. Her white gown was cut just above her knees and had a mint green trim. Her parents met her going into the petal strewn path. She kissed them each on the cheek in turn. Velvet’s dogs, Twila, Axra, Fang and Velvet lined up for her.
She sashayed over the path, her eyes fixated on her bride to be, a faint flush on her face. Behind her, her parents held the bouquet together. When she reached the altar, they presented it to her and stood reverently to the side.
Bonnie and Lysara moved in sync, placing their respective bouquets side by side on the altar. They stood attentively as Reira spoke.
“Friends,” Reira said. “Today, we meet for the happiest of occasions. To join these two people in the bonds of matrimony. We, their friends, families, and comrades all come together as witnesses to this momentous event and to wish them well.” She waited a moment before continuing.”Bonnie Calendula, will you declare your love?”
“I will,” Bonnie said, her voice shaky. She cleared her throat. “I never knew what love was, had never experienced it, until I met Lysara. Now, I understand. Now, I can not, will not let her go. I declare before those assembled here today, before the Gods themselves, that I will always be true to Lysara and that I will remain by her side so long as breath remains within me.”
“A fine declaration,” Reira said. “And, I sense, a truthful one. Lysara Hart, will you likewise declare your love?”
“I will,” Lysara said. She looked directly into Bonnie’s eyes. “Bon, when I first learned of your feelings I wasn’t sure how I felt. It was only after careful consideration that I realised I felt the same way. Since then, every trial we’ve overcome, every hardship has only cemented the truth in my mind. The pure, immutable fact that what we have is the real deal. That’s why, from this day onward, I just know that our bonds will only become stronger, our love more passionate. I know that I will love and cherish you for all time.”
“A good declaration,” Reira said. “And a truthful one. In the name of Hera, queen of heaven, I declare you bound together in marriage. May beauteous Aphrodite continue to bless you both and your love. You may embrace.”
Lysara stood on her tip-toes while Bonnie knelt down. The two shared a quick, but passionate embrace. No one noticed a peacock watching the ceremony from the tree line.
“It was a lovely wedding,” Twila said.
“It was,” Axra agreed. “And they certainly deserve their happiness. I just hope Eritos doesn’t teleport in while they’re on their honeymoon.”
“She won’t,” Lilly said.
“I’m inclined to believe Lilly,” Twila said. “If Eritos really intended to slay us and run off with Lilly, she had a perfect chance.”
“Fine,” Axra said. “Just don’t expect me to get too relaxed.”
“You know,” Twila began “I’ve heard rumours about a hidden city under the wastes. We might be able to find it.”
“We’ll have to wait,” Axra said. “I promised Bonnie that I wouldn’t wander off into any dangerous situations without her.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want you to break your promise,” Twila said. “And, I might be able to learn more if I check some books.”
“Just don’t get too absorbed in it,” Axra said, putting her arms around Twila. “We’ve got plenty of time before we can leave on this adventure and you can’t neglect us that entire time.”
Lilly thought about protesting, but instead she moved to join their hug. Wandering ruins, searching for adventure, it was what had brought the three of them together. It was what they belonged doing, for as long as they could manage.
A note from Ktulu:
Thanks to everyone who’s been reading through this. I hope that I was able to keep you all entertained. Last time I finished a story I had a week’s break before starting the next one while I thought about what to do. I don’t know if I’ll do it this time. I’ll think about what I want to do over the weekend, if I can flesh it out then I’ll begin the next story on Tuesday. If I haven’t quite gotten it down yet I’ll wait until the 30th. Again, thank you all for reading I hope you enjoyed it and that you’ll enjoy the next story as well.