TKC 356 and 357
There is no time left for Massin as a civilisation. Despite the gift of Iniri’s life, celebration of it must be set aside. The greatest celebration is already ours; she is alive. Iniri survived the Warrior in the orb.
Another celebration becomes ours when King Linus stands arms akimbo before us outside the ship. “I look forward to walking you down the aisle, my daughter, and I look forward to greeting you as my new son, General Coltern.”
Well, that says it all. My smile is massive and Iniri embraces her father with tears flowing. It is enough. We have life and we have a future, and now Massin is priority.
Linus swings to the pilot. “What word from orbit?”
The man – I discovered his name is Benin when Iniri accepted words of relief from him earlier – stands at the head of the ramp. He has just left the console inside the shuttle. “Massin is empty of all soldiers, equipment and craft, both Glonu and Ilfin. The vessels in space are stationary. All interaction has ceased, but the Glonu refuse to leave without their Empress.”
Enris’ lips tighten briefly, but he says not a word.
“Tell them to summon the Glonu generals to a meeting. We will decide on terms there,” Linus states and swings to his son. “Enris, we need to halt the orb’s progress or we go exactly nowhere from here.”
Again Enris’ lips tighten, but this time he responds. “I have already summoned it. the orb is retreating as we speak.”
“How far did it get?” I ask.
“Beyond Alarn to the east and beyond Orlean in the west.”
“Everyone, in other words,” Siri whispers.
Enris shrugs. “On this continent, yes. Wider Massin is untouched, but they had nothing to do with this war anyway.”
“There were innocents here as well!”
“We know, Siri,” I soothe her. “We will do what we can to return life to them.”
“How?” she demands.
I glance at Enris, who stares stoically at me. Shrugging, I face my sister. “We have a plan. Once the orb is back to its usual size, we will act on it.”
She stares at me. “Damin, am I going to lose you?”
Touching her face, I murmur, “Damin is gone, but Coltern intends to remain here on Massin. You will not lose me.”
“Or me,” Iniri says. “I am not leaving either.”
Enris’ gaze flicks from me to his sister, but we ignore him. He, of course, has no choice but to return to Makaran and that choice is about more than his promise to a dead sister no one knows exists.
Linus Makar smacks his palms together. “I will return to Makaran to place Enris on the throne and then I intend to retire to this backwater bliss.”
Iniri gapes at him. “Really?”
He grins at her. “Indeed.”
“No, wait. Father, I …” Enris stumbles over his words in his shock.
“Enris, your time has arrived,” Linus says firmly. “Have no fear; we will have fair time together first as we accustom our people to their new king.”
Enris swipes a hand over his face. “What if I want to marry Leffandir?”
Father and son ogle each other, before Linus murmurs, “If you love and trust her, you have my blessing.”
Enris looks away. “Love her? Yes. Trust her? No.”
Mirlin steps in. “A choice you will have to make at the meeting with the Glonu, my lord.”
“No, she must decide,” Enris mutters, walking away. Mirlin, after a moment, trails after him. Ever has Mirlin been in Enris’ proximity; that has not changed, I see.
A wail fills the air, high-pitched and overwhelming.
Enris halts immediately to raise his arm on high. A moment later a small green sphere smacks into the palm of his hand. Closing his fingers around it, he shoves it into a pocket and goes on walking.
The orb is back to normal, Massin is empty and there is no more danger.
“Summon a shuttle!” Gennerin barks out.