“First comes duty, second comes duty and the third, is duty as well,” the firmness in her voice echoed behind his head. Yet he knew that behind that robust and sturdiness laid a feeling of uncertainty – so many suppressed emotions and unsaid feelings.
He gave a slight nod, fist on his chest and recited “In the Mother of all beings, in morality we do not discern, in justice we do not decree, only in the equity of humanity do we seek to achieve. By the name of the Palladiums, I, Calle of Yerlua, swear to honor this oath.”
He laid the hilt of his sword against his forehead, with an eagle pommel resting on it.
“Forgive my sins,”
The golden bell of Aedos was ringing – it was midday, the time when men stopped their laboring for ale and lasses get their ears busy with other lasses tales. The town was buzzing with life with Aedos mandatory midday break, folks were busy meddling into their own rackets and leisure, which meant it was time for Calle to begin.
He was standing on one of the taller buildings in town, watching the hundreds of people ramble across the streets – sifting through every single person. The stark contrast of Aedos to Yerlua never fails to amaze him, the folks of Aedos seem to be able to make merry from almost anything. They are from the South to begin with, where the sun shines upon them almost all year long, they have to be happy.
A white-bearded man, clothed in violet silk tunic with a lion branded staff entered the town square. With a gentle smile on his wrinkled face, he was greeting the villagers as he limped across the township. Children were singing songs about him, and women were giving flowers to him. He is the mayor of Aedos, Louis Mayhard. The Mayhards are one of the most influential and popular families in the South of Argen, their reputation of generosity and kindness spreads throughout the land.
Calle has been watching him ever since he came to the township, his eyes combing over the people near to the mayor. He slid down the side of the wall, dropping onto one of the alleys near the town center, hastily maneuvering past people before he ended up behind the mayor.
“No,” he whispered.
His right arm between a dagger – with an eagle pommel on it- and the back of the mayor. Calle’s gaze locked onto a pair of hazel eyes, from a woman with long dark raven hair. His arm was burning – she pushed the dagger deeper- her jaws tightening, and eyes burning with so much anger and hatred that he’d never seen before. Yet he still held onto her wrist – for a brief moment, he thought he saw a tinge of sorrow amongst all the rage in her eyes. Her grip loosened as she pulled out the dagger, Calle thought he saw a teardrop rolled down her cheek – no it couldn’t be.
Hearing a shift in footsteps, Calle quickly pulled her towards him, putting a kiss on her lips; she tried to pull away for that brief moment until she knew what was going on, she gave in. The mayor watched the loving pair before cheering out “Love and rejoice, my fellow Aedons!”, before turning away from the pair.
“You… why did you stopped me, then save me -” she paused, lips pursing, “and now, only after so many years,” she paced along the edge of the porch, with a frown visibly arched upon her brows.
“I didn’t want you to have any regrets -”
“to live with pain and agony every day of your life,” his voice turning unusually soft.
A span of silence caught in between them.
He felt a warm touch to his right arm, as she tied a cloth on his dagger wound.
“Don’t be so stupid the next time, your arm’s going to waste one day if you’re always taking the shield for people.” The initial rage in her tone vanishing with every word she speaks.
As she was tying the last knot, Calle placed his palm on hers.
“We don’t have to live like this, Leiya. We can go back to how we were, just let go of all your pain. The past is what it is but we can live our future the way we want it. We can make it all better.”
Her eyes riveted into his, her gaze was still fierce and strong. Yet he could feel her fingers loosen up – it was like her heart and head were playing the tug of war. He knew he had to say it now.
“Leiya, I know I swear an oath to the Palladiums, but I will give it up without a second thought if it were needed to save you. Before I am a man for the Palladium, I am your man, Leiya Vansworth. I am yours before I am anyone’s.”
The words that he had kept with him for 15 years, he finally dared say out. It wasn’t how he pictured them to come, they always came out different whenever he tried to practice saying them; but he was glad this time it fully conveys his innermost feelings, although it certainly felt abit dramatic.
Yet these were the words that had kept them apart for 5 moons; the silence that estranged them for so many uncountable days. He just couldn’t waste all those years anymore.
2 moons back when he almost died from an infected wound while on a mission, he promised to find her and tell her everything that he felt once he recovered. He spent 3 moons searching for her around Argen, getting bits of tales of a raven haired woman with hazel eyes traveling across the country – so many false trails and excessive hoping- until he finally heard from Vineis that Leiya took a job to deal with the Mayor of Aedos. He knew she was gathering her sources and finding the man behind her family’s murder, the only person he couldn’t guess was behind it was the kindest Mayor of Argen.
“Can you really take back a woman with so much pain and blood on her hands?” her eyes began welling up, even as the intensity of her glare still held on.
This was the first time he had ever seen her with tears, a woman who could kill so swiftly without batting an eyelid; the woman who singlehandedly won 5 straight fights against big burly men; the woman who always won him at sword fights since they were children.
He stood up and pushed her body towards his,
“I, Calle of Yerlua, will always take Leiya Vansworth, as long as she is willing to take me. This I swear an oath to.”
Then, he saw it. Her eyes were no longer the shade of fiery hazel, they were shining with the brilliance of joy and serenity – something that he hadn’t seen in 15 long years.
That is when he knew, that duty isn’t his first, second or third. It once was, but it never will be again.