Medril Lightray o' Delaez and Elenio, the Duke of Meledin, arrived at the King's Palace just in time for the family reunion.

As they entered the big room, which was already quite full with several members, and their respective consorts, of the Lightray and Soulfire clan, Medril immediately felt the tension in the air.

For the entire week they had been traveling, Medril had been having visions. It appeared that Piros was somewhat alarmed that whomever this wilder was, he was going to hurt somebody.

Medril made his way, along with his husband, to his father's big armchair that had been placed in the center of the room. The King and his consort smiled at him and hugged the couple, but the Cleric could feel that theirs was only a show. Something was very wrong here.

As Medril and Elenio moved away from the royal couple, they saw Gawain and Amathen, who stood near a bookshelf, talk in low tones. As Gawain saw Medril and Elenio approaching, he went over and kissed both of them on the cheek.

'Gawain, what is going on?' whispered Medril.

'How much do you know about recent events - brother?'

'More than I care to know - actually. You seem in perfect health; why the sour faces?'

'To make a long story short, Astor found a peasant boy on his way to Aquileia. He fell in love with him and brought him to the palace. Then, we discover he is a wilder and Ernell and his boyfriend try to make him use his powers to see what they could do to help him. However, they were not prepared for what happened. The boy nearly killed a girl and now he is unconscious in the Healer's Chapel. Needless to say, Astor nearly killed that numbskull Ernell,' said Gawain, as Medril listened with an astonished look on his face. 'I wish they would teach Mages' some semblance of intelligence.'

Medril was silent for a second and looked at his husband. 'Is Ernell all right?' asked Medril of Gawain.

'Yes, I managed to stop Astor before he started a fight.'

Medril let out a deep breath. Right then, the Prince Consort called all present to the meeting.

The people present were: Gawain and Amathen; Beral and Erelan; Medril and Elenio and Astil and Marag. The King looked at them and then motioned them to take a seat.

'I wish I could have reunited the family for a more joyous occasion but it seems that we are going to have to look at the future with a bit of caution,' the King began.

He proceeded to tell them all he had said, a few days earlier, to the major dignitaries of the Kingdom. He spoke of the Druidess of Losfaloth and her message from the Oracle. He told them that the boy - Andril - was indeed a wilder and, due to some misunderstanding - he emphasized that word - he was now unconscious and Astor could not be present, so as to take care of him.

The King said that he will deal with Ernell and his boyfriend separately; however what they had tried to do was in no way meant as a threat. They had only tried to help the wilder, although misguidedly.

The King reminded them that there was only one course of action to take, at this point: Gawain and the boy - Andril - had to leave for Losfaloth. the King said that he hoped that, there, they would find the help necessary to avert certain occurrences from happening, which would put the kingdom in danger.

'The kingdom is in danger already - father,' said Medril. The King and all present looked at the Cleric with a certain apprehension.

'Please, explain yourself - Medril,' said Evert Soulfire, calm and collected as always.

'I am quite sure -- dear Evert - that you are aware of the visions that I have been having - of late,' explained the young Lightray; 'these are visions from Piros, the god I serve.'

Evert and the King nodded, they - of course - had been informed right away of this fact.

'Piros has been trying to tell me that Gawain's problems and the arrival of a wilder in Aquileia are not so much the trigger of our troubles, but the symptoms of the world changing. He made me see these facts as a ripple effect of certain things occurring very far away from here that will eventually affect our lands - too. My visions, Gawain's purported infertility and this boy's arrival here are the signs that an evil is factually rising in the South of the world and we need to be prepared for when it will arrive to our lands.'

'Has Piros told you, or made you see, what will happen if we send this boy to Losfaloth?' asked Evert.

'No. But he made me see what would happen if we do not find a way to teach him to harness his powers. He is far stronger than any Cleric or Mage alive. I doubt even the Druids of Losfaloth or the Shamans of Iskerun could stop him, if we fail to train him.'

'First we need to ensure he lives,' said Amathen.

The King and Evert nodded together. Then the King spoke: 'Astor cannot go with him. He knows that already. I cannot do without him in Ambrosia.'

'But - father,' interjected Gawain, 'he is Astor's lover!'

'I am quite aware of that - Gawain. Still, I talked with Astor and, despite his grief, he understands that the boy must find his own way before returning to him. I am afraid that it must be this way.'

'So we just send the boy to Losfaloth and leave him there?' asked Beral.

The King and Evert looked at the Bard with a little surprise. They really had not counted much upon his contributing to the discussion - he generally never did; but politely limited himself to listening.

'Well, no - of course,' said Evert, 'Gawain will go with him and so will Amathen. He will be taken care of.'

'Ernell will go - too,' said the King out of the blue.

Everyone looked at the King strangely: he could not really mean what he had just said.

'I have not gone crazy with old age,' said the King a bit vexed at their reaction. 'Ernell, despite his oftentimes impetuous attitude, is a very powerful mage and can help, in case the wilder is overwhelmed again by his powers, while on the road.'

'Apparently, it was his boyfriend who cast a binding spell on the boy; maybe he should go - too,' said Beral. 'I think I will go - as well. There are some people I need to meet in Dun Lolar - anyway.'

Evert and the King exchanged a knowing look. It was common knowledge that Beral's numerous sons lived with the Druids, where he sent them to keep his life private.

'I suppose that will mean that Erelan will come as well,' said Gawain.

Erelan shook his head and said he had a few engagements here in town and could not leave. Beral and Erelan exchanged a brief look.

'There is one more thing - father,' said Astil; 'I would like you to consider what I told you earlier about Marad. He might actually benefit from a little trip away from the family - now.'

The King and Evert looked at each other, while the others looked rather puzzled. 'Very well, with Beral and Gawain, Marad should be sufficiently protected. He can go - too.'

Beral's eyebrows shot out of his head, while Gawain nearly choked.

'Marad has not been having too good of a time - lately,' explained the King; 'a little fresh air will do wonders for him.' With that, he called the meeting over and told his family to prepare to leave.

While the King and the rest of Astor's family were talking of the fate of the World, and their role in it, Astor was sitting in a spacious, white room with a big bed in the middle of it. On the bed, Andril was still laying unconscious from his last attempt to use his powers.

'Please - my love - resist. I am going to get you to Losfaloth and they will fix this,' Astor whispered, as he held the boy's hand in his own.

A knock on the door made Astor turn around, only to find Mallan at the door.

'What do you want?' he asked coldly of the Mage.

'I would like to talk - Astor,' said Mallan.

'I do not know if talking is going to help anything - Mallan. I told Ernell all I had to say to him.'

'Astor, I know what we did was thoughtless and incautious....'

'Incautious!' Astor raised his voice ever so slightly, still his tone was feral. 'He could have been killed,' he said pointing at Andril; 'worse, he could have killed that innocent girl! And all for what? So you two could figure out how powerful Andril was? You have no fault in this - Mallan - but Ernell knew exactly what Andril was capable of doing. He nearly sucked the life energy out of us at the Baths, when your brother convinced me to fuck him together.'

'So, you are not all that blameless,' said Mallan.

'Of course not,' he replied; 'if it were not for me, he'd never have discovered how powerful he was and would not have kept on using his powers.'

'That is not how it works with wilders - Astor,' said Mallan; 'their powers trigger, sooner or later. I think he was lucky he was with you when that happened.'

'Why lucky?'

'Because he was with someone who loved him,' said Mallan, putting a hand on Astor's shoulder to comfort him.

'Little good that will do in the future. He has to go and I cannot go with him.'

I am sure that the King will have someone of the family keep an eye on him. Besides, Gawain is going to Losfaloth - too. He will not have anything happen to Andril.'

'But what if his power overwhelms him again?' asked Astor.

'I cast a binding spell on him; it should hold till he reaches Losfaloth. The Druids, there, will know what to do to help him. Still, if it is all right with you, I offer myself to accompany him on this journey, to ensure that he arrives safe and sound.'

Astor looked at Mallan and gave him a wan smile, 'What moves you to do this gesture - Mallan?'

'Neither pity nor shame - Astor. I am not Ernell; even if I let him take the lead on things, I won't make the same mistake twice with Andril,' said Mallan seriously.

Astor looked into the Ambrosian's eyes and saw that the man meant every word he said. 'You are a true example of an Ambrosian - Mallan,' said Astor; 'I should know, since they are my subjects.'

'Right. You have done a lot for Ambrosia - Lord Astor. Let me do this thing for you - then,' Mallan said; 'let me bring your lover to Losfaloth and I will then take him back to you.'

'So that I might marry him - perhaps,' whispered Astor, looking at the beautiful boy on the bed.

'So that you might marry him - yes.'

'The things that I have to do - Mallan - for the love of a wilder,' said Astor.



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