I woke up feeling really confused. I tried to orient myself but the surroundings were quite exotic and for a moment I was gripped with fear and I called out Astor's name.
A voice that I recognized answered that Astor was not here; although I was in a safe place.
When I asked drowsily what place, I was told I was in Dun Lolar, capital city of the Enchanted Kingdom of Losfaloth.
It was strange. I had no recollection of the voyage which must have taken weeks to make from Aquileia. I was still too tired to get up. I looked at the man who spoke and recognized Gawain Lightray.
'My Lord, where is Lord Astor?' I asked in a feeble voice.
'He's still in Abaron - Andril. We had to bring you here in a hurry to save your life,' Gawain told me; 'Sleep now and recover.'
I fell back asleep and completely lost track of time because. when I woke up again and feeling a lot better, it was evening.
I tried to get up and felt a little dizzy. I decided to take my time and sat awhile on the border of my bed. When I thought I might not fall down, I got on my feet. For a second, I was wobbly but I managed to reach the little desk in front of me and sit down at its chair.
The air was frisky but pleasant. There was a small window in the room, and, when I looked through it, a wonderful sight met my eyes.
Dun Lolar, the capital city of Losfaloth, was a city built inside the forest. Being the capital of the Druid nation, it was obvious that they would have preferred living so close to Nature. The result was a breathtaking spectacle of lights.
I heard a rustling at the door and a pretty woman came in with a tray.
'I felt you waking up and walking!' she said in a very strange but sweet accent; 'I thought I'd bring you some food; you must be famished. My name is Leetah.'
'Nice to meet you - Leetah,' I answered; 'My name is Andril. I am from....'
'Oh, I know! You are from Abaron!' the girl exclaimed sweetly; 'It is the first time I meet anyone from there. Tell me, are there pretty girls in Abaron? Pretty as the men?'
I smiled, I never really paid much attention to women, even though I had seen some really good looking ones. In Abaron, women were pretty much needed for child bearing and other menial jobs - something that I, and pretty much any other young man my age, always had taken pretty much for granted.
'Yes, there are. But we men seldom speak of women, for some reason,' I said.
The pretty girl made a puzzled face, as if she had not understood.
I was too tired to get into a whole philosophical explanation. I told her that one day she might meet one and then she'd see. That seemed to make her all smiles again.
She told me to eat and regain strength because the High Druidess wanted to speak with me and with the Lord from Abaron. I recalled, then, that Gawain was here -- too. I asked her if he was around and she said she would go call him.
I realized I was in small clothes and thought better to get dressed, but I could not find any I was used to. Instead, on a chair, by the feet of the bed, a set of outlandish robes were folded - probably for me.
I put the leggins on and they were rather snug but comfortable. the shirt was sleeveless and made of a fabric I had never seen. It felt really good against my bare skin.
After several minutes had passed, the tall shape of Gawain, followed by Amathen, entered the door.
'How are you - Andril?' Gawain asked.
'My Lord! It's so good to see you. What happened exactly? How did I end up in Losfaloth?' I asked.
'What is the last thing you remember?' asked Gawain.
'Well, I was in the gardens of the King's Palace with Lord Ernell and his fiancé. I then went to the laundry house to play a song with Billie, so as to show my powers to the two Mages. From there on - it's all blank.'
Gawain made a muffled sound; he looked a bit apprehensive. Still, he told me exactly what happened and I listened to every word with astonishment.
'So - you see - you were unconscious for over a month,' Gawain concluded.
I was left quite speechless. Still, I managed to say: 'So, now what? Can the Druids help me learn how to master my powers?'
Gawain said he had talked to the High Druidess and she had done what she could to save me, which, judging by the fact that I was standing there talking to him, was quite a lot already. Stil,l she had also said that she doubted she could do much more. She had told Gawain she wanted to talk to me in person, when I would have felt better.
I told the Prince Heir that I had to learn how to control myself - so as not to hurt others. Moreover, I knew I was the key to help him beget a child.
'We'll worry about this in due time - Andril,' he said, giving his husband a brief look; 'for now, eat and recover your strength.'
'Thank you -- my lord,' I said.
Gawain looked at his husband again, who had remained silent throughout this encounter, and then said: 'Call me Gawain - Andril. From now on, I consider you my brother's fiancé; therefore, you are no longer a servant of the palace.' After he said that, he left with Amathen.
I was, once again, left speechless. Where was Astor when one needed answers?
A few days passed, and I had fully recovered my strength. On the third day, since I awoke in Losfaloth, I was walking down a sunlit path through the woods with Beral, whom I discovered had come also with Gawain and Amathen. On top of that, I was surprised that also Marad Lightray, Ernell and Mallan had made the journey; but I had not seen the two Mages yet. Apparently they had been talking with the High Druidess trying to figure out what to do with me.
Beral had brought me to meet his sons. I was surprised at the fact that Beral Lightray was the father of eight wonderful children of ages ranging from sixteen all the way to five. Marad had stayed with them and I was happy to meet him. Right away, I noticed how Marad and the eldest son of Beral, a very handsome young man called Esdeer, had become close friends. Beral confided that the King had found out that Marad and Ingor, back in Aquileia, were getting too close to each other and the Soulfire part of the clan had something against it. It was decided - then - that he'd stay in Dun Lolar for a while with Beral's kids, where he would be able to express his feelings without causing a commotion.
'Actually, I think Esdeer will be really good for young Marad,' Beral told me; 'He has all the lustiness I have but is a hundred times more level-headed.'
I smiled. It seemed that Esdeer was a younger version of Astor. Thinking of Astor made me sigh. I yearned to be in his arms again.
As we reached the home stretch to my small cabin, I found the same pretty young girl that had brought me food, along with another, slightly older, but gorgeous woman.
Beral looked surprised for a second and then recovered; he presented her: 'Andril, may I present you Rowena nin Ferogh, High Druidess of the Enchanted Forest, Queen of the Enchanted Kingdom of Losfaloth,' he said bowing.
I mimicked the bow with much lesser grace; still, the Queen smiled at me and Beral and spoke in that wonderful musical accent: 'I bid you welcome to Losfaloth - Andril Suiler of Dunvale.'
I was surprised that she used my last name: only noblemen used those.
'I see that you have quite regained your health,' she went on, 'perhaps, tonight you will join me and the rest of your people at the Woodland Palace for dinner. Afterwards, I'd like to speak with you in person, if you are up to it.'
'It will be my honor - Your Majesty,' I said and she gave me a wonderful smile. If I had been a girl, I would have been completely smitten: she was probably the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
The Queen left and I sat down at the desk. Beral stayed with me and then Ernell and Mallan came to the door.
'Andril? how are you feeling?' Mallan asked.
'Quite well - my Lord - thank you. It's very kind of you to ask,' I said.
Ernell came close to me and laid a hand on my shoulder, 'Andril Suiler,' he began - here went another person using my last name - what was going on? 'There's no need to call us lord anymore. Soon, we'll be family,' he said smiling.
I looked at the three Lightrays not comprehending.
Beral was the first one to catch on: 'It's the Oracle - Andril. It spoke the next day we arrived. It said you were going to become Astor's husband,' he explained.
'It did?' I asked with a smile.
Ernell and Mallan nodded and Beral smiled at me.
'Yes,' Ernell continued, 'It also said you will bear Gawain's son.'