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Together or not at all.

by Arenborne on Feb 21, 2017 at 01:20 AM}
Together, or not at all.

The words run through Arenborn Kolten’s mind. They blot out most of his thoughts, distracting him from all but the soft fingers locked with his, the fiery red hair resting against his shoulder, and the familiar scent of Inayat, like long grass in the wind.

The sunlight filters through the leaves of the tall willow tree beneath which Aren proposed, with the soft trickle of the stream running past. It was a special place to them, pretty, calming, and full of good memories. Yet Aren could think of none of those just yet. Only what had happened that day.

*****

It had begun like any other day. They had both done their patrols, and then headed up to the sanctuary to see who was there. At first, no one, but shortly after their arrival, the man Bleon entered. He had arrived in Hookworth not long ago, claiming to have once been a member of the order. He named Beongarn, their Grandmaster, a brat, and attempted to put himself into a position of authority. It didn’t sit right with Aren. Today, he wanted to knight those who were eligible, and swear in those who had not been.

But who was this man? What proof did he have? He said that they could look him up in the chronicles. If so, any enemy could do so and take the name. Neither Aren or Inayat were accepting this. The conflict began however, when Bleon questioned Inayat’s abilities, and whether she had failed her training.

“If it has been so long you do not even remember when you took the oath... should you not have made Knight by now? Have you failed your training?”

It was enough to anger them both. “Hey, you come barging in, not knowing what's going on and expecting all the answers, opening letters that aren't yours, and now you're going to say I haven’t got what it takes?" Inayat bursts angrily, and points at her spear. "Just 'cause certain people haven't shown their faces in a while to see things done doesn't mean we're at fault here. You want to test that training, huh?"'

The debate then raged. Who was this man with no solid proof of identity to question and order them? He was a former High Nine council member; his name was in records. Yet as pointed out by Eterunan who was there to witness, the records held no images, only names.

But then Bleon suggested Inayat and Aren defend their accusations with actions. Of course, they were willing. Blades are drawn; Inayat her spear, Aren his sword and Bleon his own blade. Aren readied himself, adopting a guard and adjusting his grip and footing, but Inayat stopped him. She needed to prove she can hold her own. With a sigh, Aren straightened up. His sword remaining in hand, should he need to intervene.

The battle was short and ended quickly. Bleon suffering the worst beneath the spear of a raging shield maiden, and Inayat a strike to the head from the man’s pommel. Bleon sheathed his sword, but Inayat kept coming in a rage. He stumbled back, causing her to pause when she realised there was no resistance from him. Panting, she slowly backed away.

After this, there was only a small drop in the tension that resonated through the room. Neither Aren or Inayat were happy, and Aren still wanted the man to prove his identity. In a short note to him, he explained as much. This however led to Bleon spew a multitude of facts for them. That people saw him at a festival, that they could quiz him on details from the chronicles of the order, that he was part of the archery contest and that Beongarn welcomed him back. Aren however took only the last of these facts as solid proof. The rest had no effect on the man’s identity. And so, Bleon said how impressed he was with Inayat’s performance, and that he would offer her a knighthood alongside Arenborn. But she refused it. She wanted nothing from him. Then he asked Aren.

The world seemed to freeze in this moment. A knighthood. Hadn’t he dreamed of it since he could remember? Hadn’t he been denied this for so long and it was finally there, in his grasp. All he needed to do was say yes and close his fist around it. But then he looked down at Inayat. She was so angry with Bleon still, and it reminded him that he was as well. This man who acted like an ass and seemed to have enjoyed antagonising them and causing strife. Could Aren really have accepted a knighthood from him? Yet he had waited for so long for this lifelong dream. But there was the love of his life, still panting and sweating from the clash. So, his thoughts circled. Round and around they went. Until at last, he came to a decision; Together, or not at all.

He could not take this from a man he disliked. He could not take something Inayat could not take as well. He had proposed so that they could be together, in all matters till the day they die, and was this not included in all matters? Before he knew it, he had shaken his head, and they were outside, watching Brynleigh swear her Oath to the order.

It could have been him there, knighted, but the slender hand in his reminded him of why he had said no. Turned down his dream. Why? For love. Was it worth it? Most definitely yes.
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