The soggy ground squished beneath my boots. Fireflies lit up the air around us like tiny flickering laps. It was so close to Orr and yet there was still so much life around us. Nature was still alive and well around us.
“You wanted to talk to me?” I asked after we had been walking for some time.
He merely nodded and added in a “Yes.” It didn’t tell me much and my heart was already beating so fast. I clasped my hands together and my nails sunk into my skin slightly as I watched the ground I was walking on. Ragnvaldr’s hand suddenly grabbed mine and pried it away from the other. In that instant, I was already feeling some sort of relief. His huge hand was holding mine so tightly and yet so delicately. It made me feel safe. I looked up towards him, who was so focused on moving forward that he didn’t notice, and saw an odd look contorted through his face.
His hand was shaking.
“Please…” I whispered quietly to myself. The plea wasn’t meant to make it into words, though. He glanced to me without moving his head in my direction. We entered a cave and while I expected it to be dark, there was a stream of light coming through the top.
“It’s not much,” He finally spoke, his voice breaking a little. We came to a stop. “But it’s the nicest place I could find.” It was a beautiful location. Grass grew on the floor of the dome-like cave and trees reached towards the moonlight that flooded through a crevice at the roof of the cave. Fireflies nested in the trees and around us creating small dancing lights, like fairies in a forest.
No one could take a person to such a beautiful place to tell them bad news. Then what was this?
“I…uh… I….” He stuttered over the start of his sentence several times. “Clearly I’m not very good at this.” He nervously chuckled. Watching him was almost amusing in this state and I was quickly forgetting my initial worries. His blonde hair shimmered in the moonlight; it was enchanting.
“I’m not well versed in how this is supposed to happen,” He started over, his words working a lot more strongly for him. “I hear that humans…humans initiate it with a ring.” Ragnvaldr gently placed a silver ring into the palm of my hand. It sported the shape of leaves and curling vines. Wrapped inside of one of the curling vines was a small but beautiful piece of tanzanite.
“Wait, are you-”
Ragnvaldr nodded; his eyes focused only on mine, “Claire, I was hoping that when we come back from Orr, that you would marry me.”
I was stunned, holding this petite ring in my hand and staring up at the man who loved me enough to want to spend the rest of his life with me.
He sighed, “Please…” Then he smiled nervously, “Please answer me.”
“Of course. Yes. Of course!” My eyes were getting misty but I couldn’t have been happier at this very moment. He dropped down to his knees and we both embraced each other, sharing a kiss that reminded me of the one we had started out with.
“It hasn’t been long. We haven’t known each other but for a short time, but I knew the moment I met you that fate had drawn us together.” He scratched his nose. “We’re about to embark on an amazing challenge but a perilous journey. I felt that this was the best time, so I would have no regrets going into such a battlefield.”
I was still awestruck and my answers were lacking, but I nodded my head to show I understood. I was examining the ring carefully. He took it from me and placed it on a finger on my left hand, “I hope you like it. Tobih helped me pick it out. Ah, I’m glad it fits.” He grinned and embraced me once more.
“You’re sure I’m the one?” I asked, the invasive thought suddenly appearing in my head.
“Absolutely.” He answered so quickly and positively, “I love you, Claire.”
“And I love you, Ragnvaldr.” I continued to examine the ring, “I’m still just a little awestruck and shocked is all.” I blushed and laughed a little timidly. “It feels like old times, suddenly.” I realized out loud, “I missed it all, to be honest… Is this why you’ve been so quiet?”
“A bit.” He ran his hand slowly across my cheek, “I knew I was going to do this; I was afraid if I talked too much I’d let it all spill out. I was overwhelmed with excitement. Then I began to worry. I trust you, but what if you had said no? What if it was too soon for you?”
“Don’t worry about things like that. You know I always come around.” I peered up at his eyes. His hand still on my cheek, he guided my face towards his, meeting in another kiss.
We eventually found ourselves leaving the cave and finding our way back to the camp. Though we were leaving it, it was a memory I had promised myself to never forget. My heart continued to pound in my chest, a constant reminder of the event that had just taken place. I smiled to myself and clutched the ring on my hand to my chest.
“Congratulations!” We heard as we stepped inside of the building. Kiffi jumped up and clapped for us. The others joined in with her clapping.
I felt my face grow hot as I looked around. “Everyone knew, huh?”
“Tobih must have told them.” Ragnvaldr returned. Looking around, though, I didn’t see him at all.
“Where is Tobih?” I called out to the guild in front of me.
“He wanted to pop out for a bit and take in some fresh air,” Cinder replied, slapping a paw firmly onto my shoulder. Tullia, who seemed to be waiting for the congratulatory party to be over, helped Zen find his way out of the building to take the first watch.
“Did he look okay?” I asked, worried that one of his coughing fits had started up. I knew he wouldn’t have wanted to miss congratulating us when we returned.
“He looked fine to me.” Cinder pondered to herself, “Yeah, absolutely fine.”
“He was fine, Claire.” Kiffi added on, “He said he was going to be back before you guys came back, but no one knew how long that would be. He probably just felt that it was too early.”
“Something like that.” As if we had called him, his voice came from behind us. I wheeled around to see him. “I got a little caught up on watching the bugs… um… Fireflies! They’re beautiful out there. They light up the trees and it looks so magical! But I’m rambling about these unimportant things.” He picked me up off the ground and spun me around, “It finally happened!” My feet touched the ground once more, “Congratulations Claire.” Tobih turned to Ragnvaldr, “I can’t do the same for you, but congratulations, Ragnvaldr. I can’t wait to attend the wedding. Have you decided where you’ll have it yet? When?”
Ragnvaldr shook his head, “I’m going to leave the locational planning to my cartographer.” I blushed as he put his hand on my shoulder.
“First, we have a journey to attend,” I simply responded.