Welcome Home

“Welcome home, Master Galwynn,” said the Land King in a voice that was boisterous and full of genuine pleasure at seeing his loyal subject again. “You have done all that I have asked of you, and more. I am most pleased.”

Galwynn was being hugged by his wife, Elspeth, while his two children clung giddily to him, one to each leg. Subject, husband, and father had returned to the mountain plateau from which he had departed not too many days prior.

Fog carpeted the plateau. A camp of vivid, red-blooded humans stood across from a company of wispy, ephemeral Skyfolk. Their brief alliance was over, and now they were saying their farewells. King stood with king, wizard with wizard, chamberlain with minister, and bodyguard with charge.

Galwynn and Nimbus wandered off from the milling crowd. The older man slid into a campaign chair, pulled his cloak around him, and vigorously rubbed his hands.

“Cold!” Kevin stated matter-of-factly to Aaron. “When I was in Sky, the cold didn’t bother me at all. Now that I’m back in Land, where I am flesh and blood again, my old bones truly detest the morning chill.” Lt. Nimbus, being half cold morning mist himself, was unperturbed by the current climate.

“You’ll be warm in your own home soon enough,” said Nimbus. He glanced at Galwynn’s family who waited nearby with the Land King’s chamberlain and Prime Master. Goodwitch Elspeth Galwynn looked gracious and bantered charmingly with the noblemen while simultaneously keeping her fidgeting children in line. She had conjured magical sprites, who flitted like tenacious fireflies, to keep an eye on her restless children. For a fleeting moment, Nimbus wondered what it would be like to be married with children of his own.

Nimbus turned back to Galwynn and the two men shared their space in silence. Galwynn could tell that his bodyguard wanted to say something, but was having trouble finding the right words. Galwynn respected Nimbus, and knew he would find his voice soon. So, Kevin made himself as comfortable as possible, and waited patiently. He owed the lieutenant that much and more.

At length, Nimbus said, “Master Galwynn, if my comrades said a fortnight ago that I would be guarding the life of a Landfolk who was trying to rescue the daughter of a goddess, I would have laughed at them as being either fools, or most likely, drunkards.”

Then Aaron hung his head slightly. “Then I probably would have gotten angry at them saying that I would get to know—let alone like and respect—one of the folk that fought mine in a long gone but bitterly remembered war.” Nimbus knelt until he was eye to eye with Galwynn. “I would have said those things,” Nimbus admitted, “but on all counts I would have been wrong. I am honored to know you, my lord.”

“And I am honored to know you, lieutenant” replied Kevin. “We have been on an adventure, my boy! That is always a terrible and trying thing to endure; certain to leave the adventurer with cuts, bruises, and contusions. Not to mention at the very least, the likelihood of sore feet, a throbbing headache, and quite possibly a miserable head cold!”

Then the Master of Enlightenment said in a sincere and more serious tone of voice, “We have been successful, Aaron. We have saved both our folks. But I could not have done what I had to do without your help.” Kevin reached out his hand and placed it on Aaron’s shoulder as comrades-in-arms do. A curl of white mist wound its way around Galwynn’s wrist and the two men rose as one and returned to the encampment.

From a farm far below in the valley, a cockerel crowed, announcing the fast approach of dawn. Emperor Sun would soon bring forth another day. 

“Dawn approaches!” cried the captain of the Ethereal Legion. “We must away soon!”

The Sky King leapt to his mount, which cantered and snorted with bridled energy. “Farewell, cousin,” he said to the Land King. “Until we meet again.”

Kevin drew near, and also bid farewell to his former host. Then the Sky King wheeled his destrier around and announced for all to hear, “Master Galwynn, Land and Sky are indebted to you. Let all know that from this day hence, you have my favor.” 

Then he leaned forward on his pommel and reached down to firmly clasp Kevin’s hand. “Know, Master Galwynn, that having my favor is no small boon,” he said, in a confidential whisper. “It is seldom given, and never lightly.”

The cock crowed again and the first rays of day crested the mountaintops. The aerial band all turned their heads as one, and anxiously tightened their grip on their reins. Lt. Nimbus turned towards Galwynn and waved farewell. 

Then the Sky King signaled and led his troops in a gallop toward the precipice of the mountain plateau. “Farewell…” was his last echoing word as the Legion bolted off the cliff and into the morning light. Within moments, they melted like dew into the new day, and were gone.

The Land King broke camp and his retinue began their long journey back down the mountain to his castle. Riding in a place of honor behind the king, was Kevin Galwynn and his family.

The morning sun shone with exceptional brightness. Its radiance was a most pleasing gold, and its warmth was a balmy comfort. This was going to be a glorious day.

“Well, husband,” said Elspeth, “at last your adventure is over and you can return to the safety and quietude of your books.”

“For now, at least,” sighed Kevin, as he stared in the palm of the hand the Sky King had held so firmly. In his palm was the amulet the Sky King had inconspicuously pressed upon him. The amulet was marked with the sigil of the Sun-and-Moon as had his previous talisman. However, it was not held by a silver chain, but by the Sky King’s own gold.

With a little trepidation, but a hint of expectancy too, Kevin said, “I think there may be more adventures in store for me yet, my love.”

Elspeth knew how much her husband hated adventures, and asked him sympathetically, “Are you sure?”

To which Kevin Galwynn, the King’s Master of Enlightenment, and hero of the day, replied, “Of that I am certain, my dear.” Then he added with an enlightened smile, “Trust me, I know these things.”

— The End —

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