Monday, October 20, 2008

Thirteenth Letter - By Opalf

Dear Astra,

One Day 'til the Night of Rudeth

Um, how do I tell you this? Well, you won't be able to be at my wedding, because I already had it.
I am so very sorry, but it was such an unexpected thing and there simply wasn't time to let you know about it. But here is the story and hopefully it will make up for your absence.
Ben and I fought unendingly, never approaching the subject of my recently missed wedding but always finding a bone to pick nonetheless.
It was a dark and cold night, the moon refused to give her light and the flames of the campfire were all that kept the darkness from enveloping us. Ben and I sat opposite each other by the fire, for once in silence, tired of the upkeep of an arugment.
I sat huddled in the thick blanket Ben had given me, staring into the dancing flames, my mind refusing to lift to higher heights than when I should leave the warmth of the fire and go to bed.
I was so caught up in my lack of thoughts, that I barely noticed the presence of Ben, now by my side, his arm around my shoulders, rubbing gently to get the blood flowing in his hand and my arm.
I unconsciously leaned my head against him and we sat thus for a few minutes, each soaking in the comforts of the touch of a human being.
When Ben began to speak, I let myself cuddle closer against him and listen to the richness of his voice. I cannot recall the exact words that were spoken, but he related to me his different endeavors to keep me safe in my travels, his having to leave when I went to stay at the palace, and the sudden and dreadful news of my wedding and subsequent orders from Nebeula to change my mind.
He told me dreadful things about the Xar, things he had been doing when my back was turned and how he had kept me close to him so I would not see what exactly was going on in the Palace. All this time I had been with Ben, I had told myself over and over, that whatever fantastic story he would try to tell me, I would not believe it and that I would stay firm in my belief of the goodness of the Xar.
But as I sat in the warmth of the fire and Ben's arm, I found myself believing every word he spoke. He explained everything so simply and perfectly that I could have no thought of doubting his words. I don't know when, but I eventually fell asleep and he took me to bed, leaving me with the majority of his blankets.
I had dreams that night that any other time I would have scorned and laid at fancies door, but they were so vivid and real that when I awoke, I knew that they were nothing less than the proof of all your fantastic stories. I dreamed of Nokturne and his ordeals, of Rax and his terrible doings, then and now, and of the powers of the Gift. I dreamed of some things I cannot even recall, but I know are there. So, dear friend, through my dreams and Ben's words, I am convinced of your story.
Perhaps if I had heard your urgings directly from you and not through letters, I would have been convinced earlier. But whatever may have happened, I am convinced.
But to continue with my story, the next morning, I awoke to the smell of a wonderful breakfast and Ben was kind enough to bring it into me, it being a frightfully cold morning. He sat with me and we ate in silence, unsure of what to speak of, now that neither of us cared to argue any longer.
When we did begin to talk, you would have been hard pressed to stop us. I told Ben of my dreams and he told me all he could of what he knew of the stories. He told me of you and his teaching you and of Nebeula and all sorts of things. We talked nearly the whole day through and when night came, we went out to the fire and continued to talk, cuddled against each other for warmth and comfort.
When it was late and I was growing tired, I announced that I was going to sleep. Ben helped me up and took me to my tent and then he did the most wonderful thing.
We stood just outside the tent and he held me back, refusing to let me enter. I pushed him and laughed saying he was being silly and that I wanted to go to bed. He pulled me tight against him then and without giving me a moment to draw breath, his lips were against mine, taking all my love while giving all his to me. My arms were around his neck and his around my waist, holding me tight and lifting me so that my feet barely touched the ground.
When we drew apart, he mumbled that I should go to bed and I mumbled back that I wasn't tired anymore. He laughed and swatted me, ushering me into the tent with a smile on his face. He told me to get some sleep and he would be back in the morning but he had some things to see to in the nearest town.
I didn't sleep a wink. Or perhaps I did, for I dreamt whether I was asleep or awake.
I was up early the next morning, and Ben was still gone. My heart was beating hard as I prepared breakfast at the remains of the fire and I could not keep from singing.
When Ben came riding into camp, I dropped the breakfast and rushed to him. He swung down and caught me in his arms, giving me no time for words as he did the most wonderful thing again. When we finished kissing, I remembered that I had dropped the breakfast and he laughed at my downcast face saying that he was in no mood for food and I would not likely be either once he showed me what he had got me.
He then took a large bundle from the saddle and brought out the most beautiful gown I have ever seen. To be sure, it was not as elegant or luxurious as my first wedding gown, but it was white and that was all that mattered to me! For Ben gave it to me and told me to be as quick as possible for we had a meeting with the pastor in an hour and a half.
I could not have gone quicker if Rax himself were after me. We met up again and kissed again and were soon on our way to the nearest Chapel.
On our way, I berated Ben for not proposing but he scolded me, asking me if I had ever recieved a better proposal than the one given me last night. I was content and we hurried on.
The ceremony was beautiful! Our witnesses were two Woc sheperds from the small town and the pastor looked as if he would shudder his last shudder any moment. But my eyes were on Ben and I have never seen or heard anything more beautiful than what transpired in that run down Chapel. He gave me the beautiful sapphire ring he had first put in my dessert and I gave him a plain gold band I bought at the local store. I feel like a queen!
So, there you have it, my dear SISTER-IN-LAW!!! I am married to the most wonderful man in the world and I have never been so happy! And you had better change your opinion about us getting on well together, for we shall be the happiest couple in the world!

In The Greatest Happiness a Woman Can Know,
Mrs. Xandra Steel

Ben does not know you are his sister and I have not told him, though it has been ever so hard to not let him know that apart from being his WIFE, I have the pleasure of now being your sister!
When we see each other, you must tell me how you found out and why you are not supposed to know. We have much to speak of.

Yes, you do talk in your sleep, and frequently at that. I meant to tell you sooner, but I have had so much fun listening to you and was afraid that you would try to stop yourself if you knew. It is amazing that I didn't learn about Nebeula sooner, from your talking. :)
Do not be too hard on Gale, you can be merciless with your teasing. Personally, I like what you have told me of him and think it very sweet that he has stayed with you this long. He must have taken a good fancy to you to endure your teasing and contriving this long.

Be safe my dear sister-in-law! May we meet in safety in the heart of Corinth.