Chapter 23

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The Princess shook her head sadly and decided to return to her two knights. She had difficulty finding them, eventually spying them in the midst of several young ladies, Minister's daughters, who were fawning all over them. Setryv was thoroughly enjoying the attention but Mharkhel was noticeably embarrassed. Ellycyn, herself riding the rough waters of emotions lately, resented it and lost her temper. Rather than confront the two scoundrels, she rushed out of the tent.

Mharkhel saw the Princess leave and brusquely excused himself to give chase. He caught up with her as she approached the bridge leaving the Royal Commons. "Ellycyn," he called, but she walked on, unheeding. "Ellycyn," he called again and still there came no response. The knight came up behind her, grabbed her by the arm and turned the Princess to him.

The touch of her and the fact that Ellycyn was glassy eyed threw Mharkhel off. Now that he had her, he was uncomfortable and unsure what to say. "I am sorry. You left to go to the Prince and they… they just… came over to us and began asking about the competition."

There was no response from the Princess. They stood there quietly for a few minutes while a couple passed by and then another. Then they were alone on the bridge, the moons high in the sky, the reflections of the orbs shimmering on the Twisted Horn River.

A breeze stirred up and Ellycyn resolved an internal issue. She looked into the knight's brown eyes. "Mharkhel, I love you," she said softly. Then stronger, with more passion, "I need you. I want you. Now, Mharkhel. Tonight."

Mharkhel let out a long sigh, looked away from her shining hazel eyes. He felt the knots inside himself constrict even tighter. "Ellycyn… I cannot."

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