Now it is time for the stars of the war to be rewarded. First King George summons his brother.
"To my brother Bradheim. For his enduring perseverance and his talents on the battlefield I appoint him as Marshall of Vanheim. I will also appoint him to be the vanguard for the attack against Vetten"
Marshall is a title of importance. It is the councilor in charge of the military. They are also expected to lead the armies if the King decides not to.
In other words, King George is showing his trust towards his brother and he also did well in putting down the rumors of his bad relation with his older brother.
"I accept the reward, brother" Then Bradheim stepped backward from the throne.
He was smiling. Clearly he is happy and he felt like the knot in his heart was untied. He was built for war and that is where he belongs.
This is obvious.
But he also understand that the reason why George gives him the reign on the military was because he is showing to him, he is trusting him.
Bradheim while he did not entirely agree with his Royal Father on the fact he choose George to sit on the throne, he knew he could no longer rebel.
Since he already had the chance to rebel but he did not, such chance will never come again.
After all if he rebels now, he will not be benefiting the Kingdom, instead he will be harming the Kingdom.
Meanwhile the ceremony is ongoing
"Heroine Raina, rise" King George said, his eyes beaming proudly
"For leading the archers in slowing the march of our enemies, I reward you a mansion in the capital city and one hundred thousand gold as reward and five thousand gold stipend for each month. You will be given the title Countess Raina of Berthold. You will also be given the Dragon Heartstring Bow that was passed down in the Royal family. Will you accept?
"I accept Your Grace" Raina bowed and put her hand at her heart signifying loyalty.
The archer's division cheer nearly raised the ceiling.
They were screaming and whistling. The King smiles a bit before some of the old minister glared at the archer division and they slowly slow down their voice, looking slightly embarrassed
At last there was silence again.
"Commander Dan, rise"
"Your Grace" Dan is not just a commander in Vanheim army. He is like a friend to George, following George since the days of his exile.
Dan is an outgoing type of friend and straightforward in his action.
There is happiness in King George seeing his old friend
"You have proved to the other Kingdoms that Our might is unbeatable. For that I appoint you to be Marquis of Zantleaf. From now on, you will be known as Marquis Dan of Zantleaf. You will be given one hundred and fifty thousand gold as reward; ten thousand gold stipends a month, and a residence will be constructed in the way you like. You will be given the Golden Armor that once belonged to the Hero of Old Vanheim. Will you accept?"
"Yes, Your Grace" Dan said smiling, as he could not hide his excited and happy expression. Following Aero was one of the wisest decision he made in his life.
The troops were beside themselves. Their commander is now nobility. The players were also happy of Dan achievements.
Many of them bonded with Dan during the expedition. Dan is after all a friendly person. A little trusting and sometimes clumsy but it is this quality that endear him to people.
Next was Amy.
"Heroine Amy rise"
"For supporting the troops and providing solace and comfort for the injured and the dead, for saving the lives of my people, I give you my utmost gratitude"
Some of the NPCs were tearing up.
Probably they have families that died in the war.
"For your service, I will reward you the Recipe Book for Potions from the Secret Archive. You will also be rewarded one hundred thousand gold. I will appoint you as the Royal Physician. From now on you will be called Lady Amy. Will you accept?"
"Yes, Your Grace" Amy accepts the title
"May the book help you in saving more lives in the future"
The din of the cheers was deafening. Most of them come from Amy fan club.
'Yeah, who would thought that brute girl has so many boys pining for her' Aero thought to himself as he look at the men cheering on Amy
Aero noticed that Amy was looking at him, staring while Sarah whispered something to her. Sarah was next.
She was rewarded a mansion,70 thousand gold, seven divine herbs that belong to the Royal family and the title of Lady Sarah, Baroness of Certes in the vicinity of Bretten.
It was one of the villages there. Many ministers came to her and congratulate her. So is the delegates.
Even Philip offered her congratulation. He seems to be very fond of her. Without her effort in persuading King Philip Aero plan would not work.
Then George raised his hand. The room was silent. Everyone is waiting for this moment.
The most important moment has arrived.
The main character of the war.
The King face was beaming proudly at Aero
"Aero, my friend, come" This kind of such familiar term coming out form the mouth of the King is signifying to the entire Vanheim court how important Aero in George mind.
Aero instead of stepping humbly strutted to the Throne. Yet George didn't think of it as an insult.
He smiles looking at King George and King George smiles looking at him. They both understand each other.
"You have helped me more than once. You have helped me when I was weak and powerless. You have taken the burdens of my Kingdom and carried it for me. For that you have my eternal gratitude."
Then George continued his conferment speech.
"I as the King of Vanheim raise you to the status of Duke. You will rule the state of Bretten. You will be rewarded to see the Secret Archive. I confer to you the title The General Who Pacified the North. You will be given four hundred thousand gold and a stipend of thirty thousand gold stipends a month. You will also be given the Howling Dragon Saber that belonged to one of my ancestors Alain IV."
The crowd gasped. And the officials were shocked
The Howling Dragon saber is one of the Kingdom's regalia. Alain IV is famous for slaying a dragon with that sword.
For George to part with it, Aero must have been pretty close with the King.
"From now on, you will be known as Duke Aero. Will you accept?"
That is what everyone expects to hear.
After all who in their right mind will reject the King gifts.
What has two thumbs and don't want to stuck handling state affairs all the time. This guy.
Aero was thinking in his head.
"Forgive me, Your Grace. I cannot."
Gasp of shocks can be heard in the room.
"I'm happy to take the other rewards but appointing me to Duke is hardly appropriate."
"Why? You have done many great deeds for this Kingdom. You will find no one will object to this." King George looked sullen.
"There are many places I would like to go Your Grace. If you appoint me Duke I will have to manage the state. And I'll do it without fail. But if that happens I will have no time to travel"
To be honest George wanted to stop Aero from wandering to other Kingdoms.
"This is my request, Your Grace" The King sighed
"Alright, then. Then the other rewards will be bestowed to you" said George.
"Thank you Your Grace. Your generosity will never be forgotten" Aero replied and returned to his place.
"Now that's settled, let the feast begins"
Kling,Klang. The melody was peaceful and rhythmic.
The sounds of music instrument can be heard in every street of the capital city. Aromatic cooking fills the palace halls.
Laughter could be heard. Jokes were exchanged. Congratulations were offered.
Aero walk through the crowds as people offer him congratulations incessantly. In his walk he saw Dan competing in hand wrestling with Victor, one of the duo archers in Raina units.
They looked like they would break each other arm. Victoria is seen chatting up with Raina talking about bows probably.
Those twin siblings only interest are bows.
They are magnificent in the war. Not many survived during the war. They are the lucky ones.
'No, luck doesn't have anything to do with it'
'They were capable' Aero thought to himself.
Everywhere he goes he can see people rejoicing and enjoying each other company, laughing and trading drinks.
Speaking of drinking Aero heard that Gruk and Bradheim are having a drinking contest in the squares.
The rowdy Orcs keep encouraging their tribe leader to drink, drink, like it was a chanting
Bradheim troops are not any better.
They both will have a bad hangover next morning.
Aero then silently, without anyone realizing moved to somewhere quieter. He finally arrived at the balcony.
While people are rejoicing he wanted to be alone, watching the stars. He sighed as he look at the night sky.
"I wish you could have been here. The sun is beautiful, the moon is elegant and the wind is soothing. Sound of music filled the roads and the stars twinkling on the night skies. Life….is beautiful. But, mainly, I wish you could have been here."
Aero said wistfully while looking at the full moon.
It was beautifu---
"Who?" Aero reminiscing about old memories is interrupted with a question
Aero turned to look back and saw Amy. And for a moment he saw his Amy. The one that left.
The one who sent him into hell over and over again, thinking about her. The one…..that he felt most sorry about. Because it was too late.
"Why are you here? Go celebrate" Aero raised his tone without meaning to.
"Who?" Amy was not taken aback. Instead she asked again.
"Who do you wish to be here?" She heard what he said. And for a moment Aero was flustered
Calming himself he answers
"Someone who is not here anymore"
"Then, isn't that stupid?" Amy said
"Is it?" Aero ask back, his tone is a little cold.
"Yes, why not wish for people that are here." Amy said, as she too look at the stars
"Who would I wish for then?"
"How about wish for me?" she said with a low voice that Aero barely could heard it
Amy said while blushing. Her cheeks were red. It was the most adorable expression Aero has seen from Amy.
It skips a beat, my heart.
This is weird. I thought Amy hated me. Why is she suddenly like this? Aero thought to himself
"Maybe I don't want to wish for you" he said
"Why not?" Amy challenged.
"You're stubborn" He offered
"But in a good way" Amy countered. Aero shakes his head
"You're difficult" he added. Amy just smiles and shakes her head
"No, that is inaccurate. I'm challenging." She corrected
Aero is confused. So, he asked
"I am in no mood to play games tonight. What do you want, Amy?"
"I like you, Aero"
She said it so fiercely and so directly that Aero could not help but feel the seriousness of her words.
It was also so sudden. Without warning or without signs suddenly she opens her words with that.
He is flustered.
His face began reddening. Then he told himself. She means something else.
"Yeah, I like you too" Aero just brushed it off. Amy grab Aero white robe sleeve and said
"You know that is not what I meant" Aero look at Amy and countless thought flashed by
It's one thing to like a person. It's another to feel someone else like you, and to feel a responsibility toward that affection.
Because he knows how heavy that responsibility is. And he remembers that memory again. A hospital.
A woman soaked wet in water.
Blood pooling on the floor.
"Don't joke around Amy" Aero said to Amy while at the same time purging that memory from resurfacing
"I'm not joking"
Aero believing Amy is just joking is determined to see how far Amy would go. So he comes closer to Amy.
Their distance is so close that he could hear her breathing. He could swear he could even hear her heartbeat
"What would you do if I kissed you right now?"
At first she was flustered and shyly look down. But then she look back up, staring into his eyes, her eyes are full of determination.
Amy stared at his face for a moment and then looked at his lips then she said with a smile
"I would kiss you back."
Ok. ...That was not the response he expected. He gulped and then he fumbles his word and said
"Ok, enough of this. I'm going to the hall."
Just when Aero is about to step down the stairs, Amy held his arm and pull him to her. They were inches with each other. Aero could hear Amy rasped breathing.
"What do you thi---"
Then she kissed him. Just like that.
And what does Aero think the kiss felt like? Whatever he thinks the kiss should feel like, it surpassed his expectation above and beyond
Have you ever lost yourself in a kiss? That is what he felt. Lost. In that one moment he forgot about anything
He lost himself in that kiss and found himself again in that kiss.
It was sweet. That is what he felt when her lips touches his. Sweet as the spring and warm like summer.
She kissed him desperately and passionately.
Aero could not help but be entranced and bedazzled if that is the right description. Because words doesn't seems enough to describe the feeling of that kiss.
And then without meaning to he kissed her back.
Though that is bullshit.
How could he not meant to when all of the fiber of his being desperately wanted her the way she wanted him
He kissed her passionately, desperately.
Licking the sides and corners of her mouth, and he delivered it back to her, that passion he felt, over and over in a wave of pleasure and passion.
For that moment everything faded away. The stars, the sky, the sound of the music all of it disappeared in that one magical moment
Everything other than them becomes dark background while only two of them were shining with light in this whole dark universe.
Only you and me.
Then she stopped slowly but gently. And he also stopped, his hand is holding her face
They were both gasping for air. And she looked at him. A look of a predator that finally got its prey. She smirked.
Aero release his hand and ask
"Why did you—"
"A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous."
She said matter of factly. Then she stepped down back to the festivities smugly.
'I could not move. I was frozen in place, just looking at her back .I knew she was brave but I didn't know she had a sassy side.' He thought to himself and he smiles despite of himself
'And I think I like it' He added and he chuckles a bit
Double chapter for today. Thank you for reading and if you like it please vote and leave some reviews.
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