Edmonia & Ibrahim

~ Contributed to by Breanna Vincent

Chapter One

Edmonia ate dinner silently as she sat across the table from Ibrahim. You could call him many things, her owner, a man playing father or somthing else similar. She had been living with this man since she was nine years old, a man she hadn’t even seen once before the day he snatched her from her family. In her world if you wrong someone you are expected to pay with something equal if they go to the king and demand it. When she was a child her father murdered this mans son and when he went before the king the king granted him repayment in multiple ways, he could have taken her fathers life, her life or taken her for his own to raise in placement of the boy. He had chosen taking her and in that choice he had never allowed her to see her parents again.

Edmonia resented him the most for this. Not only did he decide to take her, she wasn’t even allowed to see her parents, not even once a year. She had even tried warming up to him but when her millionth request to see them was denied the bitterness within her swelled again and she went back staying as far away from him as she was allowed. She knew he had been kind to her, had gone above and beyond simply raising her. She had come from a village with no school so everyone was poorly educated and she knew she spoke such proper english now she’d have trouble understanding them if she ever went home. Ibrahim had not only given her that but she knew multiple languages, had had tutors in things she didn’t knew existed before Ibrahim. More still she could shoot a bow, make her own dishes, clothes and jewlery.

She knew he had spent outrageous sums of money educating her so she could grow up and be anything she wanted to be. She knew it was specifically to better her future because of all the times when she was little and would throw tantrums about her lessons, he’d tell her “I’m getting you ready to leave me for I know you’ll go the first chance you get. One day you’ll be a woman and even if you don’t thank me for educating you I want to do it, I want to know when you leave me you’ll be okay, that you’ll be able to make your own way”

She didn’t understand him, how he could possibly care about her when he was heartless enough to not let her see her family. Even when she learned how to write he wouldn’t allow her to send a single letter to them. Besides the education he had given her she wore the finest clothes and anytime she wanted for anything he supplied it. She had asked for a pet one day when she was eleven and on her twelfth birthday he supplied her with Niya, a feline she couldn’t live without now.

Edmonia truly had grown up with every advantage and everything she ever wanted aside from her family but still, she coudln’t get away from him fast enough, she told herself daily once she could leave she would never come back here. She would find her family and finally be with them. “Edmonia” her name brought her out of her head “yes?”

“we’re going to play chess tonight” It wasn’t a request, spending time with him never was. “Okay”

“One week” it sounded so out of place so she just looked at him confused though she knew well what it meant. He explained anyway “One week and you never have to see me again. I know my time with you draws to an end and though you wont miss me I will miss you Edmonia”

“Why?” he just smiled at her a few moments then went back to eating. Later that night she played a few rounds of chess with him then went outside for a walk, accompanied by her cat. “I can’;t wait for you to meet my family Niya” she purred and Edmonia smiled. She couldn’t see him but Ibrahim sat in the window of one of the tallest towers in his castle, watching her walk as he always did. Idella soon came behind him and nearly startled him out the window “Ibrahim” he stood in the room, clutching his chest “jesus Idella”

“I’m sorry but I hadn’t realized chess had stopped until she was already out on her walk and you watch her so intently it’s impossible to get your attention without scaring you”

“whats so urgent it couldn’t wait?” he snapped a little though that wasn’t normal for him. He had been on edge the last month and Idella knew it was because Edmonia would be leaving them and most likely never coming back “You know what”

“I don’t” Idella sighed “regardless of anything else Ibrahim you should tell her why you don’t let her see her family before she’s foolish enough to return to them”

“and break her heart? She thinks her father the best man that ever lived, her mother too, it would devastate her to know”

“Ibrahim, you know she will try to find them and when she does she might still find out what really happened to your son, what…what her father did to your boy that night, what he had done to other little boys. Ibrahim, you can’t let her go to them. You know she doesn’t remember, you know her mind as a child couldn’t handle what her parents were doing so she blocked it out. She needs to remember before she returns to those monsters. She needs to know you have been protecting her. Stop letting her hate you and wake her up to reality. I know you don’t want to hurt her, she’s probably the last person in the world you’d see hurt but I beg you, don’t let her leave at the end of the week without knowing the truth of her childhood, the truth of what her father was doing to little boys”

“who is to say she’ll find out? Her parents were chased out of town, of all towns really, nobody even knows where they are”

“Ibrahim, it’s not only time you stop fooling her it’s time you stop fooling yourself too.”

Ibrahim knew deep down in his heart that Idella was right. He was not protecting her but himself. He couldn’t stomach the thought of her hating him anymore after telling her of the true nature of her family, of her father. He shook his head, desperate to get the thoughts out of his head. Although he hated it, thoughts always came with images, images of his poor son being taken by this monster. At least Edmonia had been saved, had been able to be naive all of these years. Her heart was already filled with pain and loss. He would have to figure out a way to tell her no matter what the cost but he hoped he would be able to put it off just a little bit longer.

Dawn came and went and Ibrahim paced his room, anxiety fueling him. He knew he had to tell her and decided to do it sooner than later so that she could have some time to process the information before she was released into the world.

“Edmonia, we are to have a discussion before you depart. This will not be an easy conversation so I want you to be ready. Meet me in the foyer at dusk, and please, listen to my words before you close your mind and your heart to me. I am only trying to protect you, although I know you see yourself as a prisoner in my world.”

Edmonia listened, confused by his words, but nevertheless, there was nothing he could say that could change the way she felt about him. He was a monstrosity for stealing her away from her family. Her heart cheered a little thinking of them, it wouldn’t be long now and she would be in her parents arms. Her father will be so proud of her and all she has accomplished. She will be able to do anything that she pleased and help provide for her family.

Dusk came and Edmonia sat across from Ibrahim with her eyes down. She hated looking at him, especially when he demanded it. “Eye contact is a form of respect.” he would always say. Well that would entail her respecting him and she didn’t, she loathed him despite knowing all he had done for her.

“Edmonia, I need to talk to you about your family. I know in a few weeks time you will be free of my command and will go looking for them. They are not who you think they are.

“Do not talk ill of my family! You are the one who stole me away, there’s nothing you can say to save yourself now!” She yelled, defiant, making eye contact for once. She knew she was almost free and felt stronger now, more powerful against his wishes.

“Edmonia, I asked that you hear me out. You may be leaving soon but I will not tolerate this kind of obedience. I have raised you well and given you everything that you have asked for. Now respect me and my wishes and let me finish. This is not easy for me and I would prefer not to speak of this horror but it must be done. I am only trying to protect you and you can believe my words that I am about to speak to you or you can ignore my warnings and find out for yourself.”

Edmonia sat still, taken aback. “What was so horrible?” she thought to herself. She cast her eyes back down and listened.

“There is something about your family that you must know. They are not the people that you remember them to be. You were young and unable to grasp the sheer cruelty of your situation. I know you remember the young boys that would come and stay for a while. Did they ever return after their visit?”

“It was so long ago, I don’t remember them ever returning but why are you asking me these things?”

“It is important that you attempt to remember your time with your family. Those boys never returned for a reason Edmonia. Your mother would take in the boys from the streets, promising them food and shelter. They were never to be a part of your family. Your father had a cruel demon and he took those boys and abused them. He deflowered them and tortured them for days on end while your mother covered for him and brought him more young boys when his demon reared it’s ugly face. When your father was done with these poor children he would take their lives, murder them in the cruelest of fashions. My boy was among one of those that you remember. He was suppose to be fetching bread from the village and never returned. You will not find your family Edmonia, they have been run out of every town and outcast as monsters. It is not I that is the monster, don’t you see? I was trying to protect you from their abuse and murderous ways. I was trying to save you Edmonia. ”

Chapter Two

She slammed her hands down on teh table as she stood “don’t lie, why…how could you say such things!” she saw his lip tremble, saw no dishonesty in his face but she still couldn’t believe it “Edmonia, it is the only thing I’ve ever not been straightforward with you about…over these years no matter how angry you were at me for being honest haven’t I continued to be so? I’m not lieing, I’ve spared you this knowledge, not wanting to hurt you but I was a fool. I just never thought of this day, the day you could leave. I don’t want you to find them, I don’t want them to hurt you or to change the wonderful woman you are. I’m so proud of you Edmonia” he was continuing to talk but she ran from the room. He sighed, knowing he should just let her go and deal with her emotions for now.

He had let her live a fantasy for so long, had let her despise him to spare her this hurt but today, today that was all over and the little girl who would soon be a woman had to go through this heartbreak. His face felt damp and as he reached up to touch his cheek he realized he was crying. The past few months had been emotional for him regardless. He loved her so much, had done his best to give her a good life but it was finally time to let her go and truly be alone again. Sure he had Idella and his other staff but he wanted a family more than anything but life wouldn’t seem to allow him that.

As if hsi mind conjured her Idelal came into the room and hugged him “cry into me, I know you need it. You’ve raised an intelligent girl. She will forgive you and she’ll come back” he didn’t believe a word but he appreciated her comfort and allowed himself to cry. When he could pull himself together he said “Please check on her. She’d turn me away but you are her friend”

“Of course” Idella said then left the room to find Edmonia.

She was sitting outside under a tree, her knees pulled up to her chest as she cried. Idella approached her slowly and Edmonia raised her head and glared at her. “Did you know?” She snapped.

“Yes dear, I did.”

“How could he lie to me? It…it can’t be true.”

“It is sweetie.” Idella sat down and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “He loves you, you know.”

“Oh really?”

“Edmonia, he did what he thought was right and he has suffered as well.”

“I…I hate him.”

Idella sighed. “You don’t mean that.”

Edmonia just looked away, too angry to tell her she was right. Despite everything that had happened, even if she wanted to throw things at him or hit him, he had raised her and taken care of her. He could have done anything else, he could have taken out his revenge by ending her life, but he hadn’t. She felt so conflicted about him. “Can you just leave me alone for awhile?”

“Sure, I’ll go make some tea.”

Idella was barely in the kitchen when Ibrahim came in “is she okay?”

“she will be and maybe now that she knows the truth you wont lose her”

“don’t get my hopes up”

“I mean it Ibrahim”

“we’ll see I guess”

“I’m making her tea now. Hopefully she’ll let me talk to her as we drink it”

“I need to finish prepping a few things incase she’s leaving anyway”

“You’re mkaing it too easy for her to run away and never look back”

“part of loving her is not trapping her here. Besides, she’s determined and a force that cannot be stopped. If I don’t give her plenty of money and supplies to start with she might get hurt because she wont come back if she doesnt want to, not even for money. She’s not like that. If she never wants to see me again she wont for anything and though it breaks my heart I’m so proud of who she is”

“she really is amazing Ibrahim, you raised her well”

“Don’t sell yourself short. You were the only one she’d spend time around willingly so she mostly grew up with you as her parent”

“You are the one who needs to stop thinking so negatively about yourself. You gave her a life some children only dream of. You may not be her father, but you’ve been wonderful to her regardless. I wish you’d stop being so cowardly about your feelings. Being honest is important, not just to her, but to yourself.”

“Idella.”

“That’s all I’m going to say, now go on, maybe once she’s cooled off and had time to think she’ll come to you, but give her space.”

“I will, thank you.”

Edmonia felt something bump against her back and for a moment she ignored it until it pushed into her harder and she turned, receiving a very rough lick from a very big cat. Niya bumped heads with her, making her let out a little laugh as she affectionately scratched the cat’s head. “Hello sweet kitty, how are you today?” Niya purred and Edmonia wrapped her arms around its neck. “What do I do? I’m so mad and sad and…I just don’t know. What would you do?” Niya purred. “Probably just eat all the fish.”

When Idella returned outside Edmonia was still playing with her beloved pet “Niya could always make you smile. You’re taking her right?”

“Of course, I can’t imagine my life without her. I’d take you too if you’d leave but I know you would want to stay”

“I enjoy serving Ibrahim, he’s more of my friend than my employer. I’ve had many happy years here, especially when you came along” Edmonia sighed “my parents truly were bad people?”

“When I truly learned everything about them I was sick to my stomach. You were lucky Ibrahim took you away”

“He shouldn’t have lied to me”

“He wanted you to have a happy childhood.”

“I’m just so conflicted now Idella” Edmonia said as she accepted a cup of tea. “Maybe you should talk to him again”

“Maybe but how will I know he’s being completely honest with me”

“You know he’s an honest man Edmonia”

“I don’t really know him that well, I’ve spent my life wanting nothing to do with him”

“You two need to stop it and talk, would you talk to him for me Edmonia?”

“Thats not fair”

“I’m asking anyway, when you feel able talk to him for me, really talk to him. Tell him everything you feel and think and listen to what he has to say. You are so important to him, he’s always wanted what was best for you”

“I’m the daughter of the man who killed his son”

“You didn’t kill his son. He doesn’t hold you accountable for that Edmonia”

“I guess he wouldn’t have treated me so well if he did”

“You are everything to him, you’ll talk to him right?”

“I will”

Ibrahim paced and paced and paced, every now and then glancing out the window to see her still sitting there talking to Idella. He hated this feeling in the pit of his stomach, the fear, the uncertainty. Even so he had made the arrangements. She would have money and a cart pulled by his best horse so she wouldn’t have to leave anything behind. He had even put in an order for a new bow and arrows. He resisted the urge to go to her, to beg her to to talk to him and stay. He would give her anything. They were selfish, childish thoughts, he knew that and she deserved to decide without him trying to guilt her. He stopped his pacing and sat down, dropping his face into his hands as he fought not to cry.

“Alright, I’m going to get inside and help with the rest of the cleaning.” Idella said as she stood and dusted herself off.

“I think I’ll stay out here for a little longer.”

Idella lifted the tray and empty cups and pot. “Don’t avoid the issue for too long, you both need to hear each other out, it’s important.”

“I know, I just need to gather the rest of my thoughts. I don’t want to yell at him if I can help it.”

“He’s waiting, so when you’re ready, he’ll be there.”

Edmonia sat out there fathering courage and thinking of precisely what she wanted to say, only standing and walking in when she felt completely ready for this talk she needed to have with him. She found him easily, after all this time she knew precisely where to find him when. She thought to herself a moment, maybe I do know him better than I think. “Edmonia” she could hear the pain in his welcome “Hi”

“are you okay?”

“Why did you lie to me? Out of anything I need the honest answer for that the most. You let me despise you. I would get so angry and so mean because of it but you just kept letting me believe you had taken me from good people”

“You were a child, I didn’t think you could handle that knowledge emotionally”

“I may only just be becoming an adult legally but I haven’t been a child in some time Ibrahim. You could have told me before now”

“I could not bring myself to ruin your perspective of your parents, but I see now that that may have been far crueler than the truth. I refused to take you because I feared killing them if I came face to face with them again and letting you go alone would have only worried me more. What if they hurt you or took you back and raised you to be like them? I would rather you hate me than ruin your memories of them.”

“That wasn’t fair.”

“I know, I’m sorry. Can you ever forgive me?”

“I…I can.”

“I love you far too much to let you get hurt.”

She blushed and her heart jumped. “What?”

“It’s the truth and I wanted to tell you before you leave me.”

She wanted to ask him what kind of love, romantic love or did he really love her as a daughter. He wasn’t her father so it truly could be either but she was so overwhelmed with what she learned today she didn’t know if she was ready to ask that question. “um….should we have some leftovers for dinner? I did sort of run out without us eating much”

“we? You want to eat with me?”

“Maybe we could eat and play chess” he looked so touched “Come with me to the kitchen” Ibrahim almost didn’t know what to do with himself. Besides when she was sick and allowed him to read to her this was the first time she actually wanted anything to do with him. The staff reheated dinner and fixed them plates which they sat down with at Ibrahims chess table.

“You’ve become so good at this.” Ibrahim said as he moved a piece across the board.

“Still not as good as you.”

He smiled. “You know why I taught you right?”

“Because you wanted me to be a good tactician?”

He chuckled. “No, because I wanted to bond with you. You were so distant, you hated me and you would avoid me even as a child if you could manage it. It was the only thing we had.”

“Really?”

“Of course and it made me happy you would willingly play with me.” His smile widened and she felt warmth sweep through her. “Your turn.”

“so..um, may I ask why you sent your son to town by himself?”

“To keep him grounded. I raised him as I did you, I loved to spoil him but he still had to do chores and various things to keep his character intact” she made her move “I’m so sorry”

“You have nothing to be sorry for.”

“Still, losing a child has to be a wound that doesn’t close”

“He will always be in my heart as his mother is but mopeing and feeling sorry for yourself never got anybody anywhere. I’m not perfect, I do get in moods but I’m good at not throwing pitty parties. I believe in reincarnation anyway so I like to think they’ve been reborn into amazing lives”

“do you keep any picture of his mother?”

“No, I’ve never been much for picture taking”

“how did you lose her?” He took his move “it makes my spirits soar you want to talk to me and get to know me better but if it’s alright with you I’d rather not talk about it. I want to be in good spirits and the past month has been hard. It’s been killing me inside, thinking of you leaveing me. I promise you though, I will tell you”

“Ibrahim, umm I’m sorry if I ever hurt your feelings.”

He reached over and took her hand as she was about to move a piece and she felt her skin tingle. “You never have to apologize, Edmonia, it’s been hard for you.”

“Not that hard. I may have made it harder than it needed to be. You tried so hard to give me a comfortable life and you gave me so much. I guess I was a bit childish.”

“And I was selfish.”

She smiled and his heart filled with joy. He let her go and she made her move, putting him in check. “I’ve got you on the run.”

“Being pursued isn’t so bad. Besides, maybe it’s all part of my plan.”

They finished their game, Edmonia asking him questions the entire time. Now that she wasn’t so angry and focused on leaving she wanted to know everything about the man who had opened his home to her. When their game concluded it was late so she wished him goodnight and gave him him a hug. he was frozen at first, his mind struggling to come to terms with her actually hugging him. She hugged many people in his home but never him until tonight. When he finally hugged her back he struggled not to get over emotional about it.

“Maybe we could hangout after breakfast”

“That sounds amazing Edmonia”

“I..well…I don’t know if I’m leaving any more..I know youve been preparing for me to so…I just wanted to let you know”

“that makes me incredibly happy and you know, leaving doesn’t mean the end of our relationship. Nothing truly ties me down here if you ever just want to go on an adventure with me”

“You like adventures?”

“Of course, I’ll have to tell you some stories about days long ago.”

“Maybe thats the perfect way to spend our morning tomorrow. We could maybe go on a walk and you could tell me stories”

“Anything you want.”

She had never seen him look so hopeful. “Well, good night then.”

“Sweet dreams, Edmonia.”

He sat back down at the chess table once she was gone, feeling such a sense of relief that it made him feel weak. “You alright?” He raised his head at Idella’s voice. “I saw her heading up to her room and thought I’d check on you.”

“She said she might stay. I really want her to stay.”

“Did you tell her how you feel?”

“Yes.”

“And?”

“I don’t know, I guess we’ll see.”

“I’m just glad your feelings and the truth are all out in the open. I hope she stays too, even if she doesn’t love you the same way I really hope she sticks around. She;s come to mean so much to me too Ibrahim”

“she hugged me”

“You smiled as you said that, thats so sweet”

“hush” he said as his cheeks began to tint. Idella couldn’t help but laugh “well goodnight, I’m going to make sure an amazing breakfast is prepared tomorrow” He sat there awhile longer, regaining his ability to walk. When he could he went straight to bed, impatient for the next day to come. Morning felt like but moments later when he opened his eyes again. Gleefully he got himself ready and rushed to the breakfast table where Edmonia was already seated “good morning Ibrahim”

“good morning, have you waited on me long?”

“Not really, I don’t even have my orangejuice yet, they are still making it”

“good, are we still on for our walk today?”

“Yeah, I’m excited to hear about your travels”

“I plan on starting from my very first one. We have so much to talk about even just with them.”

“didn’t you meet Idella on one of your last adventures?”

“I did, she told you that?”

“Yeah, a couple years back I asked her how she came to work for you. You don’t seem to replace staff and it made me wonder how you hire people.”

“everyone here I met on an adventure. I’ve never interviewed people. If I meet someone in need of getting out of a bad situation or just in need of a job I hire them to work for me if they want.”

“Thats cool”

“Instead of just starting from the beginning want me to tell you the adventures of the people you know?”

“No, It’ll be fun treats along the way, when you get to a story and someones name pops up I know here”

Ibrahim felt a little nervous when their plates were finally set in front of them and he thought of everything he had done and everywhere he had been. He wondered if she would really want to hear it all. They chatted a little over breakfast and when they were full he stood and went over to her, holding out his hand. She felt her heart dance a little as she slid her hand into his and he placed it in the crook of his arm. “Would you like to walk around the lake?” He asked.

“I’d love too.”

“Remember how you would sneak off to go swimming without me?”

“I do, sorry.”

“It’s okay, you were a teenager and needed your space.”

She smiled. “You’re supposed to be talking about you, not about me.”

“Sorry, I just can’t help myself, there are a lot of memories here.

“I was so young when you brought me here” They walked outside into the warmth of summer and ambled toward the lake. There wasn’t a summer growing up she hadn’t come out here, she had already come a few times this year, mostly without him which she now truly did regret. All he had wanted was to save her, was to give her an amazing life and she had taken that for granted. He began his first story “so, when I was sixteen my father and I had a particularly bad fight. I to this day don’t know what my mother sees in him but it is what it is. Anyway, my first adventure started because I decided to run away from home.”

“really?”

“yep, I didn’t see them again until I was ninteen but that’s getting ahead of myself in the story” Edmonia listened intently, finding herself completely wrapped up in his story, He went from that one and had himself back home at ninteen by the time lunch rolled around and they were setting up for a picnic “he did not” Edmonia said and Ibrahim chuckled “he did, I know you think some of your behavior was childish over the years but you really need to see my father. I swear that man is still ten years old within. My mother was worth coming back for though so I did. I missed her and despite how much my father urked me it was worth tolerating him for her.”

“and she’s still with him?”

“yes”

“crazy” They now had their food and were eating as they talked “so I need to hear more, please Ibrahim, tell me of your next adventure unless you just want to tell me about being home for awhile”

“another adventure would be better. Just imagine a lot more moments of my father being a child and me going off with my mother and having a good time in town”

“so, how did your next adventure come to unfold?” his heart stuttered again as he gazed into her amazing brown eyes. They were so light, so eager. He talked non stop that day, amazed and touched she didn’t grow tired of his stories. It was incredibly late when he said “we should go to bed Edmonia, there is always tomorrow”

“I’m supposed to go to bed when you’re laying in a forest, left for dead? I don’t think so” she blushed “sorry, um..you can go.” he chuckled “I can tell you a bit more”

“No, no, after all these years the last thing I have the right to be is demanding of your time. You’ve been right here, rooms away from me and it’s my fault I’m just now hearing this” It was a bold suggestion but he made it anyway “I could go with you to your room and lay with you, continuing the story until you’re sound asleep”

“You have to be tired”

“I’m wide awake”

Chapter Three

“Okay then, as long as you’re sure.”

“I’m very sure.”

He followed her to her room and waited while she changed into her nightgown before going in. He gave her a soft smile and she blushed as she got in bed and he settled in next to her, pulling her into his arms. He was happy when she relaxed into him, her head resting on his shoulder and her hand on his chest. He was sure she could feel his quickening heart. “So, what happened?”

“That’s how I met Jace.”

“He wasn’t always a horse trainer?”

“No, he used to live out in the wilds, almost like a lord of the forest. I was laying there, thinking that was it, this was how I was going to die. I had never been so cold or terrified in my life. He just came out of nowhere, almost like a ghost, I even thought I was hallucinating, but he was real and he saved my life. If it hadn’t been for him, I might not be here.”

“I’ll have to thank him.”

He felt his heart dance. “So he took me to his home, this cabin he had built with his own two hands, he bandaged me up, fed me and gave me clothes. He didn’t talk much then, but he really didn’t have to. We communicated just fine.”

“How did you get him to open up and be more talkative?”

“I just think at first he wasn’t used to having someone to talk to. Since coming here with me there’s always people around and you know how talkative Idella is”

“Yeah, it’s how she became my best friend though. I wouldn’t talk to anybody at first but she wasn’t having that. Sometimes she’d just sort of talk at me and I learned I needed to talk to her a bit to make her go away. I’m happy she sort of pushed things between us though. I’ve grown so fond of her”

“she’s stubborn, but you wouldn’t know anything about being stubborn would you?” he chuckled and Edmonia blushed. “I’m happy you’ve grown up with such a spirit Edmonia” her heart began ti beat a little faster at his words. He spoke so warmly and it felt incredible to be laying with him like this “Ibrahim..um…” she wanted to ask him to just stay in there tonight but she felt so nervous that she couldn’t.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, just, what happened after you were better?”

“I found the guys who left me there, Jace followed me, and we had a little talk.”

“A fist fight you mean.”

He chuckled. “Jace and I have very different fighting syles, I’m a bit more on the graceful side where he fights like an animal. I’ve never seen men run so fast. He managed to catch one of them and forced him to tell us where the things they had stolen from were. He squealed on his friends like that.” He snapped his fingers. “We went to their hideout after and reclaimed what was mine.” He laughed. “If there is anyone I would want watching my back in a fight, it’s him.”

“How long did you two travel together?”

“A couple of years, he went where I went, and though he probably won’t admit it, he worried about me going off on my own.” He ran his fingers lovingly through her hair. “You should get to sleep or you’ll be too tired in the morning.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“You alright?” He pulled back so he could look into her eyes.

“Yeah, just…well…could you maybe stay? I know it’s asking a lot, but…um…would it be too much trouble?”

His voice almost caught in his throat ‘I’m so comfortable like this I was hoping you’d ask. I truly do love you Edmonia, with all of my soul” She had gotten through the awkwardness of asking him to stay the night in her room and it gave her the confidence to ask “love as in romantically or love as in a daughter?”

“Romantically…if that makes you uncomfortable and you want me to leave I will”

“I..I still want you to stay…I..I was just curious” He held her a little tighter “goodnight beautiful”

“Goodnight Ibrahim” He struggled to fall asleep, to him he had a goddess in his arms and he wanted to savor this contact while he could. She could still very well leave and crush his heart into a million pieces. He honestly didn’t know if his heart could handle yet another tremendous loss and hers would compare to loseing his wife and son. She meant that much to him. When morning came he hadn’t gotten all that much sleep but the energy he felt surging through him from happiness of getting to spend the night holding her had him feeling like he could do anything. There wasn’t any limit to his spirits and vitality today.

They decided to return to the lake today to simply enjoy the feel of the water while he continued telling her of his life before settling down to be a parent to his son. He had so much to tell her he still wasn’t done the morning of her eighteenth birthday. Today the topic would be her final answer, would she stay, would she leave his side or would she allow him to travel with her if adventure was something she craved. He was getting up to find clothes and change when she sat up, he had thought she was sleeping “I wont keep you waiting”

“:hm?”

“with my answer…I decided last night I would make myself tell you what I want this very morning”

“please then, what are you planning to do?”

“you’d really come with me on an adventure?”

“Of course I would”

“Then I’d really like to experience the world if thats okay. I’d like you to come with me to anywhere. I don’t care as long as I get to see whats out there”

“everything is already set. I’ll call a meeting to let my staff know. This is your home right? You plan for the both of us to return one day”

“come back here please” he obeyed, sitting on the bed. She pulled him into a kiss. When their lips parted she said in a hushed voice “I love you too” a few tears escaped his eyes and he kissed her again, his fingers tangling in her hair.It took them much longer to stop this time but when they did she said “this is my home and I’m finally grateful for that. I want to go on an adventure but I will always return here with you Ibrahim”

“I’m going to make you so happy Edmonia, I swear it”

“You’ve shown me all these years your character Ibrahim. Thats why I love you too” the two wound up kissing again, this time only stopping when a servant came to check on them “your breakfast is getting cold guys” she called on the other side of the door.

Edmonia couldn’t help but laugh at the look of disappointment on his face and he would have kissed her senseless if it wasn’t for breakfast. Once they were dressed and at the table, he asked Idella to call everyone together and asked that they join them for breakfast. When everyone was seated, Ibrahim said, “Edmonia and I have decided to go adventuring for a time and we’re not sure when we’ll be back. This house belongs to all of you, so feel free to stay or if you like please take some time off.”

“You two are going alone?” Jace asked.

“We’ll be safe my friend.” Jace opened his mouth to say something else, but closed it again. Ibrahim could tell he didn’t want to be a nag. “We’ll have weapons and we’ll write so you know we’re safe.”

“I want a letter sent out from a every village you stop at.” Idella said. “I don’t care if they’re only a few miles apart.”

“I’ll make sure we do.” Edmonia replied, trying to ease the worries of everyone in the room. She knew how much they loved Ibrahim and even how much they had come to love her.

“You’ll both be missed and I can’t wait for your return. Are there any other announcements? You two seem a little extra happy” Edmonia blushed and Ibrahim answered happily “she loves me too. we are together now”

“I was hoping it was that. Be safe and mindful on your journey. I can take time off happily knowing you two are together as you should be” Edmonia rose from her seat and walked over to hug Idella “Thank you for pushing me to talk to him”

“I just wanted what would make you both happiest. You two are more meant to be than you realize.” It wasn’t long after breakfast that their carriage was loaded and they were ready to set off down the road. Idella reminded them a few more times to write home and Edmonia could have sworn she was crying as the cart began to move “they are all such good people Ibrahim”

“They are but I can’t wait for this time of it just being the two of us. It’s going to be amazing. I’ve missed being on the road” and so they went, no particular destination in sight and no plans of when they would return to Ibrahims home. It was the start of a tremendous relationship and life changing experiences they would treasure forever.

~ The End

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