The Key to Finding | Teen Ink

The Key to Finding

January 15, 2013
By Starblaze, Raleigh, North Carolina
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Starblaze, Raleigh, North Carolina
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Sprinting against the heat of the summer sun, two horses galloped hard into the village of Deltoris. As they slowed down to the main square, a lady clad in black and purple dismounted from the white mare and surveyed the small town. Scanning from the hustle and bustle of the villagers to the bright blue banners with white crescents sketched upon, she grinned back at the others still perched on the horses.

Well, I think we're safe here. We can restock our supplies and head on our way by nightfall.”

The young man on the black stallion dismounted then, helping the child and his caretaker off the white mare before retorting, “Safe? There are guards and wanted posters of you at every corner, and you think it's safe. Have you lost your sense of caution, mercenary?”

The caretaker spoke.

“The nobleman's right Dacia, we can't afford to get Xandelar hurt.”

She looked worriedly at the young boy.

The nobleman scowled at the other woman before rolling his eyes. The worried woman shot a glare at the nobleman who clearly did not have any feeling of caution towards the young boy.

The mercenary, Dacia Willowhaven, however, waved her hand dismissively.

“Calm down, Zan, Mericenne, can't you see? This village is celebrating the Festival of the Moon. I've heard it's in honor of the heir of Lunaria. As long as we blend in with the rest of the villagers, I'm sure the guards won't take a second look at us. Besides...I thought since there's a festival going on, perhaps someone here can tell us about Xandelar.”

Dacia glanced at the caretaker. Mericenne sighed before hoisting up the five year old boy and walking off. Ever since the nobleman and the mercenary had rescued her and the young boy, Mericenne and Xandelar could not remember a single thing about what had happened before they were rescued. Although the woman and the young boy had put an unexpected detour in the planned bargain between the nobleman and the mercenary, Dacia was quite adamant to help the stranded pair in finding their homes, especially Xandelar's. Zan wasn't particularly joyous with the fact that he would be stuck on the road longer than he had planned, but the nobleman relented and the journey to find Xandelar's origins had become the main priority since.

Zan stared incredulously at the caretaker before crying out, where are you going now?”

Mericenne glared at the nobleman.

“Off to blend in with the villagers.”

She pointed at her and Xandelar's tattered clothing. Zan sighed before tossing a bag of coins to the woman.

“Well, don't take too long.” he ordered. Then he noticed Dacia following the boy and the caretaker and spluttered, you too?!

The mercenary winked and stated, “You should come with us. You're too noticeable in your fine attire.”

Zan looked at his clothing. Gold and silver were embroidered on his delicate green vest and navy trousers. The nobleman sighed.

“Alright, but we'd better not take too long. Our first priority's the boy.”

Dacia giggled and dragged the poor nobleman towards the clothes shop, Mericenne and Xandelar in tow.

It was an extremely painful awhile before Zan was finally out of the clothes shop. He groaned as he pulled on the itchy white commoner's shirt. The blue vest and brown trousers weren't helping either. Luckily, the mercenary let him keep his boots, before ruffling his hair and running out of the shop, laughing at his discomfort.

Now, he was finally back out in the main square, wondering where in the Realm was that reckless mercenary. He walked his way back to the horses when he felt a small tug on his leg. He looked down and behind. A young boy with wild white hair and midnight blue eyes grinned at him as he gleefully cried out, “Zan!”

Zan stared.


The boy nodded. Zan blinked a few times. The boy was wearing an exact replica of Zan's, except unlike Zan, Xandelar looked like royalty. Zan was pulled out of his reverie by a shrill voice of panic. He ran a hand through his silky black hair, now starting to roughen, thanks to that reckless mercenary.


A young woman clad in a periwinkle and lavender dress scurried around the crowds. Her braided auburn hair billowed around her and her green eyes, usually clear, were now clouded with worry as her hands cupped her mouth, shouting the boy's name. Zan sighed. No matter how different that woman dressed or styled herself in, he was never going to not recognize the caretaker.

“Mericenne!”, Zan shouted to the caretaker, as he waved a hand and hoisted Xandelar, the boy's right here!”

Mericenne located the two and upon spotting Xandelar, her eyes were full of relief as she dashed right over, plucked the boy right out of Zan's arms, and hugged him to death. Forgetting all about the nobleman's presence, the caretaker gently scolded the young boy while planting sweet kisses on the young boy's forehead. Zan rolled his eyes before setting his eyes back around the villagers.

Where was that mercenary? Didn't he just told her not to take so long?

As if she knew what he was thinking, an excited voice had the nobleman whirl around.

“Someone looking for me?”

Zan was about to give an angry retort of Yes, where in the Realm were you?!, when he took one look at her and suddenly stopped and stared.

Zan didn't know how to describe her, but there was something about Dacia Willowhaven that made her utterly...well, different. The mercenary was clothed in a pale orange and yellow dress, her dark hair sweeping behind, and her fire-colored eyes gazed intensely into his mud brown ones. But it wasn't her dress that surprised him. Nor her eyes or that wickedly smooth smile of hers. No, it was her..

“Your hair! You've straightened it!”, cried Mericenne. Dacia shot the caretaker a sheepish smile. Zan took a double take on the mercenary's hair. The caretaker was right. What used to be curled ringlets and frizzy strands were now altered; in their place were shiny silky dark waves. Xandelar clapped gleefully, saying, “Dacia looks pretty!” as the mercenary took him into her arms. Dacia smiled and ruffled the boy's hair, never noticing the nobleman's stare.

Mericenne smiled at the mercenary. She was a cunning woman after all then. She smiled as she and Xandelar complimented on the mercenary's cunning as well as her beauty. The mercenary, being a woman of flattery, graciously (yet with a little pride) accepted the comments with ease. However, a cough erupted from the nobleman and everyone turned to see what he wanted. Mericenne blinked. The expression that nobleman now held as he flitted his gaze from Dacia to the ground was one the caretaker had never seen.

Usually, the nobleman held faces of laziness and authority; at Xandelar, it was mostly just uncertainty (for he never knew how to deal with little kids); at her, it was always a heated clash between the two that always arose the reactions of anger and exasperation; and usually at the mercenary, it was discomfort or weariness.

Not this time.

The nobleman coughed again and the mercenary raised her eyebrows questioningly.

“Yes, what is it?”

The nobleman took a deep breath before gazing his mud brown orbs into Dacia's and stammered, “You look...beautiful.”

Xandelar, being a child, only beamed at the nobleman's words, but Mericenne, and especially Dacia, jerked back a little in surprise.

Mericenne watched with surprise as she studied the nobleman's face. His cheeks was tinged red and his eyes; it held emotions of surprise, awkwardness, nervousness...

She couldn't be certain, but was that last emotion...affection?

The caretaker turned to look at Dacia. Sure enough, the mercenary's reactions were also a bit of a surprise. Instead of the usual flattered grin, the girl's eyes were soft and her cheeks were also in flames.

Darting her eyes to the ground, Dacia Willowhaven whispered in an embarrassed yet modest tone completely unlike her character.

“T-thank you.”

As if noticing the tension, Xandelar screamed in Dacia's arms as he cried out for his caretaker. The embarrassed expressions on the Zan and Dacia disappeared as Zan looked in horror at the boy and Dacia hurriedly handed the child to Mericenne. When the child calmed down, Zan walked back to the horses and tied the reins of Dacia's mare as well as the reins of his own stallion to a post before striding back to the others..

Commanding with his once more authoritative tone, Zan ordered, “Well then, let's go and find supplies for the rest of this insanely long journey.”

Mericenne, with Xandelar still in her arms, followed after the nobleman as Dacia trailed behind.

After hauling all the supplies on the packs of both horses, Zan slid his hands together gently as he eased the pain from carrying all the heavy stuff.

Being a commoner wasn't easy!

Zan winced as he felt the pain again. Being a nobleman, he had never do a single bone-breaking chore in his life, and was quite humiliated when Dacia looked at him and laughed, before taking all of the supplies into her hands and skipped to the horses with ease.

Mericenne had apparently watched and scolded him afterward about how he was not being a gentleman by letting a woman do all the work. Zan lamely defended himself before the mere scolding became another heated feud between the two, with Zan ending it as he threw his hands up in the air in defeat before grumbling away into the crowd. The caretaker just glared at his back before walking primly away to the where the young boy was at.

Or, where he used to be at.

Oblivious to the tension that had happened, Xandelar had been drawing chalk pictures with the village children and was quite happy in doing so. He hadn't had this much freedom in his five years of living! And boy, was chalk drawing ever so much fun! He grinned cheekily as he finished his drawing, a truly artistic rendering of the white and blue crescent banner he'd seen earlier. He wiped his face with his sleeve before looking around. He frowned.

Hmm, where did they go? He looked at all the adults. No Zan, no Dacia, and no Meri. The young boy shrugged. Perhaps they were getting some more stuff. He was about to start another amazing chalk drawing before something interesting caught his attention. Whirling around, the young boy stared at the source with an open mouth, and started to take a step forward when a thought struck him. He bit his lip before looking back into the crowds.

What if he left and Meri, or Zan, or Dacia, came back to think he was lost? That wouldn't be quite good then. And although he didn't know who he was, somewhere deep inside, Xandelar remembered someone teaching him that good decisions make a good prince...or was it person? He dismissed the memory but kept pondering on his current dilemma.

But then again, as he stared at the magnificent object, already floating away from him, they won't be back so quickly. I have time.

And with a regretful but wild smile on his face, the young boy dashed off, eager to obtain the magnificent object that caught his eye's attention.

Dacia Willowhaven had finished her roundabouts of the village and was heading back to the main square. She sighed, not in exasperation, but in anticipation.

After finishing hauling the supplies, she had gone and asked random villagers about the festival and anything about the prince. Although all the villagers knew about the festival, they explained that, since Deltoris was quite faraway from the palace, the king and queen had only visited once with their baby son, but no one knew what the prince looked like now. Dacia humbly thanked the villagers and was about to give up when an old woman hobbled over to her and shook her arm. Dacia turned curiously to the old woman.

“How may I help you, madam?”

The old woman's eyes gleamed as she croaked, “You are the girl who has been asking about our prince.” Dacia, surprised, nodded.

“Yes, I am. I suppose you know about him?”

The old woman smiled triumphantly and pointed a bony finger in the direction to the main square. Dacia looked in the direction of the finger as she listened to the old woman's instructions.

“There is a is a picture of the king and queen, with their young boy. Go and see if the boy in the mural matches the young boy that is venturing with you and the others...”

Dacia's eyed widened in shock at the old woman's words, turned around, and whispered, “How did you know?”...before stopping as she noticed the old woman had disappeared. Dacia looked around the crowd for any sight of the old woman, but she wasn't to be seen.

Shaking her head, Dacia strode in the direction the old woman had instructed her to: the main square.

Now at the main square, Dacia peered her eyes and searched for any huge paintings. Sure enough, at the far end of the main square, Dacia spotted a huge mural of a royal couple with the woman holding a baby in her arms. Dacia went up and studied the face of the baby. What she discovered made her blood run cold and she gasped in shock.

The baby in the painting, although younger, held a familiar resemblance in accordance to his face. The wild white hair, the blazing midnight blue eyes, the joy apparent in his couldn't be.

Stumbling back from the painting, Dacia desperately turned around and sought in vain for the face, only to find Zan walking back to the horses, his face twisted into an angry mask. But she couldn't care about that right now, not with the discovery she made! Quickly, Dacia ran to the grumbling nobleman. Giggling as she ran, she wondered how many more secrets she would discover on their trip.

Still grumbling, Zan the nobleman was not at all pleased when he felt a huge weight collide into him. He turned and glared at the figure, then sighed when he realized it was only the mercenary. He pulled himself away from her before scolding.

“There you are! Where in the Realm have you been? All the supplies are packed. Find the boy and his stupid caretaker and let's get out of here.” he ordered irritably, still quite furious from an earlier heated dispute with the caretaker. However, Dacia, seemingly oblivious to the nobleman's suffering, widened her eyes and gripped his arm.

“What? NO! We can't leave! Not yet!”

Zan groaned and gently weaseled out of her firm grip before rubbing his ears. For the sake of Saheli, the girl practically hollered in his ear!

“Alright, alright, we won't leave. Although at least tell me why.”

Hearing him ask why, Zan raised his eyebrows in question as the mercenary grinned and dragged him over to the mural. She pointed at the baby in the painting.

“Tell me who this reminds you of.”

Zan rolled his eyes, thinking it was some kind of a prank. However, he relented and did as the girl asked, seeing such a hopeful look on her face. After studying the baby's face, a realization dawned and he look at a grinning Dacia in awe and astonishment.

“Tell me this is not-” he started.

“But it is!” Dacia interrupted.

Zan shook his head. How in the Realm could it be?

“Where is he? And where is Mericenne? They have to know!”, cried out Dacia.

The mercenary's face took on a gleeful look, and to his surprise, she started bouncing up and down like a child before stopping and waving her hand over to a familiar figure.

“Mericenne!” Dacia called out eagerly. The caretaker saw and began running over. Zan would have refused to look at her, if he didn't notice the wild desperation in her eyes as tears clung to her face.

Dacia's face turned into worry as Mericenne crashed into the mercenary's arms, sobbing. Dacia comfortingly patted the caretaker's back in soothing circles as she asked, “Mericenne, what's wrong?”

Mericenne's words were muffled, but Zan could make out the words, Xandelar, chalk drawing, went back, not there, lost, and my fault. Dacia looked at Zan.

Zan sighed. Great Saheli, the boy wandered off again, this time getting himself lost. He started muttering under his breath while the caretaker still cried. He was trying to formulate a plan, but the woman's sobs kept distracting him. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore.

“For Saheli's sake woman! How can I come up with a plan when all I can hear is your incessant weeping?” he growled.

At this, Mericenne stopped her cries, but glared ferociously at him though red puffy eyes before sending a strong whack on his arm.

“This is all YOUR fault, you reckless nobleman!” the caretaker roared.

Wincing, Zan glared back at the caretaker.

“What was that for woman?! And what do you mean it's my fault? You're the boy's caretaker! Why did you leave him?”

“You told me to! You suggested I leave him with the village children when I strongly denied it, knowing this could happen! But no! You just had to make me leave him there!”

Zan glared while Mericenne glared back. Apparently, this fight wasn't over just yet.

Dacia nervously chuckled as she watched Zan and Mericenne go head to head on their latest clash. The nobleman and the caretaker were glaring at one another, they faces so close that they were practically nose to nose; however neither of them were aware of it. They were too angry at each other. Stepping gently between the two, Dacia used both of her hands to push away the nobleman and the caretaker away from each other.

“Alright, that's enough. We can't keep childishly arguing like this, not when we need to find Xandelar.”

Zan and Mericenne reluctantly tore their angry gazes away from each other. As Zan started pacing, Dacia noticed Mericenne deep in thought before a sudden smile graced her face. Dacia smiled.
“Do you have an idea, Mericenne?”

Zan looked up from his thinking and glared at the caretaker. Mericenne ignored his death gaze and turned her attention to the mercenary. She smiled.

“In fact, I do. It's going to be a long shot, but I have figured out a way to coax Xandelar back from his wandering without us trying to risk ourselves in trying to look all over the village for him.”

Zan rolled his eyes.

“And that would be?...the nobleman pointedly asked.

Mericenne turned her gaze at him and grinned. Zan, noticing her smile (which was odd, because she never smiled at him), frowned and took a little step back.

Zan and Dacia followed the caretaker's gaze until she pointed at the musicians, who were idly standing in the main square but not playing.

“There. That's how we'll get Xandelar to come back. With music.”

Dacia and Zan exchanged a glance.

“Music?” Dacia asked curiously.

Mericenne nodded and grinned.

“Xandelar loves music. If he hears it, he always comes, no matter how faraway. But I'm afraid since we don't know where he is, we have to make the music loud and everyone involved, or else he might not hear it.”

Zan groaned and closed his eyes. How were they going to accomplish that?

Dacia grinned however. Starting up something was always her specialty. She quickly disappeared and before Zan had figured out a plan, he was surprised to hear music play. He opened his eyes to see what had happened, and he was even more surprised.

And quite bedazzled.

There standing in the center of what was a large crowd of villagers circling her, was Dacia. She twirling around; her feet jumping step to step on the cobblestones, her hips swinging from side to side, and her hands flailing in the air as she swirled gracefully.

“Wow, I'm impressed. Dacia's quite the dancer, is she not?”, Mericenne came up to him and asked. However, Zan barely noticed her or the fact that he was still angry at the woman from their heated feud as he fixed his eyes on the dancing mercenary before him.

“She is...” he said, breathlessly.

Dacia wasn't really a dancer, but she figured that it was the only way for the village to make enough noise for Xandelar to hear. So she came up to the musicians, whispered in their ear to play a childhood tune she had remembered, and off to the center of the main square she danced, as she traced her movements to fit with the large crescent engraved on the cobblestones under her feet.

And wow, she didn't really think dancing would be this much fun. The movements were all so familiar, as she glided and twirled across the cobblestone.

Noticing that a large crowd had formed, she quickly spotted a young girl and danced over to her before pulling her into the center, where they both danced in the fading sunlight. Then, she grabbed a young man's arms, his friend laughing. Then a couple's arms, and they in turn pulled others into the center too. Then Dacia linked her arms as she pulled a young woman, both of them softly giggling as the joined the rest of the dancing villagers. The villagers followed Dacia as she moved her feet to trace the outline of the crescent, before fanning out into numerous circles. The villagers that weren't dancing loudly clapped their hands in the air in time to the musical beat.

Dacia was having so much fun. So much fun, she forgot the current situation at the moment, as her head felt lightheaded and overexcited.

Suddenly, finding Xandelar wasn't very urgent anymore.

Mericenne giggled as she watched Dacia dance, pulling in villagers of all sorts to join her. The raven-haired girl was beaming as she laughed and closed her eyes to feel the pure melody of the song. As the sun faded, its red and orange rays reflected off of Dacia. Her dress illuminated to the stunning rich colors of fire while her hair softened to the same mud brown as Zan's eyes. Dacia was like a queen of fire. The music somehow became louder and clapping eventually ensued. She noticed Zan's stare become a smile as he watched her intently.

After a few minutes, Dacia finally noticed them and seeming to pivot her attention towards the nobleman more, smiled imploringly for him to join with the beckoning of her hand as she was again pulled into the tangy rhythm.

Mericenne glanced and rolled her eyes as the nobleman shook his head and smiled. Feeling traitorous from remembering the exchange between the nobleman and the mercenary, Mericenne pushed a startled Zan into the dancing crowd, where he glared at her before being quickly pulled away by a dancing girl.

Mericenne just laughed before walking away to look at an interesting painting. As she stared from the king to the queen and finally to the child in the woman's arms, she gasped.

Mericenne turned quickly to the dancing crowd, spotting out Zan, and finally Dacia, as her expression turned one into worry once again.

Oh please Xandelar, please hear this.
Little did his caretaker know, Xandelar was only a street or two away from the main square, finally obtaining his magnificent object after having chased after it so long and pleading the huge man if he could take it. The huge seller chuckled and handed Xandelar the magnificent object before ruffling his hair.

Grinning, Xandelar decided to test his prize by holding it out to the wind, where it spun, reflecting off its dazzling sparkly colors. The boy giggled before he suddenly stopped and turned back in the direction he had came from.

A slight sound of festivity could be heard from the main square. The sound of flutes, fiddles, drums...and did he also happen to hear clapping and the glorious laughs of people?

Xandelar's eyes widened.

Could it

Thanking the huge man, Xandelar rushed back to the main square, eager to hear more of the melodious harmony he was hearing.

The sun had completely faded now, its glorious rays of light gone and disappeared. The village lights had lit by now and a white crescent moon shined high in the sky.

However, Zan wasn't in the least bit tired as he spun and twirled amongst the villagers. If he was being completely honest, he would rather admit he was having fun. He smiled. Maybe that caretaker did a right thing by pushing him into the crowd. He was actually staring to loosen up as Dacia had termed the word earlier in their journey.

Zan was an extremely good dancer, but this fast and flighty tune was not something one would find in the ballrooms of royal courts. No, Zan, had never quite danced to this pace, but seeing the reckless mercenary dance to her heart's delight ignited a funny feeling in his stomach, and that caretaker didn't make things better when she pushed him into the crowd. He actually didn't like dancing, and never did want to dance, finding the sight of the mercenary dancing oddly enough, satisfying.

Yet, he thought, as he was plunged into the intense rhythm of the song, he didn't mind the dancing so long as she was dancing. Seeing her delighted expression as they were both twirling into the insanely addicting melody, he saw her reach out her hand and in turn he reached out his as they tried to link hands, only for them to be held and pulled away from each other at the last second.

Dacia shot him an apologetic smile as she whirled around and he couldn't help but sincerely smile back, all the while his eyes following her.

And through all that dancing and smiling and staring, Zan the nobleman apparently lost track of the guards and the sense of urgency for finding the young boy, as his soul was being lifted into ecstasy and joy.

Mericenne went back to watch the finale of the dance. She was surprised to find the villagers absorbed in the heat of the rhythm, especially Dacia. The mercenary leaped and kicked her right leg high into the air then spun around before skipping back into the usual twirl.

The tempo of the music became faster as the musicians picked up a fervent pace and the villagers danced at a faster speed. Mericenne watched as Zan was twirling a young maiden in his arms, but was more amused at his eyes that kept following the beautiful mercenary.

Mericenne softly laughed and clapped along as she allowed herself to enjoy the fast tempo of the song, momentarily lowering her guard as she forgot all about the young boy she was supposed to take care of.

As the music was speeding to reach its climax, the dancers' steps became frenzied with delight and anticipation.

Dacia was twirling and twirling and deciding to feel the intense heat of the beat, she extended her head back and closed her eyes once more as she absorbed herself in the melody, not quite noticing (or caring for that matter) where she might end up, despite being lightheaded. Little did she know, her risky carefree act would give her the biggest surprise of her life.

Meanwhile, Zan was stuck again in the arms of some random young maiden, desperately wishing for an odd reason, that the reckless mercenary was in his arms instead. The music had just picked up pace, and the people dizzily twirled and she spun even more closer before being out of reach once again, to his eternal frustration.

However, he kept an eye on her and his eyes momentarily widened in soft surprise as he watched her twirl by herself, her eyes closed and her head extended back a little, with no sense of where she's going. But the calm demeanor in her stance and the radiance in her smile suddenly mattered much more to Zan, and he found himself laughing a little, much to the surprise of his dance partner.

The author's comments:
Characters: Zan Silvermoon- a lazy nobleman from Lunaria. He's very fond of the plush lifestyle of a noble so he's not exactly happy when he's stuck doing commoner work. Dacia Willowhaven - Lunaria's most wanted mercenary. A bright albeit reckless girl, she's just a magnet for trouble. Xandelar - the 5 year old prince of Lunaria. He loves music, dancing, and things that spin in the air. He also really loves wandering off. Mericenne - the overprotective caretaker of Xandelar. Apparently her mothering the five year old boy puts her and Zan into too many heated arguments.

Mericenne was expecting this, but she wasn't really expecting it to happen like this. She watched Dacia twirling and whirling blindly, her arms circling above. She watched Zan, whose focus was momentarily not on the mercenary for once as he chuckled to himself, was about to collide into the blind Dacia as his dance partner let go of him. She noticed that the other villagers had stopped dancing and dispersed to the edge of the crowd, leaving only the nobleman and mercenary to disastrously collide into one another. Mericenne winced and shut her eyes for the disaster to awaken and the nice memory of the dance to shatter when cheering and whistling was heard instead.

Confused, Mericenne opened her eyes to find...a startling sight.

Zan and Dacia had apparently found themselves in a compromising position. The nobleman and the mercenary were pressed against each other very tightly, their faces mere inches away, sweating, smiling, and grinning breathlessly at one another.

Instead of crashing into each other, Dacia had opened her eyes at the last second to rest her hand in Zan's while the other went on his shoulder. She looked baffled for a moment before locking gazes with Zan and grinning widely.

Zan on the other hand found himself to cup Dacia's rugged hand in his while the other one went to place itself on her inviting waist. He looked quite stunned as he stared breathlessly at the grinning mercenary.

And Mericenne was quite surprised when the pair didn't remove their hands off each other as soon as the music stopped. She watched amusingly as the pair became stuck in their own world, ignoring the cheer and whistles from the crowd. Zan's eyes, mud brown as ever, softened as he looked deep into Dacia's fiery orbs. Dacia's breath hitched and Mericenne could see the nobleman's face inch closer and closer to the mercenary's until...

“WOW! You two were amazing!” shouted a high-pitched voice from the crowd. A familiar high-pitched voice.

Apparently, the voice was strong enough do the trick, because in an instant, Zan and Dacia stopped staring at one another and looked wildly at the source of the voice, which happened to be a little boy.

Realizing it was the five year old boy in their group, Zan and Dacia's eyes bulged in surprise and in unison the pair cried out, “Xandelar?!”

Then, realizing even more the close position they were in, the nobleman and the mercenary let go of each other and blushed. Zan's hands were at his sides while Dacia's cupped hers at the front very shyly. The oblivious five year old just beamed and waved at them. Zan and Dacia sheepishly smiled at each other before looking away, at anywhere and everywhere except at each other.

Meanwhile, Mericenne forgot all about the dancing duo as she did a double take before her eyes reached a small figure.

Tousled white hair, midnight blue eyes that blazed with awe, the cheeky smile...

“XANDELAR!” cried Mericenne, as she shoved her way through the crowd and pulled the baffled little boy into a tight embrace.

“Hello Meri!” replied the little boy. He beamed at her.

“Where in the Realm were you?! We were worried sick!” she exclaimed as she planted quick kisses at his forehead. Xandelar only giggled and held out a shiny pinwheel for her.

“Sorry I worried you. I saw a magnificent object so I went to get it? See, isn't it magnificent?” the young boy asked as the pinwheel gently spun in the nighttime air.

Zan widened his eyes at the sight of the pinwheel. They went through all that trouble...and the boy went off to find a pinwheel?! The nobleman groaned. Dacia covered her mouth in attempt to stifle her giggle while Mericenne could only laugh and hug the boy again for his foolishness.

“Well, now that we got Xandelar back, I suppose you saw the mural.The nobleman's voice boomed as he and the mercenary came up. Mericenne nodded.

“We need to get him to Anvron, the capital of Lunaria.”

Xandelar cocked his head to one side as he looked curiously from the nobleman to his caretaker.

“Why do we need to go to the capital, Meri?” the boy asked.

Before Mericenne could reply, the nobleman stuck out a hand and ruffled the boy's wild hair, stating, because we found out who you are, and we need to get you back to your home. Your parents are worried sick. We best hurry along, we wouldn't want to worry Mother and Father too much, right, Your Highness?”

Dacia and Mericenne giggled at a confused Xandelar, who wondered why all of the sudden the nobleman was calling him that.

Walking away, the group led their horses out to Deltoris' main gate. Dacia mounted on Gwenna while Zan helped hoist Mericenne and Xandelar behind the mercenary. The nobleman mounted on his own stallion afterward before looking up at the stars. He turned back to the others perched on the white mare.

“Anvron is due east, so we have to go this way.” Zan pointed with his finger before gripping Blastaire's reins.

“And it's a far this way, so Mericenne, make sure Xandelar gets plenty of sleep. We have a lot of ground to cover before we make it to the capital.”

Then with a loud grunt, the nobleman pulled on Blastaire's reins and spurred the black stallion to canter down the dirt lane.

Dacia, Mericenne, and Xandelar waved goodbye to the remaining villagers before Dacia too, gripped Gwenna's reins and beckoned her to follow Blastaire's footsteps. The white mare neighed and reared on its hind legs before galloping after the stallion, leaving dust in her trail.

While Mericenne held onto Dacia, Xandelar made himself comfy as he rested and fell asleep against his caretaker's chest. Mericenne smiled and kissed the young boy's forehead before gazing around at the dark sky around her.

Mericenne smiled. Today had been an interesting day. Deltoris had proved to be a handy place after all, and for several reasons. Xandelar's identity was discovered and Mericenne cherished the fact that could now remember what her and the little boy's life were like before they were lost, physically and mentally.

However, dancing had proved to be the real key.

In dancing, not only was Xandelar coaxed out from his hiding, but Zan and Dacia had discovered things about themselves that they never knew could exist in them, and hopefully, Mericenne wished, they would perhaps discover more about each other before this journey of unexpected turns and surprises would end.

Mericenne softly giggled and her laughter was carried by the wind, where it met the stars that mysteriously twinkled that night.

Who knows, perhaps there would be more dancing in the future.

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