Tancred and Crystal Cove (ch. 16)
Chapter 16; A Natural Proposal
Breakfast included stripes of rabbit-loin, toast, and eggs. The stableman had been given ingredients to whip up something for breakfast. Shinshu sat next to his father, back to the bridge, across from Bengali and Tancred.
Shinshu glanced behind him again, watching a lioness patrol the bridge, she noticed him watching her and winked. He answered with a wink, his father nudged him, and Shinshu turned back to the cooking fire.
Shofu leaned in, "Satjon scouts were unable to pick up any trace of our movements."
Taking a plate and handing it to his son, then received his plate. The rabbit bacon was incredible; the village women could season anything.
Using his nose, Shinshu, pointed to Tancred, "What is going on there?"
"Love, I think," Shofu answered, continuing to eat his eggs and bacon. Between bites, finishing his chewing, he continued, "I've only seen that look and genuine smile combo one other time. In all the time, I have known him."
Shofu smiled at his son, a movement at the other end of the bridge caught his attention, the maidens had huddled together with a few occasionally looking over at his son, unaware Shofu was watching.
Tancred had fathered no children; he loved a woman with connections to the Saxenmark crown. Her beauty was the faith behind Tancred's decision to join with the northern kingdoms, agreeing to a truce and trade alliances.
Oliander, her brother, decided to work with the Fraunki kingdom to develop the TanCred militant band to defend and bring mutual prosperity to both realms, only after she agreed to endorse his rule.
Jholjito had been named king, Jhojan defender of the crown in the new reality of Fraunki twins.
Oliander was named King of the newly formed Saxenmark kingdom in the northern arctic reaches with the TanCred aiding in the defense at Fort Riverbridge, the only vulnerable spot for the Saxenmark realm.
Shinshu jumped up and helped deliver plates to the kids.
Bengali took a plate to the forests, Tancred hesitated, but Shofu waved him on.
She smiled when he caught up with her. The two entered the cave meadow and disappeared around the corner.
Shofu drew the attention to the stableman and his bunny bacon. The little girls giggled, and the little boy got up to jump around like a rabbit and then sat back down, after noticing mom was looking.
Upon finishing, the mothers shepherded the kids to the washing quarters to clean up and begin the day.
The men cleaned up the hearth. Shinshu finished one of the little girl's bacon; she had left.
Shofu saw the patrols return to normal, the exception being a panther that now stood in the shadows on the guest side of the bridge, across from the passage opening.
Having cleaned the pit and rebuilt the hearth fire to the desired size, the men shared a shot of aged spirits from Jhojan's cabinets. A gift of scotch from the isles of Scotland on earth, bestowed upon Shofu for times such as these. A few laughs and stories were exchanged before everyone broke off.
Stableman went to join his wife, Shinshu wanted to get a nap in before going hunting later in the day, Shofu decided to visit with his horses.
Jhojan watched the pair of top officials engage in a second intense conversation. This time from the safety of his perch, he poured himself another cup of coffee.
He had retreated, arguing with Chef was to argue in vain. "Larissa came and got me, seeing the waves of hungry men rushing into the tavern," he said, placing his apron around his neck.
"I thought business as usual, I saw him on his porch. Then mentioned the soldiers had returned. He hopped up and followed me," Larissa said when Jhojan inquired.
It was true the overwhelming number of soldiers on land strained resources, but it was sustainable. Jhojan had enough of a sample size to calculate the stress on the tavern's resources.
Jovinus allowed his men to fill their bellies and drink to contentment. He ate a whole roast chicken himself before sucking his fingers to stand and address his men.
"We will be engaging in exploration missions to find the traveling stones, allowing us to go home!" He said aloud; the men celebrated the idea with cheers.
" Upon returning, we will conquer the earth and rule as the superior immortal race!" To this, the soldiers lost it, drunk on the idea of world domination and living in slave-run luxury.
Jovinus had loaded them up with dreams of glory, thoughts of endless riches, and unchecked power.
The sight was unsettling; the table maids came upstairs to hide on the couches and remove themselves from the ruckus. Chef had closed the kitchen with Jhojan earlier, deciding enough food had been cooked. Jhojan thanked him, and the older man gratefully went home.
Bengali took Tancred's hand and pulled him to a secluded cave of intimate size. A single thread of light pierced the darkness; the beam lit the canopy of a single deciduous tree.
The sound of the ocean echoed in the cave, waves slapping upon the cliffsides, playing a rhythmic tune. Vines grew everywhere, thick as ropes.
She left him to take it all in, to spin and dance her way to the tree.
The sight was awe-inspiring, a cathedral to the island creator. Nature had outdone herself with this place.
Bengali wrapped around the tree and looked out at an open-mouthed Tancred, a steamy expression of 'get over here,' plain on her face.
He obliged, jogging the distance to the tree and stepping up close. Feeling her warmth had become a new habit, he enjoyed more and more as time went by.
She peered into those ageless eyes, taking in the depths of his pupils.
Those eyes steadily looked back into hers, happy to look upon her beauty. She retook his hand and placed it on her chest, resting it on the softness beneath her tunic.
He continued to look into her eyes, asking permission. She looked down and back up, eyes pleading for him to move forward.
He pulled her close, kissing her and untying the cords to her tunic, slipping it off her hips and unto the ground. Her beauty was precisely placed in the Eden he found himself in. Her naked body responded to his touch, to which she reached out to take off his shirt.
Then paused, sudden worry crossing her face.
He gently lifted her chin; she had looked away to the passage leading home.
"What is it?" He asked, barely above a whisper. She nervously put her arms around his neck, pressing her body against his.
"This is the marriage tree, " he pulled her closer, "we bring potential life partners here if we are lucky enough to find you, to offer ourselves to ..." She moved her chin flat upon his chest, looking up; he loosened his grip to look at her. "Will you accept being married to me?"
He didn't hesitate and kissed her, hand resting on her hips. She attempted to undo his lower clothing until he pulled it apart with years of experience.
She pulled him close and down to the soft tree moss, disregarding his garments, and he accepted her marriage proposal.