Mark groaned. All he really wanted was to sleep for at least a week.
But this luxury was still some time away. And if Mark hoped to sleep on the journey back to Castle Lazarone he was in for a disappointment. Except that watching the incredibly huge pod of orcas cavorting beneath them as they flew was anything but disappointing. And seeing his unicorn friends become acquainted with their hitherto unknown kin was even more gratifying. However, once he reached Castle Lazarone sleeping for days was virtually what he did, while impromptu celebrations went on around him. For the whole land soon heard of the ordeals undergone by the One Marked By Willow
Once he was ready to face the world again he didnt get what was then his biggest hearts desire
Lets sit down by the fountain, Esmé suggested.
Hand in hand they strolled along an arched tunnel of white climbing roses, whose delicate perfume seemed to fill every inch of the moon-
Well, heres your moonlight and roses, he said, referring to the last time he remembered being alone with Esmé.
Esmé giggled shyly as he pulled her into his arms. She would no doubt lose this rather charming quality when theyd been married a while, he mused ruefully as she nestled her head against his shoulder.
Im afraid life isnt going to be all moonlight and roses, she murmured into his ear. Aside from leading the land back to prosperity, theres the job of bringing up Iggie.
Mark winced. Cant somebody else adopt him?
Hes my cousin, remember. As Queen of Lazaronia its my duty to bring him up.
But well have our own children. What if he tries to corrupt them? What if he succeeds?
Esmé sighed. Without a powerful restraining influence he could become another wizard Ignarius, which would be an even greater threat. Im the only one with enough of the necessary power to be the right sort of mother to him. But there is good in him
Mark shuddered. What about the Hydralons curse
He felt Esmé tense slightly. Thats not possible. Our first-
So shed been worried enough about it to consult the Chief Piksenlord! But at least Albinon knew better than to reassure her with a lie.
However, when he voiced this thought Esmé admitted reluctantly, But that was all he could tell me. He says hes tried, but the plane of foretelling is blank and silent. He claims thats a good sign, though, for only when the land is in peril has any of its inhabitants been able to foresee the future. He also agreed that raising Iggie in the royal household is the only way to channel his loyalty and powers in the right direction.
Mark sighed in a mixture of relief and contentment. Then thats settled. Now lets make the most of the moonlight and roses.
Stifling an involuntary giggle, Esmé raised her face to his.
From the centre of the fountain, where water splashed onto his upraised hands before cascading to the pond below, the smile of the statue of the infant god Seraphino seemed to grow even smugger.
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