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Branded – I



A moonlit night cast its silvery glow over the palace grounds as Galadel returned from another fruitless search for Aerin. The stars overhead seemed to mock his efforts, their distant twinkle a cruel reminder of the elusive trail that had evaded their grasp. The soldiers, despite their best efforts, found no trace, no hint of where the princess might be.

The gazebo, once a place of lively conversations and shared laughter, now stood as a poignant testament to the void left by Aerin’s absence and the tragic loss of her brother, a wound inflicted by Niamh’s cruel hand. Galadel sat there, surrounded by the echoes of memories, his heart heavy with worry for the missing princess. He traced absent circles on the stone table, lost in thought.

Elurin, his loyal friend, approached quietly and took a seat beside Galadel. The night held an air of heavy uncertainty, but Elurin’s voice cut through the silence with a determined reassurance.

“We will find her,” he declared, his eyes reflecting the unwavering conviction. “Aerin is strong, and she has a way of defying the odds.”

Galadel sighed, the weight of his unspoken feelings for Aerin pressing upon him. “If she is still alive,” he whispered, voicing the fear that lingered in the shadows of his mind.

Elurin laid a supportive hand on Galadel’s shoulder. “Have faith, my friend. We cannot lose hope. The girl is resilient, and she has allies who won’t rest until she’s safe.”

As the moonlight painted a delicate glow on their faces, Elurin hesitated for a moment before breaking the silence. “Galadel,” he began, “I’ve noticed the way you look at Aerin. You care about her a lot; that’s clear. Are you… in love with her?”

Galadel’s gaze drifted toward the moonlit horizon, and he sighed deeply. “It’s been years—many years—since the death of my wife, whom I loved dearly. For the first time in a long while, I feel something again. Aerin… she’s someone I care about deeply.”

Elurin leaned in, intrigued. “And how does Aerin feel about you? Does she share the same sentiments?”

Galadel sighed, the weight of emotions hanging heavily in the air. “She loves me, but not in the way my heart desires. One night in the forest, during my watch, we stayed up late talking. The connection felt strong, and I almost kissed her. Yet, it wasn’t the right moment for her. Aerin cares for me deeply as a friend. She was still healing from the pain of Gareth’s rejection, and I respected that. Perhaps one day, our paths will align, but for now, I’m content to be there for her as a friend. ”

Elurin nodded in silent understanding. “Love is a delicate dance, my friend. Give it time, and perhaps the steps will align in your favor. If not with Aerin, then maybe with another who is destined to share the dance with you.”

Galadel nodded, a mixture of contemplation and concern etching his features, his thoughts wandering to Aerin’s well-being. The night wind played with the strands of his golden hair, and the moonlit glow accentuated the green depths of his eyes.

The two friends sat in the gazebo, each lost in their own thoughts, united by a shared determination to bring the princess, their friend, back home. The night held its secrets, but Galadel couldn’t shake the ache in his heart, the fear that time might be slipping away.


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