Apprehension beleaguered the heart and soul of Marek, the pauper. He couldn’t find the courage to tell Princess Alythia, whose names means truthfulness and could even mean purity, his true feelings and intentions for her.
Marek’s anxiety even heightened when he noticed that Alythia seemed to be avoiding her. There are occasions that her enthusiasm in meeting him seemed to have waned.
“Perhaps she’s just busy with so many thing,” Marek thought to comfort himself because he has noticed that the princess has been occupied with extramural activities for Excelion and she has been absorbed with her studies. And he doesn’t want to be detrimental to her academic activities.
Although another thought pervades his mind. “What if the princess has already formed in her mind that I have other intentions to her? What if this is the reason why she is avoiding me? What if she disdains the idea of being pursued by me?”
He decided till the concluding term examinations were through. Christmas Day is also nigh. Perhaps it would be fitting to confess his intentions by that time. But Marek’s heart is not given to the idea. He is hopeful to join the princess’ circle of friends, called Metoché, in their travel to Balpine Shire. He was invited by no less than Alythia herself. And if he would tell the princess his heart’s content before the trip then he might be shorn of the opportunity to go with the group. Or they might push on with the trip but they might feel ill at ease with each other’s presence.
While waiting for the suitable time, he decided to chronicle the events in their friendship and his prayers and consideration to pursue the princess. He wrote an allusion of their life story. They were written on parchments fashioned as scrolls. His intention is to provide a lead to what he intends to tell the princess, and also to immortalize a love story that could be a beacon for others. He didn’t mention of the authors identity but it would be clear in the story that it is him who composed the narrative. He labored to think through what would be said in the story. He researched and invented suitable names of people and places. He worked several nights and labored till early mornings. The allusion was done with much prayer because the skill to write has to be infused with the Master’s inspiration. It still has to give due glory and honor to the Master.
He planned that he would personally hand the last scroll to Alythia because the previous chapters were given through a herald. Thus he fervently hoped that Alythia will favorably read what he wrote.
A few days before the trip, Freia asked Marek if he would join them in the trip and he confirmed his attendance. There was a concern however. Her father might not allow her to go up to Balpine Shire because a stagecoach mishap happened. But Marek’s hope was high because Alythia was already allowed by Lord Demas to go. He prayed to the Great Master intervention. Perhaps he could have a chance to speak with her in the cold mountains of Balpine Shire.
It was midnight after Christmas Day when Alythia, Marek, Freia, Alfric Horus and Lady Edisia traveled to Balpine Shire. Pietro and Xalie followed a few hours after. Wahrin, also a member of Metoché, wasn’t able to go up with them because he had organized an assembly in his province on the same date of the group’s vacation.
It was already morning when they arrived. The group took their lodgings in the villa of Freia’s family. The group rested for awhile and proceeded to tour the mountain city. The princess was excited to wander around and was pleased to check on whatever attracts her fancy. Marek just took delight in observing the princess. But he and Freia were conscious of giving rein in her excitement so that she might become prudent in the leisure.
Balpine Shire is known for its lagoon. The group, while waiting for Pietro and Xalie’s arrival, went to ride a boat in the lagoon. It was raining that time but it didn’t dampen the joyful fellowship of Metoché.
They went to several trade fairs and ate delicacies not to be found in Metoria. It was already evening when Pietro and Xalie arrived from the lowlands. They were allowed to rest for awhile. After which, they all went to a pie parlour.
After enjoying four variants of pies, the group went home and retired their bodies.
The following day, Marek was awakened by stomachache and by the alarm set by Alfric Horus. Alythia, still sleepy, thought it was Marek’s doing, so she called his attention. Not intending to cause another ruffle, he turned the alarm off and went down the kitchen to prepare the breakfast.
Before going out for another tour of the city, Alfric was asked by the group to lead devotion. It was a pleasant sight to see friends worshiping the Great Master.
Marek couldn’t think of engaging the Alythia in a conversation during that time. He wouldn’t want to spoil Metoché’s enjoyment.
At a certain point when Lady Edisia and Marek were left in the stagecoach station while other members of the group attended to some errands, the latter confided his plan to confess his proposal to court the princess. She asked him what would be his response if Alythia’s response to his proposal is either negative or positive. He said that he’ll respect whatever it’ll be, though it will be hard if it’s negative. Then she just reminded him just to be ready for the pain if the response is negative. This time, it seemed that Lady Edisia was not restraining him to pursue the princess.
Then they all gathered together again to check on a silversmith. They saw a design and each bought a size that would fit their fingers. The ring would signify the unity of Metoché’s friendship and fellowship. Marek realized that his fellowship with the group is now legitimate. However, he realized that it would somehow affect his plan to pursue the princess. He doesn’t want to waste the bond he has gained just in case Alythia’s response is negative.
Freia and Lady Edisia went home to Metoria early. Freia have to attend an activity organized by Acropetros. The rest of the group stayed. Marek decided to stay behind also, hoping he could take a chance to talk with Alythia.
The following morning, the remainder of Metoché went to the market to buy the rest of the stuff that was not bought the other day. Marek brought them to Hangar to buy baby carrots and strawberries for Alythia’s mother.
Then they left Balpine Shire. Marek prayed that he’ll be able to bring Alythia home to their villa and then give the last scroll before he would leave. The prayer was granted but he was overwhelmed with cowardice and was unable to hand the last scroll to her.
Intuition dictates that Alythia knew already. The scrolls reveal so much information that won’t escape the princess’ keen perception and understanding. There are also occasions during the trip in Balpine Shire that the princess refuses Marek’s courtliness. It confused him and broke his heart. Her refusal seems outright avoidance of him. He tried to be discreet by being gallant to other ladies of Metoché. Although there are also times that she would welcome his chivalry.
He went home feeling fortunate with the experience he had. He gained new friends and got to know them in a deeper way. The vacation also provided a venue to observe the character of the princess. At the same time, he felt frustrated since he was unable to confide his feelings to the woman she dearly loves and esteems in his heart.
New Year came and he’s more anxious about getting an appointment with the princess. He’s wasting opportunities already and he’s allowing himself to be enslaved by his fear.
He was already ardent to propose when Paedagogue Ocythius came to him and asked him about his plan to pursue his special someone from Excelion. Marek informed his paedagogue that he will propose before long. Ocythius was stunned. He wasn’t expecting that it would be that soon. He thought that he wasn’t really consulted by Marek. He inquired if Marek’s decision matters to him and if his life with Acropetros was considered. The questions penetrated his heart. The inquiries sounded like, “You are not allowed to pursue anyone outside our kingdom.”
Marek believes that he is being guided by the Great Master himself. He also knows that he gets direction from the Book. And he did not lack counsel from his beacons. Ultimately, regardless of the advices he receives, it is he who will decide. Thus he defended his love for the princess by presenting his case. He told his paedagogue that he didn’t disregard him and the kingdom of Acropetros. He loves his instructor and his kingdom. But he also loves Alythia, in a greater conceivable extent.
He also asked Ocythius if he meant to ask him to postpone his proposal. He confessed his anxiety that postponing might mislead Alythia since he already sent her the scrolls and much have been communicated from it. He told Marek to pray.
It disturbed Marek so much. His paedagogue really sounded as if he shouldn’t pursue Alythia. Though disturbed, he was not dissuaded to pursue the princess. He really loves the princess. His resolve was firm regardless if his proposal to court the princess would be turned down.
The following day in Potsherd Tavern, Princess Alythia seemed to have avoided him. It made him feel awkward because almost all of their friends are also there and she’s the only one who didn’t talk with him.
It is the same thing the next day in the Chamber of Annals. He was looking for Alythia to invite her to talk with him. She wasn’t in the Tavern. But he found her sleeping in the corner of the Chamber. He waited outside till the princess awakes. Pietro came and told him to wake up Alythia because she will be late in her class.
He headed to the princess’ spot and found her to have awakened. She turned her head upon hearing the voice of Marek. She appeared surprised seeing him. It seemed also that her countenance was inquiring. “What are you doing here? Have you been there all the while?” She looks angry. He told her that Pietro asked him to wake her up.
Realizing that she’s already late, she ran to her class leaving Marek more troubled. He felt that the situation is so dense and tense awhile back in the Chamber of Annals. He really felt that they are getting uneasy with each other. The urge to talk with her really settled in this time. He wanted to wait upon Paedagogue Ocythius counsel but he deems that he won’t receive it that soon and prolonging his confession with Alythia would jeopardize their friendship and with the rest of the group.
Marek waited for her class to finish and invited the princess to talk. She responded favorably with the invitation. “Here’s the awaited rendezvous,” he said to himself. He sought the intercession of Elder Kannon and his wife Iem. Then he went to talk with her.
He doesn’t know what to really say but the inevitable is already in front of him. They went inside the Potsherd Tavern. They sat face to face in the middle of the table where they had their first proper acquaintance. But she decided to sit next to him to avoid distraction from the outside.
He stammered. He was just thinking of setting an appointment with her but she appeared adamant to push on with their conversation. It seemed that she really wanted to talk with him so he yielded.
He tried to muster all his courage. He even thought of opening in prayer to ease his nerves. Voice trembling and all, he confided that he is praying to pursue her. He prayerfully tried to compose his thoughts and recounted how he ended up deciding to pursue her. He mentioned things written on his personal journal and on the scrolls.
Marek paused and told her that if she needs to think and pray about what have been said then he could wait. But she seemed to be ready to tell him what’s on her mind.
Alythia told him that she appreciates his transparency and willingness to tell her the truth. She said that she appreciates him for trying to protect her from the people of Excelion who are talking about her or the two of them. She realized that somehow someone gave her attention and thought of her in a very special way.
She confessed that she was surprised when one of the officers of Shin Manor asked her before if he was courting her. And then she had some mixed emotions about him. She got confused, she said. She got angry. She felt betrayed. She even thought that Marek could just be using their friendship as a way to get close to her. She asked what did she do or say that made him think of pursuing her. She confided these things with the Shin Manor’s nurse and with Lady Edisia.
After her conversation with the two, she tried to avoid him for some time. But she eventually realized that she shouldn’t behave in such manner and tried to act normally and pursued friendship with Marek.
She said that she was already aware of his intentions to pursue her when she read the scrolls. She appreciates what he did. The scrolls laid it down nicely. She likes reading and she likes how the story appeared like a fairy tale. She initially thought that the scrolls were trash. Good thing she didn’t throw them away.
She said that she was able to recognize the people in the story, the places and the events. That is why even though the author was not indicated, she knew that it came from him. She learned a lot from what have been written. She learned many things about Marek and the things he went through in planning to pursue her. According to her, it was her first time to be sought in such manner.
Alythia said that she prayed to God to help her respond to him. She knows that she could be impulsive and she could just say words that are not appropriate. And she’s thankful to the Master that they were able to talk civilly.
Princess Alythia said that if he had told her early in their friendship his intentions to court her, she would have avoided him and terminated the friendship. And if he had delayed confessing, then she would have avoided him nonetheless. She’s grateful to the Great Master for the timing, though she confided that she would have wanted for them to have talked in Balpine Shire.
She eventually told him that she just wants to maintain their friendship. She believes that she could still learn more from him realizing that he’s also intimate with his walk with the Master. There are also things yet to learn from each other. She said that she has made a commitment regarding her studies. But it’s not her primary reason why she doesn’t want to be pursued. She also told Marek that she doesn’t want to give him false hope. She doesn’t want him to court her because she couldn’t assure him that it will be well in the future.
He told her that he respect what she said. He really wants their friendship to grow. But he just couldn’t easily let go of the feelings that have grown inside his heart. It’s not that he’s insisting on pursuing her. He reminded her of the fact that he have prayerfully thought of her and considered her for a period of almost two years. And his emotions have grown and reached a certain peak that he couldn’t just make his feelings for her disappear instantly.
They ended in a prayer. They went out of the Tavern and saw Kinsley. He and the princess talked and Marek slowly walked ahead. She bade him goodbye as she headed to another direction. He looked back and waved his hand acknowledging her farewell then rushed to the meeting he almost missed.
He attended the commoners’ meeting but his mind wandered back to what he and Alythia have talked about. He couldn’t exactly remember the words that they have uttered. He doubt if he could recount them correctly and faithfully. And as his mind trailed back, the pain started to really sink in his heart and he started to feel a sadness he never felt before. There’s a resounding emptiness that echoes within the walls of his heart every time it beats.
Some of his friends, who learned his fate and who journeyed with him in praying, tried to comfort him. They assured him that things will work out fine.
“The following days will be different from now on,” Marek said but he is hopeful that his friendship with Alythia will really grow. He prayed that they could really act normally and comfortably when they see each other.
Marek started to sing one of the saddest love songs he knows to console himself but then he asked himself, “Why don’t I sing a worship song?” But his mind is clouded. He couldn’t think of an inspired song that will get through the pain.
He prayed still. No one could really understand the heartache, except him and the Great Master. He couldn’t blame him. He has been too good and kind to be blamed.
“My Master, help me to grieve well. I really love Alythia... I love her.” His eyes burned as he cried. And he cried till his tears ran dry.
The Book said, “In everything give thanks for this is the Great Master’s will in Immanuel for you.” It was difficult to thank the Master but it was a necessary exercise of faith in him.