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We All Have Regrets

(Realm of Elysia)

“I can’t teach her the hat,” James said as he walked with his hands turned up. “She’s simply too volatile. Her emotions rule her still, not her spirit. She destroyed several miles of beach simply with a bad attitude! What if she gets really angry? She’s growing in power, but not self control.”

Traveler looked at him evenly, choosing his next words carefully.

“James, you know the importance of this, and patience, I’ve heard, is a virtue. I know you’ve been hesitant to instruct her and that is, frankly, not helping things. Beauty is formidable, she needs to know how to defend herself. Besides, a little trust can go a long way. She needs you to believe in her.”

“You’re right, of course, but I really have misgivings about this.”

“Look,” Joshua said, “everything is going to work out.” Then, Traveler suggested a possible solution, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll ask Dove to have a talk with her, to take a closer look at how she’s doing. Then, if she concurs with your assessment, we’ll slow her training. How’s that?”

Looking greatly relieved, James said, “I would feel much better about that, much better indeed.”

Smiling, Traveler said, “Unfortunately, you’ll have to do a bit of moving about to catch up with her later.”

“That’s okay by me, I would rather do that than rush the process. Honestly Joshua, she’s just too immature at this point.” Adding, “I’d like to take my horses with me, if possible.”

“As you wish.”

Back to the scene of her crime

The next day, James took Brenzel back to the beach, making their way as close to it as they could with their mounts. Bren, silent for most of the ride, finally asked, “Why are we back here?”

Equally uncommunicative during their journey, James replied, “She… wants to talk with you,” as he gestured towards Her Majesty appearing directly in front of them.

Bren said under her breath, “Oh, shit…”

Later, walking along the beach laid bare by Bren’s tantrum, Dove shared, “A long time ago, before original sin entered the Seven Realms, YHWH appointed me guardian of the stones of fire. These red stones are infused with the very power of creation.”

“One day, I found my Elder Seraph, Beauty, taking three of the stones. Stunned, I challenged her with my sword, lifting it up to strike her like this,” Dove gripped an imaginary sword with both hands, raising it above Bren’s head. “I demanded to know what she was doing. She looked at me as if surprised, saying, ‘My Dove, would you really harm me?’ I hesitated for just a moment, then she was gone.

We all have regrets

“Had I done what I should have, Bren, controlling my emotions, I could have prevented everything. I could have stopped the great rebellion before it ever began.” Putting her hand on Bren’s cheek and looking deeply into her eyes, Dove said, “I sinned and I’ve paid for it ever since. You may look at me and think I’m perfect, but I made an error in judgment that put everyone in the Seven Realms in danger, and it still does.”

Standing again, looking out over the beach, Dove continued, “But, like you, I found grace in the eyes of YHWH. He showed me mercy when I didn’t deserve it. Others, even those who lost loved ones, forgave me and accepted me back into their hearts. However, Bren, I’ve found the hardest person to forgive is yourself.”

Like a small girl who had carelessly broken her mother’s favorite locket, Bren felt ashamed.

As the sun set over Elysia, the sounds of the day winding down, Dove’s wings shimmered in the golden light. Silhouetted in the sunset, Bren reached over, gently taking her hand.

What do you want to be?

Further down the beach, Dove reached down and picked up a handful of sand, then said, “We all make mistakes, Little One, but those mistakes don’t have to define us. What you have to decide, Brenzel of Eden, is what kind of Seraph do you want to be? Do you want to be this,” gesturing to the destruction Bren’s tantrum caused, “or do you want to be this. . .” Dove blew upon the sand in her palm, and as it floated from her, it transformed the beach back to it’s original pristine state, as if nothing had ever happened.

Bren, gazing wide-eyed at the miracle before her, said in an awestruck voice, “I definitely want to be like you.”

Wedding bells

(Vatican City, 1690)

At the church, the Piccalomini family waited with great expectation. Finally, their daughter, who had proved to be so unwilling to honor them with a proper match, was about to wed Matteo Imperiali! A substantial sum in ducats, lands, and even a small castle, had been agreed upon in advance, saving their family from financial embarrassment. The Imperialis, too, breathed a great sigh of relief , but for different reasons. Though their handsome young son was more than a match for any man with a sword, rumors of his “lack of proficiency with the fairer sex” caused his father, Augusta, much consternation. Now, however, all that was behind them, for even if no heir was produced, it could always be blamed on the other half.

Matteo, decked out in the finest ermine and brocade laced with gold, wearing rings and chains studded with rubies and emeralds, looked the part of the perfect bridegroom. Pietro, standing glumly by his side in the alcove, waited with his master for the cue, dreading the whole spectacle to come. Matteo, looking over at his man servant, said, “Cheer up. I don’t love her, you know.” Pietro said nothing. “It’s only for show, you must know that. Good god man, everyone does it!” Matteo said with his hallmark nonchalance, belying his true feelings. A bell sounded with a perfect “ting,” and taking one last look, the scion of house Imperiali steeled himself as he stepped out into the crowd of family, counts and countesses, dukes and duchesses, earls, and clergy.

That monster!

Coming to the steps before the altar, Matteo’s blood ran cold as he saw the priest. There, standing piously, in front of God and creation was none other than Cardinal Lambert himself! The inimitable gall of that monster! Matteo steamed. Nevertheless, the pride of Imperialis stood there submissively, waiting for his fate to be sealed.

The great pipe organ sprang to life as everyone turned. At the other end of the great hall a beautiful bride appeared in an exquisite white dress. For a moment she stood, a dramatic pause no doubt meant to inspire the collective gasp and murmur that spread throughout the assembly. Then, and only then, did she make her way towards the altar. Her progress seemed especially dignified to all present, slowly taking her time to walk towards her destiny. Women leaned over to those next to them as she passed, commenting they’d never seen her equal in beauty. Men envied the man at the altar, thinking to themselves if only it could be them, their lives would be blessed beyond measure, too.

Matteo, looking upon his intended with practiced stoicism, hid the disdain in his heart and masked the rage in his mind, thinking, Patience, Matteo, patience. Fiammetta, finally ascending the steps to stand beside her bridegroom, felt her heart breaking into a thousand pieces. Cardinal Lambert drew close to perform the sacrament of holy matrimony, something he had done hundreds of times before, but never with such a heavy heart. During the long ceremony, neither bride nor groom looked at each other, seemingly the model of earthly restraint.

I do…

At long last for everyone present, after each said ‘I do,’ Father Lambert instructed, “You have said your vows before God our Father and these many honored witnesses.” Then, looking directly at Matteo, he said, “I remind you of the holiness and sanctity of your vow and that, until death do you part, you must never violate it.” Then looking up, the priest said, “I now pronounce you man and wife.” Gazing upon the excited crowed, he said, “I present to you, “Mister and Misses Imperiali!”

For a moment all was silent, until an old woman, Matteo’s maternal grandmother to be exact, shouted, “Kiss the bride! It’s not a wedding without kissing the bride!” to which everyone heartily agreed.

Stunned for a moment, but recovering quickly, Matteo turned, took Fiammetta by the shoulders and kissed her deeply as everyone cheered. Fiammetta, eyes wide with surprise, felt his strange lips pressing hers firmly. Tim, caught off guard, felt sick to his stomach. Then, Matteo turned, taking Misses Imperiali’s hand forcefully, turning her toward the crowd, and bowed with a flourish as everyone cheered.

So perfect

Women at the front cried as they saw tears streaming down Fiammetta’s face. “It’s so perfect,” they whispered to each other, as the new couple descended from the altar of holy matrimony. As church bells rang out above her, Granny thought to herself with pride, “Now that’s a kiss!”