Chapter 16 – Jericho’s visit
Almost 6 months later
The horse was panting loudly when Jericho, after more than forty kilometres, finally reached the edge of the new Forest of the Fairy King.
After jumping out of the saddle, the young woman turned the same way; for a moment, she had forgotten she had company.
“Puora!” She exclaimed before picking up the little fairy in her hands. “Sorry, I almost forgot you were coming with me!”
“Yeah, I noticed,” the other creature snapped, standing barely on the girl’s fingers. “But, gallop more calmly, woman! She’s close, but she’s not gonna leggo today!”
The holy knight made a scathing face.
“And a puny fairy like you knows that, because–“
“Well, don’t ask me! Ask ’em!”
Jericho suppressed a chill on hearing that mention. It was true that her apparent obsession with Ban had long since faded to a blunt affection, something he seemed to return effortlessly.
His little sister, Jericho recalled with some amusement.
However, there was still a background in her soul that jumped out like a spring, just at their mention. Ban and Elaine as a whole. And the young soldier was not sure if it would ever disappear–
Keep your thoughts at bay, she recommended herself in silence. She can hear you.
Despite everything, Jericho had to admit that he had grown fond of the innocent and cheerful fairy, in particular, while they almost lived together in Liones. The jokes, the exchanges of clothes–
The worst part, perhaps, was seeing how Ban went on about her every moment. Of course, without paying attention to anything else. However, Jericho had trained her spirit so that this jealousy gradually turned into just healthy envy for seeing them so happy together.
“King Ban! Lady Elaine!” Voiced Puora then, bringing Jericho back to reality. Without hardly noticing it, they had already reached the height of the first roots of the Sacred Tree. They had left the horse at the edge, knowing it would be safe, before they walked into the trees. With a sigh, Jericho thought of the first time she had been there, as she did every time she saw the happy couple again. How things had changed since then– “Found her! She’s here!”
Damn bug. As if I was a decorative object–, grumbled the girl behind Puora’s back.
At least before her gesture turned into a wide smile when she saw a well-known pale, frizzy hair appear on a branch almost ten metres high.
“Jericho! Goddamn, you guys are fast!” Exclaimed Ban, cheerful, as he descended swiftly to the ground.
“Ha! As if you don’t know me,” said Jericho, following his tone, before the two friends merged into a warm and fraternal embrace. “Hi, Ban.”
“Hi,” he said before turning away to look at her. “It’s been a while, ain’t it? You look–Different.”
Jericho raised an eyebrow, slyly though she also couldn’t help but blush out of habit at Ban’s compliment.
“Really? How so?”
Ban seemed to meditate on it before shrugging and heading back to the tree.
“I don’t know. A lil’ older, maybe?”
The human laughed. Jericho, after a few seconds, chanted it down. If there was one thing that Ban could not resist, it was to tease her constantly.
“You’ll find out one day,” she said, without pungency, as she followed Ban’s climb up the big, main trunk of the Forest.
As a local inhabitant, the tall human already seemed to have learned by heart all the knots and branches around. Or was it true that the trunk moved from time to time to raise them? Jericho shook her head, knowing that he had no answer to that question. And in fact, her mind gave up at all as Ban jumped to a new ledge of bigger branches, reached out to Jericho to help her climb, and as she did so, she saw a sight she had not expected.
Elaine turned her head as she saw them appear and smiled.
She was almost more beautiful than Jericho remembered her. Her loose blonde hair continued to fall between her yellow and white wings, now folded to one side. The fairy was lying on her half-side on a soft pillow of wildflowers. Besides, she wore a sole strapless piece of cloth around her slim body that reached almost to her feet. Her hands rested delicately on her bulging belly, caressing it over as if on impulse.
Puora was right – she could not be too far away from giving birth. And yet, Jericho felt a new pang of unrestrained jealousy – how could pregnancy suit her so well?
She would be the envy of any human woman in Britannia, for all the–
“Jericho! You’re here!” Elaine greeted her, clearly happy to see her. “I hope you didn’t have any trouble in your way–“
The human had to shake her head quickly to return to reality, still immersed in that strange dream, before responding.
“What? No, not at all! I came on horseback, so no problem. I was here in a jiff!”
Elaine smiled before crossing a meaningful gaze with Ban.
“Well, shall we introduce everyone?” He joked, pushing Jericho forward slightly.
She tried to tread with the utmost care on that idyllic mantle of flowers, and she obeyed until she sat down next to Elaine.
She is enormous already, the human thought, unable to suppress it.
To her great shame, the fairy laughed immediately, although she was not making fun of her at all. She got just amused by the clarity of that thought.
“The truth is that it seems like only yesterday that they told us, right, Ban?”
“Yeah, you bet,” laughed the human, in turn, leaning almost parallel to the two girls. “And I thought they’re trying to poison you or somethin’–“
Elaine made a funny pout with her nose.
“Poor Dr Dana never meant any harm, Ban. Don’t be so mean!”
“Dr Dana as in ‘Dr Dana’?” Then asked Jericho without being able to stop herself before her gaze crossed hopelessly with Ban’s. That name did not just bring back memories for the purple-haired officer. “Was it–Him who told you?”
Slowly, Ban nodded without taking his eyes off her. Although, his mind seemed to be far from there at the time. Perhaps, Jericho thought, in their dismal relationship in Baste prison.
“We landed at his house by chance while we were travelling,” he explained as if he hadn’t been musing over black thoughts until a second before. “And–” Suddenly, the human’s expression changed as he looked away and took one of Elaine’s hands in his. “The truth is that we never thought it was possible.”
Jericho imitated his affirmative gesture, reflecting.
“It can’t be too common to bear a child from human and fairy, can it?” She ventured gently.
The couple denied it at the same time.
“But I don’t think I’d trade it for anything,” said Elaine, clearly excited. “It’s like a dream come true.”
Jericho felt unavoidably moved.
“Well–Count on me to make it real then, okay?”
Ban looked at her sideways with a raised eyebrow.
“Are you sure, Jericho? It can be tough to live here for a human.–“
To which the young woman, puffed up and ignoring his taunt, replied:
“Believe me, Ban. No one is gonna move me from this Forest until Elaine gives birth. And that’s all there is to it.”