The clerics of Felwithe told King Tearis Thex that Princess Firiona’s condition was direr than it appeared. They believed her strength of will must have allowed her to survive for so long, or her gifts as Tunare’s Chosen. They set to work healing her, but said she would need to rest for a few days.
Tearis sat by her bed and watched her sleep for much of the time, anxious for her to wake. Al`Kabor would surface from the library once in a while to see her, but refused to discuss any details with the king at Firiona’s behest.
Her sunken cheeks and dull hair began to take on their former beauty and she eventually woke, groggy and confused. Disappointed that she had been asleep for five days, she immediately tried to get out of her sick bed.
“Just because you’re awake, doesn’t mean you can go gallivanting about, silly elf,” Al`Kabor said as Firiona tried to stand.
“I’m as much a silly elf as you are a charming erudite, my friend,” Firiona said with a grin.
“Oh, I see you’ve adopted your father’s inane sense of humor. Wonderful,” Al`Kabor said, rolling his eyes. His face then froze as he realized what he’d just uttered.
“I beg your pardon?” Tearis said, sitting on the opposite side of the bed to the wizard. Firiona shot Al`Kabor a glare and motioned for him to leave the room.
“What is this? What are you doing?” Tearis looked confused as he watched Al`Kabor mouth “sorry” to his daughter as he left the room.
“I’m sorry this has to happen now, but I suppose there is no time like the present to discuss this matter with you, your majesty. I have some news that will upset you, I have no doubt, but please just listen if you can,” Firiona said, reaching for Tearis’ hand which he gladly gave for her to hold.
“You’re alive. I’m sure there is no news you can bring me that will sully my mood,” Tearis said.
“First, I will you tell that I know why you banished Galeth from Felwithe so many years ago. And, at the time, you were probably right for doing so — but you were too late,” Firiona said, tightening her grip on her father’s hand as he tried to pull away. “That very night you banished him, when you suspected he was becoming too close to my mother, I was conceived. And during the time you locked my mother in the tower because of your suspicions, Galeth and my mother arranged with the servants to have me taken into the forest to be raised by him, my father, for fear you would have me killed as an illegitimate child.”
Tearis’ face twisted into an expression that Firiona had never seen. It was furrowed in many places — anger, sadness, shock.
“So, I am not your daughter or your princess by lineage, but my heart still believes nothing has changed,” Firiona continued. “You were a father to me for many years and I hope that won’t change. I want you to understand and be forgiving after all of these years and stand by me as we march into war against the growing threat of evil in Norrath.”
“Wasn’t I a good father? Like HIM?! He robs me of my wife and then my daughter?!” Tearis blurted out. He stood up and walked around the room. “I was so blind. I knew they were falling in love, but I refused to believe it. I should have acted sooner. No elf would ever dream of that sort of betrayal!”
Firiona looked at him and said, sternly, “So you would prefer I’d never been born? And the most important thing to you right now is how you were betrayed?”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying . . . I lived for years not knowing I had a daughter. Then, you were presented to me — a beautiful adult high elf touched by Tunare, the Mother. And now I learn that you’re not mine at all? And not only that, you are the daughter of my friend and my wife,” Tearis said, his eyes squinting; brow crumpled.
“All I can say for certain is that I think of you as my father still and do love you as a daughter would love her father. But I love Galeth too. I will not choose between you. I want both of you in my life. I need you both,” she said.
Tearis’ paused and all of the muddled expressions on his face fell away, leaving a lifeless one behind. As he spoke, his voice was flat and droning.
“You’re not in a position to ask for anything of me now. As a citizen of Felwithe and Chosen of Tunare, you are granted our protection and good will, but in my eyes, you are not my daughter or the princess of Felwithe. With Galeth’s traitorous blood running through your veins, there is no telling what could happen to this kingdom under your rule,” he said coldly, avoiding eye contact with Firiona. “And as is the law, Galeth is charged with treason and should he dare return to this city, he will be executed. Because of my respect for you as a paladin of Tunare, I will not put a bounty on his head.”
Firiona sat in silence, shocked by the king’s reaction; his bitterness and anger.
“Very well, your majesty. I shall not waste more time on that subject and submit to you a request as Tunare’s Chosen — I need worthy soldiers from Felwithe and Kelethin to join with my army, Norrath’s Keepers. We need aid in this war against Lanys T`Vyl and her Dark Reign horde,” Firiona quickly said, trying to hide the quivering sadness in her voice. “I believe Faydwer is in no danger and all of the good in Norrath must band together against this threat which very nearly saw the end of me.”
Tearis looked at Firiona and her sudden shift into a dutiful paladin hurt him. The admiration and fondness he used to see in her eyes was gone. He expected her to console him, or argue. He knew his temper was rash, but he was under its influence and was unable to ease it under the strain of the ache he felt in his heart. He felt even more despair by Firiona’s apparent indifference.
“I will grant you this under one condition — no one from my battalions will obey any order given by Galeth. He is to be stripped of any title he has. I simply will not allow it. This decree will be given to my elves and I do hope, in some way, Galeth will feel shame and guilt for what he has done, if not worse,” Tearis said with a biting tone.
“Thank you for your mercy, your majesty. Tunare will look fondly upon your kingdom for your generosity,” Firiona said, lowering her head. “I will prepare to leave in the morning.”
“No, Firiona, as a citizen of Felwithe, you will remain here until you are well. I will not have an unfit leader carry my subjects into war. You may stay in this room for that time and it will be the last time,” Tearis turned and walked for the door, pausing as he reached it.
“There are some things that can’t be forgiven or forgotten, child. Perhaps one day you will understand this,” Tearis said, and left the room.