Chapter Fifteen: Wins
Seon took a deep breathe. His legs felt weak and his hands were clammy. He fiddled with the Stone of Life in his pocket.
Reese, who was standing beside him in full armor, put a hand on his shoulder. "You'll be fine, Smokebait. You practiced for hours with the prince and I so I don't think you'll forget your lines this time."
Once they had returned, Seon had taken Reese into Baudouin's room to privately explain to why he knew magic. Baudouin seemed to be hesitant, even jealous, at first to allow Reese into his little world, but once Seon had explained what happened, the dragon reluctantly accepted the knight's presence. So he had quietly watched on while the two talked about how they would talk to the king.
Seon pushed the doors open. He made his best attempts to walk up to the king's platform steadily, but his legs still felt like jelly beneath him. Reese gently pushed him along with a hand on his back.
The king was sitting at his throne, prepared for their arrival. He had a soft smile on his lips. "There's no need to be nervous, Mister... Smokebait, wasn't it?"
Seon frowned at the king's joke and he nearly elbowed Reese, who was quietly chuckling. Even after they left the dwarves, the name had stuck.
"Your Highness," he began. "I would like to discuss magic with you."
The king's face grew serious. "What would you like to discuss?"
"I would like to request that you lift the ban on magic, your Highness."
The king's face darkened. He crossed his arms and legs. He looked down upon Seon with a glower that very harshly reminded Seon of the punishment he could face. "Why would I do that?"
Seon suppressed a shiver that ran up his spine. "For the benefit of the kingdom," he said firmly.
"What benefit could the kingdom possibly get?" the King spat. "Magic is the reason why the kingdom no longer has an available prince to take the throne. It does more harm than it does good. Why would I left the ban?"
"Your Highness, with all due respect," he said in a tone that showed that Seon thought his king was acting childish. "Magic saves people's lives."
The king's eyes narrowed. "It can also ruin lives. You should know this. It was the reason why the residents of Gemfire were ill in the first place."
Reese decided to speak up. "Actually, your Majesty..." he said hesitantly. "While we were over there, I was severely injured. If it weren't for magic, I'd be crushed under a pile of boulders right now."
The king's eyes widened. He uncrossed his limbs and leaned forward. "The mountain ranges are within our borders! You allowed them to walk away free?" he hissed.
Reese shrunk back. "Yes, sir, but..."
"No!" he snapped. "All forms of magic are forbidden. I don't care if it heals! One could just say that they're going to heal you and then curse you! I won't allow that!"
"Even if it's to help change your son back?" Seon asked.
The king slumped back. He stared at the younger elf as if he had slapped him in the face. He glanced at Reese in a silent plea for help on what to do, but Reese was staring at Seon with the utmost respect.
"H-How..." The king cleared his throat. "How would magic help change Baudouin back? Even I know that the only person who can reverse a curse is the person who cast it. The culprit was never caught."
"Your Highness..." Seon reached into his pocket. He held up the Stone of Life before the king. "We found this in Gemfire village. It's a type of gem that enhances magically abilities." He took a breathe before taking the dive. "I've... I've researched that if one has enough magical strength, you could overpower the first curse. So in theory, Baudouin could change back."
"Researched? Then that means that you..."
"Yes, sir." Seon looked away from the king's betrayed expression. "But I only want to help!"
"You... You can help my boy..." the king said in shock. "I was beginning to think... that he'd be stuck like that forever... But you... you can help Baudouin..."
"Yes, but only if you lift the ban on magic!" Seon said forcefully. "I can't research any further until the magic books are back in the shop! Until there are healers prepared to help me if I mess up! Until you get off of your throne and help me!"
The king shot up out of his throne. He marched forward toward Seon. Reese jumped away from him and started bowing, praying that he wouldn't get his title taken away for Seon's tongue.
Seon felt an intense sting in his cheek. The king had his left hand stretched out in front of him, the back of his hand was turning red. Seon gently placed a hand against his injured cheek.
"Don't speak that way to your king," he said sternly. He rubbed the back of his hand. "If I were more of tyrant you would have lost your head by now."
"I'm sorry, sir," Seon said weakly.
"However, I'm willing to make you a deal."
Seon's eyes lit up with hope. "Yes, your Highness?"
"I'll lift the ban on magic," he said solemnly. "But if, and only if, you research how to change Baudouin back to normal."
Seon smiled and held himself back from hugging the king right then and there. "Thank you so much, sir!"
The king raised an eyebrow. "Don't thank me. You'll be ban from castle grounds until you come back with a cure."
Seon's smile faded and his stomach dropped to the floor. "What...?"
"It's only a fair punishment since you used magic before I lifted the ban," he explained.
Seon's eyes widened with fear and realization. "What about Leon?"
"He will be allowed to stay so long as he has not performed any magic. Has he?"
Seon shook his head rapidly. "No, sir!"
"I'll have him be able to visit you and he will be in charge of being Baudouin's caretaker in the meanwhile. I'll provide you with a laboratory where you can conduct your research in peace."
Seon bowed down deeply. "You are very very generous, King Dominique."
The king sighed. "Generosity that I hope doesn't come at a price..."
"You're... You're leaving, Seon?" Leon asked.
Seon cringed at Leon's heartbroken tone but smiled anyways. He pat his brother's head. "Yeah... I... I told the king that I'm a sorcerer."
"You did what?!" he gasped.
"I had to." Seon smiled more sincerely and held Leon's hands. "I did it! I lifted the ban on magic! Everyone can use it freely again! There can be healers again!"
"But Seon...!" Leon's eyes were getting watery.
Seon quickly stopped smiling and scooped his brother into a hug. "No, no, Leon... I did something good! Please don't cry!"
"But I won't get to see you again!" Leon wailed. He clutched Seon's shirt and pressed his face into his older brother's chest. "I know that you're doing good for everyone else, but what about me?!"
Seon started frantically shushing the younger. He flopped over on the bed they were on so that they were both laying down.
"You'll get to see me! I promise!" Seon explained. "The king gave you permission to go see me whenever you like! I'll have a lab and so many things that you never got to see because magic was banned." He wiped Leon's tears and tried to give him another smile. "I'll try to teach you something when we see each other, okay?"
Leon pouted. "Seon, I've told you! I don't want to learn magic!"
"But that was because it was illegal, what about now?"
"That cheered you up, didn't it? You're chewing me out as usual."
"That doesn't mean I cheered up, you dummy!"
"Dummy? What are you? Fifteen?"
"Seon, I'm nearly thirty!"
Seon ruffled his hair. "You still look fifteen!"
"I do not!"
The door burst open to show a very irritable looking Oscar in his night clothes. He had a candle in his hand and a glare on his face.
"Go to bed!" he practically whined. "Some of us have actual work to do tomorrow!"
Oscar slammed the door behind him. The two exchanged glances before bursting out into a fit of giggles.
"'Some of us have actual work to do tomorrow!'" Seon said in his best impression of Oscar, which after ten years was nearly perfect.
"He wears a nightie!" Leon said between laughs.
"His face was the best part though!"
"Yeah!" Leon finally stopped laughing. "But he does have a point, we have to go to bed."
"Aww, you're no fun. I bet you're going to end up like Oscar in seven hundred years."
"Don't even start that again, Seon! Elves don't even look like that when they get old!" Leon argued. "Anyways, I have to get up early to take care of Baudouin, right?"
"Yeah. He gets impatient when you sleep in."
"Anything else I should know?"
"Yeah. Be sure to tell him what's going on around the castle and he loves it when you tell him a story."
"Seon?" Reese called. He knocked on the door but he didn't receive an answer. "Seon, come on! We've got to go."
Reese pushed the door open. He was fully prepared to rip the sheets off of him and drag the elf out of bed. However, Seon's bed was empty.
He followed the sound of soft snoring until he reached the other bed. He smiled fondly and crossed his arms.
Seon and Leon were sleeping on the bed together. Leon had his head against his older brother's chest. Seon had his arms loosely wrapped around Leon's torso. Leon left a small pile of drool on Seon's shirt. He was tightly clutching the blanket with his hand to keep it around his body whilst Seon had no blankets on him, his were tangled up with his legs.
Reese turned around and went out the door.
"I suppose I could give him five more minutes."
Seon sighed for the umpteenth time since their trip began. "Reese, are we there yet?"
"Smokebait," Reese growled. "If you ask me that one more time, I'll drop you on your ass right here and let you walk the rest of the way."
"Reese, the king ordered you to take me to my lab! You can't just half-ass it like that!" Seon scolded.
"You're the one who's making it really tempting to just half-ass my orders!" Reese retorted.
They reached the top of a hill. The setting sun was in their eyes. Seon put a hand over his eyes so he could get a good look at the place he would call home from now on.