Yeah, cheesy ending, but I like cheese, so enjoy. By the way, everyone should read "The Kingdom Readers". I'm sure it will be relatively cheese free if you're looking for something with a bit of a darker tone to it. I posted the whole prelude deal already. So, yeah, read.
It turns out peace takes more work than a few roasted turkeys and kind words. Meetings between just the Airans and werewolf clan were tense, and when I saw this I immediately insisted on diplomatic meetings taking place amongst the humans for a while longer.
Trade did not start up so smoothly. There were a few skirmishes during deliveries, and there were resulting injuries on both sides.
But at least the killing had stopped.
A while after the negotiations, I walked through a small play area set up for Airan children. I paused to watch the small, winged beings chasing each other about the wooden walkways, mothers and fathers watching from a distance. One woman approached me with her toddler of a son and said, "My Queen, you have done us a great service. I dreaded the day my son would have to go fight the werewolves, but it seems that day will not come thanks to you." Her eyes looked moist, and after I smiled and nodded my thanks, she turned away and put her son down, encouraging him to go join his playmates.
I looked down at the document rolled up in my hand that I was on my way to deliver. It was another piece of cunning legislation on my part to free Inu and I. I had been working on writing up official statements that transferred many of my remaining duties to the Council. Inu and I had been working on them tirelessly, pouring over books of Airan law. When I had asked them to be delivered to my room, I had merely said I wished to know more about the people I ruled over.
The Council, of course, still did not trust me, despite my winning over of a handful of the public. Even if some people were still wary of me, they tolerated me much more since I had stopped the fighting.
Only one man had seemed angry with me for bringing peace. He had been a middle-ranking officer in the army, and two days after the armistice, he had stumbled his way over to me, drunk. "Why'd you ruin it, huh?" he slurred. "Why? I was going to be a general, and you ruined it!"
He had then made to attack me, but my guards had immediately stopped him. That was one instance where I had felt grateful for their company rather than hindered by it.
A few weeks passed quickly though, and Inu and I soon realized that our time to escape was drawing to a close. "We must gather some supplies," Inu said. We were sitting in her room, thinking of all that needed to be done.
"We can get whatever we need from my father," I decided. "It would be much easier that way anyways."
Inu nodded in agreement. "Then… this is it, isn't it?" she asked. "Everything seems to be ready. The guards and priestesses have stopped watching me. All that remains is for you to speak with the Council."
I took Inu's hand in mine and kissed it. "Shall we make our dash for freedom then?" I asked.
Inu nodded. "It is time."
We left the temple, smiling as the midday sun spilled over us as we made our way to the Council's chamber. When we reached it, I entered cautiously, telling Inu to wait at the entrance. There was only one council member present, thankfully. That would make my job easier.
He looked up from some documents he was scanning over. "Your majesty," he said, immediately rising from his seat. "Is there something you need?"
"No," I said causally. "I just… stopped in to tell you that I am leaving."
The man looked at me with a dumbfounded expression. "Leaving… what could you possibly mean by that?"
"It means that I am going to live in the forest with the woman I love," I explained. "And don't even try to stop me."
"But-but you can't go! You would be abandoning your duties as the Queen!" he exclaimed, trying to make me see some non-existent reason.
I shook my head. "No, I have no more duties. I passed them all along to the Council in those documents I've been having you sign. You all wanted to handle everything anyways," I reminded him.
"Your highness," he said quickly, some panic in his voice, "There is no law that says you may simply abandon your position."
"I wrote one in." He gave me a shocked look. "When the armistice was signed I said the monarch had the right to renounce their powers of position and title if they deemed it necessary for the armistice to work out."
"We thought that you would just let us handle everything, not simply leave altogether!" the man exclaimed. "You can't go running back to your cave with the other werewolves!"
"I'm not," I said calmly. "I'm going to live separate of the two clans. It's for the best. I don't do anything except sit on that throne anyways! You need to give peace a chance without me here." The council member gave me a sad look. I felt a little guilty for leaving him with the task of explaining why I was gone to everyone. "Not one of you really wants me as the ruler anyways. I've transformed you into a democracy. You are completely independent of a ruler, and with peace and trade established with the werewolf clan, there is no need for me to be around here. Don't try to change my mind," I cautioned.
I left the room quickly, climbing into Inu's arms and letting her take off into the forest before anyone nearby could notice. I heard a few people shout for me to have a safe journey, and I even heard some guards scramble to fly after us, but Inu and I quickly lost them in the woods. They were not so eager to catch me anyways, I thought.
We flew directly to the werewolf clan, where a day hunter spotted us and ran inside the caves. Just as Inu and I touched down, my father and Stephen came running out along with a few other people I recognized. "Sasha!" my father exclaimed. He ran forth and captured me in a hug after Inu set me down. When my father released me, Stephen pulled me into an even tighter embrace.
"You old dog," he muttered. "I knew you'd get away."
"I can't stay though," I said. Everyone's faces immediately fell in expression, and I explained that I could not be here in fear of starting the war again. "Peace needs a chance without me around to ruin it all," I stated. "I'll visit both sides every now and then but… it's just impossible for me to stay in one place."
Everyone looked at Inu and I sadly, not wanting to accept this as the truth. My father was the one to speak first. "I understand," he said, nodding. "Fritz, get these ladies some supplies," he barked at a wolf. The man ran into the caves and returned shortly after with what looked like every loose item from my room wrapped in my cloak and a sack of dried and salted meats along with it.
"Thanks father," I said, giving him one last hug. I then turned to shake hands with Stephen. "You've been a good friend," I told him. "You know where to find us." He smiled and laughed, and without further stalling, Inu and I left for her nest made at the lake. Of course, we would be moving our camp to the other side of it, but the spot was too perfect, too memory-filled for us to leave behind.
"We're free at last," Inu sighed when we reached the sandy shores.
I smiled and drew the woman I loved close. "You're right," I mused, "free to do whatever we want." Inu smiled, her light brown feathers rustling in a gentle breeze. I leaned forward and kissed her soundly on the lips.
"And so," concluded Stephen in front of his audience of young wolves. "That is how the half-wolf Sasha escaped with her true love and brought peace to the war that had expanded over three-hundred years."
The young audience broke into applause and a resounding yell of "Yay!" Stephen smiled to himself. The first time he had told the story fifteen years back Sasha's father had laughed himself to near-death. Sure, Stephen embellished a little, but what good was a story without dramatics? Even Sasha and Inu had stopped in once to hear it told, and they had approved of storytelling afterwards.
They had gone so long with peace. It was a miracle. Stephen was sure his story was not the last to be told of Sasha and her antics.