Justin was asked to say his speech first, and Valkin translated for the few elves there that didn’t know the human language. Justin began after clearing his throat.
“Well, I be not really sure what to say aboot this whole affair, except that I be pretty glad it’s over.” There were scattered chuckles, so Justin grinned amiably and continued. “I would like to say that it has been a verra good experience, and I be verra pleased to have kenned an’ been able to assist Shetta an’ Glevanne, an’ Valkin. Not to mention Dusak an’ Vinea as well as all the other secret aides of the princess and my friends. I feel honored to be able to say that I ken these great elves, an’ was actually able to help them.”
He stopped again to catch his breath, and there was applause. Justin bowed, and then continued, turning to Valkin, the newly crowned king, Shetta and Glevanne, in a blissful, happy state, Dusak and Vinea, proud helpers of the king, and lastly to his siblings.
“It has been the most wonderful adventure in my life to be able to come along side these elves, an’ with the help of my siblings, free this land from its worst enemy. I ken that if any more things like this happen, although we will all hope that it never will, then ye can surly count on us to help again.” He walked over to Valkin, and gripped his hand firmly.
“I feel it a great honor to have kenned ye, Valkin. Ye’ve been a good an’ loyal friend, an’ I be sure that if anyone ‘ould deserve this throne it be ye. I hope ye’ll never lose it until ye have a worthy son to give it to.” Valkin returned Justin’s hand shake, but before Justin knew what happened, enveloped him in a hug.
“I could not have conquered this throne without your help.” He replied huskily as he let the surprised Justin go. Justin gave him a quick nod, feeling the tears start stinging his own eyes. Before anyone could see them, he told Duncan it was his turn. Duncan stood, his hands rolling and unrolling his napkin nervously.
“I also be glad to have been able to help Valkin conquer the throne, an’ Shetta an’ Glevanne get married.” He said, slightly red in his face. “I ‘ould say more things aboot them; all the things they did to help us complete our mission, but I’m not as good a talker as Justin.” He stopped, and hung his head sheepishly. “But, all Justin said, it be the same fer me. ‘T was an honor to ken all ye elves, an’ an even greater honor to ken Valkin an’ the princess an’ Glevanne. They’ve been the best of companions, and I couldnae have asked fer better.” He quickly turned and shook hands with Valkin. “I’ll miss ye.” He said simply, but Valkin hugged him anyways.
“I’ll also miss you, Duncan. As with your brother, I never could have done it without you, you’ve both been great friends, and I’ll never forget it.” Mary now stepped forward as if on signal.
“I’m also not a verra good talker.” She said, smiling gently around at the elves. “But it has been a great honor to come here, and it makes me so happy to see the fruits of our work.” She gestured around the room. “I see all elves wearing happy smiles instead o’ worried frowns. I see merriness, where once was sorrow. I see Shetta and Glevanne married, instead o’ being kept apart by a man fer his own good. I see a king that is sure to rule his subjects wisely and well.” She paused. “Niver have I felt so glad to help, and niver have I been so willing to be home again.” Applause was given as Mary turned to the new king, an anxious look on her face. “Ye will be kind to them?” she asked. Valkin shook her hand heartily.
“I promise.” He replied. Mary smiled.
“It really has been, not just an honor, but a pleasure to have kenned ye.” She said, retuning his handshake with a firm grip. “I’ll niver forget my adventure here, and I’ll niver forget any of ye elves.” Valkin smiled.
“And I won’t forget our adventure or you humans either.” He said, his eyes twinkling. Mary laughed.
“I’m not sure whether to take that as a compliment or not!” she exclaimed. Valkin grinned.
“Whichever will give you the most pleasure.” He said. Mary turned back to her brothers with a sigh.
“We should probably go.” She said. Valkin nodded.
“Yes, Felin has agreed to escort you back to your stone circle. You know the way back to your home from there?” Mary smiled, yes, she knew. Those woods she had been practically living in since she was a toddler. Valkin understood the smile, and beckoned the elf closer. Mary gasped slightly in surprise. Felin, the once almost fearsome creature, was now a perfectly nice elf. His beard was gone, and his clothes were no longer ragged. He didn’t look as if he would die of starvation or filth. Felin smiled when he felt her stare.
“I look a lot better now?” he asked quietly. Mary blushed, realizing she had been staring.
“I’m sorry.” She said hastily. “But ye gave me such a turn! Ye are different.” The elf threw back his head with a merry laugh at the expression on the human’s faces.
“Nothing like having a set of good meals and a change of clothes after a long, hot bath.” He said after recovering somewhat. Mary smiled.
“I be verra glad to have you healthy again.” She said, still a little timidly. Felin returned her smile.
“Me too.” He said. “Shall we go?” Mary nodded.
“Aye. I cannae wait to see mother an’ father again.” A wave of homesickness swept over the humans, and after another goodbye, Felin led them back to the stone circle.
As they parted from Felin with one last round of handshakes, Mary turned to the elf.
“Let us come back again.” She said, pleadingly. The elf nodded and a glint of mischief appeared in his eyes.
“How is Valkin going to rule without you?” he asked, as a way of reply. Mary raised her eyebrow.
“Soon?” she asked. Felin’s eyes met hers and stayed there while he thought carefully about his answer.
“I hope so.” He said.
The human’s left the circle, and at the edge of the clearing, Justin turned to say one last goodbye to Felin, but he was gone. He sighed heavily.
“I miss home, but I miss the elves too. Will we ever see them again?” Mary looked ahead at the cheery lights of home, and smiled.
“I dinnae ken, but right now, I think home is the best place fer me!” Justin and Duncan looked at her. She cocked an eyebrow at them. “Race?” she asked. Grinning, the boys nodded, and away the three siblings flew toward home.