Like giant claws tearing through the ground, the Wyvern Claw mountain range stretched along the northern border of Hylan. They rode quickly so as to leave this snowy region as soon as they could.
"Is it true then," Wilson asked, riding beside Fayte. "Your heart now yearns for the Saldarian Princess?"
What? "No. What makes you think that?"
Wilson sighed. "As I thought. Clearly you are oblivious but Emily seems to believe that you now fancy Kamille."
Why in the world would she- He recalled their conversation in Iredis, how Emily had asked if he now liked Kamille and how he refused to answer her out of spite. "That is not the case. She misunderstood."
"Then you can tell Emily that you still love her when we return." Wilson could see that Fayte knew doing that would do no good for anyone as well. "Or you can say nothing and let this help her get over you."
Get over me? Was that why we could speak earlier without arguing again?
"She loves you," Wilson said. "But you are too stubborn and afraid to admit that to yourself, but she does. When she told me that you had fallen for the Saldarian girl, I first thought it was your plan to make Emily give up on you. That she might move on and try to truly love Rinmar if she knew that you had already moved on yourself."
Fayte had never planned such a thing.
"Clearly I thought too highly of you." Wilson shrugged. "But it worked out anyway. Emily now believes that you no longer love her and sees her only as a friend. And to her, that is all that matters now. Your friendship."
Fayte pulled on the reins and stopped his horse. No.
"We're going back."
"What?" John went. "I am sick of this cold. I'm not riding back."
"You will only hurt her and make this harder if you tell her how you really feel, Fayte." Wilson rode up to him and lay his hand on Fayte's shoulder. "This is for the best, my friend. Circumstances dictate that you and Emily cannot be together. Forcing it will only hurt the both of you."
"Letting her believe that I don't love her anymore-"
"Will help her more than it hurts her in the long run." Wilson squeezed his shoulder. "Our best friend is getting married, Fayte. Be happy about that. As a friend."
He turned away and began to ride off.
"Do you blame me?" Fayte asked, catching up to Wilson. "Do you blame me for not wanting to attend the wedding?"
"You have your pilgrimage. I know how important it is to you."
"Not more than Emily."
Wilson smiled and nodded. "Not more than Emily."
Fayte pulled his cloak around him closer when an icy wind swept by.
"You may hold off your pilgrimage to attend the wedding, but watching Hylan and Saldara join hands is difficult enough for you, let alone watching the girl you love marry another man." Wilson tossed him a skin of wine and told him to take a sip. "As for I, you need not worry. I have little desire to be there as well."
This was not firewine but it sufficed in warming Fayte up.
"I thought you would want to be there," Fayte said, tossing the skin to John who tossed it right back to Wilson. The man had his own skin of wine. "A Princess's wedding. It will be a grand celebration."
"Yes, I would like to attend for Emily's sake, but I for one do not approve of the marriage either."
That came as a complete surprise but after pondering upon it for a moment, Fayte realized that he had never really asked Wilson about his opinion towards the wedding.
"Emily may be Princess but this is not her responsibility," Wilson went on. "A marriage between our nations will not make Saldara a peaceful nation all of a sudden, nor will a child born from the two. Skarm's Shadow rebelled against their Emperor and Saldara went into civil war. Loyalty to the crown means little to them."
It was very troubling to hear Wilson speak like this. He had always assumed that Wilson supported the marriage. And Wilson had always been wiser and smarter in such matters. To hear Wilson questioning how effective this joining would be did more than just unsettle Fayte.
"But Saldara has been weakened and Skarm's Shadow is in disarray."
"Then what is the point of an alliance?" Wilson asked. "To fend off an attack from the Black City? How? When the nation we seek to borrow power from has been weakened by our own hands. And should Saldara still be strong, they remain a threat to us even with this marriage."
"Then why didn't you say anything?" Wilson may not have been present during discussions about the marriage, but Wilson was a priest and friends with both the son of the Lord-Knight and the Princess herself. He had influence even if he would not admit it. "You should have said something."
"Ya think the King's Council is made up of a buncha' fools?" John said, lifting his skin of wine over his mouth.
Wilson nodded. "Bishop Tydon knew that an alliance would not be sufficient. It was why he believed that the only way to remove Saldara as a threat was to spread the teachings of my Order to the desert nation. Well, that or wiping Saldara off the face of this world."
"If it is such a… such a bad deal, then why would the King and the Queen agree to it in the first place? They should have stopped Emily! We have the power to destroy Saldara and-and then Emily wouldn't-"
"Marry Rinmar and marry you instead?" Wilson cut in. "Do you have an army, Fayte? One that could raise our chances against the Black City?"
They were going in circles now. "But you said that Saldara was weak and-"
"I did not say that Saldara was powerless." Wilson stared at him, letting the meaning of his words sink in. "I said that Saldara is weak and can offer little. Yet the King still wants this little bit of strength, at the cost of his daughter's happiness and at the risk of Saldara betraying us."
The King is giving up so much for just a little more strength? Fayte did not understand. "Why?"
"Because we lost the War of Darkness and Light," Wilson said. "Because the King is desperate and we die either way, whether the Black City attacks again or Saldara chooses to betray us."
It was then that Fayte truly felt how desperate a situation his kingdom was in. "At least Emily's idealistic hope gives us a chance…"
Wilson shut his eyes gently and sighed. "Yes. A chance."