3. Push Off
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Lady Viviane was still leaning upon the hilt of the Excalibur.

Balin reached out a hand to the Lady, presumably as an offer to help her down.

“I’ll need some room to try,” he said pleasantly.

“Okay,” she replied.

She stepped aside, hopped down from the boulder and rolled a short distance upon the soft grass to soften the impact of her landing. Sir Balan applauded.

Balin clapped his hands together once and rubbed his palms together before placing them upon the sword’s handle.

He felt the sinew of the leather grip. It felt firm and tight between his fingers. He felt his pads meld with the grip, the cool tickle of the metal pommel against the very top of his grip, a ring of ice upon the top of his left thumb and index finger. He closed his eyes, felt the wind rush past his ears, and a calm come over his whole body.

He tugged up. The sword did not budge.

Lady Viviane let out a sound of disappointment.

Sir Balan was about to tease Balin, but saw that his brother was truly frustrated by his failed attempt and knew better than to test his temper.

“It’s alright, Balin,” Sir Balan said reassuringly. “I’ll bet you not even King Arthur himself could pull—”

Balin’s face flashed an expression of pain, then the young man leapt off the boulder and pushed through his brother as he stomped away into the woods.

“Balin, wait!” Sir Balan said, realizing that he had hurt his beloved brother. “Balin! Come back!”

“It’s alright,” Lady Viviane said.

“And I was trying to prevent that exact reaction too,” Sir Balan said. “Like, I was just trying to cool him off. Tell him it was alright…”

“It’s alright,” Lady Viviane said, batting her eyes at him.

“I worry about him,” he said. “Practically all the time. His temper can get out of hand at times.”

Sir Balan stared into the forest anxiously, while Lady Viviane stared at him longingly.

“I’m going to go after him,” he said without looking back at her. “Just to make sure he doesn’t kill himself… or anybody else.”

She gripped his wrist as he moved to leave.

“Wait,” she said as she pulled him in and planted a kiss on his lips. Their faces parted, and they looked into each other’s eyes.

“With that kiss,” she said. “I have blessed you with the power of the sun, no harm shall overtake you, and no death shall befall you in all of the days of this life of mine.”

“No death shall… befall me…?” he asked, confused.

“Yes, and take this,” she said as she handed him a small woven talisman with the image of a fish emerging from a cornucopia. “It’s a good luck charm.”

“It’s very nice,” he said as he studied it.

“My father gave it to me,” she said. “And I want you to have it.”

Upon hearing those words, Sir Balan looked up from the talisman, shook his head and held the talisman back out at her.

“No, it’s alright,” he said, insistent. “Your father gave that to you? You should keep it. I think he’d want you to have it, quite frankly. It’s really pretty though!”

She huffed, sending a small tuft of her hair flying up and back upon her head, then placed her hands under his and closed his fingers over the talisman in his palm. Then, she pulled him in close before kissing him once more. Then pushed—no—shoved him, sending him stumbling backwards.

“Now go,” the Lady said. “Find your brother, before he does something foolish!”

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