Archibald couldn’t stop thinking about Betty. He had betrayed her. Gone back on his promise to shop at the Alerion district with the gold coin. Now, he was tossing and turning in bed, unable to even close his eyes.
Betty’s face, tear stained and with a glare in her eyes, came to him. This was the prettiest girl he had ever met. And he had picked someone else over her. Granted that someone else was family, but still.
Standing up, he went and grabbed his allowance of forty gold coins, that got raised as there were fewer children depending on the Apple Grotto funds. He was going to get her presents. As many as he could!
It was still dark out, but he was prepared to wait. The night was warm and there was a slight breeze. He saw pink flowers growing around his hut and was reminded of the dress she wore yesterday. Such a pretty dress with numerous frills!
He picked one and placed it in his pocket. Then, he sat down on the bench next to his hut and began to wait for the sunrise. The merchants were out with the sun every day. He wouldn’t have to wait much.
The boy looked up at the stars and wondered what his strategy for present giving had to be. Maybe he could buy small things? Betty would be happier with more sales.
But he felt it would be better not to impress the girl of his dreams with sales. He needed to buy her something that came from the heart. Something nice that she would appreciate. A new dress? One of the puffy ones that Theanore wore? Or, and he blushed at that, a ring?
Cassius, when he lived with them, had on a ring even after the divorce. He told Archibald once that it represents his love for Theanore and that no one would be able to make him take it off.
But Cassius had taken off the ring just before he left. He had left it to Archibald and told him to give it to someone special. Would Betty like the ring? The toddler went back inside and opened his secret wooden box and took out the onyx encrusted golden ring from it.
It wasn’t enchanted, and so Archibald headed towards Theanore’s hut, where the mana fountain was. He was not as good with enchanting as Theanore and Marinus, but he could get things to level 5. Which was quite a lot, Crassus had told him once.
Tiptoeing inside, he went to the mana fountain and placed the ring inside. It was full of mana crystals, but Archibald concentrated and created one. It had to come from him. Then, he spoke.
Air, breezy, nice and hale.
Make something from the heart.
For Betty is pretty and able,
To make Archie’s heart go bam, bam, bam.
A slight breeze went through the hut and Theanore stirred in her bed. Getting up, she pulled her rag doll and Princess Strawberry closer to herself. When she saw Archibald, she grinned.
“Archie, you are an early bee, aren’t you? Do you want a story?” She had the story about Tamara in mind. Not having told her brother that one yet.
“No, Archie makes ring for Betty!” Exclaimed Archibald, and he waved the ring around. The breeze went pass the hut again, and he looked down at the ring that, for a second, had a small air bubble around it.
“Can I see it?” Theanore placed both dolls on the bed and went to the boy. He gave her the ring reluctantly and she gasped. “That is Cassy’s ring!”
The breeze become stormy and both children looked at the ring, confused. No enchantment had such effects that they knew of. Theanore waved the ring and the carpet lifted off the ground, making the two stumble.
Any thought that Theanore had about this being Cassius’s ring flew out of her mind at the prospect of this being something new. A new enchantment? A portable spell? She needed an expert’s opinion on this. She looked at Archibald and hit him with her best puppy eyes.
“Archie, can I show this to grandpa Thinker? Then we can give it to your Betty,” the boy didn’t want to hand over the ring. He had betrayed Betty once, after all. But, this was his sister. And sisters were for life. Once again, Archibald chose his family.
“Ok, but quickly,” they ran out of the house, still wearing pajamas, and made it to the Alerion sector just as the worker elves were setting up shop. Theanore went to the sled where grandpa Thinker promoted his section of the fair and saw him having his morning cocoa milk with cookies.
“Grandpa Thinker, what is this?” Theanore trusted the ring beneath the spirit of Yule’s nose, and she was lightly bouncing on her feet as she did so.
“Good morning to you too, Thea. Nice to see you again,” came from grandma Thinker. Theanore smiled at her, embarrassed she hadn’t greeted the two, and went on her tiptoes to peck them on the cheeks. She received kisses on the forehead in return, and then she nudged Archibald, who shyly went in for some hugs.
“Oh, it is so good to see you both. Two children on the good list. Make sure it stays that way,” grandma Thinker’s tone was light, but the warning was clear and both gulped.
“We’ll do our best,” chorus the children. Grandpa Thinker held the ring up to the light and waved it around. The breeze played with his beard and he looked amazed at that.
“Why, I have never seen such a thing. Can you sell it to me? This could help power windmills!” Archibald deflated at the bright smile on Theanore’s face. But, then she remembered that this was supposed to be a gift, and she shook her head.
“No, this is for Betty. She is a friend of Archie’s,” said Theanore. She was sure that Archibald could replicate the enchantment with enough practice, so she wasn’t worried about a missed opportunity.