Chapter 528: The Strongest

The silk chiffon rosebuds of Macha’s dress fluttered and tumbled, and her heels clicked and clacked against the marble floor as she hastily made her way from one side of the palace to the other. The servants were busy rushing about, placing large vases with fresh flowers on pedestals or replacing the candles in the hallway. This side of the palace was designated for Krystof and his family so the decor was noticeably different. Macha straightened her appearance then knocked on the door, but there was no answer. She opened the door and peeked her head inside. 


Krystof, Tyr, and Freyr were sitting down in large leather chairs sipping port. They were dressed in casual clothes, and Krystof and Tyr’s arms hung over the backrests of the sofas as they talked. Krystof laughed at something Freyr had said and Tyr’s face was relaxed with the hint of a smile in his eyes. Freyr faced the door, so he was the first to notice Macha. His face brightened up into a warm smile which made Tyr turn to check what had caught his cousin’s attention. When he saw Macha, he stood up and made his way to her.


“Macha, you’re not supposed to be here.”


Macha slipped in and closed the door behind her. She ignored Tyr’s gaze and gave Krystof a short wave.


“Er. Hi Krystof.”


“Hey.”


“Umm… Can I ask you a question?”


He gave her a grin.


“Shoot.”


“In your vows, are you gonna promise not to marry anyone but Luna?”


His brow furrowed and he tilted his head to one side.


“I wasn’t gonna.”


“What?”


“I already told her there’s no one but her for me.”


Macha gave a thin smile.


“Don’t you think you should put it in there? Just to remind her?”


“Macha,” Tyr warned.


“I’m just saying a girl won’t know unless it’s in the vows.”


“Macha, get out. You should be with Luna right now.”


“Tyr, chill. Come have some port with us,” Krystof said and waved for her to come.


Macha glanced at Tyr. His hands rested on his hips. Because his back was faced to the others, they couldn’t see his eyes narrow in displeasure. He wanted her to leave, but she decided to join them. For Luna. Maybe she would be able to convince Krystof to put it in his vows. Freyr moved over so she could sit between Tyr and himself. 


“You look stunning in that dress,” he mentioned as she sat down.


“Thank you.”


Freyr took a sip from his glass and leaned back in the chair.


“We were talking about how Krystof should change his last name instead of Luna. Only he believes that he will be the head of the household.”


Macha smiled at that.


“I was just reminding him how he always used to listen to her, even before they were together.”


Krystof refilled his glass and used a dark handkerchief to wipe the top of the bottle. He waved the cloth at Tyr and Freyr.


“Can you believe these guys? I’m obviously in charge. I dunno why they can’t see that.”


Tyr’s voice oozed sarcasm, “Sure you are. Remember that time you had all of us stay in the woods to see who was the strongest?”


“No,” Krystof said quickly. “I didn’t do nothing like that.”


Macha noted the odd phrase that he used. She couldn’t recall hearing that phrase before.


Freyr poured a glass for Macha and handed it to her. 


“I distinctly remember that challenge. Aunt Hrod called Tyr in early because he needed to sign some sort of document pertaining to our schooling. I believe I had to leave because one of my aunts was visiting for dinner…”


The memory was distant, and he couldn’t recall the particulars. He smiled.


“I do remember quite clearly that when we came out later, your father was pulling you out of the woods by the ear because you skipped out on training.”


Tyr nodded.


“Yeah and Luna was laughing behind you two the whole time. When you left the woods, she came out laughing and taunting us that she was the strongest.” Tyr shook his head. “Do you know how many weeks she rubbed that in my face? Then she said you had to listen to her because she was stronger. All ‘cause you had to be a dumbass and come up with that challenge.”


“Never happened. I don’t remember that,” Krystof said stubbornly. His eyes narrowed. “Freyr, you didn’t wipe the bottle. There’s a drip.”


Krystof got up to wipe the lip of the wine bottle properly.


“Just because you don’t remember it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” Tyr pointed out. “That’s just one reason why you’re destined to be her slave. She always finds a way to come out on top. I can’t remember a single time one of your ideas left her at a disadvantage. From games, to challenges, to requests, she always got the better of you.”


Krystof pursed his lips.


“Maybe I was playin’ her the whole time. Maybe I was makin’ her think she’s the boss so I can marry her. Ever thought about that?” He turned to Macha. “Macha, come on. Stand up for me. I stood up for you when Tyr was sayin’ we should leave ya in the woods. Me ‘n Aila, we’re practically your saviors.”


Macha rested the glass on her lap. “I think Krystof could be the boss in the household if he wanted to.”


Tyr rolled his eyes. 


“Don’t indulge him.”


“No, really. Luna really loves him, and she’s started to clean up after herself a lot more since they started courting. But I think he doesn’t mind letting her pretend she’s the boss. He picks his battles.”


“Ya! That’s right. I’m being strategic,” Krystof shouted. “Macha gets me. Takes the higher thinking capabilities of a woman to get on my level.”


“Guess you think like a woman,” Tyr said dryly.


“Eh!”


And,” Macha added, “That is why I’m sure he’s thought really hard about his vows. He’s probably gonna blow Luna away. What are you planning?”


Krystof waved his hand and laughed. 


“I didn’t plan anything yet. I was gonna go up and just say what I think. I figure it’ll come from the heart, ya know?”


Macha stared at him. Are you fucking serious? This isn’t like ordering at a restaurant. You’re supposed to think about your promise.


Tyr noticed the way Macha stared at their carefree friend and nudged her. 


“Why don’t I take you back to Luna? You need to help her relax. She’s probably getting worked up. Finish your drink.”


She glanced down at the glass. Her little expedition proved fruitless and only ended up putting herself on edge.


“Uh. Okay. I probably should get back to Luna. Your mother got her a little agitated.”


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