It was evening on the Festival’s last day. The Closing Ceremony was set up. Arsha had put her hair back into its signature bun since the bet she made with Thengo was over. All of the royal families had taken their seats and were ready to begin. Merrim had taken the podium to give her speech. “Quite the interesting festival this year,” she began. “I will admit, the race was a little soured by the scandal, but I can’t say that it was entirely unsuccessful. When trouble came at us, what happened? Like our sister Realms, we banded together to get answers. Only through unity could we make this festival possible, only through unity can we get answers, and only through unity can we achieve anything. Yes, some may say that we need freedom more than anything, but freedom and unity aren’t mutually exclusive. With the rediscovery of the Sphinxes, we need to unite with them so they can regain their long-denied freedom. To that end, I will be making frequent visits with our excess livestock to help negotiate better relations. May the Sphinxes join us in next year’s Mid-Union Festival. With that said, it’s time to close this one.”
“Would the reigning monarchs please stand and introduce themselves?” called the announcer. Merrim started.
“I am Queen Merrim Laumfim of the Regatim Oasis!” she proclaimed. She and her family and Royal Guard Captain then produced balls of light and encouraged them to float high above the crowd.
“I am King Fornam Erremak of Varshenta Beach,” announced Fornam. His family and Captain followed Merrim’s example.
“I am King Dranser Ironfist of the Borompek Dwarf Kingdom,” called Dranser. More lights joined the others.
“I am King Slamfal Dromema of the Borsootha Slime Oasis,” introduced Slamfal. More lights.
“I am King Drogo Eragar of the Slempay Kingdom,” proclaimed Drogo.
“I am Queen Lurmir Sklandar of Aridu,” called Lurmir.
“I am King Derromer Hejek of the Gafinar Cecaelia Kingdom,” introduced Derromer.
“I am Queen Dimorea Handra of the Glasna Kingdom,” rumbled Dimorea.
“I am King Vorko Caldora of the Kurontar Sea Merfolk Kingdom,” announced Vorko. “I don’t think we need to strain any vocal chords or put people to sleep by announcing our names.” That elicited a chuckle as the Caldora family and their Royal Guard Captain offered their lights.
“I am King Emberam Tormote of the Midoran Forest,” called Emberam.
“I am King Dremek Hanradar of the Borthoo Jungle,” introduced Dremek.
“I am King Dremmir Jahelma of the Algarda Merfolk Kingdom,” announced Dremmir.
“I am King Dwermal Galmudii of the village of Rokanth,” proclaimed Dwermal.
“I am Queen Hindra Havemik of Galthar,” called Hindra.
“I am King Elgrad Royana of Largandra and of the Mid-realm,” finished Elgrad. All the lights offered by the royals and their Guard Captains hung in the air far above the crowd.
“Now, to finish things off,” called the announcer, “the Crown Princess of the Mid-realm shall finish this evening!” Arsha stood up and raised her hand, snapping her fingers and causing the lights to explode into fireworks! It was a spectacular sight, with colors across the spectrum dancing over the crowd and causing a tremendous noise!
“So beautiful!” breathed Malnar. The show lasted a good while before ending. Everyone applauded wildly at the show. Once the rush died, everyone headed back to their ships. Arsha, her spouses, her parents, Irmalii and her wives, Nazay, and Merrim headed in the same direction. The Royanas and Ralmamps were the first to bid goodbye as they arrived at their ship, the Sky Dancer.
“When your tour ends,” promised Irmalii, “we’re gonna watch Dr. Snood until our eyes fall out!”
“I’d like that,” answered Arsha.
“Goodbye, my Precious One,” bid Hanako as she and Elgrad hugged Arsha.
“Good luck, Captain,” bid Elgrad.
“Thank you,” replied Arsha. “And I’ll see you around!” The embrace was broken off as Elgrad led his family and friends onto the Sky Dancer. The next ship was Malnar’s, the Meteor. She and Gorfanth hugged their lovers goodbye.
“May our separation be temporary,” bid Gorfanth.
“If you guys can make time out of your busy schedules,” offered Malnar, “I’d like you all to come for my birthday in a few months.”
“We’ll have to check with Realmfleet,” replied Lardeth, “but I see no reason to refuse.”
“Neither do I,” agreed Arsha.
“We’ll try to make it,” promised Falnii.
“I’d never miss it!” chuckled Foresna.
“Then good luck and farewell!” called Malnar as she and Gorfanth boarded the Meteor. Next up was Foresna’s ride, King Dwermal’s ship, the Chaser.
“Look at you!” Arsha remarked to Foresna. “Traveling in luxury!”
“It’s a chance most peasants would jump at,” agreed Foresna. “I’m gonna be taking a carriage ride back to the farm after that.”
“Lucky guy!” chuckled Lardeth. “See you later!”
“Bye!” called Foresna as he followed Dwermal up the Chaser’s ramp. Next was the High Sky, Lardeth’s ship. He and Falnii gave Arsha one last hug goodbye.
“Hopefully, we’ll meet in Wysper City,” suggested Lardeth.
“If Realmfleet allows it,” replied Arsha.
“See you later,” bid Falnii.
“Goodbye,” returned Arsha. Falnii and Lardeth then boarded the High Sky. Arsha, Nazay, and Merrim then reached the Endeavor. Merrim gave one last hug.
“Come home soon,” she begged.
“As soon as I’m able,” assured Nazay.
“Don’t stop calling me,” urged Merrim. “It’s all I have.”
“Every day, my dearest Desert Rose,” promised Nazay. They kissed, then broke off the embrace. Arsha and Nazay then boarded the Endeavor and headed to the bridge.
“You’re a lucky man,” observed Arsha.
“You’re not exactly lacking in luck yourself, Captain,” replied Nazay.
“…Yeah, you’re right,” conceded Arsha. They soon arrived at the bridge and took their positions. Shalvey, Malak, and Oak were already there. Arsha settled into the Captain’s chair and Nazay took the helm.
“New mission from Realmfleet,” reported Shalvey. “We’re to deliver some equipment from the Haldebor Drider Caves to the All Ones Cathedral in the Galdredan Lava Kingdom.”
“Elmpam’s stomping grounds,” mused Oak.
“Nazay, lay in a course for the nearest Realmgate,” ordered Arsha, “then make all available speed for the Haldebor Drider Caves.”
“Laying in a course,” replied Nazay.
“We’ve just been given clearance on departure flight path two,” called Shalvey. “Transferring to helm.”
“Flight path received and course laid in,” reported Nazay.
“Nice and easy,” directed Arsha. The Endeavor’s mighty engines then exerted power to lift itself off the launch pad as its landing struts retracted into itself. It then moved itself onto the designated flight path and followed it out of the Regatim Oasis’ airspace on course for the nearest Realmgate.