After dozens of briefings between the General and all the Lords had convened, it was late in the afternoon. Vadiim returned to the palace, this time with much ado and a proper welcome for a kinsman of his stature. The Queen ordered an elegant banquet to be held with all the nobles in attendance. Vadiim quickly searched the grounds for his wife, but could find her nowhere.
He anxiously approached the Queen and humbly bowed. “My Queen, this is quite fine of a production you have put on in my honor. I am much obliged,” he said.
Queen Ordessa let out a hearty laugh and retorted, “Thank you, General, this is one of my best banquets, if I say so myself.”
He did not know how to reply, so he remained quiet with a half-grin.
“General, I know you did not come over here to discuss with me the fine art of banqueting. I suppose you’d like to know the whereabouts of Princess Keinah.” She teased.
He coyly replied, “Forgive me, my Queen, but she has not been in attendance to my arrival banquet. Am I right?”
The Queen giggled as she went to take a sip of wine from her vial, then said, “You are true. My youngest daughter has forgone the celebration of her courageous husband’s return. She was not the least bit interested in leaving her plants unattended in the garden. I could not persuade her to come, so I left her there on her own devices. She is probably still in the garden in efforts to avoid you, or this circus as she called it.”
Vadiim grew irritated at the Queen’s amusement. Without saying a word, he stormed off to Keinah’s garden. Just as the Queen predicted, she was still inside the botanical dome. Vadiim eagerly went to greet her, but she pushed him aside to retrieve a vial to water her plants. He could sense she was infused with anger. He commanded her to speak. She remained quiet and ignored his calls to her. When she went to walk by him again, he swiftly grabbed her by the shoulders to pin her against a wall.
“Keinah, I have returned from a year-long voyage, and did not know how long it would be before I could see you again. I am grateful for our time together. Please speak to me,” he demanded.
Keinah tried to conceal her rage by avoiding eye contact. “What’s the big deal? You don’t even like going to the Queen’s banquets,” she answered with ire.
Surprised at her tone, he replied, “I do not care about the banquet. All I wanted is to see you.”
Keinah scoffed, “You see me now, as you saw me earlier.” She pushed him off and turned to walk away, and Vadiim abruptly grabbed her wrist.
“My love, apathy does not suit you,” he cautioned.
Keinah tried to snatch away, but he would not release her. For several minutes, they were grid locked in a struggle, until she gave in. “I am just preparing myself for my lot in the afterlife!” she exclaimed.
He turned her loose and asked, “What do you mean?”
She looked him square in the eyes and revealed the source of her anger. “You have been gone a whole year after our vows. The one vow that you made to stay by my side has been dismissed. Upon your return, you roused me long after dusk to make love, only to leave me alone once again.”
Anguished by her accusation, Vadiim reminded her of his position. “Keinah, that is not fair! You know the terms of the condition that I must abide to keep you with me will always involve my continuation in protecting the Emerald kingdom.”
She drew in a deep breath and sharply replied, “Yes, my dear husband, I know you are the great General of the Emerald clan. You are who you are. Except, this is NOT who you were to me on the beach.”
Vadiim became furious and squeezed her by the shoulders. “If I recall correctly, it was YOU who always left me alone on the beach,” he said.
Keinah was cut to her core by his words. The wrath in her eyes turned to pure water, as she recalled each time she had to leave him on the beach. Her body went limp, and she cried, “Vadiim, you know that was not my fault. It could not be helped.”
Vadiim quickly regained composure and immediately regretted his statement. He pulled Keinah into his embrace to console her. Softly he said, “What would you have me do, my love? It is not as if I could steal you away in the night to carry you off to a remote island. We can never live as we did before.”

The Far Side of Hereafter, Ch. 15

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