Asphodel left the house, tears streaming down her face. She would go to Vass. He would have a solution to this. She could not, would not marry this man. He was old, in spite of what her father said. It was wrong to force someone to marry against their will. It was one thing if the two people both agreed to the arrangement, but she did not agree. She loved Vass. If she married Frishillondor she would never be able to see Vass again. she could not bear that thought.
She ran down the path leading to where he was staying with his cousin, Liss. It so happened that the two young men were just leaving the house. Vass ran to Asphodel and took her in his arms.
‘Oh, my darling, what’s the matter?’ he said, stroking her long black hair.
Asphodel stopped sobbing now she was in Vass’s arms and leaned her head against his chest.
‘Vass, it’s terrible. Father has arranged a marriage for me with a man who himself is old enough to be my father. I told father I won’t marry him and ran out of the house. He’ll be so angry. He’ll make me marry Frishillondor, I just know it.’
Vass pushed the girl away from him, holding her by her shoulders and looked down into her grey eyes, no longer clear as the usually were. He smiled at her.
‘Asphodel, I swear I won’t let this marriage go ahead. I love you and you love me. It’s right we should be together, and this marriage is all wrong.’
‘But what are we going to do? I know we should be together, Vass, and somehow I’ll make sure we will be. I don’t know how, just yet, but whatever happens, I won’t marry this man.’
Asphodel’s tears had stopped. She clenched her fists pressed her lips together and looked up at Vass. She saw his smile and her heart beat faster. Yes, this was the right man for her, not Frishillondor.
‘You don’t much like being told what to do, do you?’ Vass said.
‘It’s not that,’ replied the girl. ‘What I don’t like is being told to do something I know is wrong, and I won’t do it.’
Vass turned to Liss.
‘Do you think your parents will let Asphodel stay here for tonight?’ he asked his cousin.
Liss shrugged. ‘It might not be easy to persuade them. After all, they would be likely to agree with Asphodel’s parents, that it’s her duty to marry the man they choose for her.’
The three walked through Quantissarillishon thinking and occasionally putting forward ideas. Eventually they decided they would have to lie about why Asphodel wanted to stay with them overnight.
As it began to get dark, the trio made their way back to Liss’s parent’s home. Liss’s mother was preparing the evening meal as they entered.
‘Ah, there you are,’ she greeted them. ‘Did you have a nice walk?’ she turned to Liss.
‘Your father will be home soon, so go and get washed. And you, too, Vass.’ Then she looked at Asphodel.
‘Would you like to stay for the evening meal, Asphodel? If you’re sure your parents won’t mind.’
Asphodel looked at Vass who smiled at his aunt.
‘No, they won’t mind. In fact they won’t even know until Asphodel tells them. They’ve gone away to stay with her sister for a few days.’
‘That’s settled then. You’ll stay to eat with us.’
She returned to chopping up vegetables when she suddenly stopped and, brushing her hair from her eyes, she said, ‘I’ve just had an idea. How long are your parents going to be away for?’
This took Asphodel by surprise. She had not thought this question might be asked.
‘O-Oh, er. I don’t know. Daisy, that’s Dassirrola, my sister, is expecting a baby any day and I think they’ll stay until she’s had it.’
Vass looked at her and raised his eyebrows. Asphodel looked back at him and gave a little nod to say that it was the truth she told about her sister.
‘Oh, I understand that,’ said Liss’s mother. ‘Your mother is so lucky having two of you. That’s rare in elvenkind. Most of us have to make do with one child.’
She picked up her knife again and resumed her chopping before continuing.
‘What I was going to say was; would you like to stay here while your parents are away? It’ll be lonely for you at home by yourself.
Vass almost broke out laughing, and Liss’s jaw nearly dropped to the floor. How easy it had turned out to be after all. No arguing a case for Asphodel to stay after all. His kind-hearted mother had done it for them.
The next morning, Vass took Asphodel out to walk in the forest outside the city.
Once there, he took her hand and said, ‘I hardly slept last night, darling. I was thinking and thinking how we can be together and I came to the conclusion there is only one way. We must run away.’
Asphodel stopped and looked at him. ‘Run away? Run to where? Wherever we go in Rindissillaron they’ll find us.’
‘Not to anywhere in Rindissillaron. This is a big continent. We could go to Erian. They’d not find us there. But we must go quickly. Your parents will be already looking for you. First they’ll think you stayed with Sissi and not worry, but this evening they’ll begin asking. It won’t take them long before they think of looking here. We should go tonight, or at the latest, tomorrow morning.’
Asphodel walked to the edge of a small brook that ran through the forest.
‘I’ve never lived anywhere but here in Quantissarillishon.’
‘Then it’ll be an exciting adventure for you. It’s the only way I can think of that we can be together.’
Asphodel turned to face Vass.
‘Then we’ll go. I have a few jewels and a little money. If I can get them without my parents seeing me, then I will. We’ll need money.’
‘I’ve a little money too. Not much, but I can work, and you can read and write so you can get a job as a scribe, I expect. We’ll get along just fine.’
‘I don’t speak Erian, do you?’
Vass laughed. ‘No, but we’re both intelligent people and we learned Elvish, didn’t we? How hard can it be to learn Erian?’
Asphodel laughed and Vass picked her up and spun her round.
‘Here’s to our new life in a new country,’ he said