‘So?’ Acacia frowned, as she leaned her lower arms on the table. ‘What do you want to talk with me about, Dad?’

Audace took a deep breath, also leaning forward. He was looking down, clearly searching for the strength to tell whatever he wanted to tell. ‘Ace,’ he said, his voice soft, but clear. ‘I’ve been thinking about your studies.’

Acacia pulled up an eyebrow in confusion. ‘What about it?’

‘I… I don’t think you're made for the life of a Knight, Acacia.’

The girl’s mind went blank, and she stared at her father with wide, green eyes. ‘W-what do you mean, not made for it?’ she asked, voice stuttering as she spoke. ‘I-I’ve been training for years, how can I not-’

‘Let me explain, Ace,’ the General quickly interrupted her, ‘you’re a great student, always busy practising and trying to be the best you can. But I’ve also seen how much you struggle with keeping your cool and with playing fair-fight-’

‘But we’re knights! Not every fight is fair if your fighting against the enemy-’

‘Acacia, please don’t make this harder for me than it already is,’ Audace said, something like disappointment leaking through his voice. ‘I’m not too keen on sending you of all people away from the Academy, but for the safety of the country, I think it’s for the best.’

‘Dad, I’ve been training my entire life to become a Knight, l-like you and Mom! How could you even think about…?’ The girl’s words faded, and tears welled up in her eyes. ‘Is that why you said I need to clean up my act? T-to take my studies away…?’

‘Ace, please don’t take this the wrong way,’ the Forest Elf said, as he stood up and walked to where his daughter sat. ‘There’s nothing wrong with trying to find a new destiny, I myself have done that so many times-’

‘I don’t wanna find a new destiny!’ Acacia suddenly exploded. ‘It is fine as it is, I’m not gonna give up something I’ve wanted my entire life just because you don’t think it suits me! I’m going to do the exams, I’m going to pass, and I’m going to show everyone on this godforsaken island I’m not just your failed daughter!’

My failed daughter? Ace, who told you-’ the General stammered, but Acacia already stood up and ran towards the door.

‘Acacia, please-’

The door closed with a loud “thunk!”, and Audace was left alone in the kitchen, as footsteps came running down the stairs. Spica entered the room, and once she locked eyes with her husband, her eyes widened. ‘What have you done…?’

Acacia kept running until her feet couldn’t carry her anymore. She had only just reached the other end of the castle, when she leaned her back against the stone and sunk to the grass.

She tried to take a deep breath as she stared over the edge of the cliff before her; the sun, slowly sinking into the sea, shone an almost blinding orange light, and the waves crashing onto the shore made a hypnotising sound.

That was when Ace’s shoulders began to tremble. She casted her eyes down, and started crying. As tears rolled over her cheeks, she clutched her knees to her chest, and let out a soft wail.

Her father couldn’t have said that. He just couldn’t.

How much she wanted to believe the person she called her Dad, the person whose blood ran through her veins, wanted to take her life-long dream away from her.

And it wasn’t just her dream.

It was a chance to prove herself to her parents, to the world! If she didn’t have this, if she couldn’t be a knight, how could she prove herself to be worthy? Would it be possible for her to find a life without her dream?

‘Ace?’ a voice said, and the girl looked up. She was met by the concerned blue eyes of Avondir, who immediately squatted down next to her and laid a hand on her knee. ‘Is everything alright…?’

Acacia had to swallow the lump in her throat away before she could speak, but even then, her words came out in hitches. ‘M-my D-Dad… h-he doesn’t b-believe I-I could b-be a-a… a-a…’

Her voice died and her words transformed into hiccups. She hid her face between her knees, as her shoulders shook. Then, she felt a soft pair of hand taking a gentle hold of her, and before she noticed what was happening, the young man had pulled her into his arms.

It was then, she let herself go. Even though she knew almost nothing of this boy, she latched her arms around his waist, hid her face in the crook of his neck, and cried.

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