*** TOKE’S POV ***
- Mother, we have to talk.
- I am afraid, there is no later.
She stops in the doorway still in her hunting outfit and bloody hands.
- Why are you so serious, son?
- Black King is growing an army..
I watch her carefully. She even doesn’t blink, but her sad look gives her away.
- Andvari.. He told you. You knew. You knew it!
I slam lightly a fist at the back of the wooden chair. It breaks.
- Toke, don’t look so disappointed. This kingdom is mine. Of course I know it.
- Why don’t we do anything?!
- I’m not so sure Black will attack us.
Her words aback me. How could she be so naive!
- Sinns, MOTHER! Of course he will!
- Not, if we will play our cards well.
What nonsense she says! I have to bring light to her brain.
- Mother, we need to be better prepared. We need more trained men and more powerful defense. Maybe also guns meant for an attack!
- Toke! Not tonight.
She turns to leave.
- Mother, he is not the only one!
Her torso turns towards me in an instant. Her face flashes angrily as a wild mother’s protecting her children. If I wasn’t her son, I would be scared. Maybe I am. My gut is not calm either way. So she cares. She protects. Just in her own way. I try to calm my shaky breath as she narrows the gap between us.
Her voice is silky. I never heard. It stops my blood running. She searches my eyes, caressing my cheek softly. Andvari protected her. He hid that from her for years. Should I do the same? She places both her palms on my chest still searching my eyes.
- Toke, who?
Her silent and steely calm voice just raises my hesitation. Hair on my hands rise up. Half of me feels guilty because I spoke up. Other half pushes me to lay her all I know.
- Say his name.
Again that silk cuts the air and bounces over my skin.
- He is a snake!
- Toke, calm down. What is so gross about him?
I feel my body tremble as I remember how he made me feel.
- He is not worth our time, son.
She turns away. Her voice shows me she made her decision and is ready to leave.
- He threatens!
Her lips curl a bit. F*ck. She planned this along.
- I get you. He makes trouble. Andvari will deal.
I tremble at those silky words. It’s my time to take care! F*ck Andvari. Till now he did not so much. My blood bubbles.
- He slaughters our borders!
My mother’s hand cups my face and her thumb brushes my cheek gently. I instinctively lean in her touch. She still pays attention to what I say. I’m at least in the same row as Andvari.
- Who is he?
- Our neighbour.. at the south border.
She kisses my forehead. I assume she thinks.
- That’s next to Silva’s area. She never mentioned. Do we know, what does he want?
She runs her finger on her lip. She definitely measures my news. My heart is not calm, beats as a drum.
- The most stupid thing in this world! An appointment with you.
Her fingers freeze in one place. My heart is ready to blow from pressure. I would give everything to know what’s on her mind.
- Dark haired, too highly self-confident. Mom, you have to know. He is one of us, royals.
- And he knows about me?
- Yes. No!
She cranes her head confused. Her eyes narrow and land hard on me. I learned already, that brings nothing good. My breath shakes.
- I want to see him.
- Will you agree to meet him?! He blackmails you!
- I told you, I want to see, not to meet him. Arrange a moment at the Awakening party.
That went not as I expected. Maybe I have to alliance with Andvari.
She caught me lost in my thoughts.
- Toke, will you start preparation for our defense?
- I will make sure we are ready, Rhia.
At least she is reasonable. Though I can’t get rid of the feeling that something is wrong here and I am missing it.
- We have a party to attend, son.
She plants a kiss on my cheek and disappears in that green labyrinth of her halls and corridors. I change my outfit and put on a lions mask. Let’s the party begin.
*** SORGEDON’S POV ***
I hide myself under Griffin’s mask for tonight’s occasion and enter new palace about one’s existing I found out only tonight. It’s quite a large kingdom in a quite remote area, at the edge of our continent. I always thought there is no one’s land, suitable just for those lost lonely souls. Without a reliable guide it’s better not to explore the surroundings, that’s why Toke send one for tonight. I look at the imposing castle and guess who rules this lost land. Everything here highlights pure power.
I take the way where music plays. Music is joined by joyful laughs and clinging goblets. I pass groups of night guys. They share tonight’s excitement.
- How do you like it here?
I hear a velvet woman’s voice on my side. It’s her. The same beautiful woman I met tonight at the lake. The same which hit my heart so strong that it started beat as being still alive.
- I start to believe tonight is my luckiest one.
She hands me a goblet and drinks from hers, our eyes are locked. Her smiling lips are painted in burgundy drink’s color. She licks her lips slowly and carefully. One little drop tries to escape and two my fingers instinctively catch them brushing along her soft lips. Her sparkling white fangs prolong. She closes her eyes and her pale cheeks turn light pink. Now I am even more certain. She is the one. We are interrupted by another woman. She whispers some short words in my woman’s ear and both of them leave me. I look around. Party like mine. Modern, fun, relaxed and expensive.
- I wasn’t sure you would show up.
We hug and clasp each other’s backs. He leads us to our seats.
- How is your chest?
- The best hunting experience!
He hides under his tilted jacket implying tonight’s hunting experience and we share a laugh. Of course I had nothing else, as her in mind.
- I like your excitement, Sorgedon.
Music changes and my woman shows up on the stage. I can’t tear off the eyes of her trained moving body. She dances between poisonous snakes. They are not deadly to our kind. But just one bite and she will miss tonight’s fun. It would be a waste! I just met her again.
- She is marvelous, isn’t she?
I don’t look at Toke. Just stare at her dancing with real sharp swords.
- Where did she learn that?
Toke lets out a laugh in response.
- Are you concerned, my friend?
I share with him a short look and land my eyes back on her.
- She knows her hand around guns and even more. Watch and don’t pee!
He reaches the scene, gives my woman a sign and blows some liquid on the floor near her feet. Fire follows. Crowd backens, but after a moment happily cheers. She doesn’t stop and dances between rising flames. I reach the scene immediately but I am stopped by Toke’s body.
His hand blocks my way as I don’t listen to him. Crowd and music gets louder and louder. Dance gets wilder. I try to catch her gaze.
- Fy, Rhia!
Crowd says as a one including Toke and my woman. She holds two spread fingers on her heart and bows a bit her head. I search for a powerful queen. Instead my eyes catch a confident looking not so tall woman with a mask of a Valkyrie. I don’t see her face as it’s covered by a drained skull. There are two attached horns at a sides. Her soft long dark hair is loose and plays with a small wind she makes walking enough for that quickly to pass us by not stopping.
She hesitates for a half second and stops not facing us. It was Toke. Now he reaches for her. I am hit by her sweet scent. So familiar. Can it be HER?!
His voice is full of concern as I listen to their private talk.
- There was a breach at the narrow bridge gates.
Toke signals for the guards and few of them leave the hall armed. I join him at the side.
- I’ve seen guards. May I offer my assistance?
They both turn to me. Suddenly I feel as an intruder in the intimate scene. Non of them wanted me here.
- ..Rhia, meet my friend, Sorgedon.
She locks her blue eyes with mine. Milly?!
- Mother. I will check that security breach.
She nods and he leaves us alone.
- ..It’s my pleasure.. Rhia.
I try to focus her attention back on me. I bow as she doesn’t extend her hand for a welcoming greeting as a host would do for a guest. Only now I notice several deep cuts in her palms. She fighted cold guns with her bare hands. That’s the only reason how her palms could look that way in today’s circumstances. They are still badly bleeding, wide opened wounds white at the edges. The way she came is covered in red small drops. From experience I know what a painful hell she now feels, but she stands here still. Every warrior in her place would roar at this moment.
- I may provide treatment.
I point my hand slightly to her cuts. She closes her eyes. Shining pearls on her red dress are nonother than fresh blood drops mixed with some powder. She is not feeling hell. She just came back from hell. I feel a sudden urge to help and protect her.
My voice drops to a whisper.
- They were warlocks.
I reach for her wrist, but she yanks it down powerfully and flees the hall without words.
Continue reading chapter 24