It was too early in the morning, only a couple of hours past midnight and nobody was asleep. Nobody could sleep, the whole of Dragonsbane could not fall asleep. The events that had taken place at midnight were still fresh and still caused some of them to shake and worry, some of them like the kingdom’s most recent bride; Soria. After Ryder and his men had left the palace with Lyra, she had latched on to Zaden and refused to let go, scared that they might come back and take her with them. She had cried, her wedding ceremony was supposed to be a memorable one, well, it was but this was not how she had pictured it would have ended. Never had she pictured it ending with Lyra’s kidnap.
Zaden sat in the chair beside her bed, holding her hand and stroking it gently as he watched her slowly drift off into sleep, he had carried her upstairs himself after she had been given her a sleeping potion that had been prepared by the queen herself so she could calm down and rest, because out of everyone present at that time, Soria had been disturbed the most. Her wedding had been disrupted in the most disrespectful way ever, and there had been fighting and blood and kidnap and nothing of what he had dreamt of to happen. She had not even gotten the chance to seek the blessings of her mother and father.
He leaned in forward and stroked her forehead when he noticed her furrowed brows and he knew that even in her sleep, she was still disturbed. He patted her head and stroked her hand until the wrinkles on her forehead disappeared and her face calmed and softened before he stood up. The rest of the family were downstairs in the dining room, having a meeting about the events that had played out and how best to deal with the situation at hand and he had to be there.
He planted a kiss on her forehead and spoke softly to the maid standing by the other side of her bed. “Keep an eye on her and let me be the first to know if anything changes.”
The servant girl bowed her head slightly in compliance and remained quiet as he left the room. She looked at her mistress and slipped onto the bed, feeling the back of her palm on her lady’s forehead for a rise in temperature. She sighed and withdrew her hand, everything was normal.
Well, not quite everything, the younger mistress had been forcefully taken from the palace, so not everything was fine. In fact, nothing was, but she prayed that soon, everything would be.
Zaden walked into the room as quietly as he possibly could and went straight for the group gathered around the dining table, he sighed and sat down as everyone turned to look at him.
“How is she now?” Gwyn asked.
“Asleep. She’s fine, for now.”
“For now,” Eris repeated in a louder voice. “Ho long before everything goes chaotic?!”
“Keep your voice down Eris.” Kade warned, his palms fisted on the table and his head bowed, his attention was on his crown in front of him and his mind was in turmoil, last night had been a disaster. He felt weakened as a king that could not protect his own child from being taken by another ruler of a strange land but then Ryder of Astaroth was no ordinary ruler. Rumors were that he was no human either. Whether they believed that or not, what they knew for a fact was that Astaroth was not a kingdom to be made into an enemy, it had a long history of violence and war and they always came out victorious.
“Where is Revvyn?” Jenny asked, concerned for her son.
“Asleep as well,” Gwyn replied. “I figured it should be just us here.”
“They took a princess of Dragonsbane, your daughter, Lyra right from your grasp and left, the whole kingdom watched as you did nothing. What message do you think that would send to the people Kade.” Eris continued, evidently fuming with rage.
“He was Lord Ryder of Astaroth…” Gwyn spoke but was cut off by Eris.
“I do not care if he is a Lord of some ancient magic town or not.”
“Well, you should!” She fired back. “It is not the first time he is coming for her, we knew this was inevitable anyway.”
The room quietened and Eris leaned in forward over the table towards Gwyn. “What do you mean by inevitable?”
She sighed and looked at Jenny who looked down at the table and took her seat. “Are you not in the least bit curious as to why Lyra still looks the same as she had thirty-eight years ago?”
Eris blinked and leaned back, taking his seat, he looked at Kade who seemed to know what was going on and Jenny did too. The only people totally ignorant of this were himself and Zaden.
“Thirty-eight years ago?” Zaden repeated shock and doubt clear in his tone of voice. “You mean Lyra is not turning eighteen?”
“She had turned eighteen several times before and every time she turns eighteen, mother would give her a memory loss potion to wipe two years off her memory, and so did we.”
“Lyra is not like… us. She is not exactly human and she doesn’t age as we do, she was not born into the family. She was found by mother in the garden.”
“Wait,” Eris interrupted. “When you say mother, you mean…?”
“I mean she was found by my mother.” Gwyn replied and looked at Jenny, then added. “Our mother, before, we were born, with a single not attached to her shawl.”
“Khione.” Jenny said.
Eris’ eyes widened. “Khione?!”
“But I thought those were just folk tales and myths…”
“Well, so did we until we saw it. Saw her.” Jenny sighed.
“On her first eighteenth birthday, the day she was supposed to pick you,” Gwyn spoke to Eris. “Ryder found her, and he marked her. The diviner said their union would prove deadly, so we had to keep her hidden and safe.”
“She is very important in keeping the balance in Astaroth as only a Khione can maintain that balance.” Jenny added.
“What balance?” Zaden spoke up.
Gwyn and Jenny exchanged glances briefly and they both sighed. “Ryder was her soul mate and she was his, such balance was necessary in preparation of the year of Osyron.”
“What is the year of Osyron?”
“Look,” Jenny spoke, cutting off Gwyn. “Lyra is a Khione and she is valuable to the people of Astaroth, they had been patient for thirty eight years, had gone through the trouble of coming to get her and you think that if you storm there, they would just hand her over to you? Sorry for taking your princess, you can have her back?”
“So what do you suggest, Jenny? That we sit back and allow them to have her? God knows what they would do to her, or what they are doing to her. I say we strike!”
“The people know that the princess has been taken.” Kade spoke slowly.
“And they want to know what your next line of action would be, King of Dragonsbane.”
Kade sighed and reached for his crown. He picked it up and studied it under the candlelight, contemplating on what line of action he should take. He knew the story surrounding Lyra, her identity as a Khione, and the Osyron year, and he knew that if he should do nothing, not only would they never see Lyra ever again, but that he would lose the trust of his people.
His breathing was unstable and his heart hammered in his chest because he knew that they all waited on his orders as King of Dragonsbane. He closed his eyes briefly and put the crown on his head.
“I say we get Lyra back. War on Astaroth.”
“Yes!” Eris supported.
“No.” Gwyn countered him. She looked at her husband and repeated. “No.”
“We cannot afford to go to war against the kingdom of Astaroth.”
“And neither can we afford to sit back and fold our hands, Gwyn. She is your family.”
“And I am not abandoning her but if we go to war against Astaroth, our defeat is sure, you would be bringing death upon your people.”
“He would not hurt her.” Jenny says and stands up.
“And you know that because…?”
“Because he needs her, she is of no use to him dead, so he would make sure to keep her alive.”
“In two years, she would turn eighteen again,” Jenny continued. “And that is when he would need to use her to create that balance.”
“We have two years to calm down and strategize.”
“I have no intention of waiting two years,” Eris said.
“It was never an option, Eris.” Gwyn said looking at him straight into the eyeball. “It was never an option.”