The guests in the hall murmured amongst themselves, clustering together and far from the center where the strange man was close to, the doors and exits were blocked by the men that obviously were with him. They looked strange and dressed differently from them and the aura which they carried was something powerful and mysterious, and something a person would be curious enough to want to find out about, or maybe a person stupid enough to want to entangle with them. Lyra was a curious person.
She clutched on to Revvyn’s arm and pressed into his side, all the while keeping her focus on the man. The guests on this side of the hall had now clustered behind them, leaving both her and Rev in clear sight of the man if he should turn to their direction. Somehow it did not make her feel exposed because she had Revvyn standing with her, and yet somehow, it did. She looked up at Rev just as he looked down at her, his facial expression showing both anger and curiosity, it was an expression Lyra shared with him. She turned her head back to the man. He said he had come for his bride. Who?
Queen Gwyn was on her feet and so was the rest of the royals who had been seated in that section, it was easy to tell how they felt as it could be seen on their faces but the man only smirked, turned to look over his shoulder at the new couple, the new husband had taken a defensive stance in front of his new wife, sword drawn. He scoffed and turned back to face the majesties.
“Who are you?” King Kade asked the man who had so rudely interrupted his daughter’s wedding. He stepped away from his throne and made his way closer, down the very few flights of stairs, his left hand clutching gingerly onto the hilt of his sword around his waist. “And with what audacity do you dare barge into this place uninvited.”
King Kade approached the man cautiously but without fear, he would not draw his sword if the man did not pose a threat, but then he had rudely barged in and disrupted the whole ceremony. He stopped at only a little distance away from him, just a couple of steps more.
“Who are you and why should I not arrest you right now.”
The man chuckled at the king’s words and so did the men with him in the hall who laughed like Kade had said something he should not have. The man sighed and looked around the hall at the guests and many of them shivered, taking more steps backward and mumbling as they did. He looked back at the king and outstretched his right hand towards him, but not for a handshake.
“I am Ryder, and I am here to claim my bride.”
King Kade narrowed his eyes at him. “What bride do you speak of, Ryder?”
“The same bride that has been kept away from me for so long.” He tilted his head to the side so he could have the Queen, Gwyn in his line of sight and he continued. “Or don’t you remember, Gwyn?”
The crowd gasped and Kade turned to look at Gwyn who looked just as surprised as everyone else. Kade turned back to the man and drew his sword, anger clear in his facial expression. The strange men in the room did the same too, drawing their sword as some of them made their way towards their leader. Kade pressed forward until his sword was against the stranger’s neck, he would not be having such insolent behavior in his castle, most especially from a total and unwelcomed stranger.
The man waved a hand low towards his men approaching, signaling them to stand down, and they did so, reluctantly. He took a step back and brought two fingers to the edge of the sword against his neck, sliding it across the blade to lower it and by so doing, cutting himself. Kade allowed the sword to come down but kept his attention on the man’s bleeding fingers and watched in total unbelief as the wound sealed itself close. He gasped and looked at the man.
“What are you?”
“I am Lord Ryder of Astaroth,” He announced with a voice as clear as a bell, shifting his gaze from the king in front of him to the Queen behind. The shock on her face told him that now, she knew who he was and why he had come here. “And I am here for the girl.”
Gwyn gasped and so did Jenny, Kade turned back to look at his wife and noticed that she was frantically searching the hall with her eyes for someone. “Lyra…” He whispered.
Gwyn ran, she gathered up her gown and ran down the few flights of stairs towards the guest and straight for Lyra, then she turned and faced the man while holding Lyra protectively behind her. “You will get away from her!” She warned.
Ryder smirked and tilted his head. “So there she is…” He made to walk towards her but Kade held up his sword against his neck, stopping him from moving forward.
“You will leave this castle the same way you had come in and you will take nothing that you have not come with when leaving.”
“Lyra…” Ryder called. To hear her name being called by him shook her heart and she felt strange like it was not the first time she was hearing him call her name. Her heart fluttered and pounded in her chest and she felt a sharp prickle on her neck like two hot needles stabbing her, it was short and painful but it quickly stopped. She moved slightly from behind her mother to take a good look at the man and immediately their eyes locked, she felt something hit her, like a blow to the back of the head. She knew him, she had seen him and yet, this was the first time. Or was it?
“Mother?” She called.
“It has been thirty-eight years since I last saw you,” Ryder spoke, making his way towards them, the sharp edge of Kade’s sword sliced across his neck but Ryder did not stop. The crowd gasped, expecting him to splutter for words and fall down clutching his neck but the man walked on like he felt no pain, and then to the shock of everybody, the wound sealed itself.
Lyra gasped and stumbled backward but her mother pulled her closer to herself, keeping her protectively behind her.
“Lyra…” He called again, now standing in front of Gwyn who had the determined look on her face not to allow Lyra to be taken away by him.
“Guards!” King Kade yelled and a dozen soldiers burst in through the door. “Seize that man immediately!”
The men that had come with Ryder formed a large circle around their Lord, with Gwyn, Lyra, and Revvyn within the circle. As the first clash of swords rang, the guests screamed and made for the exits, pushing and shoving and desperately trying to get away from the chaos unfolding, with the ladies screaming at the top of their voice.
Revvyn moved and took a stance against Ryder, coming to stand in front of Gwyn with nothing but a dagger in his hands, he had the same determined look in his eyes as Gwyn and Ryder could not help but admire his bravery, not that he could do anything to stop him but still, he had stepped forward. He chuckled.
“Revvyn!” Jenny screamed.
Ryder leaned in closer to Gwyn, ignoring the young lad that had stepped forward to defend them and he spoke. “If I do not have my bride with me by your willing consent, I will attack your castle and your kingdom and still take her with me.”
“You would never…!” Gwyn started but he interrupted her midway.
“Surely you have heard of the kingdom of Astaroth and you have heard of its ruler, Ryder of Astaroth and you should also know that I do not say what I do not plan on doing. I do not say what I cannot do, Queen Gwyn. Hand her over.”
“Never…!” A slap rang across the room and Gwyn fell to the floor with Revvyn holding on to her, she had her palm on her cheek which had turned bright red and she snapped her head up to see Lyra unprotected in front of Ryder.
Lyra’s breathing shivered, her vision blurred and her head felt light, every noise she heard sounded to be distant but she could see the face in front of her, it was a blurry mass but she knew it was the face of the man called Ryder, she could feel his fingers on her face and slowly, the blackness set in and her legs gave way and the last thing she remembered before she blacked out was something she had heard once before.
“Red is a dangerous color on you Lyra.”