The Red Sapphire

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Chapter 23

Milos opened his eyes and for the first time since returning to Turion, he didn’t regret being home. Aliana’s head rested on his arm while her arm was thrown across his chest. His wife was in all ways his. He smiled slightly as absently he drew circles with his fingertips across her exposed back. She always wore long sleeves so people would have noticed how well developed the muscles of her shoulders and arms were from years of training. Some men would find them off-putting but he loved them. His wife could hold her own. It showed a strength of character and dedication which would be needed if she was to be his queen.

She stirred slightly, stretching like a cat before opening her eyes. Her face reddened slightly. Still shy it seems. His smile widened. “Morning,” he said.

She raised herself up on the elbow, “Am I dreaming or did last night really happen?” she said as a small dent formed between her brows.

“It happened. Regrets?” he was worried what her reaction would be when she woke this morning. He hoped that she hadn’t seduced him under stress and now when the threat was gone she would be angry at him.

The dent between her brows deepened. “No,” she finally said and he didn’t realise how tense he was until his muscles relaxed. “You?”

“Definitely not,” he said as he brushed the hair out of her face.

“I was almost certain that there was an earthquake last night, but I wasn’t sure since you were, you know...moving.” She then settled in back into his chest and then paused as she took in the curtains around her. “The curtains?”

“You set them on fire.” he said nonchalantly.

“Are you alright?” she said sitting up.

“I am fine, flattered really to know that I could set you ablaze.” he smiled slightly.

“You’re incorrigible,” she said swatting him.

“Nothing to be ashamed of love, as last night was an earth moving experience for me as well.” he sounded sincere but she didn’t want to look at his face afraid of what she might see there.

“So what now?”

“This isn’t actually familiar territory for me either. Despite my history, I never brought anyone home and I certainly didn’t spend the night in their arms, though I admit that I like this arrangement. I suppose we should bathe, have breakfast and I still want to take you sailing today.”

“Yes, the war.” she sighed sitting up with the sheet draped around her.

It had surprised Milos that she’d understood so quickly what he meant by going sailing, he was really going to Dykelands to find proof for his theory. That she believed him and took him seriously was amazing. She continued to surprise him the more time they spent together.

“I will go first.” she said standing.

“Or we could save time and bathe together.”

“But it is morning.” she blushed.

“I’ve seen every inch of your body Aliana and there isn’t a single part of it that I didn’t like. He said coming to stand in front of her. “Besides I would like another shot at getting you pregnant with my heir.”

“Since you asked nicely.” she said dropping the sheets. She was bold, but then he already knew that. His eyes were hungry as he looked her over. He scooped her up and ferried her to the bathroom.

.......

“Three earthquakes in two days. We haven’t had this much activity in years.” said his father.

Milos loosened the button at his neck and cleared his throat. His family eyed him curiously. “Are you alright?” asked his mother.

“I am, why do you ask?”

“You just seem a bit peaked and agitated that’s all. Both of you do.” she said looking at Aliana whose blush deepened. “Then again last night was your wedding night.” This was heading into a territory he didn’t wish to discuss with his parents. It was bad enough that his mother had mentioned his past lovers to Aliana.

“Aliana and I are going sailing today.” he said side tracking his mother. “In fact, we are running late.” he said getting up. She was quick to follow. “We will be back by nightfall.”

“How many men are going with you?” asked his father.

“I have arranged for twenty guards. Mother, father.” he bowed.

“Your Majesties.” curtsied Aliana before taking his hand.

“She wasn’t pregnant before but it looks like she may very well end up that way soon.” he heard the king say when he thought they were out of hearing range. “The earthquakes, do you think...” the door closed blocking out the rest of the conversation.

The carriage was waiting for them outside. He helped her inside and they were taken to the port. The steamboat was already waiting at the southern dock. The guards ensured that no one harassed them as they passed but their presence still managed to draw a crowd.

He relaxed as soon as he’d discussed the course with the captain and were well on their way across the lake. Most of the guards were on a separate schooner some paces behind them.

Aliana was standing at the bow of the ship looking ahead. She didn’t turn as he came to stand beside her.

“I think that I should go to Nilian when we return to help fight the grim. I read about Sidna oil. It is effective but takes years to mature to the point where it would be effective. I don’t think that we have enough stored to do any real damage and we don’t have time to wait. We know that my fire can kill them.”

“I don’t think that it would be a good idea.” he saw hurt cross her features. “Let me explain,” she said nothing. “It isn’t just grim that are there in Nilian but Arnayan soldiers. If you go there and start fighting against them they will think that you’ve become a traitor. You’d never be able to return home.”

He watched as she thought about it. “Perceptions don’t matter when innocent people are dying. As for the men I will just have to prove that I am not a traitor. I have a duty to people on both sides of the border now. Having to work with grim I am sure don’t sit well with them either.” she bit her lip.

He sighed heavily and after a while said, “Very well, I will just have to get father to explain to the barons about your powers. My parents and I have kept that information between ourselves.”

“My handmaids Melody and Farica also know.” she confessed. “I had enough of their pranks so I had to teach them some respect. Your mother saw me.” she was bristling just thinking about it.

“Well I should’ve guessed that your temper would have flared at some point.” he laughed and pulled her closer kissing the top of her head. He then went rigid.

“Milos what is it?” she asked.

“I felt movement in the earth. Like thousands of small explosions going off.” he said absently. He then walked to the control room. Aliana trailed him.

“What is happening Milos?”

“They’ve started. I was right.” he said. “Captain how long before we get to the dykes?”

“In approximately twenty minutes Your Highness.”

“Make that ten or less if you can.”

“Your Highness,” he said adjusting the controls. He then started barking orders at the other sailors on board.

Aliana didn’t hear all that, she was more concerned about Milos’s erratic behaviour. She trailed him back to the deck. “Milos answer me! How do you know that the attacks have started?”

“Because I felt it. I felt the earth shifting.” he said.

“That is impossible.” she said.

“No more impossible than what you can do. “Look,” he said pointing out at the water. “We are close enough to the Dykelands that we should be able to see the land by now.”

“I don’t see anything different.”

“That is because the sea had started reclaiming the land. It will fill it until it gets to Broken’s pass. That’s it! They are going to wait until the lake joins the sea through the pass and then sail directly to Turion.” he said.

“You still haven’t explained about feeling the earth move.” she said pulling his face towards her.

“You know that there were more than one “Sapphires” from history right?” she frowned. “I am also one them. You control fire. I can control the earth. That is how I know.”

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