Milos woke with a start. He looked around him, confused but as he looked out on the balcony he recognised the familiar view of Turion Lake through his balcony window. Someone stirred beside him and he looked down to see Aliana with her back facing him.
“Aliana.” he said touching her gently. She turned and smiled and then brushed a small kiss over his lips.
“Good morning.” she said as she cuddled closer to him. He felt the press of her soft body against him in open invitation. The scent of her citrus perfume wafted from off her. She never wore perfume to bed. Each night she would wait for him in their room. They would share a bath together and then made love. He loved waking up to the smell of soap and a scent that was uniquely her mixed in with his in the mornings.
He pushed her away slightly so that he could see her face. “What am I doing here?” he puzzled. “How did I get here? I was in Evan. Ana-Moriah?” He remembered being caught and carried off in the back of a wagon. Arro-Bar he was dead Ana-Moriah had done that.
“Shh, shh my love.” she said sliding on top of him and straddling him.
My love? Aliana would never... He pushed the woman off him and sat up. “Who are you and what have you done with my wife?”
The woman simpered, “I don’t understand Milos? I am your wife.” she said trying to touch his face once more.
He pushed her hands away and then stood. “What have you done with my wife?” he said pulling on the earth around him, but he couldn’t find the connection. He was always the strongest around Aliana, who was clearly not the woman sitting in the bed. “Answer me!” he thundered as he reached over and grabbed her by the neck.
“Please Milos, it’s me.” she whimpered clinging to his arms. This woman’s touch was too soft. Aliana’s hands were slightly callused from the weapons she secretly wielded.
“The truth!” he said holding her tighter. Blood drained from her face and she clawed at his arms. “Where is she?” he asked even as the woman gapped.
“She is dead.” said another voice coming from behind him. He turned to see Ana-Moriah walking towards him. The room around him melted away and he found himself standing in an unfamiliar chamber. Though candles of different sizes were around them, darkness it seemed had taken hold of this room.
“His magic is strong.” said the Aliana who was not. He turned to see that she had morphed back into the Whisper, with cold smoke and darkness emanating from around him.
“It would seem that way.” said Ana-Moriah. “Perhaps more this time?” she said. “And we could probably not mention the princess this time.”
“Moriah, what are you doing to me?” said Milos looking between the two.
“Not to worry Your Highness.” she smiled. “You will find out in time.”
The wraith grabbed his arms, holding him fast despite his protests. He stepped forward, but the queen waved her hand and his joint locked in place. She came over and wrenched his mouth open, pouring a thick liquid down his throat.
“Drink.” she said as she clamped down on his nose. The liquid was foul tasting and his throat burned, but he was unable to disobey the queen. She then poured more of it down his throat and she didn’t remove the vial until it was done.
He could feel his limbs growing weaker and like something within was changing. A bond was slowly unravelling. “What are you doing to me?” he rasped as his throat was scalded by what she had given him to drink.
“In time you might thank me Milos.” she said. “Now sleep.” she commanded once more and his eyes felt heavy as darkness again overcame him.
He heard whispers around him. “I think this dose was enough.” said the male voice. “Anymore and he will pass into the void.”
“Very well then.” said the female. Soft hands then brushed against his forehead and he opened his eyes once more. He found himself looking into the mud brown eyes of Ana-Moriah. “Milos are you well?”
He sat up. Was he well? Something had changed within him. He was the same but not quite. “I am. I think.” he said. His voice sounded hollow, but had it always sounded this way? He wasn’t sure.
“What do you remember of Aliana?”
“I thought we weren’t going to...” said a pleasant sounding baritone voice.
“Quiet!” came the reply. “Now Milos, what do you remember of Aliana?”
“Aliana.” the name sounded familiar on his tongue. Two faces came before him. A simple girl that walked with an air of certainty and sureness that he dreamed to possess, but who he’d seen crying when she was alone and thought no one else was watching. The other was his Scarlet goddess, beautiful and terrible that thrummed with a different kind of power. The power to ignite and set the world ablaze in her anger.
He remembered knowing that he loved her. She made him both happy and sad. He remembered it, but he didn’t feel it. All he felt was hollow. “Aliana. She is my wife?” he asked. It sounded right. Yes. She was. A wedding flashed before him and his wedding night. Again he searched for the feelings that came with it, but felt nothing.
“Yes, she was.” said the woman.
“She and her father set me up.” he said another distant memory covered his vision.
“And me? Who am I?” she said still staring at him. She was too close. He didn’t like it, but didn’t know why. He sat up so that she would step back.
“You are Ana-Moriah.” he remembered her as well. She had risked her life to save him. Evan fell and Arro-Bar captured him. He was going to kill him and she had saved him. He owed everything to her.
There was the sound of shouting coming from just outside the door and a man in his mid-fifties came in screaming.
“Where is she? Where is that lying witch?” he said looking around the room. He spotted the queen and stormed towards her. “My daughter is dead! You let them kill her! She was supposed to be queen. You said after we killed Genos, that imbecile Milos would have her as his wife. Now my daughter is dead!”
“Calm down Matthias.” said Ana-Moriah as she fanned him off. “I did not let anyone kill your daughter, Sonnetta was it? Doesn’t matter. You became impatient and acted on your own. The consequences that you faced are of your own making.” she said stepping towards him. “Be careful what you say next as I have company.” she said indicating to where Milos stood by the bed.
His eyes bulged and his face turned a blustering shade of red. “Milos. What is he doing here?”
“Prince Milos and I were about to come to an understanding before we were disturbed.” she said.
His eyes narrowed, “I see.” he said rocking back.
“I don’t think you do. He owes me a very big favour and I was going to call on him to repay it now.” she said turning to Milos.
“So the power of the Green Sapphire, you gave it to him. I knew that he couldn’t be that powerful.” he said.
“And again you prove yourself to be as stupid as I always knew you were Matthias. Elemental magic is hereditary. So yes, I AM that powerful. I wonder how it is my father kept you in his service for so many years.” Milos answered mechanically.
“We are on the brink of winning a major war baron, so be careful what your next step is. You can choose to remain with me or can fight against me. The last time you struck out on your own, you saw what the result was. Stick with me and the reward will be worth it.”
“I don’t need a major reward Moriah, I just need King Theo’s head on a platter. His and that Arnayan whore’s. That would be reward enough for what he did to me.”
“That can be arranged, can it not Milos?” she said turning to him.
She wanted to kill his father and wife. People he cared about once. Their lives should matter to him. They should but they didn’t. The only thing that mattered was what the queen wanted. “As you would have it my Queen.” he said.
“Think of it Baron, with both the king of Garion and the Princess of Arnay killed by Prince Milos, who would want him to sit on their throne? There will be two kingdoms left to command. The war coming will be brutal and to the victor goes the spoils.” she laughed.
The baron still seemed uneasy as he looked at Milos. “And you trust him to go through with it. He is still Crown prince, what could stop him from ceasing power for himself?”
“It is was never a matter of trust baron, but one of power. As it is now, I am the most powerful being on the continent as I possess control the most powerful weapon there is.” she answered.
“I am in your debt.” said Milos automatically.
He relaxed and walked up to Milos. “No witty comments now boy?” The queen commanded him and he owed her his life, but he owed this man nothing. He didn’t like Matthias, hated him for years even. He still felt that hate.
“Absolutely none.” said Milos as he rocked back and punched the baron in the nose and watched satisfied as he fell to the ground holding his face.
He scrambled to his feet. “You said you had him on a leash!”
“I do, but if you get too near I didn’t say that you wouldn’t get bitten. He is dangerous to everyone else except me and I don’t plan on changing that until I have what I want.” said Ana-Moriah. “We have much to discuss.” she said touching him on the shoulder and leading him out of the room.
“This isn’t over.” he said pointing at Milos as he retreated.
“No it isn’t Matthias.” replied Milos. “To the victor goes the spoils. And when the queen is done with you I shall have your head.” Genos he remembered him. The memories of him were unclouded. He resented him plenty, mostly for dying and leaving Garion in his care. However, he loved him still. Odd that he was willing to kill his wife and father, but still grieved for his brother.
It didn’t matter. He thought as he shook away the uneasy feeling in his head. Matthias had killed Genos and he would pay with his life.