Demos had visited her a day before she was to execute the monarchs of Garion. “The queen has changed her mind. You are no longer required to commit regicide and the army has been withdrawn from the tunnels. She will let you know what your next orders are.” That was all. He left another vial and then disappeared.
She sank in the chair in relief. She didn’t have to commit cold blooded murder. Which meant that she might have to do worse. Everyone in Turion heard of the destruction of Evan by Prince Milos, but they were worried when he didn’t return. The king had already ordered a search party to try and locate his son.
She didn’t hear when he entered but Doranand was suddenly in her room. The part of heart that had not changed thrummed a little faster and she was sure that her face was warmed by a blush.
“It took me quite a while to manage to get into this room, but it seems like me efforts were for naught.” he said.
“How did you get in here?” she said as she came closer to him.
“Like I said, with much difficulty.”
“My warnings were useless and again you know nothing of the queen’s plans.”
“From the look of it, neither do you Lania.” she savoured the sound of her actual name coming from his lips. She was so sick of pretending. The whole world knew her as Aliana and she felt like she was slowly being erased. But at least he knew who she was and that made her feel better.
“I didn’t think a patriot, like you would have wanted to help the Garion monarchs.”
“Obviously you did as you came to me.” then she thought she heard him mutter, “You and that thrice blasted prince.” he then piped up once more. “And I am not doing this for me, but for Aliana or rather in her memory. Whatever the Garians have in store for us cannot compare to what Ana-Moriah will do.”
She didn’t disagree so she said nothing.
“They say that the armies will finally clash in the Ashlands. Arro-Bar is dead and Chrisoncor has taken hold of the Arnayan army in the interim.” he said.
“How long have you been able to move around the castle secretly? That information is not known by many.”
“I would love to tell you dear Lania, but I cannot. But what I can offer is a boon.”
“Come with me to the Ashlands. You wouldn’t have to stay here and pretend anymore. We could find a way to break the spell and for you to be rid of the queen for good.” he said as he held on to her shoulders. His grey eyes swirled with emotion. Oh how she wanted to say yes. But she could feel the chokehold of the queen tightening around her neck as the thought pervaded.
“I can’t. The spell is too strong.” she whispered. A small tear rolled down her cheek. She then pulled out of his hold and went to sit in the sofa. She wiped away the wetness from her face. She was here to play a role. Not once has she ever seen Aliana cry, so neither could she.
“How is your back?” she asked changing the subject.
“Better, the doctor is very good. Almost everyone here is very good.” he said grudgingly. “The more I see or hear, the more conflicted I become. I can almost understand why Aliana would choose him.”
Lania heard the hurt behind those words. “She loved you as well, as a friend you were very dear to her. Everyone knew that.”
“But she must have loved Milos more. We both know how well she hid her feelings and it would take very strong feelings to get her to marry at all. Even if it was under duress.” he said,
“Well yes, that is true.” she said. “May we all be that lucky.” There was a knock on her door. She sat up out if the chair. “It is best you leave or hide.”
He looked around the room and then walked into the study. Lania then opened the door. The handmaid Melody stood there. “Your Highness, he is home.” she said.
“Who is home?”
“Prince Milos. Her Majesty asked for me to get you. They are in the throne room.”
“Thank you, I will be there shortly.” she then closed the door in the girl’s face. He was home and he would know that she wasn’t Aliana. “Oh stars! Oh stars!” she said clutching to her chest. This really was the end of her. “Oh stars!” she squeezed out once more before sliding down to the floor.
“Lania, what is it?” asked Doranand as he pried her face from between her knees.
“Milos is back. What am I to do? He will know that I am not her. He will kill me when he finds out.” she said pulling at her hair.
“Then don’t let him find out.” he said grabbing her hands and again forcing her to look into his eyes. The storm in them swirled to a calm. “First, stop crying and be happy. Aliana would be happy to see her husband.”
“But I can’t...” he placed his finger on her lips silencing her.
“You can. I will figure something out. You saved my life once and I will do the same for you. I promise you.” he then brushed away the tears from her cheeks. Her heart skittered to a halt and then restarted. If Milos didn’t kill her, then by the stars if he continued to touch her like this, she was going to spontaneously combust under his ministrations.
“I will go and see him.” she said standing up. She wiped away the remaining tears and then stood up. “How do I look?” she said putting on her most Aliana smile while cocking the hip to one side.
“Very convincing.” he said.
She nodded and then walked out of the room to meet her fate.