Zandor galloped at the speed of lightning through the dark side of Galloway Forest.
The twigs and branches grabbing at Loxleys clothes as they tore through them.
The sound of howling heard in the distance, Loxley was unsure if this was the wind or the wolves approaching.
He hadn't fully processed what his great aunt had given him, but he knew he had to get to Nyx quickly before something bad was going to happen.
They approached the edge of the dark forest, the sun the other side breaking through.
The air began to thin and warm, making it easier for both horse and man to breath.
Reaching the edge Zandor let out a neigh and huff of relief, Loxley continued to recount in his head the words of his great aunt "you couldn't save her as a mortal."
Loxley started to ponder when shouting broke through outside of the dark forest.
"LOXLEY" he heard bellowing from a deep voice.
"LOXLEY WHERE ARE YOU!" it continued.
Zandor stepped over the dark forest edge, feeling the sun hit both of them.
Loxley covered his eyes with his hand from the glare of the steaming sun, sweat now beginning to drip down his back. Stripping himself of his layers he shouted to the voice "IT'S ME, LOXLEY, WHO IS CALLING?“
No reply, but hound dogs came bounding up to him and Zandor. He knew the dogs, palace dogs but specifically for hunts of people and animals, not to kill.
Zandor stomped his foot in protest at the surrounding hounds.
" LOXLEY, finally!" Jerome said as he and his horse trotted towards them.
"We have searched every where for you, you need to return to the Palace."
Jerome was breathless and concerned with burrowed frow lines across is his forehead.
"What's wrong? What's happening?“ Loxley asked Jerome.
" We need to get back, I don't think she will make it through the night." Jerome said sternly" I fear the whispers from the hallways of a revolt from his clan are upon us, he has a plan and the time is now. "
Loxley and Jerome continued to trot heading towards the Palace and the village.
" Jerome, He's the king now, so why is a revolt among us?“
Jerome sighed and shook his head "Boy, the Galloway Isles isn't enough... He wants more and without an heir he can't fully have control over the Isle and its people." he looked at Loxley with his grey hair and beard, his eyes tired with worry. "if she doesn't produce an heir, he doesn't need her to revolt.... This isn't the first time the Kaledgh clan has tried to take Galloway, sadly they had leverage with the death of Hardu and secured a way in... But to completely rule....." he trailed off looking out amongst the fields, the meadows moving in the winds, the Palace standing proudly in the far distance.
Loxley looked at him quizzacly
" not the first time? " he asked.
" No.And we are running out of time. " Jerome said swiftly ending the subject and jolting the reins on his horse.
Zandor followed, galloping at a fast pace. Loxleys mind became focused, he knew he needed to save Nyx from whatever doom was going to occur tonight. He had until sunset and the sun was moving fast towards the earth.
Horse back was taking too long, the sun was lowering quickly, Jerome was ahead but not by much, the fields seemed never ending and the Palace never seeming closer.
"Jerome, we won't be there in time ." he shouted ahead. "I have a plan, but you need to go on."
Jerome halted for a brief few seconds as Loxley jumped off Zandor and smacked him to continue onwards. Jerome looked confused but rode onwards with Zandor following.
Loxley knew he had made a rush decision to stop, but took out one of the pendants from his pocket.
The Great Myriads words were ringing in head, finally feeling like he had put the puzzle together he slipped the pendant over his head and began to run on foot.
"come on..." he said as his feet pounded into the grass.
"do something!“ he shouted to himself whilst running as fast as his feet could take him.
"gah.." his ankle gave way with a sharp pain and he fell forward into the meadow, the sky lit blood red as the sun continued to lower.
He buried his head down into the ground letting out an exasperated growl and continued to move forward.
He pounded forward with faster pace and more strength. His limbs felt bigger, his head lower and his breath looser.
This sensation felt unusual, his body felt twisted but comfortable, his movement was longer and lower.
He looked to his left and saw Zandor behind Jerome.
He had caught up with them quickly. He moved closer to Zandor, running alongside him to hear the shriek of a neigh and jolt from the horse buckling up towards him.
Loxley continued past the horse, confused but not prepared to loose anymore time.
His speed was phenomenal, his agility quick and he soon passed Jerome with him far in the distance.
Loxley arrived at the Palace edge and paced around the entrance gate, he lent low to the floor and snuck in to the grounds, knowing if he was seen he would be killed. He had to get to Nyx.
He crept along the stone steps, circling the main entrance, steadily moving upwards. He noticed his smell and hearing had increased to an almost sickening level.
He could smell the bread baking from the kitchens, through to the rotting horse carcases left by the moat to burn.
Then he heard her breathe and he stopped still. Her gasp for air, her choking, short, quick bursts of air escaping her lungs. He could hear her blood pumping in her finger tips as she tried to claw her way for air.
Loxley breathed her in and continued making his was to her room.
He could hear low snarling from Tristan, the hum of whispers from the staff and Nyxs quickened breathing as she had been freed from his grip.
Footsteps were approaching from all around him but he continued stealthily to reach her bedroom.
The room was silent and dark, he sniffed quickly and could smell the scent of Tristan, Nyx and the guards heading his way. He crawled under the bed and laid deathly still waiting.
"FIND IT.. FIND ANY MAGIC YOU CAN" bellowed the guards and Tristans clan as they barroled into Nyxs room. Ornaments, trinkets, clothes and furniture went flying across the room. They smashed all and slashed at her tapestries on the wall. The noise was piercing to Loxley and he covered his ears, he felt the pendant hanging around his neck and tugged it off.
Heavy footsteps approached the bed and he saw Nyxs feet being dragged behind Tristans. He saw their bodies seperate and watched the millisecond decision for her to bolt towards the balcony.
Loxley rolled out from the bed and lunged towards her yanking her dress back. Tearing the corset open and pulling her towards him.
His heart pumping and his adrenaline high he pulled her with such force it smacked her into the stone, cold wall. Her body crumpled, as she slid down the wall rolling onto the floor.
"Nyx..." he whispered as her ear shattering scream escaped her body.
He covered his ears again and knelt in front of her broken form.
Her eyes were closed, her face as pale as ice, her breathing shallow.
"Nyx... I..." he stuttered.
"Good work Stable boy." said a deep, snarl behind him.
Tristan pulled Loxley up to his feet and whispered "when she dies, it's on you."
He turned to the guards and motioned them towards Loxley.
Loxley was in shock as he was forced into the chair, chained and restrained.
His breathing began to slow but he pulled and writhed from the metal that dug into his skin.
Nyx was lead on the bed, unconscious but barely alive.
The guards left one by one, smiling and jeering at the sight of their broken queen.
Tristan turned to Loxley before exiting "It is with great pleasure that now, you get to watch your queen die. From your own hands. Now the revolt shall commence." he smiled maliciously and shut the door.
Leaving them both alone in the cold dark room, despair only to be felt in the air.