Chapter 19 - Trust
The massive blazing fire burned brightly, high up meters into the sky, as thick black smoke rose even higher above it into the air for miles around in all directions. Castle Veenah was now alight and being burned to the ground off in the distance as the Dragon King’s procession rode over the hill at a rapid pace.
Lord Blaine was dead.
Having been burned alive by some unknown force, he had met his maker and as punishment for his betrayal King Draxus had commanded that his home was to burn; to become nothing but ash and rubble.
His dragon saw to that on his behalf.
The gigantic winged creature could be seen off in the distance circling around the rising smoke, as if reveling in the glory of what it had done. It was the same black dragon that had paid them a visit on the night of their wedding, back at Castle Woodsend. Lillian didn’t know much about dragons, in fact she knew nothing about them, but she had a feeling that this particular dragon was linked in some mystical way to her new husband, somehow.
One day she would ask him why he was called the Dragon King.
The servant women under Lord Blaine's command were all freed and allowed to leave unharmed, but every single hired mercenary was hunted down and slain for their betrayal. Draxus wanted to make a statement for this crime; one that would show his power and lack of mercy for betrayal.
Having only her torn crimson gown to cover her exposed body, Lillian now had a large, thick blanket draped over her shoulders to conceal her breasts from view. She sat inside of the carriage as it bobbed along from side to side, making its way down the rocky road. General Shasharan sat on the chair opposite her, there to keep her company after such a horrific ordeal. It was the King’s command before their departure; that he remain with her for her own protection and peace of mind. At least until they reached their next destination.
Like everyone else in attendance during the attack on Blaine’s forces, Shasharan had witnessed the treacherous Lord bursting into flames, as if by magic and he wondered how such a thing was possible. How had it happened? He had also seen the glow of her eyes when it happened, only for a brief moment, but long enough to be noticed. He wondered whether the two were connected in some way, though he did not know how.
“You can stop staring at me like that!” Lillian suddenly announced, breaking the silence between them.
She looked at the General as she casually rested her back against the interior wall of the carriage as it bumped along.
He raised a brow in question.
“Like I’m going to suddenly sprout horns or something... I told you, I don’t know what happened.” she explained.
“What do you remember?”
“I remember he had a dagger held at my throat!” she replied sternly, clearly unimpressed by it.
His lips pressed tightly together as he nodded slowly.
“Yes, but do you remember how you got free of his grasp?” he continued to calmly interrogate her.
She sat in silence for a moment, trying to recall the events leading up to Lord Blaine’s unfortunate demise. Glancing down at her right wrist, she hesitated for a second and the General could see this.
“It’s alright. You can tell me what happened.”
Lillian wasn’t entirely sure whether she could trust him; she didn’t know who she could trust anymore. The world was a lot more unforgiving, violent and traumatic than she had ever believed it to be. But she trusted her gut, and her gut had always told her that Shasharan had a kind heart; that he was one who genuinely cared about her well-being.
When at last she spoke her voice was softer, more vulnerable.
“He was holding onto me so tightly, I could feel the blade as it began slicing through my skin...”
He moved to sit beside her, in an effort to comfort her.
“You’re safe now... Go on.”
She blinked as a tear rolled down her cheek.
“I noticed the marking on my wrist... it was glowing. And I don’t know how it happened, but... I closed my eyes and...” she paused, seeming to feel great shame for what she would say next, ...willed him to burn.”
Shasharan’s eyes narrowed in thought as she continued.
“It was as if I had somehow commanded the fire to appear and burn him, and it did. It doesn’t make any sense.”
She looked at him now, her eyes filled with tears.
“How could I do such a thing?”
Seeing his Queen in such a vulnerable state before him, the General didn’t know what to believe. He knew he needed to comfort her, to help her gain a better understanding of what had happened. But he was unsure of how to do it.
He knew what his own eyes had seen during the attack, but could he believe it to be true?
Placing a hand onto hers, he smiled warmly.
“You did what you needed to do in order to survive, my Queen. Any of us would have done the same, had it of been us in your position. That man betrayed you. He betrayed our King, and now he has paid for his crimes.”
Lillian looked down in shame.
“I can’t believe this is happening. I still don’t understand why King Draxus chose me to become his Queen in the first place.” Lillian said shaking her head. “He could have had any woman he wanted, anyone else in the entire world...”
“But instead he chose you. Why do you think that is, huh?”
“I have absolutely no idea.” she replied dryly.
The General gently took her hands in his as he spoke.
“He chose you, Lillian, because of how special you are.”
“Special?” she asked. “Everyone keeps saying that... but I don’t understand, what’s so special about me?”
Shasharan frowned for a moment, “Wait, who’s everyone?”
Lillian rolled her eyes as he replied.
“You, Draxus, that woman I met in the carriage on our way to Castle Veenah this morning...”
The General’s demeanor suddenly changed as his grip on both her hands became tighter as he stared directly into her bright emerald eyes.
“What woman you met in the carriage?”
She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders as she replied.
“I don’t know, she was there one moment and then gone the next.”
He seemed extremely worried now.
“This woman, what did she look like?” he interrogated.
She closed her eyes as she tried to recall their encounter, though it was hardly one she could think to forget!
“Uh... black hair and oh, she had the strangest white eyes I’ve ever seen...” she began, but stopped as Shasharan tensed up.
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
“We need to speak with the King immediately!” he announced, reaching up and banging hard against the roof of the carriage three times.
General Shasharan didn’t know what was going on, but one thing he did know was that if it was in fact Rayvinn who had snuck into the carriage to meet with Lillian, there had to have been a reason for it!
Seconds later the carriage came to a halt and Lillian could hear several men shouting out "Halt! Company halt!”
“General, tell me what’s going on!” she demanded as he turned to face her for a second.
He let out a sigh.
In truth, he felt for her; she had no idea of just how deep she was in the middle of a mystical war which dated back over a thousand years, but he would not be the one to explain things to her. He would leave that unfortunate task to his King.
“Remain here. I will have a quick word with the King and return shortly.” he explained vaguely, intentionally dodging her question.
“-No, you must remain here. Please, it’s for your own safety.”
He opened the carriage door outwards and climbed down the stairs, stopping at the bottom and turning to face her one last time.
“I’ll return shortly, I promise.”
With a forced smile, he closed the carriage door as several soldiers marched across to him, intent on finding out why their procession had been stopped. General Shasharan was gone from view a moment later as he marched off accompanied by those soldiers, toward the head of their procession to speak with the King.
Leaving Lillian alone… again.