Chapter 20 - Hold Your Tongue
"What is the meaning of this, General?" Draxus bellowed with his deep voice as he marched from his horse. "Why have we stopped?"
General Shasharan stepped across to join him, putting his arm around King Draxus' shoulders as he began to lead Draxus away from the soldiers. Shasharan spoke quietly, ensuring no one else could hear his words.
"My King, I have urgent news from the Queen. I'm afraid you'll need to hear this!" Shasharan urged, a serious expression on his face.
There was no one else King Draxus trusted more than his General, and he knew Shasharan would not have stopped the entire procession without a good enough reason to do so. With a firm nod of approval, Shasharan led Draxus further away from the soldiers.
"She said that?" Draxus asked, looking back in the direction of the carriage. "Did she say when this happened?"
"I believe she said it was this morning, during our ride to Castle Veehan." Shasharan reported. "My King, what if it really was the sorceress Rayvinn who visited her?"
"What if it was?" Draxus countered.
"There must be a reason. That woman is as slippery as a snake and not to be trusted!"
Draxus pinched the bridge of his nose as he bowed his head and his shoulder-length black hair fell over his face, a long sigh escaped his lips.
Shasharan was right.
"She must have had something to do with the attack at Castle Veehan. Her hand in it perhaps, I'm not entirely sure." Draxus announced lifting his head back up.
A thought suddenly crossed the General's mind, one that he had completely forgotten about until now.
"Those three girls..." he whispered to himself.
Draxus turned to face him.
"The ones who lured the Queen away from me in the courtyard. I saw them again in the room with you and Lord Blaine only moments later. How could they have been in two places at once?"
"Unless they weren't." the King narrowed his amber eyes. "Do you remember two days ago, at the village we raided, when Rayvinn visited she disguised herself as three villagers in order to speak with me."
"Yes, sire. Of course, she must have the power to change her identity. It could have been the witch in disguise at Castle Veehan." Shasharan agreed. "Perhaps she was conspiring with Lord Blaine."
"It makes perfect sense." the Dragon King replied. "But why is she so interested in Lillian? What does she want from her?"
General Shasharan turned away, rubbing the back of his braided head. He was unsure of whether he should share what he knew about Lillian and her 'gift'. He had promised to keep her secret safe but this was his King. Could he lie to his King?
He knew the answer right away.
"King Draxus, there is something I must share with you about Queen Lillian and what happened earlier during the attack. It's about what she can do..."
Draxus leaned against a nearby formation of large boulders and crossed his arms. His long smokey cloak flowed around the boulder as he looked to the ground as he spoke.
"The white fire..." his voice was soft. "It was her, wasn't it?"
"You're aware she has powers?"
"I had a hunch."
"Master, you don't seem concerned at all by this. If what we believe is actually true, your Queen can summon up fire at will; using nothing but her thoughts. It's unheard of!"
"It is extremely rare, but not unheard of..."
By the look on his General's face, Draxus thought he had better explain a little more.
"That day when the sorceress Rayvinn visited me after our raid on the village, she told me of a young woman I would come across, and that this woman would become one of the most powerful beings in existence. That the woman would possess a marking upon her skin, one that gave her great powers."
Shasharan's eyes widened.
"The marking on her wrist... Could it be true? Could the Queen be the woman Rayvinn spoke of? The one who is destined to rise to power?"
"I'm not sure, but after what I've witnessed first hand today, I'm not ruling anything out. I must keep a watchful eye on my Queen, in order to keep her safe."
"Is that why we're returning home to Westoria?" Shasharan asked. "To keep the Queen safe?"
"Part of it, yes. It is well known that Castle Krillian is impossible to breach. She'll be safest there."
"And the conquest?" Shasharan questioned with a raised brow.
"It'll have to wait. My priority now is getting my wife to safety. I'll continue accruing my lands and followers when I am certain no one can get to her."
After their conversation had ended the procession, along with the King and General who had returned, continued along on their way following the long and winding road back down towards the South.
Their next destination was Castle Krillian; home.
Meanwhile back at the smoky remains of what was left of the once mighty Castle Veenah, a dark figure stood taking in the mass of destruction before her eyes.
She was not impressed!
"Your Lord had one... simple... job..."
Rayvinn spoke with a playful tone as she peered down with her haunting white eyes at the line of eight servant women, cowering before her on their knees.
Each woman had been crying, with visible tear trails running down the length of their faces as they all trembled uncontrollably before this clearly terrifying sorceress towering over them. Some had bruises and cuts visible on their faces and shoulders; it was obvious that after the fire they had been rounded up for questioning.
"It was SIMPLE!" her voice shouted now, her eyes wide. "Kill the Dragon King, and bring the girl to me... And yet somehow, here we are..." she gestured with a wave of her arm.
Rayvinn began to slowly pace up and down in front of them, her long black tattered dress following along behind her as her long black hair blew with each gust of wind that passed by.
"Please, mistress Rayvinn... Please have mercy." one of the servant women begged, making the foolish mistake of opening her mouth. "We did everything we co-"
Without even making eye contact with the kneeling woman, Rayvinn's white eyes began to brighten as she activated her dark powers to teach the her a lesson.
The servant suddenly froze mid-sentence, with wide eyes as she began to moan loudly in terrible pain, blood dripping out the corners of her mouth and down to the floor by her knees.
"Uhh... uhhhhh...." she cried in a painful panic, apparently unable to form words.
The reason for her lack of words was revealed as Rayvinn turned around to face the other kneeling women, speaking with a devilish grin.
Her hand opened to reveal the servant's severed tongue lying on it, covered in fresh warm blood.
"I warned you... hold your tongue!"