Chapter 13 - Sighted & Surrounded
Queen Lillian and Flynn travelled to the nearby tavern where they found a secluded table away from prying eyes to have their meal. Lillian hadn’t realised just how hungry she was until her food was placed before her. Flynn watched as the pregnant Queen consumed the food quickly, like a starved animal. He had finished only moments before and was finding it quite amusing to see this side of her.
“Whoa, slow down there... you’ll choke or something.” he teased her with a smirk as he took a sip of sour-tasting ale into his mouth and swirled it around.
Hearing his comment, Lillian stopped and looked up at him seated at the other side of the table. Embarrassment flooded her cheeks with tinge of pink as she swallowed what was in her mouth.
“Sorry... I don’t remember ever being this hungry before in my life.”
He shook his head as he replied.
“Don’t be sorry your highness... eat up! You’ll need your strength for the days that lie ahead. It’s going to be difficult to remain ahead of our enemies, but we can sure try.”
Flynn peered around the tavern, looking for anything out of the ordinary but finding nothing. Lillian sat watching him as she stuffed another piece of bread roll into her mouth and began to chew.
“I suppose you’d be twice as hungry...” he announced, causing her to furrow her brows with a confused expression.
“Huh?” she managed with a mouth-full.
“You’re pregnant...” he replied, “... I’m no expert on such things, but I’d imagine your little one is just as hungry as you are... if not more.”
Lillian chuckled as she tore another piece of bread roll off and bit into it. Flynn continued.
“Does he know?”
She stopped chewing and looked up at Flynn, then nodding her head to respond with a ‘yes’.
“So, the mighty Dragon King is going to become a father...” he sat back into his chair casually as he continued, “... I honestly never thought I’d live to see the day; didn’t think he was the type to settle down and have kids. But somehow, you’ve managed to make an honest man out of the most fearsome tyrant in all the lands. I’m impressed!”
Lillian had finished her mouthful as she replied without even thinking.
“It was a surprise to both of us, I can assure you.”
Flynn frowned at this.
“So... you weren’t trying to...” he trailed off.
Lillian who was about to take another bite of her bread roll, stopped and let out a sigh as she looked up at him again, her left brow raised in irritation.
“This conversation is getting a little personal, don’t you think?”
Flynn lifted both hands up before him in surrender and sat forward, smiling.
“Alright, alright... we can talk about something else then...” he readjusted his sitting positon and leaned back again casually.
An awkward moment of silence passed between them before Flynn finally spoke again.
“So... how’s the weather?”
Rolling her eyes Lillian threw a piece of bread at him, hitting him right in the side of the face as he turned to take the impact.
“Very funny!” she chuckled.
They both began to share a laugh as Lillian shook her head, a large smile forcing its way across her face as they continued their meal in peace.
Peace that would unfortunately not last long.
Meanwhile at the other side of the tavern the battered and scarred King Rathman was seated at the bar and had just finished his fourth ale as he slammed his empty mug down onto the counter and let out a loud and satisfied exhale.
“Barkeep, another ale!” he announced looking up at the thin bartender standing behind the wooden barrier. “... and keep ’em coming, would ya!”
With a raised brow, the bartender moved across and took his empty mug, then proceeded to fill it with more ale and return it to sit before the man seated at his bar.
“I think you’ve had enough huh?” the bartender suggested as he began wiping another mug dry with a stained towel.
“I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough!” the clearly inebriated King barked. “Just keep the bloody drinks coming!”
Rolling his eyes the bartender shook his head as he walked away, leaving his patron to continue his beverage. This wasn’t the first time he’d been spoken to this way by a foolish drunk and in his line of work, it certainly wouldn’t be the last!
Taking yet another large gulp of his warm ale, Rathman turned his head only for a second, but his eyes managed to catch sight of a familiar face; one he honestly thought he would never see again in his lifetime.
He had sighted Queen Lillian!
Even with the hood sitting down over her head it was definitely her; it was unmistakable! Rathman slowly lowered his mug down to rest on the bar’s surface as he continued to stare at her from across the tavern.
“No fucking way!”
He spoke in a whisper as his eyes widened with both disbelief and excitement.
He couldn’t believe it but there she was, sharing a meal with an unknown figure and out in the open, without any kind of armed escort or protection of any kind.
This was entirely too good to be true!
Keeping his eyes locked on her, Rathman stepped away from the bar and made his way across to where several of his soldiers sat consuming ale around a larger round table. As he reached them, the formerly disgraced King leaned down and whispered something into the ears of the closest soldier, alerting them one by one as they each passed the message around the table to one another. Indeed, this was a remarkable opportunity for revenge, one they had not seen coming!
“What are your orders, sire?” one of the soldiers asked, still making sure to act casually so as not to arouse suspicion.
“Head outside in small groups, position ourselves to lie in wait and then ambush them as they pass us by.” Rathman explained casually. “Whatever you do, heed my warning. Do not underestimate her; the bitch has hidden powers and she’ll use them against you if you allow her to. Do whatever you have to, but I want her taken alive...”
“And her companion?”
“Kill him, beat him within an inch of his life, I don’t care... Just bring me the Queen!” Rathman commanded with a deviant grin as he stroked his beard between his long fingers.
“I think it’s time for a little payback.”
After finishing their meal and agreeing to head to their shared room for the night, Flynn and Queen Lillian began to make their way out of the tavern and around the corner, headed back in the direction of the Inn they were staying at. As they strolled along through the cool night air, the two conversed casually between themselves.
“So what’s the plan for tomorrow?” Lillian asked him.
“We’ll leave at dawn, just before the sun has risen. Best to make sure we’re not sighted by any-”
Flynn’s sentence was cut short by another voice that spoke from behind them; a voice Lillian could have sworn she recognised somehow.
“-I’m afraid you’ve already been sighted, Queen Lillian...”
Flynn spun around faster than Lillian, quickly unsheathing his long Lunai sword and moving into a defensive stance in front of the Queen he was escorting.
“Stay behind me.” he spoke commandingly to Lillian, holding his free hand back to keep her safe behind him.
“Best take his advice, my dear.” Rathman taunted with a grin.
As Flynn moved to protect her, Lillian stood staring at the hooded figure standing less than two metres away from where they were, his face currently hidden from their view. Her every thought circling around the familiarity of the voice that had just spoken as goosebumps began to spread across her skin and her heart began to race at an incredible speed.
“I... know that voice.” she whispered to herself; hoping, praying that she was in fact mistaken.
But as the hooded stranger standing before them reached up and removed his hood, his true identity confirmed her greatest fears and her heart sank.
It was King Rathman!
“Oh fuck!” she muttered, wide eyed and taking yet another step backward without even realising she had.
Rathman’s sadistic grin intensified at her reaction as he spoke, his eyes fixed solely on her.
“Oh fuck indeed!”