Chapter 24 - Sneaking In
Draxus soared through the sky at an incredible speed, slicing through the fluffy clouds like a knife would through butter as he continued to guide his loyal dragon on the right path toward the distant Kingdom of Rykiss. They had been travelling all day and were hoping to soon descend upon Castle Woodsend to survey the damage and look for any survivors after the attack. Most importantly, to locate the missing King and Queen of Rykiss.
As they exited yet another thick fluffy cloud the remains of what was left of Castle Woodsend suddenly came into view down below. Large black clouds of thick smoke rose from different sections all over the castle as a blazing fire continued to tear through the giant building, gutting it from the inside out. Even from such a high distance away, Draxus could see that the damage was serious enough to cause concern for the King and Queen’s welfare.
Someone would have to answer for the obvious atrocity that had occurred here. The only question was, who was responsible?
“Take us down Drako.” he commanded the giant beast.
Drako obeyed immediately and they instantly began descending toward the burning castle, then circling carefully to find the best possible place to land amidst the rubble.
As soon as Drako’s claws hit the ground a massive thunderous ‘boom’ sounded, shaking the dirt below as the dragon’s giant wings slowly tucked away behind its back and it flicked its long horned tail across the rubble-covered ground.
While his dragon stood silently for a moment and acclimatised to its new and possibly still dangerous surroundings, Draxus meanwhile looked around at the terrible devastation before him with an ignited fury.
The entire castle had been destroyed. There was nothing left of the home Lillian had once known and it hit him hard; he knew that this would break her heart.
As difficult as it was to see such a sight before him Draxus kept himself focused on the task at hand; finding the King and Queen.
“Stay sharp, buddy.” he spoke to Drako as he patted his giant scaly skin while looking around. “Keep your eyes open. Be ready for anything.”
A deep and rumbling purr was Drako’s only reply as the mighty creature suddenly lowered his head and allowed the King to climb down onto the ground.
As Draxus’ thick boots hit the floor below tiny glowing embers and ash puffed out in small clouds around his feet while tiny white specs of ash floated down through the air around him, as if it were snowing.
Acting on instinct Draxus reached across his waist and unsheathed his long sword with one swift thrust, holding it out in front as he began to make his way through the rubble and remains of what was once Castle Woodsend in search of Lillian’s parents, King Greggory and Queen Katherine.
Meanwhile back at Castle Krillian, Queen Lillian began to make her way up toward the royal chambers with hopes to retire for the remainder of the evening. She was being accompanied by her closest friend Lady Ruby and four of the heavily armed King’s Guards who surrounded them as they walked along beside each other.
The Queen wore a long crimson gown with a delicate black lace trimming. Her sleeves were long and pointed in a ‘v’ shape across the tops of her hands as she held the front of her large, thick skirt up off the ground as she walked. The sounds of her heels clicking against the stone floor below their feet and the soldier’s armour clunking with each of their steps echoed off of the cold stone walls surrounding them in the long corridor.
Lady Ruby was at that very moment attempting to convince Lillian not to worry and try to rest, but it seemed near impossible given their current situation.
“Please try to get some rest, my Queen.” Ruby attempted to console Lillian as they walked along. “I’m sure the King will find your parents safe and sound. You’ll probably hear from him tomorrow.”
Lillian knew better. It was as if something deep down inside of her already knew that something terrible had happened to them; something she could not yet explain or begin to understand.
“I’m not so sure.” the Queen replied. “If the reports were accurate, I honestly doubt I will ever see either of my parents alive again.”
“Come now, all you need is a nice warm bath and a good night’s rest to help relax you.” Ruby said, taking the Queen’s arm in hers and holding her comfortingly. “Trust me your majesty. I know it’s hard but the best thing for you to do right now is try to calm yourself as much as possible. Your little one needs you to remain calm and free of stress.”
Lillian blinked away tears and sniffed as she nodded her head in agreement with her lady-in-waiting’s sound advice.
“Yes, you’re absolutely right.” she agreed. “I need to stay strong… for the sake of the baby.”
Ruby seemed proud of Lillian suddenly, “If it’s not too bold to say, your majesty, I believe you to be the bravest woman I have ever known.”
Lillian’s brows furrowed with confusion as Lady Ruby continued to elaborate.
“What with everything you’ve been through since becoming our Queen. The kidnappings, the attacks and now this... and here you are still as strong and as fearsome as ever… all the while with a little one on the way. You possess great courage, my lady. The kind of bravery I have only ever heard of in tales told to me as a child. I would one day hope to be even half as courageous as you are, my Queen.”
And for the first time in over a day, Lillian smiled.
“Soon the King will return and we can put all our worries to rest once and for all, alright?”
“Thank you for your kindness, Lady Ruby.” she praised, “I am truly grateful to have someone as gracious as you here to look out for me.”
Lady Ruby giggled softly.
“It’s my pleasure, honestly.” she announced, “Now come on, let’s get you up to your room and off to bed.”
After settling the Queen in for the night Lady Ruby went about her usual routine before retiring, while Lillian slowly drifted off to sleep. Ruby’s usual routine entailed a warm cup of tea and some relaxing knitting by the fireplace for at least an hour or so, to ensure that the Queen was sound asleep before she left. She was currently working on making a hand-knitted blanket for the new Prince or Princess’ arrival and wanted it to be perfect, adding great detail and effort to it with careful precision.
Slowly sipping at the hot, steamy beverage Lady Ruby carefully placed her warm mug down onto the oak table as she sat by the fireplace in one of the more comfortable chairs to continue knitting. Reaching for a ball of white wool, her hand froze mid-air as she suddenly felt a chilly breeze wafting in through the chambers. Turning to look around the room she noticed that the balcony doors were both wide open and she frowned with concern.
“That’s strange… did I leave those open?” she asked herself rising to her feet and walking across the large room to close them. “Hmm… I honestly don’t remember.”
As she stopped before the gusty open doorway leading out toward the large balcony, both her arms reached out to grasp the two golden handles, one for either glass balcony door. As she pulled at the doors and closed them the chilly air began to fade and the room became warm once more. The nights were always so chilly in Westoria and she didn’t want to risk the Queen getting an illness, especially while she was with child.
With a sigh of relief Ruby turned around and froze with wide open eyes as soon as she noticed the figure standing beside the Queen, who lay fast asleep in her bed. The figure wore a long cloak and a hood over his head but his glowing purple eyes revealed him to be Veemon as he stared back at her with a stern expression.
As soon as Ruby was about to open her mouth to cry for help the hooded figure silently warned her against this by lifting his finger up and pressing it against his lips.
Deciding she needed to do something in order to protect her Queen Lady Ruby glanced beside her to find something to fend him off with. Noticing a small iron candlestick holder she quickly reached for it and turned to glance back at where the hooded figure should have been standing...
But there was a problem; in the fraction of a second it had taken her to grab the candlestick, he had somehow managed to vanish into thin air!
“What?” Lady Ruby muttered quietly.
Her eyes began to search the room for the hooded stranger she was certain she had just seen but could not seem to locate him. Unfortunately she hadn’t yet realised that he was now standing right behind her.
She sucked in a sharp breath of air at the sound of his soft voice as it came from behind.
“I’m truly sorry about this…”
With the wave of his hand the world suddenly faded away into nothing but darkness for the lady-in-waiting as she closed her eyes and became limp, falling back into his arms and into a deep sleep. Luckily Flynn was quick enough to catch her body’s weight before she hit the ground.
With great care and caution the Veemon warrior slowly placed the sleeping woman’s body down onto the ground and stood up, glancing across the room to where Lillian lay sleeping on the bed.
It was time to tell Lillian the truth about Prince Marcus and his involvement in the plot to have her kidnapped. He only hoped that she would believe what he was about to tell her.