I lead Sapphire to the green sanctuary located on the other side of the stadium. I’m glad Traegr had decided to show me the location. Off the main corridor that circled the stadium and the spectator’s seats, opened a massive dome, a green house full of endless plants and flowers, all colours of the rainbow.
The soil is also encrusted with different Gems and I see the princess get little shivers whenever she steps upon a blue sapphire stone. I’m glad she also feels at home in my element.
Since Earth magic users had more enhanced senses, we often liked to meditate. The garden was full of wandering Gems, mostly female. Most notice me before I’ve even come close, eyes focusing to my silver hair and opened palms as bugs and butterflies land upon my skin or crawl over me.
I welcome it.
Nature was always beautiful and there was nothing I loved more than to be surrounded by my element, or hidden within the Gem Forest. The princess and I stop by a large tree, and I grow a cocoon of leaves as Sapphire steps back, efficiently providing a safe, private space for both of us to converse.
I turn around, hoping not to make it seem we were scheming and plotting, so I hold out a hand and grab her arm, pretending to seduce her into the cacoon of leaves by smiling seductively.
She just winks back and we laugh together as soon as we’re inside the cocoon.
Us flirting wouldn’t be considered suspicious when Traegr enjoyed it so much. It was entertainment for him, and a good excuse to spend time with the Princess without interference.
I sit down on a bench I’ve created out of vines and branches and I pull Sapphire down next to me.
“Your power always comes in handy in the most unusual ways,” Sapphire grins, reclining back on the natural seat as I close off the door with a few more leaves and vines to secure our makeshift hut, “Did you go exploring early today to find this green sanctuary?”
“Yes,” I answer, bringing my legs up, I cross them under me, “Traegr treats me like a queen when we are alone together and only treats me as a maid when around other Royals. He showed me this place when we were alone briefly, it’s where I heard the message.”
“The message?” Sapphire questions, intrigued.
“Traegr was called and walked off to answer his phone, but I can hear well, you know that,” I smile as I clasp my hands in front of me, “I’m so proud of our girls and of Pharis. He’s led them from the hidden temple.”
“To where?” Sapphire sits up now, “Please tell me they didn’t try to take back the Golden Palace, there would be too many Dark Gems left behind –”
“No,” I put up a hand, pausing the princess in her excitement, “They’ve gone somewhere completely different.”
“Oh?” she wonders out loud, “Are they running away?”
“Fifty female Gems were taken from Earth; so were thousands of humans,” I remind her, “I am not certain but I overheard that the Gems tracking the Seraphine Squadron movements believe they are heading in the general direction of the Diamond mining camps.”
“Pharis is half human, he’d want to save the humans from enslavement,” Sapphire guesses and I nod.
“I agree, and the girls will help because humans housed us on Earth; and they are also mining the one Gem we can use to help Seraphine rise to the throne,” I trail off, and Sapphire guesses.
“Yes,” I nod and my mind thinks ahead.
Seraphine wanted to enforce a female council and it would change everything if she could achieve it. But it wouldn’t come without bloodshed.
I knew another way to ensure Traegr’s downfall as King.
I just didn’t want to tell Sapphire yet; she wouldn’t like the answer.
In reality, I believed Traegr didn’t make a good King and he hardly recognized our bond unless we were alone. The power of King, had consumed his mind and he didn’t rule with grace. Not to mention, power seemed more important to him than love. Power meant he got to force me to be by his side no matter what, without showing weakness by loving me publically.
I had always been his maid and nothing more, even though I had the power to be by his side as an equal.
It had started to bother me greatly and now I was reaching a breaking point.
I just hadn’t shown anyone yet how much it affected me, not even Sapphire knew.
“We simply need signatures,” Sapphire explains, “I read the document, we just need to set out the rules and then somehow hand it back to CU. However, we need Seraphine to achieve a female council first. We need female leadership before we can sign anything or even complete the document... Celeste... why do you look so solemn?”
“I’m thinking of what will happen to Traegr when he is no longer King,” I admit, feeling confident to open up to my best friend now, it had been long enough keeping my thoughts to myself, “...I don’t want him to die, despite how cruel he has been in the past. Love may be blind but I don’t care. He is meant to be with me, I want him to step down graciously... I want him to step down for love –”
“He will never step down,” Sapphire is instantly exasperated, “How could you believe...? Argh...Celeste, seriously... you can’t believe that he would give up power that easily –”
“A female council seemed impossible for thousands of years but now it seems more of a reality with every day that passes. Diamonds will help us weaken the Dark Gems, Seraphine will lead us to victory. If that happens, I believe it is not impossible for Traegr to change... for me.”
“Ok,” she shrugs and narrows her eyes at me, “But tell me what you’re really thinking. You’re hiding something, what is it?” Sapphire picks up on my hidden thoughts too well and I am suddenly scared to admit my thoughts.
I felt too vulnerable.
“It’s nothing –”
“Tell me,” Sapphire cuts me off, glaring at me “Tell me before we go to find the Madeira girl, this is our only real chance at privacy. The document is in my hands. I need to know everything you are planning and thinking. We need to work together to succeed. Tonight is a chance for Seraphine to beat up some Dark Gems on the field with the Madeira Citrine female. That will give us all the distraction needed to somehow find a way to contact Pharis and tell him to bring the females to the Scouting Stadium. We’ll be live, we could broadcast a coded message to get them to storm this place, where the King is weakened by a minimal presence of Dark Gems. If we take him down some time this week, I need to know what you’re thinking. Anything will help,” I stare at Sapphire in awe, as for once she actually sounds like a leader.
A proper princess.
She use to be so cheeky, so conniving, thieving Sabir’s instruments, thieving Gem stones, playing pranks, making jokes, innocent of responsibility.
Earth, Seraphine, the abduction from Earth, the document relating to our future... it had changed her. She was taking this responsibility of leading equality among the Royal Gems heavy upon her shoulders.
But she wasn’t the only one who had changed.
“I will sacrifice myself for our future,” I state, blinking away any tears that are striving to make their way out of my eyes.
I was in pain and I hadn’t spoken of it... now it was about to come flooding out.
But I didn’t want Sapphire to think I was weak.
She is silent for a while, her eyebrows furrowing.
“What do you mean?” she asks in a whisper, knowing I am not joking. I am deadly serious.
But this was the part I didn’t want to tell her.
“Understand before I say this,” I speak slowly, “That I love you and all of my people just as much as Seraphine and yourself. But I am more selfish than you’d think. I am more focused upon love... the bond... between me and Traegr. I have been consumed by it, I can’t stop thinking about it. And how he has never acknowledged it, he does not give into it. I need him to give into it,” I find myself working myself up too much, trying to avoid the main point... “Sapphire... I will threaten to take my life if Traegr does not step down.”
I said it.
I try to keep my chin held high after I’ve said the words.
"What?” her jaw drops, “What the hell, Celeste?” she reaches over and grabs my hand, gripping it hard until her nails are digging into my skin and I have to bite my lip from the pain.
I try not to cry but I already feel like I regret telling her my decision.
I felt weak saying it, but I was still hell bent on doing it. I just felt embarrassed now and highly vulnerable.
“Forget I said it, I was being emotional,” I shrug and try to laugh it off.
“Get up,” Sapphire seems consumed with shock as she stands and tugs me with her, “Enough talk, we’re going to find the new girl.”
“Okay,” I respond meekly, feeling consumed by confusion and want.
I still wanted Traegr to admit his love and our bond... I still wanted to test him.
“Everything will work out, don’t say such stupid things,” Sapphire glares at me but does not let my hand go as she pushes the leaves aside and leads me out of the cocoon, “Desperate times may call for desperate measures, but not that desperate,” she is firm with her words while there is hurt in her eyes.
I hoped she was right.
But I’d do what I needed to do.
I was done waiting.
The Stars placed me at Traegr’s side. If I had to resort to desperate measures – and if the Stars we followed were as true as we believed them to be, recreating our bodies and our magic for the rest of eternity – than I had nothing to lose.
And that is why I had made my decision.
If I had to resort to threatening my life; Traegr would choose to be by my side.
I just wanted him to love me.
Was it so hard to ask for something so simple?
It is at that moment, that Sapphire mutters my biggest fear to herself, as we head out of the green sanctuary.
I cringe as she says it, not intending for me to hear, but I do with my easy hearing.
“Magic bonds don’t always guarantee love... I would know...” her mouth barely moves with the words but they still hit my ear, and I forget to breathe for a moment.
Without a second thought, I then push her words to the back of my mind.
If I didn’t deny them, I’d have no hope left.