Haelan’s Desire (Walk Through Shadows Book Four)

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He swore to protect her and set the wheels of fate in motion. Rayne's vision is falling into place. What does that mean for the faerie realm? Confirmed bachelor Haelan had put the vision the healer had described out of his head when he'd returned home from the borderlands. But pieces of the puzzle are coming together and no one will be able to ignore the darkness coming for the faerie realm.

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A clear sky greeted the camp of warriors that morning. Not so much as a wisp of cloud graced the brilliant blue expanse. Earlier, streaks of orange and yellow had danced across the barrier, heralding the dawn.

It was time.

Roldan brushed his hair from his face as he sat up on his bedroll. Beside Deamol was already on his feet and heading for the tent flap. Outside the roomy canvas structure sounds of movement grew louder as more people crawled out of their cozy tents. The prince stood and stretched before stepping out into the cool morning air. His gaze swept the clearing, landing quickly on the wings he sought, pitch black and shining with iridescent depths in the morning light. He headed off in that direction.

“Good morning father,” the prince said as he reached the figure’s side.

The male turned to him, his lips turned up from a frown at the sight of his eldest son. “Good morning Roldan.” King Aziel raised his hand and clapped it onto Roldan’s shoulder. “There’s been no word from your brother.” Roldan looked down quickly but the king had already noted the look of disappointment on his son’s face. Of all the people gathered there, the one they needed, the one who could turn the tide when the battle entered their realm was no where to be found. Above them a streak of gray arched across the barrier. They couldn’t wait for Alasdair. The fight wouldn’t wait for him. Roldan let out a frustrated sigh. “Malin’s fighters, along with the dwarves, arrived at the border last night.”

“Stars willing they won’t be needed,” Roldan said softly. “Mother?”

“Leading the elves to a safe area beyond the dwarven province,” the king said with a note of pride in his voice. “Haelan is with her.”

“Your Majesty!” A young fighter scrambled through the people milling about the clearing. Roldan and Aziel turned as he got closer. Several fighters close to the king stepped forward to block his path. The king lifted a hand and waved them off. He had nothing to fear from the scrawny youngster running toward him. The youth went to a knee as soon as he reached the king, his momentum almost sent him crashing into the regent’s knees. “Your Majesty—” the fighter swallowed quickly.

“Out with it,” the king said.

“There’s an elf—” The fighter lifted a shaking hand and pointed toward the edge of the clearing. “Begging to speak with you.” The king’s gaze turned in the direction the fighter indicated, his eyes narrowed at the odd group standing just inside the trees. Three elves stood in a tight knot. At the forefront of the trio was a male. “He said he can help,” he continued in a trembling voice as he looked up at the king.

Roldan snorted. “Help? How can they help?”

“Magic—” the youth turned to Roldan. “They said he has magic—”

“Bring them here,” the king said. The fighter leapt from his knee and ran across the clearing to the elves. The male elf stepped forward to follow the faerie after the he waved them forward. The two female elves reached out to stop the first. He pulled himself free and went after the faerie. The females followed after a moment. One wiped her eyes as they approached the king and prince. Roldan watched the little group move with an amused look on his face.

“Your Majesty,” the male said with a bow. “Your highness,” he directed at Roldan.

“I’m told you wish to help us stop the shadowlands from overtaking our realm,” the king said The elf nodded quickly. Behind him one of the females choked back a sob. Roldan looked at her for a moment, then turned his gaze to the male. “I don’t know of any power the sun elves have that can stop this. If there was why wouldn’t you have used it on your own realm?”

“The sun elves have elemental magic that could help but—” The elf smiled at Roldan. “We are not sun elves. We’re moon elves.” Roldan saw it then. Their complexion was not quite the same as most of the pale faces of the elves that had streamed through the breach between realms. All three of the strangers standing in front of them had a slight gray undertone to their skin. The two females had eyes the colour of Queen’s Lake after a storm, not quite gray but not quite blue. The male’s however, were a bright emerald green. “Well, my sister’s are.” He gestured towards the females. “I’m a half breed.”

“Of?’ Roldan asked.

“Moon and Star,” the elf said proudly.

“The wandering elves?” the king asked.

“Yes, your Majesty.” The elf smiled at the king. “It’s a long story and we’ve been told there isn’t much time.” He was right. Scouts had reported to the king, before the streaks of dawn had lit the sky, that the breach between the faerie realm and what was left of the Sun and Moon elves realm had grown large enough to let something much bigger than an elf through.

“Tell me what it is that can help us,” the king said with a nod.

The male elf separated himself from the group to stand in an empty space several feet from them. All around the king fighters unsheathed weapons. The elf glanced at the king who gave him a nod to continue. The half breed lifted his hands, palms up, and a bright green ball of light appeared to hover above his fingers. “It’s called a Breenmar,” he said as he looked up at the king. “Wild magic, that only appears when it’s needed.”

“Why didn’t it appear when the wall fell in your realm?”” Roldan asked as he stepped forward.

“It came to him last night,” one of the females said softly.

The other female spoke up, her voice was thick with tears. “There are whispers in the camp of a young child that tried to repair the wall.”

“Where is the child now?” the king asked. Roldan looked at him sharply as a note of fear crept into his voice.

“Killed, your Majesty,” the male said as his hands closed over the light. “We’ve heard different versions of her death.” He moved back to the group. “Cut down by a Shoban, torn apart by a Hydra—” One of the females grabbed for his hand. He turned to her and gave her a little smile. “In all of them they say there was green fire shooting from her hands.” He looked at the king. “She had a Breenmar.”

“Father—” Roldan said.

“You will accompany me to the breach,” the king said to the male elf.

“Yes, your Majesty,” the elf said and lowered his head in a little bow. Both female elves cried out softly.

“Roldan,” the king said and looked at his son. “Have Deamol take these two to my tent.” He turned to the females. “You will be fed and kept safe till our return.” Their worried expressions didn’t change. “You have my word,” he said gently. They reached for each other. “My fighters will protect him.” They nodded quickly. The male elf moved close to them and threw his arms around their shoulders. The females hugged him tightly.

Roldan came awake with a start. His hands tore the blanket away from his body as he scrambled out of the bed. He spun around with a distressed cry, his eyes searched the room quickly.

He was alone, far from the site of the most tragic event he’d ever gone through, safe in his own bedroom. His bedclothes clung to his sweat dampened body, his heart raced as adrenaline coursed through his system. He lifted his hands to his face to wipe away the sweat that gathered on his brow then went to the doors leading to the balcony and threw them open. He needed fresh air to cleanse his lungs, to clear away the memory of brimstone that lingered in his nostrils. He braced his hands against the railing as he drew in large breaths of cool morning air. He closed his eyes but had to open them as images from his dream wavered behind his eyelids.

His eyes narrowed as he looked up at the sky and the invisible barrier above it. That particular nightmare hadn’t come to him in years, it had been so long that he’d forgotten how real they could seem. Sadly, he didn’t need the nightmare to remember what had happened that morning. The king’s last moments were burned into his mind and across his heart.

King Aziel had stood in front of that elf as a black dragon towered over them. All around them lay the smouldering bodies of the king’s fighters. Brave faeries who’d done their duty to their last breath. Green light had streamed from the elf’s hands as the dragon turned on the pair. The magic succeeded in choking the dragon long enough for the king to drive it back toward the breach. The elf shifted the light to the ragged edge of the tear, it started to close around the dragon’s body as it maneuvered itself out of range of the king’s sword. The king didn’t let up though. He kept going, determination shining in his ice blue eyes, beating the dread beast back into the ruins of the sun and moon elf realm.

Tears trickled down Roldan’s cheeks as he remembered the horrible sound his father made as the dragon lashed out and caught his wing in its mouth. Somehow the king had managed to twist himself into a position where he could stab at the dragon’s eye. Roldan’s hands gripped the railing as his heart squeezed in his chest.

The dragon had back completely into the breech as the king shoved the sword deeper, slicing into its brain. The king looked back at the elf and shouted, “Close it!” Then his eyes moved to find Roldan. He saw his son running toward the breach and shook his head. Roldan kept going. His boots pounded the ground as the tear shrank. He kept his gaze on his father’s. Aziel’s face twisted into a grimace as the dragon bit down in its death throws then he smiled at his son as, with a blast that knocked Roldan sideways, the breach closed.

Roldan sank down to his knees as he relived the horror of losing his father one more time. Tears continued to fall as the pain of that moment gripped him. He took big gulping breaths as he tried to fight back the sobs that shook his body.

After a few minutes he regained control of his body and staggered to his feet. His hands wiped the moisture from his face. Below him, in the courtyard, one of the cooks called a greeting out to him. He lifted a hand and waved in response, not quite able to speak at that point.

He turned away from the railing and went back into his room. He snatched the blanket from where it had fallen to the floor, tossed it onto the bed, then went to the washroom. After he washed his face he looked at himself in the mirror. He frowned as he tried to remember the immediate aftermath of the king’s death but it was a haze of movements. Deamol helping him to his feet. The two of them leaning against each other as they stared at the barrier. Someone, he couldn’t recall the fighter’s name, had told him the elf had fallen with the last burst of magic.

His gaze drifted away from his own reflection as his brows came together. It was strange that the dream, once a common night time occurrence for him, would appear out of the blue after disappearing for so long. He decided, as he was getting into the shower, to have Deamol send scouts to check for any unusual activity along the barrier.

Perhaps the stars were trying to tell him something.

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