Chapter 20 - The Sun and Moon
May 2, 1645
Somewhere in Glenn Forest
The Outskirts of the Walled City of Arcadia
-Queen Adrienne Almira Ivaris-
I love my new horse! I love the feeling of the sun on my face and the wind in my hair! I love being able to go outside the castle!
I smiled and then tugged the bonnet more securely on my head. I looked around me and the King’s soldiers smiled at me too. I think they’ve accepted me because of the little trick I did at the courtyard. Well, I’ve been doing that ever since I was young! I knew that trick like I knew the back of my hand.
The King and I rode side-by-side silently. I glanced at him and my mouth watered at the sight of him sitting astride his sleek warhorse. His spine stood straight as he grasped the reins of his horse. He wore his gleaming black armor and I saw his two claymores strapped at his back. His hair whipped as the wind blew on it. His features masked in concentration. Suddenly, he glanced at me and smiled.
I resisted smiling back at him and nodded instead. Then I looked towards my right side where Alec, the head of my guard and my personal guard, the one from the Hakor, were flanking me. These guys went wherever I went just like Malcolm, the captain of the King’s Guard went wherever Seth is.
“Tired?” the king asked me. I shook my head but deep inside I was really, really tired. The night of passion we spent together plus the entire morning I spent at the kitchens really exhausted me. But I won’t give him the satisfaction of knowing that so I pretended interest on the leaves and trees around me. The King chuckled loudly and I glared at him.
“You are going to fall off your saddle any moment now.” He remarked and beside him, Malcolm nodded. I rolled my eyes at them. “I am perfectly fine.” I said and sat up straighter. A few more paces, my eyelids were drooping and my head was falling on my shoulders.
“I win the bet. Pay up man! Told you she wouldn’t make it more than a hundred paces.” Malcolm said.
“Dammit!” the king replied and I heard a jingling of coins. When I tried to fully open my eyes, Malcolm was looking at me with a grin on his face while the king was scowling at his friend. I shook my head to clear it and evade the drowsiness but just a few more paces, I felt myself drifting away again...
“Adrienne.” I heard the King whisper and my head snapped up. I saw him nod to Alec and Alec took the reins of my horse from my hands. “What?” I said groggily. “You’re riding with me.” He replied and then he stretched his arms and grabbed me. He lifted me gently onto his saddle as if I weighed nothing.
He adjusted me on the saddle and placed my cheek on his chest. We fit together perfectly... I reached just beneath his chin. I tried to make myself comfortable and when I next inhaled, I took in his warm, clean, masculine scent.
I sighed and closed my eyes. I felt the king wrap a blanket around us and then sleep claimed me...
-King Seth Liam Ivaris XV-
We arrived near the beach just when the sun was about to set. I stayed on my horse while the men set-up camp so that Adrienne can sleep a little while longer.
“Everything’s ready, your highness!” one of the men shouted. “Shh!” I hissed at him and he shot me an apologetic look. “Adrienne...” I whispered and gently shook her. She opened her eyes and scanned her surroundings. Then she jerked off my arms and sat upright. “It’s night already?! I slept for hours?”
I laughed. “Yes, you did. We’re already here and just in time to watch the sun set.” I said and pointed towards the horizon. I heard her sharp intake of breath as she beheld the beauty of the beach, the ocean and the multitude of colors that the setting sun scattered over the horizon.
I tugged on the reins and directed my horse to turn and give us a better view of the sunset. I wrapped my arms around my queen and held her tight. “Do you know the story of the old gods?” I asked and she shook her head.
“Ilyia is the realm of the gods. It was said to be beautiful... Perfect... A place where the gods laughed, ate, drank and threw lavish parties all day. Rashad is the king of the gods. He is said to be the most powerful for he embodied the sun. Long ago, it was said that the sun was the only figure in the heavens. There was no night... There was only day and the sun blazed brightly all the time.” I said and she looked at me with her eyes filled with curiosity. She nodded and urged me to go on.
“Rashad fell in love with a beautiful maiden named Elune. She was one of the goddesses that swore to remain a maiden. It was said that they lived apart from the other gods and goddesses and led their own lives. They were peaceful and spent all day in their beloved meadow where no gods were allowed. They did not drink nor party. They spent their days enriching the soil...” I continued and I saw her look thoughtful for a moment as if she recognized the story.
“You know the story?” I asked. She shook her head.
“Rashad descended from the heavens and tried to woo her. He offered to make her his queen and take her to the heavens where they could both rule over Ilyia. Elune rejected Rashad’s offer and told him she wished to remain in her meadow forever. She told him she did not want to be queen and wanted only a peaceful life. Rashad was heartbroken and he returned to the heavens with grief in his heart. He watched over her all throughout the day.”
“That’s a really sad story...” she remarked.
“It’s not finished yet.” I said to her. She nodded and urged me to continue. “One day, Rashad saw her bathing and he was so overcome by lust. He wanted to have her so he descended from the heavens. She pleaded with him but he took her. When he was done with her, he flew up the heavens with her in his arms. She was crowned queen but she was miserable. It was said that Elune gave Rashad a daughter. A princess. The sun god loved his daughter with all his heart. Elune grew more and more unhappy and one day, she kissed her daughter goodbye and decided to cease her existence. She scattered her essence across Ilyia...”
“I told you this is a sad story.” Adrienne remarked.
“Come to think of it, I think it is.” I replied and then cleared my throat. “Rashad was so heartbroken that he tried to recover her essence. But he could not... He then transformed what essence of her he could gather and turned her into the moon. She was still with him in the heavens yet not quite... Rashad divided the day. Half of the day, he sat at his throne and watched over Ilyia and the other half, he sat by Elune’s side and watched her radiant beauty. It was said that the sunset we see was Rashad, laying down his crown of gold and his cape of crimson so he could come to Elune not as a king but as a man who deeply regretted what he did... He hoped Elune would return to him one day but she did not.”
When I finished my story, the sun has set and the beach was cast in darkness with only a soft glow of moonlight. Suddenly, the implication of the story hit me. I was like Rashad... I forced Adrienne to marry me. Was she unhappy as my queen?
I looked at her face and searched for signs of misery... But honestly, I do not know what to look for. I’ve never seen a woman that’s been miserable with my company before. All of them tripped over their own feet just to try and please me. Women threw themselves over my path hoping that I’d notice them and make them my queen.
I do not know if Adrienne was miserable but she must be... I forced her after all... I would not let her be Elune. I would not let her fade away...
I’d do everything I can to make her happy and make her stay with me.
I dismounted off my horse and helped her. Then I guided her towards the campfire and wrapped the blanket around her.
“I have something to say to my men. I’ll be back soon.” I left and went towards Malcolm and the other generals. “Scout the area for any sign of the army the sentinel has said. Or any evidence. Return here immediately before noon tomorrow.” I instructed. The men bowed and signalled the other soldiers to follow them.
My three guards and Adrienne’s two guards would be the ones who will be left here in the camp. Being a king who is always surrounded by people, that’s as close to privacy as I am ever going to have.
I went back to Adrienne and sat near the camp fire. “What happened to Rashad?” she asked me. I shrugged. “The myths have different versions at this point. Some say that Rashad is still in the heavens, watching over Ilyia. Some say that after hundreds of years of waiting for Elune, he got tired and decided to scatter his essence and cease his existence. Some say that he waited to find a King who would take his place. It is said that he was able to find a new leader and that leader married his daughter and became King of the Gods... But he wasn’t able to hold the throne for long for something terrible happened in Ilyia.” I explained.
“What happened?” she asked softly. I shook my head. “I apologize but I never knew the next portion of the story. My mother died.” Her eyes immediately widened and she laid a comforting hand on my arm. “I’m sorry to hear that.” Adrienne said and I just shrugged in reply.
She reached into her bag and started to arrange the foods that her maid packed. She took out a flask of wine and handed it to me. She smiled at me when she placed some slices of roast beef on top of the bread with butter, garlic and cheese that I liked so much.
“I was surprised to see there were more of these. I thought you finished everything.” She teased. I smiled as I accepted the food she offered. “Ahh. You wound me. I normally don’t eat so much.” I replied to her teasing.
The guards kept their distance from us and Adrienne and I ate in silence. Well, if this was how married life felt like, then I must say that I quite liked it. I ate everything that the maids packed and then drank every last drop of wine from the flask.
Afterwards, I patted my stomach contentedly and laid down on the blanket that’s been spread over the sound. I looked at the sky and a familiar tingling of magic spread itself inside me.
The King looked splendid in his golden robes. This was the first time I’ve ever seen him and I’ve been told he came here looking for me. I stared with open-mouthed admiration as he walked gracefully towards me. His hair shone like gold while the ruby studded crown atop his head reflected the light and made it look like fire.
I instantly dropped down to one knee and crossed one arm over my chest. “Arise, Aiken.” The king said in a deep voice. He knew my name! “I came here especially for you.” He said. My chest swelled with pride and I felt a deep sense of honor from the king’s words.
“What can I do for you, your highness?” I asked the King. “I have word that Azrael has been plotting against me once more. It is said that he is gathering his troops and preparing to attack. I want you to find out if this is true and to stop him before his plans come into fruition.” He instructed.
“You want me to lead your army, your majesty?” I asked breathlessly. The king nodded. “As much as I want to lead the campaign against Azrael, I cannot for I am getting too old.” The king said wearily.
“Will you accept this responsibility, Aiken?” the king asked.
“It is my honor.” I replied and then crossed an arm on my chest once more and then bowed deeply. The King took my hand and laid his palm over it. I felt a tingling heat travel from his hand to mine and then spread over my entire body.
The King waved his hand and it was as if a great fog has been lifted from the land. A great army lay on the foot of the hills. Their armor gleaming with gold, the horses as white as the clouds in the sky, the blades of their sword raised high. I faced the King’s army and they all bowed down to me.
“My army will do as you wish. No one will dare disobey your order. Win this war for me, Aiken.” The king said. “I will, your majesty. I shall not return until Azrael has ceased breathing.” I replied with pride and then bowed once more.
When I looked up, the king wasn’t in front of me anymore. He walked away, his golden robes billowing behind him. He stretched out his hand and a little girl ran to him. The king bent his knees and then caught the girl in his arms and swung her up high. The girl squealed with delight and held on to her father’s arm.
The girl giggled with delight as the King set her down on the grass and kissed the top of her head. “Let’s go to the meadow beyond the castle, papa?” the girl pleaded. The wind carried her voice to me and when she laughed, it sounded like the peal of bells.
Ah... So this is the famous princess they talked about. Other said that the king would never marry. That there was no one beautiful enough to catch his eye. But someone did, and judging by the looks of the princess, the king’s consort must be someone very beautiful.
“Of course, princess.” The king said and took her hand and led her towards the castle. I could see the king smile down at something his daughter told him. I turned my back towards them and prepared to go to the army and discuss strategies with them.
Suddenly, I felt a hand tug on my fingers. I looked down at the most beautiful pair of eyes I’ve ever seen. They were brown but with flecks of gold. Her little mouth was set in a beautiful smile. Her skin was the palest color I’ve ever seen which set off the color of her eyes more. I knelt down so that I our eyes would be on the same level.
“Yes, princess?” I asked with a smile.
“I heard that you were going off to war... I would like to give this to you.” She said and took my palm and gave me a beautiful jade stone. “Thank you, princess.” I said graciously and placed the stone inside my pocket.
“When papa goes to war, I give him stones like that. I blessed those myself. It keeps him from any harm. I give the same to you. It will keep you safe from Azrael’s evil.” She said in a very commanding voice. She could be no more than eight years in age yet she spoke with a regal grace that befits a princess.
“I am sure it will keep me safe, princess. Thank you.” I said with a grin. Her face split into a wide grin. She tossed her hair back when the wind blew and she looked towards the castle where her father stood waiting.
“Goodbye!” she said to me.
“Wait! Please tell me your name, princess? So that I may brag to my men that a certain princess gave me a magic stone.” I said. Her eyes lit up with pride and she held out her little hand to me.
“Selene.” She said and I kissed the back of her palm. “Princess Selene, I am Aiken.” I said and she nodded. “Aiken... I like your name...” “Thank you.” I replied.
“Well, my father is waiting for me. Keep the stone with you, always! It will keep you safe!” she shouted while she ran back towards her father.
I reached into my pocket and took out the stone. I smiled to myself. The princess really is a precious little thing. Now I know what the fuss is all about...
“Selene...” I whispered to myself as I pocketed the stone and made my way towards the king’s army.
“Seth! Seth!” Adrienne shouted frantically as she shook my shoulders.
I sat up and rubbed my eyes. “What?” I asked her. I looked around and the guards were looking at me with relief. “You lied down and then you were suddenly very still. It was as if you weren’t even breathing! I tried to wake you several times but you weren’t even moving!”
“I fell asleep.” I said with a shrug. I stood up and walked towards the beach and splashed my face with some cold water. I still remembered the dream I had. So I guess that was the first time that Selene and Aiken met, whoever they may be.
Selene was some kind of princess while Aiken was clearly a warrior. The dream was really nice and all but what has got to do with me? What has everything got to do with me and Adrienne? Why are we having these visions? Why do I feel as if I knew her before? Why is it that I feel as if we were connected in some way?
I splashed more cold water on my face to rid myself of these ridiculous thoughts. These dreams were nothing else but dreams. Maybe we knew each other in another life and these were memories. If that were true then the old Ivarian belief that a soul that dies is reincarnated is true. If that were true then that meant that Adrienne and I meant something to each other for us to be given another chance at life.
-Queen Almira Adrienne Ivaris-
Seth returned after a few minutes on the shore and he escorted me to our tent. He rearranged the furs to make sure that the bottom part of the tent is covered and that the cold wind wouldn’t be able to enter.
I crawled and lay down on the furs and he covered me with a blanket. He went back outside and my guard, Alec, told me that he just wanted to make sure that everything else was secure. The after a long while, he returned and started removing his weapons. He carefully laid down his weapons on his side and tucked a dagger underneath the furs.
I looked curiously at what he was doing. “I always sleep like this. You’ll never know when someone’s going to attack.” He explained with a shrug. When he was through arranging his weapons, he removed his shirt, lay down on the furs and captured me with his strong arms.
My heart thudded with anticipation. I felt my mouth go dry as he gazed at me with those beautiful grey eyes. He didn’t leave me longing for long for his lips descended and captured mine. I sighed against his kiss and erotic images of the night we shared before, came back to me.
He kissed me slowly while his hands caressed my back. I placed my hands on his chest and I felt the powerful muscles contract under my touch. He pulled back and regarded me again. “I have to ask you something.” He said. I was surprised and it took me a moment to understand his question.
“What?” I asked. “Are you having dreams about certain people named Aiken and Selene?” he asked me and I frowned. Did he have dreams too? “Yes.” I replied. “What do you think these dreams mean?”
“I...I don’t know.” I replied. “When did you start having these dreams?”
I took a deep breath before I replied. “When I was younger, I kept having visions. I can see the future and those were usually the contents of my dreams. But when I saw you... That was the first time I dreamt of Aiken and Selene. And I keep having dreams about them until now.” I explained.
“Do you have any idea why we’re having these dreams about two lovers?” My mind had an even greater difficulty answering this question for the king’s lips were on my neck.
“Seth...” I exhaled. “Mmm... I love it when you say my name.” He said and his tongue dipped inside my mouth and I melted. The former discussion was promptly forgotten especially when I felt his hands on the bodice of my dress. He deftly undid the laces, parted the folds of my dress and slipped his hands inside to caress me intimately.
I gasped when his questing fingers found my nipple. I moaned and suddenly, he was on top of me. I felt his hardness over my belly and I opened my thighs to cradle him in my hips. He looked at me through passion-filled eyes and then kissed me again.
Suddenly, he stilled and his hand went to the dagger underneath the furs. He covered my mouth with his palm and motioned for me to be silent. His entire body was tense and he emanated an aura of danger and death.
“Stay here.” He whispered and grabbed both his claymores. I stayed on the farthest corner of the tent and listened. I heard the faint sound of footsteps but it was drowned out with the sound of the waves from the sea.
Then everything was silent. It was as if a blanket of silence fell over everything. The insets stopped chirping and even the sea sounded calm. I felt a heavy amount of magic in the air and a feeling of dread settled over me. I knew immediately that something was wrong. Clouds eclipsed the moon and everything was suddenly cast in darkness. The fire died when the wind blew. I huddled closer to the furs and tried to stay as quiet as I could.
I heard the sound of steel as swords were unsheathed. “Alec! Do something!” the king hissed and I felt a faint hit of magic. Suddenly there was light and I saw shadows of men. More than the three men of the King’s guard and my very own two guards.
“Sorcerer!” I heard someone shout and then the sound of running feet and then clashes of steel. “Lachlan! Get the queen!” Seth shouted. I crawled towards the entrance of the tent but I heard the sound of fabric ripping and then I was being hauled backwards.
I tried to scream but a hand clamped down on my nose and mouth. I tried to tug on it but it wouldn’t budge. The more I struggled, the more I couldn’t breathe. I tried to kick and claw at my attacker but it was as if he felt no pain.
“Stop resisting me, Selene... You’re mine, remember?” a husky voice which sounded very familiar drawled.
Black spots danced before my eyes and I felt my lungs burning as I desperately tried to breathe. I opened my mouth and then clamped down hard on the hand restraining me. With a grunt, my attacker released me and I sprawled on the ground, chest heaving with the effort to breathe.
I quickly stood up and ran back towards the camp, not caring whether leaves and branches of trees scratched me. I came across the clearing and saw that everyone was engaged in battle. The king had both of his claymores in his hand now and again he was fighting as if his swords were an extension of his limbs.
Seth’s eyes met mine and I saw relief flash in his face when he saw that I was unharmed. I saw men behind me and I quickly ran towards the King. “Men, to me!” he shouted and the guards all rushed to him. Seth grabbed my arm and hauled me to his back where the guards created a protective circle around me.
“Alec, summon fire. We need cover!” Seth hissed. The head of my guard slowly shook his head. “I’ve depleted my magic.” He replied.
“Magic. Lend him ours.” Selene’s voice said inside my head.
Suddenly, I felt as if I knew what to do. “Try again.” I whispered to Alec and then placed my hand on his arm. I felt heat from me flow into him. His eyes widened. “M-my queen?” I nodded to him. “Use mine.” I said. He lifted his hand and then chanted some more words. He waved his hand and a line of fire appeared in front of us. It separated us from our attackers. I saw Alec’s look of surprise as he saw how tall the wall of flames he created were.
I nodded to him again. He lifted his hand and the flames rose. He then began to walk forward and direct it towards the enemy. The wall of fire passed through them and left ashes in its wake. The other men looked at it in fear and it sent the others scampering away.
When they were gone, the fire died and I removed my arm from Alec’s hand. I felt very tired and I slumped on the sand. The King bent down and inspected every inch of me. The others still kept their protective circle around us.
I accepted the arm he offered and leaned against him as the world spun. I heard the sound of hooves and I raised my head and saw Malcolm and the rest of the King’s men spill into the camp.
“Guard the queen!” the king pointed to a large quantity of soldiers beside me. “The rest of you, come with me!” he ordered and then quickly mounted his horse. Sand flew everywhere as horses turned to follow their King in pursuit of our attackers.
I returned to the ripped tent and sat on the rugs, trying to calm myself. Why did the voice sound familiar? Who could that man be? Why did he call me Selene?
Was he another piece to this unsolved puzzle?
© All rights reserved for The King’s Slave. Ilyian mythology, the gods and goddesses, concepts and the language used here are all ORIGINAL and all MY OWN WORK. These are the products of my imagination and countless hours spent writing. Please do not copy/ reproduce in any way