Chapter 65 - Legacy
They were both aware that this was no casual stroll. Arthur wanted to talk to them alone, and he developed a familiarity with them in the few hours they knew him, like a father, but the way a father should be; gentle, kind, concerned, and interested.
He took them to the greenhouse, and as he touched each of the night-blooming flowers, he explained to them their names and properties as if they were his students. Arthur straightened and smiled as if he knew what they were thinking.
“You’ve waited long enough,” he conceded, as he once again walked between them and this time their hands naturally moved to the crook of his arms. He guided them away from the house.
“This quest for the Dark One,” he said as he considered his words with great care. They didn’t interrupt as he took his time to gather his thoughts.
“It’s all about the two of you; your blood, and your legacy,” Arthur declared into the night, and they didn’t contradict him. “It was never about Marcus, he is just the means to an end,” he chose some indistinct path which they walked until they stood overlooking the landscape below. “He needed Marcus to make you strong for him,” Arthur revealed, and the words made them shudder.
“You were born to travel this path, and it was never your choice,” Arthur closed his eyes as he took in the night’s quiet, and they leaned against him. “Marcus was born to make it possible for you to serve the Dark One’s purpose,” Arthur sighed, saddened by the words he felt he had to say.
“How you travel that path is up to you,” Arthur said with a slow cadence laden with meaning, and it made them both look at him. “Marcus would not be here, but for the two of you,” Arthur explained as he turned back to the house, without recrimination in his voice, but they sensed that he still had a point to make.
“If not for all this, things would have followed their natural course, but I must interfere, for his sake and yours,” Arthur slowed their pace.
Alena and Rowan glanced at each other. It bothered them that Marcus could avoid this path they had to travel, but never would - as long as they lived.
“I loved a woman once. I didn’t understand that until I stood at the edge of her grave in the pouring rain,” Arthur looked at Rowan with the oddest expression of love and sympathy.
“You love Marcus,” he commented as if on the weather, and she stumbled, stricken.
“You love him the way a woman loves a man,” Arthur stated without the slightest doubt,” and you love Marcus too, but not the with every fiber of your being,” he addressed Alena and gave Rowan a chance to recover the pieces of her world that just shattered and bonded into an entirely different shape.
“You will never love another man,” he told Rowan, and she swallowed against what was dawning inside her. He shifted his attention back to Alena.
“You will have no mate among our kind. You would not accept another master easily; for that, you are too strong,” Arthur could see the truth of his words in her eyes.
“That goes for you too, Rowan,” these words brought closer what they already knew and feared.
“Alone, you’re fair game,” Arthur voiced their fears, but they didn’t look away, nor did they object. They knew that he only wanted them to see the bigger picture because they needed to address the issue. They were young, and they needed to understand.
“Marcus deserves not to be the last of his line. No one can foresee who would survive this or if any one of you would,” Arthur stopped, and they stared at the house which was just another dark shadow in the night.
“You are too young, the both of you, but this might be your only chance. Marcus put everything on the line for you; whether or not he realizes it. What are you willing to do for him?” Arthur asked, and they were silent as they considered his question.
“If you were expecting his heir or heirs, your position would be safe in your father’s house; unchallenged, and you would have no master. I guess this is a test of just how much you love each other and him,” Arthur started toward the house, and they were almost reluctant to follow.
“I sense a great strength in you both. There would always be some gentle rivalry between you, but you have a bond that others of our kind are not capable of feeling or understanding. It's that which I trust more than your judgment,” Arthur said just as they reached the doorway. They let go of him, and he strode into the hallway on his way to the library.
They stared at each other in the gentle light of the lanterns, and Rowan felt shy with the clarity that Arthur gave her emotions, which seemed like a bright, shiny new penny.
Alena saw the way Rowan’s feelings unsettled her, and neither of them were quite ready to speak of the things Arthur said. She held out her hand to Rowan, and they walked together, but let go before they entered the study. Marcus knew them well enough to know that physical gestures of affection between them usually resulted from stressful situations.