Chapter 17: The White Gates of Eimbridge
Ignatius had his eyes transfixed on the three of us, allowing the news he received sink in. It was silent as he assessed the matter at hand. Klency explained that I happen to be the leader they were tirelessly searching for over the span of twenty years.
Klency’s words were hardly believable to me. There could be no way that my family had anything to do with the Amorak tribe of wolves. We were nothing special other than born in royalty.
“Then it’s true,” Ignatius says lowly while eyeing me with curiosity. “I knew something good would come out of keeping you alive.”
The only reason he wanted to keep me alive was for the purpose of taking care of these wolves?
It felt good knowing that Ignatius kept me alive to help others, but it still kind of hurt that he would have let me die otherwise. He saved Klency, Klaus, and their siblings from a fire. He has protected them all despite knowing any of them. Why would I be different unless he gained something from it?
“What am I?” The question I had been wanting to ask blurted out. A small part of me felt like it already knew of these mysterious powers, but another part felt missing.
“That is what I wish to know Artemis,” Ignatius says making my cheeks heat up at the sound of him saying my name. What’s wrong with me? Pull yourself together woman!
"Only a celestial being is capable of leading a pack of wolves and you are a mere human.” He adds.
“It does not matter if she is a mere human El—” Klaus stopped cleared his throat and began speaking again. “Ignatius, she can help them.”
Ignatius shot a quick glare towards Klaus. One of my eyebrows arched up curiously at the sudden change in the atmosphere. Klaus turned pale and gulped. He was about to say something different other than Ignatius. El?
“I understand that Klaus.That reason being is why I have kept her safe from harms way.”
Was he really keeping me safe to help these wolves? Or is he planning something? Eco said he would do anything to end his life.
“Is that the real reason?” The tone in my voice was darker than normal. This overwhelming feeling of wanting to protect the two men next to me consumed my senses.
Ignatius’s was taken aback by my question, but he somehow managed to pull up his lips in a smirk. “What are you implying dear?”
“Eco visited me today. He had informed me that you would do anything to escape this suffering. To die,” I tell him while I look straight into his eyes for any reaction. There was nothing. He either held his composure well or he really did care.
“Eco is quite troublesome these days,” Ignatius let’s out an irritated long breath. “He is partly correct. I do wish to die, but I would never use these boys as my way out. Or you,” He reassures and I feel like he was telling the truth. He didn’t have a reason to lie after all.
“Will we be allowed to stay together?” Klency pouts up to Ignatius like a dog begging for its bone.
Ignatius smiles. “As a matter of fact, I would love for you to stay here Klency while Klaus will come with us to visit Atlas.”
“If I may, I would like it if Klency came along,” I suggest. It’s not that I don’t feel like I can’t trust Klaus, I just felt comfortable with Klency right now.
“Any particular reason why?” Ignatius questions me.
“Klaus mentioned he has returned from a journey, he should take this opportunity to rest,” I insisted and Klaus smiled warmly.
“Thank you, I would like that very much.” Klaus was grateful at the idea which made me feel better.
I turned to Ignatius with a look of triumph and he rolled his eyes in annoyance. “Not like they will listen to me anymore anyways,” He grumbled out.
“A journey with my two favorite people!!” Klency beamed with excitement.
He grabbed my hand and yanked me up from my sitting position to twirl me around. A fit of laughter escapes from within me at his cheery action. After the twirl he hugged me tightly to where I almost couldn’t breathe.
“Klency,” Ignatius growled violently.
Klency shivered at Ignatius’s booming voice. One would think he was cowering in fear from the dangerous man behind us, but Klency was smirking. He turns his head to look at Ignatius with devilish eyes swirling with mischief.
“Yessss?” Klency prolonged the word in a playful tone as he presses his cheek onto mine. Ignatius was enraged with a maddening twitch in his eye.
“I told you not to...” Ignatius started but trailed off with his fists clenching.
“Not to touch her?” Klency grins wickedly his eyes squinting with dark amusement. He was poking a dragon with a stick and he held no fear in his eyes. In fact, he was practically trembling with pure ecstasy at the thought of Ignatius punishing him. “What will you do?” Klency almost moans having a hard time holding his excitement back.
Ignatius narrows his eyes at him. “Nothing. That will be your greatest punishment.”
The happiness drains from Klency’s face as Ignatius turns to leave. “Let’s go, Artemis.”
Again, he says my name sending shivers up my spine. Breathe!
"My lord! No! Punish me!” Klency cries out and hurries to attach himself to Ignatius’s leg. “Don’t do this to me!”
Ignatius ignores his pleas as he drags his leg across the ground with Klency hanging on for dear life. “I will do anything! I will!” Klency shouts.
“Anything?” Ignatius stops to look down at the flustered Klency with devious eyes.
“Anything!” Klency repeats with desperation.
Ignatius rips his foot from Klency’s hold and squats down to his level and grabs him by his shirt. “Keep your filthy hands off of her.” He warns threateningly.
“You don’t understand how soft her skin is though!” Klency declares with a whine.
My eyes widen at his words as well as Ignatius’s. The color of my cheeks turn bright red while Ignatius quickly changes his reaction to a grumpy frown. I was almost positive Ignatius would know if my skin was soft or not.
He clears his throat before he speaks. “You have no idea how badly I want to rip your throat out.”
“What’s stopping you?” Klency tried to provoke Ignatius, but gets tossed aside instead.
Ignatius’s eyes dart up at me in angry manner and begins barking orders. “Control him and get moving! We need to prepare to depart for our journey!”
The Gates of Eimbridge, I could see why they had called it that. Just ahead of us was a miraculous white bridge that stretch far across a massive lake. The impressive bridge was so elegant it had almost seemed like it was made specially for the gods to cross.
In the distance, far beyond the bridge and across the lake was an even more spectacular sight. There was a wall that reached as high as the wandering clouds in the sky.
A gasp was no longer held back as I took in the magnificent size of the pearl white gates that awaited at the end of bridge. It was as if I were staring at giant painting. The view was too surreal to believe it actually existed.
My mind was in a such daze that I hadn’t noticed we approached the beginning of the long bridge. Clyde, Tristan, and Ayden were quietly waiting for us to arrive.
With Ignatius and Klency at my sides they did not approach or say a word to me. I received a few glances from them just before Ignatius began speaking.
“Let me make this clear,” He starts by looking at each one of them including me. “Beyond those gates is a world full of mysteries that your simple-minded selves could never comprehend. If you wish to stay alive you will listen to my every command.”
There was only the response of heads nodding in agreement. To my assumption, no one, besides Ignatius and the rest of the Peacekeepers, have been passed those gates. Perhaps, there could be a handful of men that could pass such as inhuman creatures like Klency.
So why would Atlas invite humans to pass through?
“How many humans have been through those gates?” I whispered to Klency without Ignatius noticing.
“A few every year,” He says solemnly. The lack of excitement in his eyes had me on edge.
“Is it safe for us to cross?” Was my next question. His behavior was quite strange as he stared darkly at the gates.
“No human has ever returned,” His words were like ice, cold and brittle. He grabbed my hand squeezed it. “Ignatius as well as myself will not allow anything to happen to you.”
“Have you been through the gates before?” I felt inclined to ask him. The look on his face told me he despised the other side of that wall with a burning passion.
“Through those gates is where Ignatius found us, where we were all left to die. Where the Amorak tribe was meant to end,” Klency seethed with a deep rage in his heart.
It was my turn to squeeze his hand to remind him that I am here for him. His brown eyes soften at the soothing comfort we brought each other. I could feel this unbreakable bond growing between since earlier this morning. It was unexplainable, but this newly friendship will without a doubt become strong.
We all moved together in a group, the six of us, heading directly for the gates. The solid structure of the bridge beneath our feet was cold like it were made of ice. It was unsettling and very unwelcoming.
The three Prince’s of Aridor walked side by side in front of us. Ignatius didn’t want them out of his sight for a moment. It was silent amongst us all leaving only the sound of our boots clicking on the stone bridge.
The closer we approached the gate, the colder it became. The tip of my nose felt like it was turning red as my cheeks burned from the icy wind hitting my face. The sun was no longer providing any warmth as it sets behind us.
As the sun disappears, the worse Ignatius gets with his curse. I glance up at him to sneak a peek to see how he was doing. His forehead was beginning to sweat and his eyes were hardly staying open. He was losing the fight to hold out for as long as he could.
Just before we came here, Ignatius had me promise to keep his curse a secret the best that I can. He glanced down at my worried expression and mumbled that he was fine.
He was not.
Ignatius began coughing lowly, then became louder by the second. He use his gloved hand to cover his mouth as he coughed. My heart started to quicken as I turn to look at Klency for help. We had to make it to the ship on the other side of the gate without the other three being suspicious of why Ignatius was acting weird.
Clyde was turning his head around to see what was happening as I faked a cough louder than Ignatius’s.
Klency points in the other direction to get Ignatius to face the other way. “Look my lord!! That fish was huge!! Did you see that?!” He shouts in amazement as I continued to cough like I was choking on something.
“Princess? Are you okay?!” Clyde hurried over to me as I double over on the ground to make a dramatic scene. Tristan and Ayden moved in as well to see what the commotion was about.
You owe me Ignatius. I mentally noted.
Clyde picked me up from the ground and started patting on my back. I looked over to where Klency was and he gave me the thumbs up. I immediately stop coughing and cleared my throat.
“Yes, must have just been from the sudden change in the weather,” I tell Clyde and he doesn’t look convinced in the slightest.
“Here,” He pulls his long coat off and wraps it warmly around my shoulders. “You should have been given warmer clothing.”
Clyde glares at Ignatius who is glancing over his shoulder at us. Ignatius scoffs at Clyde’s remark. I could feel the tension rise between the two. Ignatius turns his body to face the correct direction again and holds his hand out.
“Artemis,” Ignatius calls to me with a gentleness laced in his voice. “Stay by me, I will warm you.”
I can feel this fear in my chest taking over. It was not Ignatius that I feared, it was fear of Clyde hating me for going to him. Clyde’s grip on my shoulders tightened indicating he did not want me to move from this spot.
“Artemis,” Ignatius calls me again, his deep voice sounding attractive. The way my name rolled off his tongue was melodic. I could hear Clyde’s breathing become heavy as his nostrils flared up in anger.
However, he removed his hands from my shoulders and watched me walk to Ignatius. His green eyes were filled with jealousy as Ignatius’s arm reeled me in close to his chest.
“Much better, am I right?” Ignatius asks me, taunting Clyde with his words. Ignatius couldn’t be more right though, next to him was like standing in front of a furnace. The warmth radiating from his body felt amazing in the cold air of the night.
“Let us proceed, we must not lose anymore precious time.” Ignatius commands and motions them to move. Tristan and Ayden instantly began walking once more with Clyde trailing behind them.
“I can not walk on my own, this was the only way,” Ignatius whispered down to me explaining his actions.
His explanation was unnecessary, because until we reach Atlas, I planned on keeping Ignatius’s secret. The reason being was because of Klency and other wolves. There are answers I sought and Ignatius will help me find them.
I wanted... No, I needed to know who I am. This unidentifiable feeling deep within me was unraveling into a powerful sense of needing to protect something or someone.
Next time I’ll dream sweeter🌹
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