Royal Twins

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Chapter VIII – Return to Berthold

Alex, Fromm, and David finally arrive to the edge of Berthold, the City of Kings. Tent city looks nearly like a ghost town. Not a sole in sight was visible. They ride leading much of the Berthold army to the wall. Most Edjer survivors and even the wounded were dismissed and went back to their homes. Only a few higher ranking Edjer soldiers march with Berthold soldiers back to the city. Alex looks around from a new horse looking for anyone in their tents. Ships are visible in the docks, but no person is outside in the open.

“You know, you didn’t have to travel back, David,” says Alex.

“Our battle may be over, but that does not mean the war is over.”

“I am sure Anne and your children will be ecstatic to see you anyways.”

“I am sure you are right. I was unable to see Hailey before I left. Hey, looks like the Elves return to Berthold,” says David pointing at the ships at the bay.

“So, few?” asks Alex.

“I fear there truly is more to all of this then anyone knows of,” suggests Fromm.

“I fear you are right,” agrees David.

Alex rides to the front of the gate and looks up at the wall.

“OPEN!”

No answer. And the gate does not budge.

“Did you hear me? I said open!” he demands again.

A man sticks his head out from over the edge. He looks staggered at first before realizing who has approached the gate. His eyes open wide and he stands up straight.

“OPEN FOR THE KING!”

The large city gates open up wide and the army piles into the city with many people moving to the side of the streets. They gaze for a moment at Alex and David and soon cheer for the armies’ victorious return home.

“What is wrong with the city guard?” asks Alex.

“I agree,” says Fromm, “I will have it dealt with immediately.”

“Good,” says Alex. “But Fromm, don’t be too harsh. We just won.”

“Fine.”

Fromm rides off to the stairs leading up to the top of the wall.

“I don’t envy that boy on the wall,” says David.

“His laziness could have cost many lives if that hadn’t been us riding to the gate.”

“Oh, I wasn’t disagreeing. I am just worried about seeing him go over the wall.”

“Yeah I definitely wouldn’t want Fromm chewing me out.”

“I don’t know if anyone deserves that,” jokes David.

Rahm, Cali, and a few Elvish soldiers march up to David and Alex blocking the pathway. They both jump off of their horses and hand them off to the men to take care of.

Alex turns around to look at his men. He sees exhaustion settling in across their faces.

“Take your brothers and sisters to medical bay if need be, otherwise, go, rest, drink be with your families. You and your fallen comrades will all be compensated soon for a job much well done. The night is yours, along with the world.”

“LONG LIVE KING ALEX!”

The army starts chanting and soon by the villagers in the streets. After a few chants, the noise dies off and they carry the king’s orders and dissipate through the people. They hug loves ones, and cry with fallen heroes’ families, and carry the wounded to the medical bay in the castle.

“Your people love you, my king,” says Rahm as they exchange bows.

“They fought bravely, and victory came to them. How have you fared?”

“Victory, but at great costs I am afraid.”

“I thought the mercenaries were few.”

“Mercenaries failed to take down an elf, little lone an entire ship.”

He looks at his men who look with fear but as well as sorrow.

“How have you come back with so few then? Where is your father?”

“King Rasham IV fell in battle along with many sailors. We were unprepared by the trap the Queen had set us in. A beast not from this world swam in the waters. The hide was as hard as stone and the teeth as large as five men each. We eventually killed it by dropping anchors on it. Unfortunately, we were unable to bring the anchors back up.”

“So, you had to leave your father’s ship?” asks David.

“We did,” answers Rahm. “We also burned it along with Rasham and many of the fallen.”

“I am sorry for your loss. King Rasham will be remembered for eternity but right now it would seem the threat of Dubhan is very much real.”

“I agree,” says David.

“Do you really think it was from another world?”

“We have sailed the river and sea for much of our lives and nothing was ever found like that. That beast was released by the Queen for one purpose, to kill everything in its path. Whatever it was, it was made for pure evil by pure evil.”

“We must stay prepared, but for go and rest. You and your men have earned it. The future is unclear but for right now we are a step closer to peace.”

Fromm returns in great posture and great attitude.

“Well, someone had some fun,” says David.

“No, I just did what I was asked to do.”

“Fromm,” says Alex, “You have a little smile still on your face.”

“What?” He realizes a big grin is on his face and removes it quickly.

“Any word on my sister?” Alex asks Rahm.

“No, I am afraid not. We were the first to return and you were next.”

Alex looks down for a moment in silence with a heavy heart. David pats his back and looks at him with comforting eyes.

“Don’t worry, you are twins, you know she is alive. I am sure something weird would’ve happened with you if she wasn’t.”

“Are you an only child?”

“Yeah, how’d you know?”

“Just a guess. We are twins. We aren’t even identical twins for that matter. It’s not like if she loses an arm mine falls off too.”

“Well, I don’t know. We have never had twins at the high throne before,” says David defending himself.

“Anyway, David it looks like someone is here to see you.”

Alex points over towards the castle. David follows the finger to see his wife running to him. Behind her is his small child, Scott, trying to keep up but careful to stay out of the way. He smiles wide to his wife and picks her up in his arms. He spins her with joy filling his face. They kiss and Alex smiles at the reunion of husband, wife and child. Suddenly, he realizes that Hailey is not among them.

“Where is Hailey?”

“I do not know. She disappeared about a week ago.”

“She will return, I know it in my heart.”

“They look good together,” says Alex from a distance of the reunion.

“They do, don’t they?” smiles Fromm. “They remind me of two others I know.”

“Who?”

“I was going to say your mother and father. But shit, they kind of remind me of your sister and that pain in the ass of hers.”

Alex starts to walk away from the reunion and towards wanders down the road with his arms behind his back.

“He came through today.”

“I owe him a lot. Starting with an apology.”

“I am sure he wouldn’t accept it for all of the gold in the world.”

“I’m sure you are right. He is a good man. I have no doubt he was victorious today.”

The man guarding the wall starts to yell and sound the alarm bell. The bell echoes off of the walls and the villagers take cover.

“DRAGON!”

Alex and Fromm look at each other and smile before running up the wall. Alex pats the guard on the back and laughs.

“Don’t worry, they’re on our side. Open up the gate. HOLD YOUR FIRE!” he orders to the archers on the wall.

They all put their bows down with the arrows pointing to the ground. Fromm and Alex run back down the stairs and out of the gate with David not too far behind.

“OPEN THE GATE!” yells the man

The bell stops ringing and the gates open up as three dragons, approach and land just before the gate. Reese leads the riders with Sara just in front of him passed out. Bryne is with Hailey on top of Hearne and Katherine on the other. He hands down Sara to Alex and Fromm, who pass her to two soldiers that are nearby.

“Get her to medical immediately. Get them all there immediately.”

David notices Hailey holding up Bryne and runs up to her. She hands down the warrior who he passes over to another soldier. She gets down onto the ground before her father takes her in his arms and holds her close.

“Don’t you ever do that again.”

“Sorry, father but I had to find the Hishonian.”

“I don’t care about that. I care about you riding a dragon,” he says laughing.

The soldiers quickly follow the order and get the injured into the castle. Reese jumps off followed by the third rider.

“Take care of the dragons,” he orders.

“Yes, my lord.”

He turns around to see Alex, Fromm, and Rahm standing there with David and Hailey approaching. They all stare at the stranger with questioning eyes.

“Apologies, my name is Reese. I am one of the Hishonian leaders.”

He holds out his hand and Alex shake it warmly.

“No need to apologize. What is going on with them?”

“The blonde hair one,” he says not remembering her name.

“Sara.”

“Right, Sara. She’ll live but her leg is pretty shattered, and her eye is quite swollen. But I think she just passed out from exhaustion to be honest. It will probably be best to let her rest in her own bed than in the medical wing. Katherine woke back up during flight and seems to be stable, but her face looks pretty bad right now and she may have a few broken bones. Bryne, is in the worse state because we don’t know what is wrong with his body right now.”

“Please tell us you have some good news to share,” says David sarcastically.

“Before he fell in battle, Bryne fought to his last breath and finished Lycus. He is now dead. I do need to ask your permission to open the portal so that we can quickly bring the wounded from Zeev.”

“What is wrong with their facilities?” asks David.

“The North is little on resources right now, I’m afraid. “

“We will open the portal. Where is Eugene?” decides Alex.

“He is in the medical bay helping the doctor,” answers Rahm.

“He has the missing piece of the portal. We must attach it before we can open up both kingdoms.”

They run together through the main gate and into the castle door. Down the stairs they run through another set of doors and into a large room where many wounded fill the air with agony. Alex quickly locates Eugene carrying a tray of food toward them. He spots Alex staring back at him and joy quickly overwhelms him. He sets the tray down at a nearby table and opens up his arms invitingly. Alex gives the old man a quick hug.

“Alex, is that really you?”

“It’s good to see you too.”

“I feared the worse when all these bodies kept coming in.”

“Many fought bravely but many also died. I am lucky to not be amongst those.”

“I knew when I first laid eyes on you that the Five Kingdoms was in good hands, but I fear you did not come her just to see an old man. What can I do for you?”

“I am afraid I didn’t. I need that stone that Tucker gave you before I left.”

Eugene thinks a moment and seems confused. He rubs his hands though his silver hair clearly trying to remember.

“Stone, my lord?”

“Yes, I gave it to Tucker to give to you right before I left. It goes to the portal.”

“I honestly cannot recall any stone that he gave me.”

“Uh-oh,” says David.

“Do you know where he is?”

“His room or throne room. That seems to be the usual.”

“Throne room? Why would he go there?” asks Rahm.

“It doesn’t matter. We need to get to him,” says Alex. “Thanks, Eugene.”

They run quickly back upstairs. No one says a word as they head up in confusion and in worry. Soon they hit the main hall and barge through into the throne room. Tucker sure enough is sitting in the throne starring at the stone glowing in his hand. As they approach, something doesn’t seem quite right with him.

“Tucker? What are you doing?” asks Alex, but no response. “Tucker?

Still nothing.

“TUCKER!”

He blinks and looks slightly past the stone but doesn’t take his eyes completely off of it.

“Alex, you’re back. Are you ready to go home?”

“Tucker, what are you talking about?”

“This stone can get us home. I miss home sometimes, don’t you?”

“Well, sure I do but we can’t even open it the portal from that side. Not yet anyways. But we will find a way to open it and get you back home. Now give me the stone so we can get those in need some help.”

“They lie to you and they lie to me. The portal can be opened to the other world. Our world, Alex. And it can even open up other worlds.”

Alex stands over Tucker sternly.

“Give me the stone, now.”

“I miss home. You never would’ve talked to me like this before.”

“HAND OVER THE STONE!”

Tucker refuses to move or speak. Alex quickly snatches it out of his hand. Tucker blinks and looks around the throne room in confusion.

“Alex? You’re back.”

“Tucker? Are you ok?”

“Yeah, of course. I have a major headache but besides that I am fine. What’s going on?”

“Y-, Nothing. Go, and get some water and some rest. We are just turning on the two portals to help the two nations.”

“Good thinking. I will talk to you later.”

Alex waits until Tucker leaves the room and the door shuts before walking over to the portal. He takes the stone and puts it in its spot.

“Reese, do your thing.”

Reese nods and heads over to the portal to open it up. Alex turns to the rest with a concern look.

“Have either of you ever seen anything like that before?”

“Almost like he was hypnotized by the stone,” says Fromm.

“Strange,” says David.

“What do you know about these portals?”

“The portals were made from a rare stone that was discovered in Elvland long ago. The stone itself is quite harmless. But these stones can be and probably were enchanted. There is much power in each piece that makes teleportation possible. When your mother created the portals, she used dark magic to create them. I will look into it more for you. He seems to be alright as long as the stone is away from him, though.”

“As long as the stone stays away,” repeats David.

“Are there more than two portals out there?”

“Well, not here,” says Fromm. “There was a temporarily one in your home on your world of Earth but that is all that I know of.”

A purple light starts to shine in the portal and an arm sticks trough, then a leg and finally Isabella comes all of the way through. Reese grabs her as she falls forward. They look at each other in happiness and relief.

“You did it. How are the three?”

“Two are stable but we are uncertain if Bryne will survive.”

“I feared that may be true. However, if Dubhan is returning than we must find a way to keep him alive.”

“Not that I don’t want to see him live but what does one have to do with the other?” asks Fromm.

“Did Bryne not tell you what clue to the weapon was?”

“The ivory sword, right?”

She sighs and looks down at the floor shaking her head.

“He used that because he didn’t know if you would believe the real weapon. Only blood can stop his power. I figured it out on the way to the White Wall. The weapon and the clue weren’t ever meant for the old queen. She was just a servant. I looked more at the journal and the weapon was for him. Because he used his power in her, she could only be defeated by her blood. Just as he can only be defeated by his own blood. Bryne Wolfcrier is the last remaining heir to Dubhan.”

Everyone drops in silence as they realize the world’s last hope lies lifeless downstairs in the medical bay.

“Why couldn’t she use magic against me then when I held the sword?”

“That must have just been your power. Immunity to magic. The sword had nothing to do with killing her other than it actually killing her.”

“I don’t mean to be this guy but if the world’s hope is down in medical dying then we need to find out why,” decides David. “And fast.”

“Well, I think it’s quite clear he is dying because of three arrows stuck him like a pig,” Fromm says sarcastically.

“You must be Fromm,” says Isabella. “I was told you fail to see the big picture.”

“Probably from Bryne too, huh?”

“Nothing gets by a Protector.”

Fromm just stares angrily with arms folded.

“Fine, what am I missing?”

“Those arrows didn’t shoot in a fatal spot. They should’ve wounded him but not killed him or left him like this. Sara tried to heal him, and his body rejected the treatment. It’s almost as if something dark was injected into him and that darkness is rejecting anything good.”

“So, what do we do now?” asks Fromm.

“We wait and do research,” decides Alex. “Let’s get your people the help they need, and we will go from there. Rahm, David, I thank you for your help.”

They both bow to him in respect and he returns it.

“I will return to my people in Edjer City. Please send a messenger when you decide to have court and I think it is appropriate for the council to assemble as soon as we are able.”

“Agreed, thank you for your help. Travel in safety, King David.”

He turns around and leaves out the door. Alex turns toward Rahm who remains steadfast in front of Alex.

“Do you plan to return home?”

“Not yet. I will send a few ships home but for now I feel like my place is here assisting in your research. For right now, I will address my people before retiring to my chambers.”

“I look forward to your assistance.”

Alex leads the way out of the throne room with Rahm and Fromm not far away. Isabella and Reese stay behind to start bringing patients in through the portal.

“Having your wisdom here will only increase the probability of success.”

They stop in the hallway just outside of the throne room with the doors closed behind them. Alex stops to look at the walls in the main hall. He looks to the left and then to the right.

“Fromm?”

“Yes?”

“I think it’s time to make a change to these walls,” Alex smiles.

“I was already going to have someone paint your picture,” assures Fromm.

“No, not that. These walls do not stand because of just kings. These walls stand because of many brave heroes. Those brave heroes belong on these walls as much as I would. Heroes like Bryne, Isabella, Reese, and you Fromm. I think it is time to pay back everyone and not just us royalty.”

“If you are sure, I will make the arrangements.”

Fromm and Rahm both bow and walk away toward the main doors leaving Alex alone in the hallway. He continues to look at the paintings until a young familiar boy approaches the king.

“King Alex?” he asks while bowed.

He turns around to see the young boy with some higher end clothes and a dagger in his belt.

“Yes, how can I help you?”

“The doctor asked me to find you and let you know that your sister is in her bed in her own room.”

“Thank you, what is your name?”

“Elipidus, sir. But people just call me Eli usually.”

“Name sounds familiar.”

“One of your soldiers paid me nearly a hundred gold pieces and your sister was there. Perhaps that is where I sound familiar?”

“My soldier? What did he look like?”

“He had yellow glowing eyes, a warrior hawk hairstyle in a braid to his shoulders, and a scar by his right eye. He also had two swords on his back with handles in the shape of wolves.”

“That soldier, is Prince Bryne of the North. One of the greatest warriors in history.”

“So, was that him, The Black Prince?”

“No, not the Black Prince. He has earned a title far beyond that status of an outlaw. Has he made it to medical alright?”

“He is in a private room.”

“Why a private room?”

“Doctor said his condition was bad for people to see and wasn’t sure if he was contagious.”

Elipidus motions the king to lean down closer. Alex does lean down and the boy whispers in Alex’s ear.

“The doctor says his veins near the wounds stick out of his body and are as black as night. Almost as if something dark grows inside of him. Has never seen anything like it. Can he be saved?”

“We will do everything we can. But for now, we must be patient and pray.”

Alex stands up and turns around to head upstairs to the bedrooms. Elipidus remains there for a moment and runs back down the stairs to the medical bay. Alex approaches Sara’s room and slowly opens up the door. In the room is his sister, Sara, fast asleep her bed. Courtney, sits next to her, quickly notices him peering through the door. A big smile fills her cheesy face and she quickly but quietly runs up to him and gives him a large hug.

“It’s so good to have you back here, Alex.”

“It has only been a week or so. But it’s good to be back as well. How is she doing?”

“Just sleeping at the moment. Her leg seems to be healing at an alarming rate. I can only guess her healing powers were weakened but still working on herself or something like that. I wasn’t fully paying attention to the doctor. Sorry.”

“Don’t worry, I am sure she is just exhausted. It sounds like she tried to heal Bryne, but it only wore herself out and now her body is trying to heal itself with limited magic. Why don’t you get some rest?”

“Oh, I’m fine. I really don’t mind sitting here waiting for her to wake.”

“You are a good friend, I am happy she has you in her life, especially now.”

Courtney sits back down in her chair next to her bed while Alex stands at the foot of the bed.

“She has been there for me ever since we met in that locker room. It’s crazy to think we have only known each other a few months and all of those months have been here in this world. Would you like to sit down?”

“No,” he says with a suspicious tone, “You can keep your seat. I can’t stay for long; besides it seems she is in good hands. I’ll see you around, Courtney.”

“Later, Alex.”

He walks out of the room, quietly closing the door behind him.

She has only known Courtney in this world. What is it about her that ties her into this place?

He walks down the hallway, heading to his own room. There, he quickly passes out from exhaustion on top of his blankets, still in his clothes.

A few days pass by while Alex and Rahm work together to discover what has happened to Bryne. They search through hundreds of books and sometimes even get some help from Isabella and Reese. Seven days after his return from battle, Alex is nearly passed out with his face buried into a book. A loud bang sounds off and he quickly lifts his head up and looks around. He sees Isabella walking fast towards him with a large black book and Rahm passed out still next to him.

“Alright, sleeping beauties,” she says, “I found something.”

“What do you got?” Alex asks rubbing his eyes and yawning.

“So,” she starts to speak but Rahm his snoring loudly. “Just a sec.”

She takes her book and slams it on the table next to his head. He jumps up completely out of his chair.

“I wasn’t sleeping,” says Rahm standing back up into his chair.

“Don’t worry, so was Alex.”

“Anyway, what did you find out?” says Alex avoiding the conversation.

“You both know how our kind is made of, right?

“Like your animal spirit?” asks Alex.

“Exactly. So, we have two spirits, one human and one animal. Whatever Bryne was shot with was something dark. It wasn’t of this world. It has sent one or both of his souls to the death world. His mind is basically trapped in a video of pain and is forced to live every painful memory over and over again.”

“Wait, the Death World is a real place?” asks Rahm.

“Only if you are actually dead. Lycus didn’t want him to die, he wanted him to suffer until his mind collapsed on itself. I think his warrior spirit is what is trapped right now.”

“Wow, and I thought my family life was messed up,” says Rahm.

“What is our next step?” asks Alex. “How do we free him?”

She flips open the book and looks through a particular page. It shows a picture of three people lying next to each other. A person stands at the head of all three and one on each side. On the next page it shows spirits coming out of their chests.

“We will need to perform this ritual. However, I don’t see how we will have enough people. With Katherine and Sara both incapacitated -,”

Almost on cue, Katherine comes through the library door with an eye patch covering her right eye. A shocked look fills their faces to see her up and walking already.

“What did you find out?”

“What are you doing here?” asks Isabella.

“She’s right,” agrees Alex. “You need your rest.”

“There will be plenty of time to rest when I am dead but for now, we cannot let my brother die.”

“What do you know that we obviously don’t?” asks Rahm.

“Lycus made a deal with Dubhan long ago. In exchange for control of the North kingdom rule, Dubhan would have his heir to command his armies.”

“Bryne?”

“Yes, he is the last remaining heir and if Bryne gives in and his mind collapses we will not defeat Dubhan. Dubhan will either turn him to the darkness or destroy every thought of him. So, once again, where do we stand on finding a way to save him and pretty much the world.”

“We have found the ceremony we need to cure him but with you nowhere near full strength and just me and Reese, we are lacking people. We will need Sara to wake up soon for us to have any chance,” explains Isabella.

Katherine rubs the bridge of her nose in frustration and sighs loudly.

“I thought Dubhan made a deal with Lisa, and Lisa made a deal with Lycus,” says Rahm.

“That is what is told but do you really think Dubhan would rely on just one person to carry out his orders? He is crafty. He makes the wisest elf in the world look like five-year old.”

“It seems we have our work cut out for us.”

“I will go check on Sara, you guys need to get him prepared. We are running out of time. Even if we can’t save him, we need to make sure his eternity is not leading the army of Dubhan. We will not leave him to suffer.”

With a tear in her eye, she turns around and flies out of the library. Alex, Isabella, and Rahm all stare for a moment in shock.

“Well, nobody can deny she isn’t bossy,” says Rahm.

“You have no idea, especially now that she is basically Queen of the North. Plus she would do anything for her brother. Wouldn’t you do anything for your sister?”

Rahm nods in agreement and Alex closes the black book and stands up.

“I guess we should probably take her advice then.”

He leads them out of the library and down to the medical bay.

“Where is Reese?” asks Rahm.

“He said he had something to do. I don’t question what he does anymore.”

“He isn’t, you know, cheating on you, is he?”

“Reese?” Isabella starts laughing. “I would believe Lycus could be brought back to life before I would think he would do that.”

“Speaking of which,” Alex starts to say. “Why isn’t the same thing happening to Lycus right now?”

“Because I cut his head off when Reese and the others left. He ain’t coming back ever.”

Alex and Rahm exchange a sort of worried look but keep on walking without any more talking. They soon reach the medical bay and find the doctor quickly scurrying about. Alex spots the young boy from before.

“Elipidus.”

The boy turns his head to the sound of the voice and runs over to Alex and bows.

“My lords and my lady, how can I help you?”

“Can you lead us to Bryne?”

“Right this way.”

“Are you a royal elf?” he asks Rahm.

“I am,” replies Rahm.

“I have never met a member of the royal family before. It is said you are of the wisest in all of the world.”

“Sometimes I wonder, kid.”

He leads them to a door on the other side of the large room. Inside lays Bryne still in his armor and his swords lying next to him stained with blood. A strong odor fills the room as they wrinkle their noses.

“What is that stench?” asks Isabella.

“Well, that would be him,” says Eli.

“Oh, gross. I guess this is what Katherine meant by get him ready for the ritual.”

“The princess with the missing eye? She was already down here earlier. I will get some soap and water,” Eli runs out quickly.

The three stand there looking at the warrior on the table lying motionless.

“Did I miss something?” asks Rahm. “I mean we are all royalty here, right? Why am I about to undress and bathe a full-grown man that smells like shit?”

“Because that’s what friends do for each other. He would do the same for any of us,” says Isabella.

“Do you really think he would do this for anyone?”

They both look towards Alex who stands and thinks for a moment. He nods to himself and starts walking towards Bryne.

“I think he would. And that’s good enough for me. You do not have to stay, Rahm, but we would appreciate the help. Besides shouldn’t royalty take care of royalty?”

Isabella walks over and starts to undress Bryne with the help of Alex. His wolf armor is covered in blood, sweat, mud and even feces from days of lying there on the table. Rahm watches them for a moment and sighs loudly. Finally, he walks over and helps. They strip him down, all of the way down to his under garments. They set him down gently and look at his beaten and broken body.

“I don’t know if anyone loved his kingdom more than him,” says Isabella.

“What is all of these scars from?” asks Rahm.

“A lot came from years of torture from his father, some came from battle and a few he probably inflicted on himself after failure.”

“He is an honorable man,” says Alex. “Much more than he ever received credit for.”

Eli soon comes in with the bucket of soapy water and some sponges. He grabs a sponge and starts to clean the right leg immediately.

“You don’t have to help if you don’t want to,” says Alex.

“It’s alright, I don’t mind helping. He helped me in my time of need, so I feel as if I owe him this in return.”

They continue to bathe him together. His veins remain black as night throughout his body while his body lay motionless in front of them.

“So, what happened between you two?” Rahm asks Isabella.

“What do you mean?”

“You and Bryne. I remember you grew up together and you were as close as could be. Then things happened and you two couldn’t be more different.”

“I don’t think we were so different.”

“Oh, please,” scoffs Rahm. “He was a notorious wanted outlaw and you were a leader to a thriving but quiet civilization.”

“If he was so notorious how come he remained hidden. We were both in hiding and we both did what we thought was right. And your right, we were as close as you could get but things change.”

“People change you mean.”

“Watch it, Rahm,” warns Isabella. “Yes, we both changed. He ran off on his own and made some poor decisions and we both moved on. Enough said. I married Reese and I love him now.”

Rahm backs up and puts his arms up in surrender.

“Alright, alright. You win, it was just a question.”

Alex looks awkwardly at the two.

“You and Bryne used to date?” he decides to ask.

“I guess you could call it that. We never really were ones for titles. But yes, we were quite close at a young age. But there is nothing between us accept for respect anymore, I assure you.”

They put Bryne down and step back admiring their work. Eli grabs his armor and swords and starts to head out of the door.

“Hey, Eli, be careful with those. I don’t want him coming after you when he wakes up. Knowing him, he will already be pissed off.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

He quickly takes his enchanted wolf armor out of the room to wash it.

“Well, I am going to go get some rest before the ritual happens, besides I doubt I will be much help,” says Rahm.

“You didn’t get enough sleep in the library?” scoffs Isabella.

“Leave it to Isabella to be a bitch,” he says before storming out of the room.

Rahm leaves the room leaving just Isabella and Alex alone in the room looking after Bryne.

“You should get some rest too,” starts Isabella. “I will watch over him.”

“Well, I do have a few things to do before I can even think about sleep. We are doing the coronation ceremony and court hopefully soon.”

“You are doing them the same day?”

“Yeah, I don’t see a reason to waste time in getting this world back in order, but I do have a few arrangements to make before we can do either.”

“Don’t stress so much, okay? You are already a great person and a great king. I can tell you were a born leader.”

“Thanks, Isabella. I know we just met but I am glad we have.”

They hug and Alex leaves Isabella alone in the room. She remains staring at Bryne for a few moments before a tear forms up in her eyes. She blinks and wipes it away.

“Why do I still love you? You have so many secrets and have hurt me so much but here I am again. I know you can’t hear me, but I still believe you are the good guy that I fell in love with long ago.”

She leans over and kisses his motionless lips. She stands back up just in time as the door opens and Reese comes into the room. Isabella turns around quickly to meet him in the eyes.

“Reese! What’s going on?”

“I was just looking for you. I ran into Alex in the hallway and he said I may find you in here. Is everything alright?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“You just seem a little bit distracted, I guess.”

“I am fine just stressed. Shall we get something to eat? Did you find what you were looking for?”

“Well, I was looking for someone and he actually found me but let’s not concern ourselves with that right now. The ritual will be tomorrow morning, so we can go find some food and get some rest.”

He leans down and pecks her on the lips and she remains emotionless. She walks out of the room with Reese closely behind.

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