A/N: After a long time, I know. I absolutely have no excuse other than the fact that I seemed to have no energy these days. Hopefully, I will be right back on track in the next few days.
To say it was awkward would be an understatement. After Kyril left, it became so painfully awkward that I practically dragged Lawan and Wirat to the guest house I was currently staying in. Taurus and Gaelan followed us while Leigh walked beside Gaelan with her kid in her arms.
Mali did take a step front when we were about to leave, but then she went back to her mate’s embrace. Sorrel just turned her face.
Did Sorrel even know what she had lost? What she had given up that so many wanted to have?
Rune was laying on Niran’s lap as he listened to some rock music when we reached the guest house. After seeing what Niran and Nox were doing to Antlia, I realised how much of a hazard they were to society. Instead of teaching Antlia how to fight or take care of business, they were earnestly teaching her gambling.
And by the looks of the mounts of coins by Ant’s side, I could clearly see who was winning.
“Unfair!” Niran pouted when he saw us. “This girl’s a monster! Look how flawlessly she is winning each round!”
Taurus came in front of me. “What the hell, Niran? What the hell are you teaching her?”
“A way to make money,” Niran protested. “In this way, she would never have to be poor.”
“She was never poor, to begin with,” Taurus barked. “Have you seen her bank balance?”
At the warrior’s statement, Antlia gave a smug grin.
Seeing her grin, Nox threw his cards down. “H-how much?”
Taurus shrugged as he sat on the round sofa. “She is the last royal. The entire treasury is hers.”
Niran gaped. “All my taxes!”
Antlia’s grin widened. “What about that?”
Niran pouted. “That’s my money…”
“You paid your taxes.” Antlia waved her hand in the air. “Now it’s mine.”
I sat next to Taurus; though, in his personal space, our legs did not touch each other. Far enough to be friends, close enough to leave it to other’s imagination. Seeing me, Gaelan smirked, but he took a seat next to me and pulled Leigh next to him. To Taurus’ other side, Wirat sat down, his body shaking like a little leaf. Lawan rolled her eyes at her mate and took her place next to him.
“Tyrant,” Niran muttered. Then he flicked his mate’s forehead. “Look. Your niece is so rich.”
Without missing a beat, Rune said, “Aren’t you too? You work for Taurus!”
Niran shrugged Rune off his lap, forcing the other male to sit up. “But who says he pays for me generously?”
“That’s because I spend the money to bail you out of jail,” Taurus retorted.
Hearing that, Rune blanched. He slowly turned to Taurus. “H-how much do you spend to bail him out? Yearly?”
As if he was enlightened, Nox’s lips took an ‘O’ shape. Antlia controlled her laugh while Lawan looked at Rune with pity.
“On a good year, it was seven million,” Taurus said. “On the worst… if you want to live, you don’t need to hear.”
Hearing the figures, I coughed lightly and looked away. Seven million on a good year? How much was it in the worst year?”
What could he have possibly done? Murder an entire city?
Antlia was heartless. “What did he do in the worst year?”
Taurus glared at Niran who had the grace to blush and use Rune as a shield. “He made sure that year I suffered a huge loss. You know how Scar is when he builds a new hotel. Five-star hotel. This idiot somehow managed to wreck a newly build five-star hotel down the day before it was opened. I had to compensate for that.”
It was not a secret how the hotel Scar built were. They were the top-class chain of hotels and his every day turnover was something I could only dream off.
“How much?” Nox sniggered.
“Thirty billion,” Taurus said.
“That’s… pretty cheap,” Antlia said. “For Scar.”
Taurus glared at her. “And he made me ship all the materials he needed for fifteen years without a fee.”
“Bingo,” Antlia said. “He only knows how to drain a man dry.”
Rune stared blankly. “I have a maximum of four billion in my bank account.”
Nox laughed. “He’s pricey.”
“N-no!” Niran protested. Then he took Rune’s hands in his. “I swear I will not make you pay the bail fee.”
“Who will you make to pay, then?” Taurus asked, folding his arms. “I am washing you off me. From now on, I am not allowing you to free-load me.”
Niran gave him puppy dog eyes. “Please?”
Taurus shook his head. “No.”
He whined. “Please?”
I bit my lips to stop my laugh. It looked like a three-year-old kid begging his father to buy him something. Gaelan laughed loud while Leigh just blinked her eyes at Niran.
“You raised such a kid, Taurus,” Gaelan said.
Niran frowned. “Who are you?”
He smirked. “Gaelan.”
Niran sat up straight. “That Gaelan?”
“The very same,” he said.
“What Gaelan?” Rune asked.
Niran slumped. “Taurus told us about a hybrid that broke out of the Dungeons a few months ago to find his daughter. He said that if we were to meet him, we have to steer away from him.”
“You have quite a reputation,” Leigh said.
Gaelan rolled his eyes. “As if you don’t like it.”
She stared at him but then shifted her son from one lap to another.
Lawan chuckled at our poor friend. “I feel so sad for you.”
Antlia then shook her head. “I thought I was high-maintenance. Seems like there exists someone who can beat another.”
“Whatever,” Niran said and then looked at Taurus again. “You’ll still pay for me, right? I have not yet resigned.”
“You did not even show your face at the office ever since you met your mate,” Taurus said. “You dare ask for your pay?”
“I-if you don’t pay, I will tell your secret to everyone here,” he threatened.
For a second, his eyes moved to mine and then he looked at Taurus. I rolled my eyes at the grown kid. He thought he could threaten Taurus with that?
“What secret?” Nox and Antlia asked.
“Go ahead and tell,” Taurus said leisurely. “Tell if you can.”
Niran’s face crumpled. “You are mean, Taurus. Way meaner than Antlia when she swindled my money in this game.”
“Tell,” Antlia egged on.
Before I could listen to what Niran had to tell to Antlia, my phone rang.
Shaking my head, I digged my phone out of my pocket to see it was Zeke who called me. After seeing who the caller was, Taurus gave a small nod. I made my way out, holding my phone.
“I landed,” he said the second I picked the phone.
“I know,” I said. “You just left.”
“I had to,” he said. For the first time in my life, I heard urgency in his voice. “I heard Dave had already dispatched people to find Allen. I have to find him in three hours.”
“Where are you?” I asked.
“Beijing,” he said. “I have to take a local flight to Yunnan.”
“Allen is there?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “He was living with his mother… but the source that called me a day ago said that Allen was running alone. There is no news of Clio.”
I swore. How many more people from that family had to be harmed by me? Sean, Aiko, and now, Clio. I will be damned if I let anything happen to Allen as well.
“Where are you right now in Beijing?” I asked.
“I am in the domestic airport,” he said. “Waiting for the flight.”
“Wait there,” I said. “Nox will come and take you guys.”
“Nox?” Zeke asked. “Is that guy reliable?”
“Yes,” I said. “He will come there.”
With that, I cut the call and entered inside.
Inside was a battle field that I was not prepared for. Leigh was the only one who was not involved. Even Gaelan found a way to get himself involved in whatever fight that was going on.
Antlia seemed to be heading one team, while Lawan was heading the other. I was just gone out for a couple of minutes, right?
Seeing me, Antlia sneered. “I am right, right?”
“I know Draco the best,” Lawan said. “I am right.”
I frowned. “Whatever it is.” I turned to Nox who was clearly on Antlia’s side. “Zeke called. He is in Beijing airport.”
“Beijing?” Lawan asked. “Where is that place? Why is Zeke there?”
The playfulness Nox had vanished the second I mentioned Zeke’s name. The flat forehead held three wrinkled lines of worry and his relaxed body was taut.
“I will go there immediately.” He stood up.
“He is in the domestic airport,” I said.
Before Nox could leave, I held his arm. “Zeke… he is very important to me, alright? As much as Allen is, but protect him too. He is not a fighter.”
Nox nodded. “I am a star, Draco. I will make sure that the three of them come back safe.”
“Better,” I said. “If anything was to happen to Erica, we can’t answer Alpha Eric.”
“Noted,” he said and he left in a flash.
In a literal flash. He was here one second and was not there the next.
Lawan broke the silence that Nox left his wake. “What is Zeke doing?”
I took in a deep breath. “Dave found Allen’s whereabouts. Zeke went in there to bring Allen back, but I don’t trust that kid. He can’t even defend himself. So, Nox volunteered to make sure they were safe.”
“Allen?” Wirat and Lawan exchanged looks. Wirat then asked, “What of Clio?”
I shook my head. “No news of her.”
Wirat closed his eyes and inhaled sharply. “How is Aiko?”
I sat on the chair where Nox was earlier sitting. “I hope she can survive.”
Rune said, “Aiko was discharged today morning. Kessa’s with her right now.”
“Does she-” I began.
Rune shook his head. “I don’t know about it. But the news on the street that… Mina’s entered her Heat.”
I swore. Why was this getting messier and messier?
Why can’t Aiko have a simple life? What crime had she committed? Was it wrong for her to be born? She spent most of her days in a prison that had no light. She was starved for months together and when she was brought out, she met her mate who had taken another female.
Lawan looked between us. “What happened to Aiko?”
Rune and Niran took turns to tell her. By the time they were finished, even Gaelan was in shock. While the Lawan just clenched her fists, Wirat’s eyes glistened.
“I can’t sit here anymore and not interfere,” Rune said. “I owe Aiko too much. I am her god-father, for Kamaria’s sake!”
But Antlia just shook her head. “Don’t interfere in this, Rune.”
“Why not?” Lawan’s voice was sharp. “Do you know how much pain she had endured?”
Antlia nodded. “If you interfere, it won’t end well.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
Ant bit her lower lip. “Their bond is not simple. Just… just don’t interfere. It’s very fragile and one wrong thing all the three of them would be affected.”
“B-but-” Lawan began.
“No buts,” the last royal commanded. “You are not to interfere with this.”
I stared at her. If she did not know that something was to happen, she would never tell this. From what I know, Mina was her good friend and from the frequent visits she made to Aiko, she cherished Aiko as well. When both are close to her, how would she gamble with their happiness?
I blinked. How much weight did this young girl carry on her shoulders? How much pain? She knew things, yet could not tell it out. Silently enduring it alone, while wearing a facade of a merry little demon.
The urge to shield her from this, from everything was strong. But that was not how this would work. The second I try to restrain her, she would flee. She was someone who valued her independence and freedom over everything.
Apart from Gaelan, Taurus and I, everyone one else felt the command. Even Leigh, the Huntress was mildly affected. Gaelan and Taurus I could understand. But me? Why was I not?
As if he sensed my question, Gaelan looked at me. A small smile played around the corner of his lips.
Rune sighed. “Can we at least be there for her?”
Antlia nodded. “Yes.”
Gaelan suddenly stood up. “Draco… can we talk for a while?”
I blinked and then saw Taurus who was frowning at Gaelan.
Gaelan chuckled. “It’s not like I’ll kill you.”
“Repeat that again,” Taurus said in a low voice that shook us. Me. Especially me.
“I won’t harm him, Taurus,” Gaelan said.
“I don’t believe that,” Taurus said.
“After a conversation,” Gaelan said, turning his face to give Taurus a blank look. “I think Draco will have somethings to say to you.”
I shook my head. “I have nothing.”
“Not now,” Gaelan said. “You will. Soon.”
I narrowed my eyes. There was something fishy.
Taurus clenched his jaws. That one action was enough to turn me into a puddle. I knew we were very, very early in our relationship, but damn, that one action was so hot. It was not just the way his eyes blazed, it was the certainty behind them. The protectiveness that I could feel despite standing a few feet away from him. As long as he was in the vicinity, I could be safe.
“Where to?” I asked.
Antlia snickered suddenly and Gaelan rolled his eyes at her.
Gaelan walked out and I followed after him, giving Taurus a light nod.
The male was actually cool. There was no evil intension from him that I sensed. As long as it was that way.
“What was about that snicker?” I asked.
“Nothing much.” Gaelan’s voice was light. “Antlia and Lawan had a bet. Ant said that Taurus was the one to approach you, Lawan said it would be you.”
I blinked. That was what the argument was about inside? What a productive topic to talk on.
“You?” I asked.
“I said it would be you,” he said.
We had walked towards the same park where I had the conversation with Lyra and Zyon a few days ago. I sat on the swing that was meant for kids and he sat on the other.
Then Gaelan just waved his hands casually and a transparent barrier was built around us.
“No one can hear what we talk,” Gaelan said. “Unless the one who tries to enter is a first-generation star or pulsar. And only Taurus can hear as of now… if he wants to.”
“If a first-generation star or pulsar you mean,” I said. “There are two more here.”
“Huh?” Gaelan’s eyes widened. “Who?”
“Lyra and Aries,” I said.
Gaelan spluttered and nearly fell down the still swing. “L-Lyra?”
I nodded. “Yes… she said she was a first-generation pulsar.”
“Y-you already spoke with her?” he asked.
“Yes…” I dragged. “Is there something wrong?”
“What did she tell you?” he asked eagerly. “How much did she tell you?”
“What do you mean by that?” I asked.
Gaelan shook his head and gazed at the black sky. For some reason, the sky above looked like a vast chasm of space and I was an insignificant soul. The way each star twinkled and the clear space between them was like a code. It was trying to tell me something, but I had not cracked it yet.
“Seems like she knew it was not her place to tell you things,” he finally sighed.
“Can you speak in a language that I understand?”
“Did she tell you about Cosmos and Chaos?”
“Yes,” I replied. The pull towards the space above was particularly strong tonight. “Told that they rule the universe.”
“About first-generation stars and pulsars?”
“The Twelve Warriors are the first generation stars, right?” I asked.
“Pulsars?” he asked. “What do you know about them?”
“That their energies are opposite of stars?” I said. “And they were created by Chaos?”
“You know enough,” Gaelan sighed. “This makes my work easier.”
“What work?” I asked.
“You know?” he began after a minute. “After the Bind War, your soul was so badly damaged. You were barely hanging on. Yet, you managed to save me in the war. To repay the debt, I was chosen to release the seal on your memory.”
This Bind War… was this not something that Nox, Niran, Taurus, Antlia and I were talking the other night? If what they said was true…
“Did that not happen thousands of years ago?” I asked. “How was I alive then?”
Gaelan shook his head witha soft smile. “You are older than me, Draco.”
This was a first.
“You are older than me,” he repeated. “You were the Lord of the Kelp Confusion back then. The first-generation pulsar sent to neutralise a first-generation star. And that star happened to be Taurus.”
I could only blink. I dug around me brain to find evidence to refute him, but something held me back. Though I was not in the best state to accept this, my instincts screamed it was the truth.
Figures began to dance in the corner of my eyes. Balls of energies clashing. Vast spaces being occupied by nothing other than the primordial poison. Voices echoed in my brain; voices that made me want to kill it and the voices that made me feel home.
Names began to flash in my memory. Thuban. Eltanin. Alrakis. Rustaban. Dziban. The five stars who accompanied me in Kelp Confusion.
Apart from those five, I remembered my thirteen siblings. I remembered Ursa and Ophiucus. I remembered Beryl who occasionally came to Kelp Confusion to create trouble for Dziban.
Most of all, I remembered the beautiful star I was sent to neutralise. Even back then, he was same. A bit overbearing, but protective all the same. He hated taking my help, but accepted it all the same.
“When you took in the primordial poison to save us all,” Gaelan whispered. “Your soul was damaged to a very bad extent. If not for Py, you would have shattered.”
I knew the price. We all knew. If not for Andy, we all would have perished. But I was not the only one who bore the brunt of the poison. It was my other sister. We all thought that she would disperse right away. But Py managed to save us both at the right second.
“Inspite of knowing that your soul was damaged, you still went with your siblings to find clues regarding Ursa’s fall,” Gaelan continued. “But about hundred years after Ursa’s fall, Cosmos just told Surva that all of you need to be born as mortal on earth. Else, your souls would be converted to energies. At the same time, the Warriors lost their memories of you guys and came down to protect Luna’s descendants. Do you know what happened?”
I held my head between my hands. I could remember the Bind war. I could evern remember hearing the news of Ursa’s fall. But what happened after that, it was fuzzy. Too hazy. I knew it, but my mind was not willing to dig deeper.
The more I tried, the more it hurt.
“Don’t force yourself,” Gaelan’s voice guided me out of the miserable pain. “Your seal was just lifted.”
Yet amidst that, I had to ask, “Why did you choose me? The last time I checked, you were close with Lyra.”
Gaelan chuckled. “True. Lyra was like my mother. I owe her a lot to help me. But it was you who saved me in the Bind War.”
“To repay debt?” I asked, raising my head. The pain was slowly fading away since I decided not to pursue it for now.
He nodded. “I like to keep clean slates.”
I stared the they guy. Not many may know, but he was one rare creature who held four energy lines in him. Even he does not know the fourth line and that was the way we kept it. If that power of Gaelan woke up, nothing could stop this guy. Thankfully, that was still dormant.
There was a reason why Cosmos threw this guy in the Dungeon. It was not because he would cause trouble. It was because his third energy-line Yarin was about to wake up and it was not something he could deal with.
There was a fragile balance between life and death and it could not be easily tampered. To suppress it, he was put in the Dungeon. But would this idiot ever admit to that?
“Okay, clean slate guy,” I said. “Can you tell me the whereabouts of Dziban?”
Gaelan frowned. “I thought you would ask about Elta.”
“Why did you think that?” I asked.
“Cause of the five stars that followed you,” Gaelan’s frown deepened. “She was the one who was closest to you?”
I chuckled. “It was Dziban.”
“Seriously?” he asked. “But why was-”
“Elta was the youngest,” I said. “I considered her like my daughter. It was Dziban who was with me right from the beginning of Kelp Confusion.”
“Oh,” his voice was small. “But they said that once you disappeared, even Dziban abandoned Kelp Confusion.”
“Impossible,” I said. “Dziban had a light pact with Kelp Confusion.”
“A light pact?” Gaelan exclaimed. “You’re not joking right?”
I shook my head. “I don’t remember the details clearly, but Dziban had a light pact. I know that much.”
“I… I can check her whereabouts?” he asked.
I shook my head again. “If she does not want to be found, you can’t find her. Now, tell me what happened after we disappeared.”
“Luna was caught by Rionach,” Gaelan said. “Luna descended down to earth to see the creation of her sisters. There, she fell in love with a human named Inacus, who turned out to be Rionach’s Soul-Bound. She even had a kid with him. In fury, Rionach killed Inacus and began to hunt Luna’s descendants. She even chained Luna in the Maze. to protect her children, she asked for protection and Qamar sent the twelve Warriors to protect them.”
This might be the story everyone believed in, but the equation was not right.
“Don’t you feel it’s weird?” I asked.
“Feel what is weird?”
“Rionach was a first-generation star,” I said. “How could she have a Soul-Bound? She can choose her Soul-Bound. And if she already knew that Luna was in relationship with that human, with a mortal, why choose Inacus as her Soul-Bound? She did have a lot of suitors. And… even if she had chosen Inacus, have you ever heard of someone harming their Soul-Bounds, much less kill them?”
Gaelal gasped. “Y-you are right. We did think about that. But after the Bind Wars, she was a bit different. It seemed like she lost her powers as a first-generation star. And whatever she said, made sense. Like give into rage to kill her Soul-Bound. She was eccentric.”
“Not eccentric enough to kill her own Soul-Bound,” I said. “Even though she did lose a majority of her powers in destroying the Bind, she still retained her ability to choose her own Soul-Bound. I have to talk to Lyra about this.”
“She did?” Gaelan asked. “She told us-”
“We saved her,” I sighed. “We know how much she lost.”
“Was she lying?” he asked.
I bit my lower lip and gazed at the sky and suddenly all the mysteries of the space was solved. The codes had decoded and I knew the secrets that was hid from me.
“I think,” I said. “Inacus’ identity was not a simple human. I think there is more to the story.”
“But Luna told us that he was a human,” Gaelan said firmly. “Could it be that even she did not know?”
“Possibility,” I said. “I think we have to examine Antlia. She is the only living evidence of what could have happened all those years ago.”
I smirked. “No matter what even blood lines could be erased over times. But energy lines, Gaelan. It lingers. But before that, I have to find Lyra.”
“To ask her these questions?”
“To ask her what she had found. I believe that her visit here this time was not simple. It was because she had the same questions as me and came to find answers.”
“How can you be sure?”
“If I am not,” I smiled. “I can’t call myself her brother.”
A/N: Was it a sudden transition of Draco?
What do you think would happen?
Next chapter would be from Zeke’s pov. How he goes to rescue Allen.