The After Effects

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The Rumors Are True

Authors Note: This chapter is going to talk a lot about the magical aspect that's been introduced. Be prepared for lots of information and mythological creatures to be called out. Sorry about the long word vomit but it needs to be done so we can get back to the main plot.
Safe and Happy Reading!

After a warm shower, breakfast, and brief conversations with Locke, I led Harper to her class. Julie smiled at me before launching into a conversation with Harper, who admittedly seemed to be loving her teacher and class.

I waved goodbye, though that wasn’t sufficient enough apparently as she ran to me and wrapped her hands around my waist.

“I love you Ives.” My heart cracked a bit as her words registered and although I wanted to return her words, they got caught in my throat. Luckily, Harper gave me a tight squeeze before she took off and joined into a conversation with some other kids.

My chest swirled with different emotions as I watched her interact with her peers. Her silver hair bounced as she talked animatedly.

Love was my main emotion, and although I couldn’t voice that emotion, I completely loved Harper. Her perky attitude, bright personality, and her pure excitement for everything.

I also felt complete devotion, knowing that I would do anything and everything if it brought a smile to her face. That little girl had gone from being a stranger and, to my astonishment, has become nearly my whole world.

From the few conversations with Locke that we’ve had about her, I know he feels the same way.

Nothing bad would ever happen to Harper as long as Locke and I were alive, that I was sure about.

Julie waved goodbye to me as I turned and left. Usually, The King held a meeting with Locke, Soren, and I but today he was traveling down to the capital and visiting his people. He was probably the only king of the four who bothered with his people.

My destination came into view, the royal stables. One of the stable boys greeted me as he walked by with two pure white horses trailing behind him.

I couldn’t help the smile that crept across my face as I breathed in the horse smell that fermented the air.

Ragnar nickered at me as soon as he saw me, his hoof banging against the stable in greeting.

“Hello boy.” I cooed at my massive stallion.

“He gets a hello, but I don’t?” Locke whined as he pushed from my where he leaned against Ragnar’s stall.

“I don’t like you.” I deadpanned to Locke before I turned to Ragnar and pet his nose. “We don’t like him right.,” I said in a baby voice to my horse.

He snorted something that sounded like an agreement as I turned to my brother.

“I talked to Soren today.” My brother started a conversation.

“Let me guess,” I pretended to think as I looked up to the ceiling. “You already know everything that he told me about yesterday.”

Locke nodded, not even looking sorry for leaving me out of the loop.

“What! How?” I punched my brother in the arm, already hating him today.

“I’m the King’s Captain of The Guard. I kind of have to know this stuff.” Locke said in his defense.

“What does the King have-” I stopped mid-sentence. “Is he one too?” I asked, amazement and shock coating my voice.

“Like son, like father,” Locke said, reversing the common saying. He reached up and combed his red locks out of his face, his jade-green eyes flicking to Ragnar. “There’s still a lot you should know.” He sighed.

“Like?” I asked my brother as I opened Ragnar’s stall and led him to a nearby pasture so he could run around.

“Like that there’s more to the territories then it seems. Each territory is divided by species.” Locke revealed. “The East.” He offered an example. “They're mostly filled with humans. Though powerful witches and mages hide in their ranks. The Royal Family of the East is comprised of the most powerful of Witch and Mage descent. They’re all loners though and that’s why we’ve never met any of the royal family or even been to the East.”

What Locke said started to make a lot of sense. The East was always known for being distant, and although the Black Forest encroached into the eastern territory, I never traveled East.. at least not that I can remember.

“The West... Well.. they’re all sorts of mixed.” Locke chuckled. “Mostly wolves and bears shifter fill the west, though there are more rare types of shifters and other creatures."

“Like dragons?” I asked.

“Exactly. The mythological creatures are the rare ones. From unicorns and Kitsune to more evil Wendigo. The west is the most diverse and magical part of the continent. And although shifters are common there, the west is also inhabited with magical creatures. Näkki and Púca are some of the trickiest of them all since they can appear human." Locke explained, as he went on I thought about my few adventures in the West.

A couple of times, I ventured west in the Black Forest. The strange dreams I had while there started making more sense as Locke named off more creatures that haunted the Forest. How have I never questioned this stuff before? I asked myself.

An old thought crossed my head.. Numerous times when I visited Everest I would pass by gossipers who would often mention the West and the rumors floating around it. The rumors are true. I realized with a start. This whole time, I figured people crazy, yet yesterday I came face to face with a dragon.

"What about the Royal Family in the West?" I asked, watching as Ragnar bucked and kicked like a yearling as he stormed through the huge field by himself.

Locke chuckled to himself. "They like to keep to themselves, so it's hard to know for sure. Rumors have claimed them to be wolves, but I find that hard to believe considering wolf shifters are significantly lower on the food chain compared to Reapers and Elves."

My head spun at the creatures he threw at me. They're all real? I can't believe it.

"You said that Dragons were a part of the West?" I asked. If dragons are a part of the west, then why is Soren and his father Royalty in the South?

Locke shook his head. "No, I said they're rare mythological creatures, but they don't get along well with other magical creatures, and when the Merge happened King Samuel decided he should distance himself from other magic. That's why the South is only human."

"The Merge?" Confusion racked through me.

I watched as Locke stilled. He let out a curse before muttering, "Of course he didn't mention that."

"Mention what?" I pushed my brother for more answers.

"The Plague wasn't what it seemed like." Locke blurted out.

"What the hell is that suppose to mean?!" I exclaimed. "I watched people get sick and die... Our own mother died from it." I tried to reason through what he said.. and as much as I wanted to call him a liar, I kept thinking about the giant black dragon I had come face to face with yesterday.

"Eleven years ago something called the Merge happened. Our Earth and another planet, called Conale, merged. They didn't collide physically.." Locke struggled for words as he paused. "Something went wrong on Conale and it magically merged with our planet. All of Conale's inhabitants and land mixed with us and created a whole new ecosystem and planet."

"Why did billions of our people die then when Conale's residents were able to just move in?" Anger surged lightly threw my words. It didn't seem fair that humans died while aliens were allowed to cohabit this planet.

"The two different ecosystems just clashed and some humans couldn't handle the sudden change." Locke shook his head.

"That doesn't seem fair." I was kind of upset at the aliens getting off scot-free. "What about the North? What kind of supernaturals wander that land?"

"Fae," Locke said, his eyes flicked to Ragnar who was rolling in the grass and having a grand old time. Oh to be as careless as a horse. "Their almost as territorial as the dragons."

"That doesn't make sense... Aren't Fae suppose to be good looking and have pointed ears?" I questioned. "How come I had never seen anyone like that?"

"In the Fae's defense, you were kept in a dungeon while we were in the North," Locke grumbled, he seemed to be avoiding my eyes as he looked around us.

"What aren't you telling me?" I asked my brother, pulling his attention to me.

Locke's jade green eyes studied me, probably debating whether I could handle whatever he was about to throw at me."Ivy... We aren't human."

Yep.. Definitely can't handle that...

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