The Sentinel of Cassendar: Navalia

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Chapter 1

Galen Ellis, the youngest son of the late Lord Henri Ellis and a level five novice of the Sentinel, was a busy young man. At nineteen years of age, he was only one step from being a full of Elite of the Sentinel of Cassendar. He was a student at the Royal Academy, and he was taking private lessons from the High Captain.

On a cool fall afternoon, he stood on the edge of the field in front of the Fortress of the Sentinel close to the tree line, looking at a very young tree, barely older than a sapling. He looked over to his right to see the High Captain watching him with her arms crossed, her black, silver embroidered cloak swaying as the wind blew around them. Her bright brown eyes watched him as he held his hand over the small tree.

“Can you sense the water already running through the thin trunk?” asked the High Captain.

“Yes,” said Galen. “Though, I do not feel it as strong as I do in the body.”

“You have become used to using Mystics for healing, which isn’t a bad thing, but it means it will take time for you to be able to feel the elements in different ways to be able to bind them.”

“I can feel something, though it is faint. I can feel it trickling through the grooves in the trunk down towards the roots.”

“Good,” said the High Captain. “Now see if you can bind the water to those grooves and down to the root. Be careful, if you do too much, you will kill the young tree by over watering it too quickly.”

Galen held his hand over the trunk and closed his eyes, concentrating. He tried to follow the movement of the water with his hand and his mind. Once he was sure he had the pattern he curled his fingers and unfurled them, trying to bind the water with the tree. He could feel the water sink into the grooves slightly as it flowed along down toward the roots. He deepened his concentration and again curled his fingers and let them go. The water went deeper into the grooves, and Galen could feel some of it being absorbed by the roots underground. He took a deep breath and curled his fingers again when he felt a hand on his arm.

“That is enough, novice,” said the High Captain. “You will drain yourself of all your energy if you are not careful.”

Galen gave a sigh of frustration and opened his eyes. He looked up at her with a grimace. “I was very close,” he said in frustration.

“I know you were. I could sense what you were doing, but I could also tell how much energy you were using. I don’t think you can afford two or three days in bed, not with your schedule. That is enough for today, and for the next few days. I will contact you when we will meet again.”

Galen was disappointed, but he had promised he would do just as the High Captain told him.

“Remember do not try to do this outside of my presence. I would hate for anything to go wrong, and something to happen to you. Besides losing my best novice, I would have to face a very angry young royal,” said the High Captain with a small smile.

“I will follow your directions, High Captain,” said Galen blinking his eyes, realizing how weary he felt.

“Good, now it is almost time for dinner so we should get back to the Fortress. Food will be light tonight, but you should eat a little something. It will help you to feel better, which is good, because I believe you have plans this evening.”

He nodded and started walking with the High Captain to the fortress. It was a low festival day, the night of the harvest moon. It was a celebration of the kingdom’s harvest, and there would be a banquet in the courts of the castle. He would have to go as the son of a lower lord. He didn’t mind, though. Princess Lexine would be there, and he could spend time with her.

His friends would also be coming. Martin, his friend who went to the Royal Academy, was the only son of the High Lord Nest, and he would come with his family. Tomas, who was a novice with Galen, would be going as the second son of the Lord of the West Gate. Tomas had invited their friend Cara to join them. Galen had a suspicion that Tomas and Cara were growing closer every day. He could see it becoming more than friendship if Tomas didn’t let his mouth get in the way.

Galen made it to the Fortress just in time to go to the hall for dinner. There wasn’t much on the tables as most Elites and novices would be attending the banquet in a few hours. Galen sat down across from Tomas who was sitting next to Cara. They were both talking happily with small sandwiches on their plate.

“How was lessons with the High Captain?” asked Tomas as Galen grabbed a sandwich.

“Good, interesting, but exhausting,” answered Galen as he poured some water.

“What exactly are you trying to learn from her?” asked Tomas.

“It is hard to explain, but it has to do with binding Mystics to objects and then characteristics. You saw some of what she did during the battle. I don’t know if I will ever be as skilled as her, but I am hoping I can gain something from the lessons,” said Galen.

“What is she like teaching one on one?” asked Cara. “She has always frightened me a bit when she addresses us as a group. She seems as if she would be very stern.”

“You should not be frightened of her, Cara. She is not unkind in anyway, but she is steadfast in what she teaches, and she can be strict,” said Galen. “I believe she holds herself to very high standards and expects the same from those she leads and trains.”

“You two should get along just fine, then,” said Tomas with a grin. “You can both study your Mystics and avoid fun together.”

“I do not avoid fun, and neither does the High Captain,” said Galen looking at Tomas. “Just because our ideas of merriment and enjoyment do not align with yours, does not mean we do not find it elsewhere.”

“Are you coming to the court banquet tonight, Galen?” asked Cara.

“I am,” said Galen. “It is expected of me by my family and the court.”

“Also, your princess will be there,” said Tomas with a small laugh. “You won’t have time for your friends once we get there. I imagine you will disappear into some corner with her, talking over your studies or whatever it is you do together.”

“Do not tease him so, Tomas. If he has found someone special that he enjoys spending time with, he should do it. You could learn a little from Galen, you know,” said Cara as she stood up with her plate and glass, walking away quickly.

“What was that all about?” asked Tomas.

Galen raised an eyebrow at Tomas and opened his mouth, but Tomas stopped him. “Right, I know what you are going to say. I’m an idiot,” said Tomas watching Cara leave the room.

“You did invite her to the banquet tonight, didn’t you?” asked Galen.

“I did, but just as friends,” said Tomas. “I’m not really sure what she wants, or what I want at this point.”

“You will never find out if you don’t try,” said Galen. “You two certainly seem to spend enormous amounts of time together.”

Tomas shrugged. “She amuses me, and she is good at almost everything. I think the Captain may have moved me up a level just due to me always being associated with Cara. Cara isn’t bad to look at either, but we are young. I don’t know if I want to tie down myself to one woman yet.”

“Fine,” said Galen gathering his plate and glass, “But when she gets tired of waiting for you, and you are sulking over her, I don’t want to hear it.”

Galen dressed and prepared for the banquet. He knew his mother would expect him to dress in the colors of their family instead of his novice uniform, so he pulled out the tunic his mother had sent him in the summer. He headed to the large washroom to clean up and change. After he was done, he walked back towards his bed, placing his novice uniform in a bin to be washed.

“Don’t you look like a fancy boy,” said Bax with a sneer. “I guess you are going to that boring festival at the palace.”

“I am attending the banquet as is required by my king and family,” said Galen indifferently.

“Bolton and I are going with some of the other novices to real party in town. Plenty of willing young ladies there,” said Bax with laugh.

“I hope you have a pleasant evening, and manage to make curfew this time. The High Captain has heard about you coming in late recently.”

“Are you her pet now, like your brother?” asked Bolton. “We’ve been told all about your brother and the High Captain.”

Galen rolled his eyes. “I doubt you understand anything about either Roderick or the High Captain.”

“We understand plenty,” said Bax. “Of course, she has to keep it a secret since your family is so low.”

Galen laughed slightly. “That’s rather rich coming from a son of a baker.” Galen usually had no problem with people who were lower born, but Bax was a special case.

“A son of a baker who is now equal to you, son of Lord Ellis,” said Bax with narrowed eyes.

“Are you?” asked Galen with a sigh. “I thought you were only a level three novice, and I am a level five. That doesn’t sound very equal.”

“Are you having any problems, Galen?” asked Tomas coming over to stand by Galen. He had his cloak and Galen’s on his arm.

“No, no problems at all, just setting some things straight. I’m ready to go, Tomas, and I am sure Cara is waiting for you in the entry hall,” said Galen. “Enjoy your outing, novices. I hope you have saved some coins for your willing women.”

Galen walked off, Tomas following him with a laugh. “Well, that was certainly something coming from you. Where did that come from?”

“I’m tired of their gossiping, and childish behavior. They have no right to spout their lies about Roderick and the High Captain. They are a disgrace to the Sentinel. I don’t see how they have hung around so long,” said Galen as they made their way to the north entry hall. Tomas handed Galen his cloak.

“They have the support of Darron and two other Upper Elites. They do whatever Darron tells them to.”

Galen shook his head. “It is no matter. Once I am a full Elite, I can avoid them easily.”

They met Cara in the north entry hall as she waited around with other novices and elites to walk to the palace. She looked very nice in a dark blue gown with a high neckline and half sleeves. She held her Sentinel cloak over her arm.

“Good evening, Cara,” said Galen smiling at her. “You look very well.”

“Thank you, Galen. You two actually look presentable tonight,” said Cara with a smile.

“Are we ready to go?” asked Tomas putting on his cloak.

“I believe so,” said Cara looking at Tomas.

“Well, what are we waiting for then?” asked Tomas as he made a move to walk over to the front door.

Galen rolled his eyes and walked towards Cara. “Let me help you, Cara,” said Galen taking Cara’s cloak and holding it out for her to put on. She slipped her arms in, glaring at Tomas, before fastening her cloak, and walking to the door, stepping out into the night.

Galen and Tomas hurried to catch up with her. “Honestly, Tomas, did you learn nothing about manners from your father or brother?” asked Galen as he put on his cloak while walking.

“I guess I am out of practice not being around young women very often,” said Tomas. “I mean all the women here are novices or Elites, it’s not the same.”

Galen sighed and very much wanted to tell Tomas what an idiot he was, but it would only be redundant. They caught up with Cara and walked through the forest under the light of the full moon. They all three held a small fires in their palms to help light the way through the trees. Following the small crowd that was making their way through the gates to the palace, they slowly walked to the front door.

Once they got into the banquet room, Galen excused himself from Tomas and Cara to look for Princess Lexine. As he was walking around the room and looking amongst the crowd, he caught the eye of his mother who waved him over. He walked over to her and took the hand she offered, kissing her on her cheek.

“Galen, it is so good to see you,” said his mother, squeezing his hand and letting it go. “You look very handsome tonight.”

“You look lovely as always, mother. I am glad to see you as well. Where is Lord Ellis?” asked Galen looking around.

“Alaric is speaking with Roderick and the High Captain just over there,” said Lady Glain pointing to the upper left corner of the room. Galen looked to see Alaric bowing over the High Captain’s hand. He hadn’t known Roderick and the Captain had even left the Fortress yet.

“Did you not want to say hello to Roderick?” asked Galen.

“I will a bit later when he is less occupied,” said Lady Glain.

Galen knew his mother had never seemed to like the High Captain. He thought it mostly had to do with Galen’s choice to enter the Sentinel, but Galen thought it was a rather petty reason to not like someone. Galen made his own choices, and the High Captain had not forced him into anything.

“I know Roderick would appreciate you saying good evening to the High Captain, mother. You must know how important she is to him.”

“I am sure Dracia Yates has better things to do than talk to the widow of a lower lord, Galen, besides, I would rather see how you are doing.”

“I am doing well. I am learning much at both the Academy and the Disciplines. By spring, I expect to have taken my final test, and I will take my vow as a full Elite,” said Galen.

“You shouldn’t be in such a rush to make your decision, Galen. You could take another year being a novice and attending the Academy,” said Lady Glain.

“I don’t think it will be possible even if I wanted to do it. The Sentinel is short of Elites, and the High Captain is seeing to some of my training herself,” said Galen.

“Is she?” asked Lady Glain surprised.

“Yes, I asked her to train me in some specific areas, and she agreed. It is a high honor, and I don’t know if I deserve it, but I will take the opportunity.”

“You are starting to speak of her as Roderick does,” said his mother with distaste.

“She is very worthy of respect, mother. I don’t know why you can’t see it. She also cares about all of her Elites, especially my brother,” said Galen.

His mother opened her mouth, but quickly closed it and smiled, looking behind Galen. Galen turned to see Alaric, Roderick, and the High Captain walking up behind him.

“Mother, the High Captain would like to wish you a good evening,” said Alaric as he moved to stand by Lady Glain.

“I am very honored, High Captain,” said Lady Glain with a slight curtsey.

“They honor is mine,” said the High Captain as she and Roderick stood by Galen. “Your two sons serve the Sentinel well, and I appreciate who they are must come down to how they were raised by you.”

“Yes, I believe who a person is, is often determined by their parents,” said Lady Glain frowning slightly at the High Captain.

The High Captain looked at Lady Glain for a moment before turning to look at Galen with a smile. He was a little thrown off, seeing her out of her usual uniform. She was wearing a dark green gown that came off her shoulders. The neckline was low and the bodice tight with small gems sewn in in various spots. It finished into a full skit that covered her shoes. Her hair was pulled up with a few dark brown curls tumbling down her neck, and she wore a jeweled peacock pendant around her throat.

“Novice, how are you this evening? I hope you aren’t too exhausted from your training earlier,” said the High Captain.

“No, I feel very well. I enjoy our training sessions,” said Galen.

“I am glad, but I was afraid you might have over done it today. We will have to be careful going forward, and allow enough time between our lessons for you to recover.”

“Good heavens, High Captain, what are you training him to do?” asked Lady Glain.

“I am training him in an advanced form of Mystics. I know it sounds rather precarious, but I will not let him be harmed. He is my best novice, and he will be essential to the future of the Sentinel,” said the High Captain.

“If he chooses the Sentinel, that is,” said Lady Glain.

“Indeed,” said the High Captain. “But I have his assurances that his path is almost set, and he sees himself as an Elite. I will respect that he knows his own mind.”

“As you should, Captain,” said Roderick while looking at his mother. “As we all should.”

Lady Glain looked like she would like to argue when Roderick put his hand on the High Captain’s arm. “I believe your mother is trying to get your attention, Captain. You better go see what she needs from you.”

The High Captain sighed slightly. “I suppose I should. Good evening, my lord and my lady,” said the High Captain curtseying. “Novice Galen, I hope you do find some enjoyment with your friends tonight.”

The High Captain turned and walked over to her mother who was waiting close to the head table. Standing to the far right of the high table was Princess Lexine talking with her brother, Prince Leal. Galen caught her eye, and she discreetly waved him over.

“I have to go speak with some other friends, mother,” said Galen as he turned back to look at Lady Glain. “I will speak with you before I leave tonight.”

She nodded, and Galen smiled at Alaric and Roderick before walking over towards the princess. He was cut off halfway across the room by his friend, Martin.

“Galen, I am glad you actually came tonight,” said Martin.

“I said I would come. It is not a high festival, but it is still an important day, and my mother expected me,” replied Galen.

“And you have been coming to more court events lately,” said Martin. “I wonder what could have changed for you?” Martin gave Galen I significant smile.

Galen rolled his eyes and crossed his arms.

“You take a joke as about as well as Tomas tonight. I asked him about his friend, and he told me to go roll naked down brown hill. I don’t know why he was so angry. He did ask that woman to come with him tonight,” said Martin.

“Tomas is an idiot, and you know it. If he isn’t careful, I am afraid he is going to do enough stupid things to make him miserable for quite some time,” said Galen.

“And what of you? I see how much time you spend with the princess. You two are always whispering to one another in class and after. I know she has walked with you back to the Fortress several times.”

“What of it? We are friends and both enjoy learning. She walks back with me to the Fortress to see her life-long friend, the High Captain,” said Galen.

“Of course,” said Martin, still smiling. “You will soon have reason to tease me as well. My intended is coming in two weeks for our official courtship.”

“Oh,” said Galen. “I am sure that will go well. Where is she from again?”

“Northonton, on the border of Lanoxan and Navalia,” said Martin. “Her mother was from Navalia, and I hear my intended takes after her in looks. I’m rather looking forward to meeting her.”

“I hope you are both happy with your arrangement,” said Galen as he looked over Martin’s shoulder to see Princess Lexine motioning to Galen to come over. “I’m sorry to have to end our conversation, but there are others I need to speak with.”

Martin looked behind him to see the princess looking their way. “Do you have important things to discuss tonight with your friend?” asked Martin laughing. “I suppose you are both very devoted to your studies if you will discuss it during a festival.”

“Perhaps, we enjoy such serious topics, Martin. Just because the rest of your lords and ladies would rather talk about the latest fashions or who is sneaking around with who, it doesn’t mean the rest of us enjoy speaking of such frivolities.”

“If you speak with the prince, see what he will tell you of his betrothed. I hear the Navalians are very feisty and passionate. I do hope my future wife stays true to her Navalian blood.”

Galen only nodded before he walked away. He hoped for Martin’s sake that the future Lady Nest did not resembled any of the Navalians that he had come across. Galen crossed the rest of the room and bowed to Lexine and Prince Leal.

“Galen, how are you this evening. Did your training session go well?” asked Lexine, giving Galen a brilliant smile.

“I am well, princess. I enjoyed my training session, though I didn’t do as well as I hoped.”

“It is only your third one,” said Princess Lexine. “I imagine it will take time.”

“It will,” said Prince Leal. “It took your High Captain over a year to manage to bind Mystics with characteristics, and that was with her exhausting herself to almost death many times. I am sure she will be more cautious with you than she was with herself.”

“She has said we will take my training slow,” said Galen.

The Prince looked over towards where the High Captain spoke with her mother. He looked at Galen and Lexine. “If you will excuse me, I should go mingle amongst the court a bit.”

“Yes, you do take you duties very seriously, brother,” said Lexine. She then smiled and whispered to him. “Try not to stare so much, people will be able to guess what’s on your mind if a second if you gaze at her so.”

“Perhaps I don’t care if they do notice, sister,” said the prince with a small smile.

“I know you do not, but you don’t know who might be watching. If you want to keep her safe, you will mind what you do in public.”

The prince’s smile disappeared. “I know you are right, but it isn’t easy. Did you see what she is wearing tonight?”

Lexine rolled her eyes. “Control yourself a bit. I am sure she will grant you a private audience for any business you might have with her later.”

“This is all very easy for you to say, Lexine. Father is so distracted and deliriously happy with the idea I will marry the Navalian princess, that he pays you no mind at all. You are free to speak, dance, and sneak off with your friend any time you wish.”

Galen felt his face go a little warm, thinking of the times he and Lexine had managed to sneak off lately. He hadn’t studied during most reflection times in the past few weeks.

She waved him away. “If you want my help later in the evening, you should leave us be for now. Go see to your people, Leal.”

He smirked at her before bowing to Galen. “I am sorry to leave you in the company of such a bossy, spoiled princess, Galen.”

“I find there are times I don’t mind being told what to do,” said Galen smiling slightly.

Prince Leal gave a small chuckle as he walked away, while Lexine swatted Galen’s arm playfully.

“I am glad to see you, even after that statement,” said Lexine. “Will you walk with me a bit out in the courtyard before the banquet?”

“If you think it won’t cause problems, I will,” said Galen holding out his arm.

“No one is even looking at us. Leal is right about my father. He is so distracted with Leal’s supposed upcoming marriage, that he has left me to do as I please, and right now I want to walk with your out in the courtyard.”

Galen escorted the princess to the nearby side door that led to the nearest courtyard. He looked back to see that no one seemed to be paying them any mind as they slipped outside into the cool fall air.

“What will happen with your brother and the Navalian Princess?” asked Galen. “Will he marry her?”

“Oh, for the sake of the king’s gods, no,” exclaimed Lexine. “At least I don’t believe it will come to that. It better not. If he does something like that to Dracia I might have to find a way to overtake his right to the throne and banish him from the kingdom.”

“Why does he continue to go along with the betrothal?” asked Galen.

“Several reasons,” said Lexine. “Lanoxan has too many problems to be in a war right now. Leal is working with father to solve some of those issues at the moment, but it takes time. Dracia is working on finding out about an uprising that is taking place somewhere in the kingdom, and we still don’t know who sent all the soldiers from this summer.” She paused for a moment. “There is something else as well.”

“What is it?” asked Galen as they walked into the shadows away from the windows.

“It is a secret that only a few know about; me, my brother, your brother, and perhaps Lord Ethen, though he is in Siccaria.”

“If you can’t tell me, I will understand, but maybe I could help in some way,” said Galen.

“It is so awful, Galen, that I can barely think about it,” said Lexine taking her hand off his arm and leaning towards him. He looked around before putting his arms around her and pulling her close.

“You can tell me if you want. I will not speak of it to anyone else,” said Galen quietly as he held her.

Lexine nodded and pulled back slightly to look at him. “When the Navalian Princess saved Dracia, it created some sort of link between them.”

“What do you mean by a link?” asked Galen.

“She left some of her magic inside of Dracia, and now they are bonded somehow, meaning that the princess can do things to Dracia whenever she wants. She could hurt her or worse.”

“Even being so far away?” asked Galen, shocked.

“Yes, every now and then, she will do something and Dracia will feel it. Leal has been reading books and scrolls non-stop to try to break the bond. It is the main reason why he can’t end the betrothal, and why we will go to Navalia in a little over a month.”

“This is evil, Lexine,” said Galen horrified. “To have that control over someone, and to use it like this, is horrible.”

“I know,” said Lexine. “And Dracia never knows when it will happen”

“And your brother has found nothing to help?” asked Galen.

“Not really, he says he believes he can offer her some protection with his own magic when he is close to her, but as you know, they can’t be seen together too much in public. I believe he does visit the Fortress regular in glamour when he can.”

“I have noticed an Elite I couldn’t quite place recently. I suppose that is him,” said Galen. He had been learning of all the Lanoxan royal family’s powers from Lexine lately. While she had some of the same powers as Leal, she had not managed to be able to glamour herself.

“Yes, and he tries to spend every night with her to protect her, but he can’t be with her every minute. What if something happens in the kingdom, and she has to ride out? What if she is bothered by Lilith during a battle, and she is hurt or worse?”

Galen pulled Lexine close to him, completely wrapping her in his arms. He started thinking in his mind ways he could help. He wondered where he could find information on old royal magic. Perhaps he should start paying more attention in kingdom history.

“It is alright, Lex,” said Galen rubbing her back. “We will figure this out.”

“You can’t tell anyone, Galen,” said Lexine with a sniffle.

“I won’t, but there are ways we can look for answers without letting anyone know why.”

“What are you planning to do?” asked Lexine as she looked up at him.

“I think I might know what my year-end report in kingdom history will be about, Lexine, and I would like you to help me if you can.”

“I should have told you about this weeks ago, Galen. You are the most brilliant person I have ever met.”

“I don’t know if I will be able to find anything to help, but I will try. We have access to the largest library in the kingdom. I know your brother is looking, but it will be less suspicious if we do it as students. It would make sense we had an interest in the royal families of our land since they just visited.”

“Like I said,” said Lexine. “You are brilliant.”

Galen smiled at her as she put her arms around his neck. “And there is that smile. You are quite dangerous. I have a hard time resisting you.”

“Then don’t,” said Galen as he bent down and kissed her.

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