Galen sat in a small parlor on the first floor of the Winter Palace. He had a large book open in his lap as he sat on a small sofa in front of the fireplace. It was another of the books he had found on the Cassendars. He was trying to find some way to use their power to help the High Captain. They had no luck in getting the king to answer their questions about the queen and her use of Cassendar power. Lexine had said whenever they brought up their mother to their father, the king would become lost in memories of his wife, and would never answer their question.
Galen had finally found something promising in his reading. It was three whole chapters on the queens of Lanoxan who had served the kingdom by marrying into the Cassendar family. Galen read through each chapter, reading about the acts of the queens. Most of the chapters contained information on laws and decrees the queens had helped pass. There were descriptions of their beauty and the mighty kings they birthed, but not much else; not until, Galen got to the last chapter. The whole chapter was on Queen Kasia.
Queen Kasia had successfully helped defend Winsdell from a raiding army with most of the Sentinel off fighting with the king. The book said she used her power to shield the remaining Elites and palace guards so they could defeat the large army as they advanced through the town.
Galen looked up from his book. This must mean that Kasia had received the Cassendar power from her marriage. He quickly picked up the other book next to him, and flipped through it trying to find any mention of Queen Kasia. He finally found it in a middle chapter. She was originally a lower noble of Siccaria and married the King of Lanoxan at the age of eighteen. Her use of Mystics was well known as well as her mastery of the Cassendar power.
So that settled it. The Cassendar power was given to those who married into the line. Perhaps not all were as skilled as Kasia because she was mentioned as having a mastery of it, but surely if she gained the power, all queens did in some way. Galen wasn’t sure how this would help Dracia, but it did show that the Cassendar power was able to be transferred to others. That also meant if Prince Leal did marry Princess Lilith, she would have the Cassendar power as well as her Navalian magic. Galen didn’t imagine that would be a good thing.
He picked up his book when the door opened and Lexine walked in, looking teary eyed. Galen put his book down and immediately stood up, walking to meet her in the middle of the room.
“What is wrong?” he asked as he held out his arms to her.
She walked into them, and he wrapped her up as she rested her head against his chest.
“It is Leal,” she said with a sniffle. “There is something wrong with him. He has said the most awful things to me and to father. He sleeps half the day. He even kicked Malven out of his rooms after they fought.”
“How long has this been going on?” asked Galen as he rubbed her back.
“A few days. He was just tired at first and a little irritable, but the past three days, he has gotten worse. I don’t think he has even talked to Dracia. At meals you must see how he avoids almost everyone except Lilith. There has to be something wrong with him, doesn’t there?” asked Lexine as she pushed back a little from him and looked up at Galen.
“Have you talked to Sarin?” asked Galen. “Have you asked him to see the prince?”
“I did yesterday, but Leal refused to let Sarin in. He said he was fine; he was just doing what he had to do. He has to be ill, Galen.”
“It does sound like he is ill, unless…” said Galen trailing off.
“Unless he has realized he will have to marry Princess Lilith to save the High Captain. He could be pushing her away, and that could affect him with everyone else.”
“No, he would never marry Lilith. He couldn’t,” said Lexine shaking her head.
“He would if it is the only way to save the woman he loves,” said Galen.
“You don’t understand, Galen. He can’t marry Lilith,” said Lexine as tears leaked out of her eyes.
“He can’t let her hurt the High Captain either, Lexine. You know Lilith could kill her if she wanted to; even with the ability to defend herself. It seems Lilith has become more powerful.”
“You have to break that bond, Galen. We have to break it and get Leal out of here somehow,” said Lexine. “Have you found anything?”
“I did find something,” said Galen, letting Lexine go and walking over to the sofa to sit down and pick up his book. Lexine sat down next to him. “I am not sure how it will help, but at least it shows that the Cassendar power can transfer to others.”
“What did you find?” asked Lexine as she wiped her face, composing herself.
“It seems that those who marry into the Cassendar line do receive access to your family power. At least it did for the queen this book talks about. I don’t see why she would be special. From what I read she might have been more gifted with it than others, but it implies that all the other queens had some form of the power as well.”
“Really?” asked Lexie with some excitement as she grabbed the book from Galen, reading over it.
“Yes, but I am not sure how it helps the High Captain. It is a shame she has not married the prince, but I guess if she did, we wouldn’t be here with this problem.”
Lexine looked up at Galen with surprise. “Do you really think all those who marry into my family receive the power in some way?” asked Lexine.
“I can’t say for certain, but it seems there is a good chance.”
“But,” said Lexine with some confusion. “If that is so, then, why, I mean, surely,”
“What are you trying say Lexine?” asked Galen looking at her worriedly.
“Does the person have to be in a place of position do you think? Perhaps this queen in this book only got her power when she officially became the queen,” said Lexine as she scanned the book.
“I don’t know. I just discovered this before you came in,” said Galen. “I was about to see what else I could find.”
Two Bells chimed out in the palace, making Galen stand up.
“Is it the second bell of the afternoon already?” asked Galen. “I have to go. I told the High Captain I would meet her out front at the second bell.”
“Go on,” said Lexine. “I am going to read through your books, and then go have a talk with my brother. I will make him speak with me if I must.”
“I will see you tonight at supper,” said Galen leaning down and kissing Lexine on the cheek as she looked at the book. She nodded, and Galen left the room.
He walked swiftly to the front of the palace, practically running. He reached the outside to find the High Captain staring at the winter roses that grew by the well. Galen walked up to her, and she turned to look at him. She looked sad and tired, and her usual bright eyes looked dull and weary. She frowned at Galen as she looked at him.
“I am sorry I am late, High Captain,” said Galen apologetically. “I was reading on some ways to help you, and then Lexine came in upset.”
“It is no matter, novice,” said the High Captain quietly. “I am sorry the princess was upset. I can probably guess why.”
“Do you think he is ill?” asked Galen softly.
“I am not sure. He will not speak with me at all. I will have to try to do something soon, but right now I promised you a lesson so let’s get started.”
“Are you sure, High Captain?” asked Galen. “We could skip this one.”
“No, you need to keep learning, and I need the distraction,” said the High Captain as she led him to the side of the castle at the very edge of the paved front area.
“You have been doing very well with snow, and I suspect you have been practicing on your own a bit as well,” said the High Captain with a small smirk.
“Just a little,” said Galen sheepishly. “I sit outside and read sometimes, and try to get a feel for the snow. Nothing too strenuous.”
The High Captain rolled her eyes but then smiled. “Well, I suppose I cannot fault you with it, knowing what I did to learn this, but I do ask that you be careful, novice.”
“Of course, High Captain.”
“I want you to show me what you can do, and then I will show you something else that I am quite proud of.”
Galen spent the next half hour manipulating the snow around them. He picked up large piles of it and turned it into different frozen shapes, moving it using wind with ease. When he was done the High Captain nodded her head approvingly.
“I knew you would catch on faster than I did. You are much more intelligent and focused than I ever was. Well done, novice.”
“I still think the difference is I have you to teach me, and you figured this all out on your own,” said Galen.
“Take the compliment and be happy with it, Galen,” said the High Captain with a small laugh. “You don’t need to worry about me. I think well enough about my own cleverness. In fact, I want to show you something I can do, that even I find impressive.”
She grabbed Galen’s hand and looked at him. “What I am about to do might feel a bit strange, but trust me, you will not be harmed.”
Galen nodded and wanted to ask what was going to happen, but the High Captain had already closed her eyes. Galen watched her as he felt a heavy, cold feeling come over him. He looked around and suddenly the world was a blur. It lasted only a moment, before the area around him became clear again, except it had changed.
No longer was Galen standing in the area in front of the castle. Instead, they were in a courtyard surrounded by walls of the white stone.
“What just happened?” asked Galen looking around. “Where are we?”
“I’m not sure, some courtyard in the castle. Looks like we went through two walls of stone I would say.”
“Excuse me?” said Galen gaping at the High Captain. “Did you just say we went through two walls of stone?”
“Maybe three, I’m not sure. I was trying for three.”
“How?” asked Galen.
“I bound us with the stone so could pass through it. I searched until I found the stone I wanted to use for us to stop. Once I felt it, I bound us to it, and sent us here, making sure we passed through the other stone safely. It’s a lot to handle rather quickly, so I lost count of the walls.”
“You passed us through stone? How is that even possible?” asked Galen.
“Well, we are mostly water, aren’t we? A little water Mystic and a lot of stone Mystic and here we are. It took me a few years to do this one. I started with moving stone through stone, then sticks. After than I did bugs, some cats, and after a long while myself. I’ve only ever moved one other person besides myself than you. He wasn’t as calm as you about the whole thing.”
“I can understand why you are impressed with yourself. I don’t think impressive even begins to cover it. This is something completely magical. It is almost like ancient magic,” said Galen.
“It still based on Mystics,” said the High Captain. “It does wear me out though, so you will have to give me a moment before I get us out of here.”
“Where are we in the palace?” asked Galen.
“I am not sure; one of its many courtyards it seems. I haven’t been in this one,” said the High Captain looking around. “It looks to be some sort of garden. There are many things growing in the cold here, but when you have the power of life and death, I suppose anything is possible.”
Galen walked closer to the plants that were growing and looked closely at them. They weren’t normal things your find in gardens in palaces such as roses, bushes, and ivy. In fact, they weren’t normal things you find in any garden.
“High Captain, come look at these plants,” said Galen as he knelt down to get a closer look.
“I am not really a gardener, Galen. You will have to tell me what I am looking at,” said the High Captain, bending down beside him.
“This is Misma, do not touch it or smell it,” said Galen standing back up. “It is extremely poisonous and is not lawful to grow in any kingdom I know of.” He walked over to some other plants, the High Captain following him. “This is tossia grass. It is not unlawful, but I don’t know of a good use for it besides causing confusion in someone. It is sometimes grown to help with those who suffer insanity, but not any other reason.” Galen walked on to another batch. “And this is nettle weed” said Galen looking up at the High Captain. “I believe you are familiar with it, at least the morning dew that runs off of it.”
“This is what I was poisoned with, isn’t it?” asked the High Captain.
“Yes,” said Galen. “It is hard to find as it is very dangerous, and unlawful to grow. Any found in the wild is burned immediately.”
“Why is all this here?” asked the High Captain looking around.
“I don’t know, but everything I see here can be used for nefarious reasons,” said Galen.
They had walked to the far end of the courtyard where the wall jutted out slightly creating a small alcove of sorts. In this area grew a few winter roses and some ivy on a trellis. Galen looked behind the trellis to see a cage. Inside were several large scorpions moving around slightly. He immediately grabbed the High Captain and moved her away.
“The green scorpions of Aciea, extremely rare and lethal,” said Galen as he held the High Captains arm.
She turned to look at them when they heard a door open and Princess Lilith’s voice and laugh ring out over the courtyard. The High Captain grabbed Galen and pressed him against the wall in the small alcove. She covered him with her body.
“Be completely still and quiet,” she whispered in his ear. Galen nodded.
“I have barely had time with you all week, my lovely,” said a voice Galen recognized as Darron’s. “You have been neglecting me.”
“I have been busy. I am trying to take over a kingdom, it is not easy work. I have to spend time with that loathsome prince,” said Lilith with a groan.
“Why even bother? I can give you Lanoxan, you know. I can take control of the Sentinel. The Sentinel is what really controls the kingdom,” said Darron.
“Perhaps, but I need the Cassendar power as well. Maybe after I marry the fool, you can find a way to dispose of him for me,” said Lilith with a laugh.
“Preferably before the marriage bed I am guessing,” said Darron.
“If only,” said Lilith with a sigh. “I will have to have him at least once to gain what I need. He will have to claim me in some way as barbaric as that sounds.”
“I rather like claiming you,” said Darron as Lilith giggled.
“How do you not know it is not I claiming you,” she said. There was a moment of silence where Galen though he might have heard them kissing.
“Well then it has been too long since you have claimed me,” said Darron.
Lilith laughed. “You could love me right here, or do you have to run off and complete some task for your High Captain.”
“As if I care what she wants from me. You could do me a favor and get rid of her now. Don’t you want to please me?”
“I please you plenty, you silly man,” said Lilith with a moan. “I would love to kill Dracia Yates as we speak, but I need her to control the prince. As soon as he is mine, I will do away with her for you. Unless you would rather do the honors.”
“Either way is fine with me. Perhaps you could weaken her, and then I will finish her off. I could do it in front of Roderick somehow, and then maybe kill him as well. It would make for a pleasant day.”
“Throw the prince in for good measure then. We can wait and kill them all together. I am sure the idiot will want to be with his love at the end. I can at least do that for him with what he is giving me,” said Lilith with another laugh. “Now are you going to see me pleased here or not?”
“Not here,” said Darron roughly. “Let’s go to your room. I want to take my time with you.”
“Alright,” said Lilith breathlessly. “But not too much time. I do have to go to supper and sit with the prince. It shouldn’t take too much more attention until he is mine for good.”
Galen felt himself go cold and heavy. The world disappeared around him, and then suddenly he was in the entry way of the palace. The High Captain moved away from him, holding her head, and breathing heavily.
“High Captain,” said Galen walking towards her. “Are you well?”
“Yes, I am fine, Galen,” said The High Captain straightening up. “I am only worn out, and very concerned. I need to go find your brother and speak with him.”
“What can I do for you?”
“I know this isn’t fair to ask of you, Galen, but I need you to figure out how to remove this bond in some way. Whatever you have to do, do it. I need a way to either remove it or shield myself from it. I have to save Leal from that evil woman, and I can only do it if I can protect myself from the Navalian magic fully. Otherwise, I will have to go to more extreme measures.”
“I will not fail you, High Captain. I will find a way. I will not rest until I have it.”
Galen walked quickly up the stairs, hoping to find Lexine. He had to let her know what he had learned, and they had to find a way to stop it.