The Sentinel of Cassendar: Navalia

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Chapter 30

Roderick walked by Dracia’s side as they made their way down the stairs of the palace. She was looking for her parents to speak with them. Prince Leal did not want Dracia alone anywhere in the Winter Palace, so she asked Roderick to come with her as she sought out Lord Arwel and Lady Owena. They had been told by the lord’s attendants that Lord Arwel was walking with his wife in one of the courtyards of the palace.

Dracia had planned to meet with her parents, as Lord Ethen, Lady Maia, and Prince Leal meet with as many lords of the court of Cassendar as they could to convince them to leave Navalia.

“Do you think the Navalians will let the lords and ladies of the court leave without resistance?” asked Roderick as they walked.

“I am hoping they will ignore them leaving as long as the Cassendars remain in the palace walls. Hopefully all the lords Leal speaks with will leave immediately. I would like them to get well out of this city before I meet with Lady Belleth in case things go wrong,” said Dracia.

“Do you know what you are going to say to Lady Belleth?” asked Roderick.

“It is becoming clearer what I will say to her every minute,” answered Dracia as they exited the stairs to the first floor.

“Are you going to tell me what your plans are with that woman?” asked Roderick.

“No, not yet. I will only tell you to trust me, and to take care of Leal. I need you to do whatever you can to make sure he leaves the palace no matter what happens,” said Dracia as she turned down a hall.

“I don’t like the sound of any of this, Dracia,” said Roderick quietly as they walked. “You will want me to leave you behind if necessary, won’t you?”

“Yes, your only priority will be Leal, the king and the princess, though I think Galen will handle Lexine, and the king will go along willingly with the others,” said Dracia.

“Is there any use arguing with you?” asked Roderick.

“No, there is not. I am still your High Captain, Roderick, and you will obey my commands.”

They walked down the hall to the doorway of a courtyard that was on the east side of the palace. Dracia looked out the door and found it empty, so they moved on. They tried the middle courtyard and found it empty as well. It was in the small west courtyard, that Dracia finally found her parents sitting on a bench together, whispering amongst themselves.

“Dracia,” said her father rising from the bench as she and Roderick approached. “We were just about to find you. We have many questions for you.”

“I figured you might,” said Dracia as her mother too got up from the bench. “I have some questions for both of you as well, but you may go first.”

Her father glanced at Roderick.

“You can trust Roderick, father. There is no one I trust more than him, and he will not leave my side, so don’t ask him to go.”

“Why did you send your brother away?” asked her father looking from Roderick to Dracia. “He only said you asked him to leave and meet his family and your brother and his wife at our summer manor. What is going on?”

Dracia looked around before answering. “There is something going on here that isn’t right. I’m not talking just about normal court intrigue. There is something truly evil at work here, and I am trying to get as much of the court out of Navalia as possible. Prince Leal is meeting with many of the other lords and ladies as we speak.”

“What do you mean by evil?” asked her father.

“I haven’t put it all together quite yet, but I know whoever is controlling Navalia has an invasion plan set up for Lanoxan. There are several of our northern lords and a few southern ones who are aligned with Navalia. There are even a few lesser nobles of Siccaria ready to strike us.”

“What does our king have to say about this?” asked Lord Arwel.

“He is in no condition to say much of anything. You must have noticed he is not himself. He has not been himself for many years as someone has been using him in a way, controlling him somehow. They have also been medicating the queen with something, though I have her safe in Siccaria now,” said Dracia.

“What are you planning to do, Dracia?” asked her mother.

“I am planning to get the Cassendars out of Navalia and to somewhere safe. I hope to be able to do it by tonight, but I have much to do before I reach my goal,” said Dracia as she shifted slightly, seeming anxious to be moving.

“What of the betrothal?” asked Lord Arwel.

“The betrothal is nothing,” said Roderick. “You must see that by now. Prince Leal never intended to marry Princess Lilith.”

“In truth he could not marry her; it would have been impossible,” said Dracia as she glanced at Roderick. “I should have not kept this from you, but I had my reasons. I am married to Prince Leal. I have been for over two years.”

“Dracia!” said her father shocked. “Surely you are not.”

“She is,” said Roderick solemnly. “I witnessed their promises myself along with the Princess Lexine.”

Dracia pulled off her large Siccarian ring and held up her hand, showing her Cassendar ring. “I have not always worn it on my finger, as I had to keep it a secret, but I will not do so any longer after we leave Navalia. I am Dracia Cassendar, and I do not regret it.”

Her father shook his head and sat down on the bench. “I can’t believe this. You have been married this whole time while he courted this princess in front of you. He hid you from the kingdom, from his father, like you were some shameful secret. How have you let him treat you so?”

“He did not want to hide me, father. The king did not want us to marry. He forbid Leal from doing so. Leal was ready to defy him, but I would not let him. The kingdom needs Leal. I could not cause a breach that would cost Leal the throne.”

Her father shook his head again. “I knew the king did not want you to marry Leal, but I didn’t know it was as bad as this. Why would he oppose you as a wife for his son? You are my daughter, and our family is as powerful as the Cassendars, in some ways we are more so. I should take away his kingdom for this.”

“But you would take it away from you daughter and her husband, dear,” said Lady Owena looking down at her husband. “Dracia is a Cassendar now. She will be the Queen of Lanoxan someday, hopefully soon though I hate to say it. The kingdom might need Prince Leal, but I believe it needs Dracia even more.”

“Mother, I have some questions for you,” said Dracia as her father lowered his head. “You have never talked to me of your father, but I understand he had ties to Navalia.”

Lady Owena looked at Dracia carefully before answering. “He did. His mother was from Navalia. He seemed very attached to her homeland.”

“And are you likeminded with your late father?” asked Dracia.

“No,” said her mother adamantly. “I disagreed on everything with that man. I hate to say it, but I was relieved when he died, my younger brother as well. They were not good men.”

“You disagreed on everything with him?” asked Dracia. “But didn’t he arrange your marriage to father.”

Lady Owena looked down at Lord Arwel as he looked up. “It is complicated, Dracia, I do not hate my life with your father. I am thankful for our children, and we are not miserable together at this point.”

“No, we are not miserable now,” said Lord Arwel with a sigh. “But I think it is safe to say we both hoped for something else for much of our lives.”

Lady Owena nodded. “There is much to tell you, Dracia, but this is not the place or time. I can assure you I am not aligned with the Navalians in anyway.”

Dracia nodded. “I am sorry I had to ask. I am not sure who to trust at this point.”

“I am not offended. I have given you much reason to think the worst of me over the years.”

“You both need to get ready to leave. You should be on the road in an hour. Leave things behind if you have to. You should go to the summer manor with Colm and Kellen.”

“No,” said her father standing up. “I will not speak for your mother, but I will not leave Navalia unless you are leaving as well.”

“Father, it is not safe here,” began Dracia.

“If it is not safe, how could you think I would leave you here, Dracia? I will stay here and support you as needed.”

“Yes, Dracia, I agree with your father. We will stay in Navalia until we know you are safe. You need not worry about us; you know what power your father holds. Would the Navalians really risk hurting any one of our family?”

“They have already hurt your daughter plenty of times,” said Roderick. “There are many things you don’t know, and I don’t think we have time to get into much of it, but she has suffered plenty at the hands of the Navalians.”

“They have, but I believe my mother is right,” said Dracia. “They would know how powerful the Yates are in Lanoxan. They would not chance aggravating my father if they can help it. Father, I need your help with something today. I have a plan to get us all of our Navalia, but I will need your support. I plan to meet with King Arnar, the prince and princess, and Lady Belleth today. There is not enough time to explain all, but I need you to agree to anything I say.”

“I am not sure I can do what you ask, unless you tell me what you have planned,” said her father.

“All you need to know is I plan to get all of you out, and I will. I need you to pack as light as you can, and order two horses for you and mother. I am sorry you will lose your carriage, but there is no way around it. Meet me at the fourth bell of the afternoon outside the throne room. It is on the first floor down the hall from the banquet hall. I need to go prepare myself,” said Dracia.

“Dracia,” started her father, but Lady Owena put her hand on his arm.

“We will do whatever you need, Dracia,” said Lady Owena.

Dracia nodded. “I will see you soon. Go prepare, now.”

Dracia turned to go, and Roderick followed her. When she got to the door going back in the palace her mother’s voice stopped her for a moment. “Dracia, you will be a fine queen. I hope you know it.”

Dracia turned and looked at her mother. “Thank you, I shall try to be a good queen, if I am ever given the chance to reign alongside Leal.”

“You will, my dear, and you need to believe it,” said her mother.

They headed back upstairs and into Dracia’s room. Lord Ethen was sitting by Lady Maia on the sofa in front of the fire, as Leal stood close to the fireplace, a glass of wine in his hand. His other hand was on the mantle, and he was leaning heavily on it, looking very tired.

“How did it go?” asked Dracia as she walked up to stand next to Prince Leal. He pushed off of the mantle and smiled at her.

“We convinced more than I thought. It seemed a few were already made uncomfortable by the Navalian court and some of our norther lords. They seemed rather relieved to have my permission to leave Navalia,” said Prince Leal.

“Who refused?” asked Dracia.

“The Clandines, Lord Milis, and the Nests of course,” said Prince Leal.

“Poor Martin. I wish there was something I could do for him,” said Dracia.

“They won’t hurt him,” said Prince Leal.

“They will force the poor man to marry that Lena woman, and that is bad enough,” said Dracia.

“We can’t do anything about it at the moment,” said Prince Leal.

“I know, there is too much to arrange,” said Dracia. “Leal, I need you to write a message to King Arnar, requesting an audience with him, his daughter, and his son at the fourth bell this afternoon. I know it is short notice, but I believe he will do it because Lady Belleth will be curious at what you have to say.”

“And what will I have to say?” asked Prince Leal.

“That you won’t marry Princess Lilith and you rescind any promise you might have made her.”

“I don’t see that ending well,” said Lord Ethen looking up at Dracia from the sofa.

“But I am going to offer them something better than a prince for their princess,” said Dracia with a half-smile.

“What will you offer them?” asked Prince Leal.

“You will see, now go and write your message. Send for Malven and have him take it himself to the king’s rooms,” said Dracia.

Prince Leal stared at her, seeming about to refuse or ask her more questions when Lord Ethen spoke up. “Do as she says, your highness. I believe she knows what she is doing.”

Prince Leal looked at Lord Ethen and then Dracia who nodded. “Trust me,” she said softly.

Prince Leal turned and walked to a small desk in the room. He pulled out some paper and quill, writing a letter quickly. He sent for Malven, and had the letter delivered. He received an answer before the first bell of the afternoon, saying the king would be happy to receive Prince Leal in the throne room. Dracia sent him away with Lord Ethen and Malven to go clean up in his own rooms, and pack whatever was needed.

Dracia and Roderick met with all their Elites, except Darron, telling them to be on their horses, ready outside the front door at the fourth bell of the afternoon. Dracia told them to be armed and ready to fight if needed. She and Roderick did look for Darron, but were unable to find him. They gave up as the third bell rang, and Dracia and Roderick retreated to her room.

She walked over to her vanity and leaned down looking in her mirror, tucking a few strands of hair that had fallen out her braid. “I suppose I should see to my appearance with what I am about to offer, but I think my looks will have little to do with it,” said Dracia as she straightened up and walked over to Roderick, sitting down beside him.

“What are you going to offer?” asked Roderick.

“By marrying Leal, Princess Lilith would be the next Queen of Lanoxan, but besides the title what really does it come with? You could say power, but that is not the whole truth. Sometimes power is nothing but an illusion. An illusion that only lasts until reality hits. Do you know where the true power of Lanoxan lies, Roderick?”

“I am not sure,” said Roderick.

“It is not an easy question to answer. I know where the true power of Lanoxan lies, but I will not offer it to the Navalians today. I don’t think I could give it to them even if I wanted to, but I will offer them an illusion of power. An illusion of power that is even better than uniting their family with the Cassendars.”

“I suppose that is the only answer you will give me,” said Roderick.

“You are correct, Elite,” said Dracia with a small smile. She reached out and took Roderick’s hand. “I know I owe you a better answer. You will have to stack it up with everything else I owe you. It is a debt I could never repay.”

“You owe me nothing, Dracia. I have told you this multiple times. It is I who will always been in debt to you,” said Roderick.

“Maybe we should just consider it even then,” said Dracia with a small laugh. “I would like to think of us as equal today, Roderick. I don’t want to be at odds with you in any way.”

“We are not at odds, High Captain. I think you and I have rarely been in any disagreement, not for long.”

“You are right,” said Dracia putting her other hand over Roderick’s hand that she held. They sat quietly together for a moment, Dracia holding Roderick’s hand as he looked at her, wishing he had something noteworthy to say. Wishing that he could just take her away from this place, far away from vengeful royals and even well-meaning princes.

“You do know you are the dearest friend I have ever had, don’t you?” she asked quietly.

“You are mine as well,” said Roderick.

“I am married to Leal, but I believe you and I are bonded in some way.”

“Yes,” said Roderick. “Bonded by duty, trust, and many uncomfortable nights on horseback.”

Dracia laughed. “More than that, though. I have never given much thought to fate. I always just tried to do what was right and good, but meeting you, felt a little like fate. I would not be here without you. I know it.”

“I can say the same thing. I has loss count of the number of times you have saved me,” said Roderick, feeling a little teary eyed. This almost felt like goodbye, and it scared him. “You will make it out this, Dracia. You and I still have battles to fight together.”

“I know,” she said softly. “I am not afraid, Roderick, truly I am not, but I will feel better knowing you understand how special you are to me.”

“I do know it, and I would not be lying if I said you were one of if not the most important person in my life,” said Roderick. He paused for a moment. “Lord Ethen asked me once how long I had been in love with you. I told him since the moment I met you. I do not want you to misunderstand me. I know you where your heart lies, and I do not look upon your prince with much jealousy. I am happy to know you are so well loved. I am devoted to you, Dracia, as your Elite, as your second, and mostly as your friend.”

She smiled at him. “I do understand you, and I love you as well.”

She leaned forward and gave Roderick one of the most precious moments of his life as she softly and quickly kissed his lips with hers.

They met Prince Leal, Lord Ethen, Lady Maia, Princess Lexine, and Galen in front of the throne room. A moment later the king came down with Dracia’s parents. Dracia stood by Prince Leal with Lord Ethen and Lady Maia on her other side. She unbuckled the belt around her waist that held her sword. She handed it to Ethen as he looked at her giving her a small nod. He fastened it on himself, the silver sword of the Sentinel hanging by his side. Before Dracia knocked on the door, Prince Leal took her hand and turned her towards him.

“Be safe, my love,” he said quietly before leaning in and kissing her.

“I will,’ she said as he pulled back. “Stay close to Roderick and Ethen when we get into the throne room.”

Dracia reached up and knocked on the large double doors. The doors were opened slowly by two palace guards on the inside. As Roderick walked into the room, he saw that palace guards lined the walls of the long narrow space. Roderick followed behind Prince Leal looking up at the raised dais at the end of the room. King Arnar sat on a tall throne, his son standing on one side, and Lady Belleth on his other side. Princess Lilith stood next to Belleth, her head held high.

“I didn’t realize there would be such a large party with you, Prince Leal,” said King Arnar looking at the group before him. “What have you to say about it.”

“It is the main support of my court, family, and Sentinel, your majesty,” said Prince Leal as they all walked up close to the dais.

“You feel you need this much support to meet with me?” asked the king.

“I do because I fear you will not like what I have to say,” said Prince Leal, glancing at Dracia.

“You better say what you came to tell me, then,” said the king seeming bored by the whole thing.

“I wish to end my betrothal to your daughter, Princess Lilith. I have no desire to marry her,” said Prince Leal.

“You are coming here to say you are breaking your promise to my daughter?” said the king in some surprise. “You are breaking your kingdom’s promise to me as well. What have you to say about this, King Rommel?”

King Rommel looked at Prince Leal, and Princess Lexine walked over to her father and took his hand. “I have interfered too long in my son’s affairs. He is a grown man, and he must see to his own happiness.” The king look down at Princess Lexine, and she nodded encouragingly.

“This is quite a problem, your highness,” said Lady Belleth walking forward a little. “This will put our kingdoms at odds, are you prepared for it? I don’t think you want to break faith with the princess, do you?”

Prince Leal stumbled back slightly, and his head dropped. “I don’t know,” he said with uncertainty. “I can’t…”

“No, you don’t want to break your promise. You have gotten bad advice from your court and probably your High Captain as well. You want to marry Lilith, you know you do.”

Prince Leal nodded slightly. “I suppose, I…”

“Enough,” said Dracia loudly as she grabbed Prince Leal’s hand. Roderick could see the prince’s hard grip on Dracia’s hand as his head came up and he took deep breaths.

“You will leave Prince Leal alone, and he will not marry Princess Lilith. I know she does not want to marry him, not really. She wants what all of you want, well at least what you want Lady Belleth, and that is power. Let’s drop all pretenses and speak honestly. I know you are who is truly ruling Navalia. I know how you have manipulated the king.”

Fannar looked over at his father and Lady Belleth, a shocked look on his face.

“Father?” asked Fannar. “Is this true?”

“The king is our true ruler; he only depends on me for advice, your highness. Do you not let this woman divide us,” said Lady Belleth smiling at Fannar.

Dracia rolled her eyes. “Fine, if this is how you want to do this. I know you and the king want power more than anything.”

“And uniting the Navalian royal family with the Cassendars will expand our power,” said Lady Belleth. “I am sure our king agrees.”

King Arnar nodded.

“But will it? If you persist in this and find a way to make Prince Leal marry Princess Lilith, you will find all is not well in Lanoxan. The Sentinel will stand against Princess Lilith and anything she or her family might have planned. My family, the Yates, can unite more lord’s houses than the small gathering you seemed to have gained favor with. I would not like it, but with those two forces alone, we could overthrow the Cassendars as the rulers of Lanoxan. It would be an ugly war. I am sure you have some strong allies, and a powerful force, but I have faith in the end we would win.”

“If you will not fall in line, we will kill your prince and the rest of his family if we have to. What do you say to that?” asked Lady Belleth.

“That you would be met with the full fury of the Sentinel, the Yates, and even Siccaria,” said Dracia glancing at Ethen. “Do you think you could withstand such an attack?”

“Are you proposing a better way?” asked Lady Belleth.

“I am. I do not wish for Lanoxan to suffer through a war, and I do not want Prince Leal to be tied to Princess Lilith in any way. I am offering myself to you,” said Dracia as Prince Leal made a noise and turned to Dracia. Roderick felt physically ill.

“What do you mean you are offering yourself?” asked Lady Belleth with disdain.

“I will unite myself with the Navalian royals. I will marry Prince Fannar. I can give you Lanoxan with no fighting necessary. I can see that the Cassendars are displaced for Fannar and I to rule Lanoxan while Princess Lilith follows her father one day here in Navalia.”

“You would see the Cassendars taken from their place of power?” asked Lady Belleth.

“If it will keep them safe, yes. I will see them sent somewhere to live in peace. They are not to be harmed in any way. That will have to be a part of our deal.”

“You think you can really take over the kingdom with just the support of your father and the Sentinel?”

“She is not really needed,” said Princess Lilith mockingly. “We already have the Sentinel. If we do away with her, we have one who can lead the Sentinel in her place.”

“Are you speaking of Darron? Has he told you he can take over the Sentinel?” asked Dracia with annoyance. “He is lying to you. He cannot just become the High Captain because I die. He would have to have overwhelming support of the Elites, and I can promise you he does not have it. If he wants to be the High Captain, he would have to challenge me and take the silver sword to even have a chance, and if he fights me, he will not win.

“Now back to your question, Lady Belleth. I do think I could take Lanoxan with just the Sentinel and my father’s support, but I bring something else as well.” Dracia turned to Lord Ethen who looked at her for a long moment. He finally nodded. “If I reign over Lanoxan as queen with Prince Fannar, I bring the full support of Siccaria.”

Lady Belleth gave a very small smile. “Is this true, Lord Ethen?”

“Yes,” said Lord Ethen. “The High Nobles of Siccaria stand behind the High Captain. When she reigns over Lanoxan as queen, we will support her.”

“So, you will marry Prince Fannar? You will become one of us?” asked Lady Belleth.

“I will if you let the Cassendars and all of their court who wishes it to leave now. I will join with Prince Fannar as his wife as soon as it can be arranged.”

“Dracia, what are you doing” asked Prince Leal with pain in his voice. “You know you cannot do this.”

“I will do whatever has to be done to keep you and your family safe and save our people. If I marry Fannar, I can rule over Lanoxan and see to our people, and you and your family can live in peace away from all of this,” said Dracia. She turned and looked at Roderick. He shook his head at her, but she only smiled at him and motioned slightly towards Prince Leal. Roderick moved closer to the prince.

“What do you think, my king?” asked Lady Belleth to King Arnar.

“Do you wish to marry this woman, my son?” asked King Arnar looking to Prince Fannar.

“I do. I have wanted to marry her for a while.”

King Arnar stared at his son as though trying to form words, but seeming to struggle. “Even if she is just marrying you to save her kingdom?” asked King Arnar with effort.

“People have married for worse reasons. I will show her we can be happy. I will earn her love in time.”

“You really want to do this, High Captain?” asked Lady Belleth.

“I do, if you promise to let the Cassendars and their court leave,” said Dracia.

“Come here then,” said Lady Belleth holding out her hand. “Come up here and join hands with me and the king if you really do want to join our family.”

Dracia nodded and started towards the stairs of the dais as Prince Leal grabbed her.

“No, Dracia, you cannot do this. We will think of something else. You cannot marry him. You know you cannot.”

“I will do this to see you safely out of Navalia,” said Dracia quietly. “It will work out, you will see.”

“No,” said Leal holding on to her tighter.

“Roderick,” said Dracia.

Roderick moved forward and grabbed Prince Leal, holding him tightly, putting pressure on his arm.

“Roderick, what are you doing. You cannot let her do this; you know you cannot.”

“Ethen, help him,” said Dracia.

Lord Ethen walked over and stood in front of Prince Leal. He touched his head and stared into the prince’s eyes. “All will be well, your highness,” he said soothingly. Prince Leal let go of Dracia and hung limply in Roderick’s arms, his eyes open but glazed over.

“Leal!” said Princess Lexine moving forward. “What have you done to him?”

“He is fine,” said Lord Ethen. “I simply relaxed him for a while. He will wake up soon.”

“Dracia, Leal is right you cannot do this,” said Lexine.

“It is fine, Lexine,” said Galen moving forward. “You need to trust the High Captain.”

“But Galen,” started Lexine.

“I promise you, it will be alright,” said Galen soothingly.

“He is right, Lexine, go with him,” said Dracia as she turned and walked up the stairs. She stopped as she reached the dais and seem to stare at Lord Ethen. Roderick saw him give a very slight nod.

Dracia walked over to Lady Belleth and took her hand. Roderick watched as Belleth pulled Dracia close and stared into her eyes, seeming to search her as Dracia stood by peacefully. “King Arnar, come meet your future daughter,” said Lady Belleth after a moment.

“What is she doing?” Roderick heard a voice say in his ear. He turned slightly to see Dracia’s father standing behind him.

“Trust her,” said Roderick quietly.

Roderick turned back to the dais to see the king had stood up to greet Dracia, taking her hand. He watched as Dracia shivered as the king held her hand. When he let go, she stumbled slightly over to Fannar who grabbed her hand and pulled her close as he raised her hands to her lips and kissed it tenderly.

“A kiss to seal this agreement, I think,” said Lady Belleth with a wicked smile as she looked towards Roderick, Lord Ethen, and Prince Leal.

Lady Belleth turned and faced Fannar, staring at him. “You want to kiss your future bride, don’t you?”

Fannar’s eyes seem to go unfocused, and Roderick realized he was under the control of Lady Belleth the same as King Arnar. “I do,” said Fannar bending down.

Dracia closed her eyes and leaned up as Fannar pulled her even closer to him, meeting her lips with his own. After a few moments, Dracia pulled back and seem to be at the point of collapse. Fannar turned her slightly and held her against him, keeping her upright.

“Very good,” said Belleth.

“Let them all go,” said Dracia weakly.

Lady Belleth nodded. “You should all depart now as soon as possible. We have a wedding to prepare for, and we will not be good hosts for a while.”

Roderick looked at Dracia as she stared at him. She looked so lost and weak, and Roderick could not leave her. He was at the point of storming the dais himself when he saw her lips twitch upwards into a hint of a smile as she stared at him.

“Go, Roderick, take them all away to safely,” she said as though it was taking much effort to speak. “The Sentinel stands true.”

Because the High Captain is strong and just, Roderick thought to himself. He nodded and grabbed the prince, turning and walking towards the exit. “Come on Galen, we need to go and see everyone to safety” said Roderick loudly. He stared at his brother, trying to convey that everything would work out.

Galen nodded and put his arm around Princess Lexine, steering her out of the room. Lord Ethen and Lady Maia ushered the others out, Dracia’s mother looking at her daughter for a hard moment, before turning to leave.

As Roderick got to the door, he stopped and let others past, holding on to Prince Leal. He looked at Dracia one more time before turning with the prince. “Don’t worry, your highness,” said Roderick very quietly. “You will see her soon enough.”

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