The Sentinel of Cassendar: Navalia

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Chapter 6

Galen sat in the Royal Academy’s library with Princess Lexine at his side. It was his usual time for study and reflection at the Sentinel, but he had gained permission from the High Captain to stay in the library until supper at the Fortress. The High Captain had not been happy with Galen doing research to help her. She said he had enough to do without worrying about her, but Galen had assured her he wanted to do it, and it would coincide with his own studies. She still wasn’t happy about it, but she had not stopped him. Galen thought the princess and prince must have talked to her about it as she had not brought it up at their last lesson.

The lessons with the High Captain were going slowly. Galen had finally been able to adequately bind the water to the young tree so it would not have to be watered, and yet would not be over saturated with rain. They had moved on to binding wind to a flag so it would always wave. So far, Galen had limited success with the binding. He had come closer last time, but the High Captain had made him stop after he stumbled and almost fell over in exhaustion. She said it would be another week before she would meet with him again.

Now, he sat in the library with piles of books on the table in front of him. Lexine had two books open at once as she read from one, and then the other. Galen skimmed the book in front of him, finding mostly basic facts about Navalia and the royal family through the years. He had already read most of the information in the book in front of him.

“It is interesting to read of Navalia when it was first formed,” said Lexine as she looked up. “It was actually founded by families from the north of Lanoxan who were sent to the new land by the Cassendars over 1500 years ago. I can’t figure out why they were sent there as no books I have read give a reason. Do you know why?”

“No,” said Galen. “I have only read what you just stated. A group of about 100 families from a village at the north of the kingdom were sent further north and founded Navalia.”

“I wonder how they decided who should rule, and how the ruling family received their magic,” said Lexine.

“It would help if we knew,” said Galen. “It might help us figure out how to help the High Captain if we could find the origin of their magic.”

Lexine went back to reading her books as Galen closed his and picked up another book. He had just flipped to a page that looked somewhat promising when a wisdom keeper walked up to their table. He stared at them in his dark shirt and tan pants. Galen wondered if he was going to ask them to leave. He supposed he should be getting back to the Fortress soon anyway.

“Is there any way I can help either one of you?” the wisdom keeper asked.

“Have a seat,” said Lexine as she looked up from her book at the man. Galen looked at Lexine wondering what she was doing, as she handed the wisdom keeper a book. “Have a go at that if you have time. Galen needs to find anything relating to the origin of the ruling family of Navalia. He says it could help him.”

The wisdom keeper nodded and opened the book as Galen stared at Lexine. She looked over a Galen and smiled. “Are you looking forward to the prince’s party, Galen?”

Galen frowned. “I’m not sure. I do like riding, but I’ve never been much for hunting.”

“That’s okay, you can ride out with me, and after I make the prize kill, we can lose our way in the hills together. I’m sure we can pass the time agreeably.”

Galen looked over at the wisdom keeper who was slightly smiling and shaking his head. “That is enough. You don’t need to get any more detailed.”

“Like I haven’t had to hear you speak of your love. I’ve even walked into a few awkward situations,” said Lexine to the wisdom keeper.

“You shouldn’t walk into rooms with closed doors without knocking,” said the wisdom keeper as he turned a page.

“Or even rooms with open doors sometimes. Seriously, I am not sure how the whole kingdom doesn’t know your secret.”

Realization started to dawn on Galen. He looked at the wisdom keeper. “Your highness?” he whispered.

“Good day, Galen,” said a glamoured Prince Leal with a large smile. “Have you found anything useful today?”

“Not yet,” answered Galen. “But this book looks promising.”

Galen went back to reading as Lexine chatting quietly with her brother. He read over a few paragraphs and looked up at Lexine and Prince Leal.

“This is interesting. It is a story of the founding of Navalia. It says when the one hundred families were told to go to Navalia one large family went further than the rest. This one family traveled to the very edge of the land by the great sea where they found an old well, left there from folks who lived on the land long ago. No one knows who because when the families form Lanoxan arrived, the whole kingdom appeared desolate and deserted.

“The oldest male of the family drew up some water and drank it. He immediately fell ill and experienced a fever for three days. He was awake but not seeing. His ears were open, but he would not hear. After three days he sat up and told his wife he had a vision of talking with the goddesses of life.

“The goddesses of life told the man if he would agree to settle by the well, and oversee the land, taking care of it and its people, the goddesses would make him great. They would set him over all the land, and give him powers of great worth. In the ruler’s hands would be the power to give life and death, to make things prosper, or die away. Whatever was taken had to be with good reason, just as whatever was given had to be worthy.”

“Do you think any of that is true?” asked Lexine.

Galen shrugged. “I am sure some of it is exaggerated as is all kingdom’s histories. It is probably mostly lore, but I imagine there is truth in it. We do know at least one of the Navalians has the power of life and death.”

“Why would any goddesses give humans such power? They must have known it would be abused,” said Lexine as she picked her book back up.

“I don’t know,” said Galen. “But it gives me someplace to start to understand their magic.” He heard the fifth bell of afternoon ring outside. “I have to get back to the Fortress.”

“I will come with you,” said Prince Leal. “I would like to check on your High Captain.”

“I suppose you will want me to pick up all these books,” said Lexine.

“Except this one,” said Galen putting the book in his bag. “I’m sorry to leave you with the rest.”

“It is okay. It will be worth it if what you found actually helps Dracia. I will see you at the hunt in a few days unless you have any free time tomorrow?”

“I can meet you at the fourth bell by the pond,” said Galen as he stood.

“Perfect,” said Lexine with a smile as she started to pick up the books on the table.

Galen walked out of the library with Prince Leal by his side. Once they were in the hallway, the prince moved into the shadows behind a half wall. When he emerged, he looked like a random well to do lord’s son.

“I will change into an Elite when we get into the forest,” said the prince quietly.

Galen walked out of the Academy with Prince Leal. They were both quiet as they walked through the center of town towards the tree covered area that laid between the outer walls of the place and the Fortress. When they entered the trees, Prince Leal darted behind a tree before coming back to Galen, looking as if he was an Elite dressed for a fall day.

“Now, Galen, would you rather I ask you a hundred questions about my sister and your very close friendship, or a hundred questions about how you think you might be able to help your High Captain?” asked Prince Leal as they walked.

Galen looked over at him, not sure how to respond as the prince laughed at him.

“You do seem to make my sister happy. You’re the first man I believe she has ever talked of with me. She is rather impressed by you.”

“She is the one who is impressive,” said Galen. “She is so brilliant and brave. I could have killed her for coming out in the battle to help heal the injured Elites and guards, but I did admire her. I don’t know why she has singled me out, but I don’t want to question it.” Galen paused for a moment. “I don’t want to hurt her. I know I’m not good enough for her, and I know my position is not ideal for someone like her, but I do care for her deeply.”

“I’m not going to judge either of you, Galen. I know what it is like to love someone even though the situation seems hopeless. Dracia has tried a few times to tell me to move on for my own good, but I could never give her up. She is the only woman for me. I have known this for a long time. If you think there is a chance my sister is the one for you, you should at least try.”

“She does deserve better, though. You have to agree with it,” said Galen as they slowly walked through the trees.

“I guess it depends on how you define better. You are very clever, there is no denying it. You seem to be responsible, and you are not unkind. I think you respect her as she deserves. Your station in life is not ideal, but it is not insurmountable.”

“It feels as if it is so. I am the youngest son of a dead lower lord. Soon I will be an Elite of the Sentinel. It is hard to imagine how it will all work out. Sometimes I do think it would be better to let her go somehow before this goes any further, but I find it impossible.”

“Lexine wouldn’t let you. I think you have both waited too long if you thought you could get out of this. It might have been too late the first week you met. Love is a funny thing. You can’t tell it how to behave, or when to strike. You can try to deny it or ignore it, but it doesn’t usually listen and go away.”

“So, you will not tell me to stay away from your sister?” asked Galen.

“No, of course not. Lexine is a grown woman. She can make her own decisions. I can’t imagine what she would do to me if she learned I told you to stay away from her. She can be quite ferocious, Galen. You don’t ever want to cross her,” said the prince.

“I have no plans to anger her in anyway,” said Galen. “I imagine the king would not like me anywhere near your sister.”

“I don’t pretend to know my father’s mind anymore. He is so happy to think I am marrying the Navalian princess, he might let you walk right into the palace under his nose and visit my sister.”

“But you won’t be marrying the Navalian princess, will you?” asked Galen quietly.

“No, I will not. It is impossible for me to do so. I already belong to another, completely. There is nothing that could compel me to betray Dracia and marry anyone, especially that evil woman.”

“But what of the bond she has with the High Captain? What if she threatens to kill her if she doesn’t get her way?” asked Galen.

“We will have to find some way to break that bond or weaken it, Galen. There is no other option.” The prince was very quiet for a few moments. “What do you think would happen if Princess Lilith died? Would it affect the High Captain?”

Galen stopped walking and looked at the prince. “I am not sure. It could affect the High Captain if the bond is very strong, or if Lilith doesn’t die instantly, she could do something to take the High Captain down with her.”

“Too many uncertainties to take the chance,” said the prince. “I know you must think awful things of me for asking, but thinking of what she is doing to Dracia makes me think dark things. I have a feeling Lilith would not hesitate to kill Dracia if it served her purpose.”

Galen nodded and started walking again.

“Do you have plans tonight, Galen?” asked the prince as they approached the west entrance.

“My friend Tomas and I told my friend Martin we would meet him at The Nest tonight. His intended is in town, and he is bringing her to meet us tonight so we can languish in jealousy of him being promised to such a beauty.”

The prince gave a short laugh. “A night of friendly drinking does sound like fun. I will see if I can convince your High Captain to go out for a while, maybe even your brother as well. They could both use a little levity.”

Galen only nodded in response. They entered the Fortress and walked to the hall to find supper in progress. The prince looked at the high table, and Galen followed his gaze. The High Captain looked at the prince and seemed to recognize him, rolling her eyes slightly before smiling.

“I hope to see you tonight, Galen,” said the prince as he walked over to eat at the end of a table with some Elites.

Galen ate supper with Tomas and Cara as usual. He found out Cara would be accompanying them tonight, which means there would be some entertainment added watching Tomas blunder around her. After supper, Galen stayed close to Tomas as they both avoided Bax and Bolton, neither in the mood to deal with the two simpletons.

They met Cara at the seventh bell and walked into town to The Nest. As they walked into the tavern, they spotted Martin at a table close to the bar at the front. He was waving, a pretty woman with light blonde hair sitting by him.

“I suppose that stuck up woman at his side his is future bride,” whispered Tomas as they walked towards Martin.

“Try to be nice, Tomas,” said Galen. “It will do no good to aggravate him tonight.”

“It will be fun. Maybe I can get some sort of reaction out of that sour faced woman by his side.”

Galen sighed and looked at Cara who only shrugged in response as they walked up to Martin’s table.

“Galen, Tomas,” said Martin. “And it is Cara isn’t it?”

“Yes,” said Cara bowing slightly. “It is nice to see you again.”

Martin smiled. “Let me introduce my intended.” The woman next to Martin stood up, looking at Cara with a small sneer before looking at both Tomas and Galen. She raised one eyebrow as she looked Galen up and down, causing Galen to look away.

“This is Lena,” said Martin as Lena curtseyed.

“I am glad to meet you both,” said Lena to the two men. “Martin has told me much about you. I am excited to meet two men of the Sentinel.”

“Cara is of the Sentinel as well,” said Galen looking at Cara. “She is a high ranking novice already.”

“Interesting, I had heard that the Sentinel was accepting more women recently. I have a hard time imaging a woman fighting, though,” said Lena.

“You should have a better imagination since the High Captain of the Sentinel is a woman,” said Clara looking at Lena with distaste.

“Yes, I rather hoped to get a glimpse of her while I am here. I have heard interesting things,” said Lena as she sat back down.

Martin pointed to the seats at the table as Tomas and Cara sat down looking at Lena. Cara’s look was one of open dislike, and Tomas looked like he couldn’t wait to start some kind of mischief. Before Galen sat down, he saw the tavern door open, and the High Captain walked in with his brother and another Elite Galen knew to be the prince.

“It looks like you will get your chance to see the High Captain,” said Galen as he sat down and nodded his head towards the door. “She just walked in.”

Lena and Martin both turned and stared, causing the High Captain to look towards their table. She gave a slight nod in their direction before sitting down at corner table close to the door with Roderick and Prince Leal.

“She seems rather tall,” said Lena. “But I can see she is definitely a woman. Who is with her?”

“Her second, Roderick, who happens to be Galen’s brother,” said Tomas as he looked over. “I don’t know the other Elite. Do you know him Galen?”

“I have seen him around the Fortress, and talked to him a bit, but I do not know him well,” said Galen as one of the barmaids came up to the table.

Everyone ordered drinks and sat around looking at each other, waiting for someone to talk. Tomas drained half his glass in one gulp and looked at Lena.

“So, you are from Northonton?” asked Tomas. “It is at the very north of Lanoxan isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is so north it is practically in Navalia,” said Lena after taking a small sip of her drink.

“And your mother is Navalian?” asked Tomas.

“She is. She is from Port Venala, the main village in Navalia, where the palace is located. We go there several times a year.”

“And you couldn’t find a Navalian noble to marry you?” asked Tomas. “Seems like your mother would have preferred it.”

“I am very happy to be uniting my family with Lord Nest’s. After meeting my Martin, I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else,” said Lena putting her hand on Martin’s that sat on the table. Martin’s face blushed.

“That is fortunate since you both had no choice in the arrangement,” said Cara before she took a drink. She swallowed and looked at Lena. “It seems a rather outdated practice, arranging marriages for people who have never met.”

“It is common in the north of the kingdom and Navalia. Love matches are all well and good, but what really matters is growing in power and strengthening families. We are raised to know our duty,” said Lena.

“Seems strange you say it is common in Navalia, yet the own royal family didn’t follow that direction. The Navalian princess seemed to have been allowed a choice,” said Tomas after finishing his drink and signaling to the bar maid for another.

“Was she?” asked Lena. “You don’t think she was given specific instruction to make sure she left your village as the betrothed of your Crown Prince? If she was going to really choose for love or as she pleased, wouldn’t it be too convenient she found it with the next king of the most powerful kingdom in our land?”

Tomas shrugged. “When you put it like that, I guess you have a point.”

“You can talk about love all you want, but that is not how the world works. I am happy to do my duty and serve my family and kingdoms to unite myself with Martin. I am fortunate that I find him to be kind and handsome, but even if he wasn’t, I would have done as I was instructed because it is the right thing to do,” said Lena as she picked up her glass.

Galen took a drink and put down his glass, propping up his arm on the table, and putting his chin in his hand. It was a rather sad view of marriage in his opinion. He had never given much thought to marrying anyone in his life until recently. He would never want to be forced to spend the rest of his years with anyone, no matter how beautiful or power they were. If he was going to spend all of his days with a woman by his side, it would be because he loved her. He got lost in his own thoughts for a moment, thinking it would be rather wonderful to spend all of his days in the company of Lexine.

“I suppose it doesn’t matter to any of you, though,” said Lena. “You will be Elites of the Sentinel.”

“Elites of the Sentinel are permitted to marry,” said Cara.

“But they rarely do,” said Martin. “You don’t have much time for anything but your duty, and you live in the Fortress. How would you have a family?”

“A few Elites manage it,” said Galen. “They have homes outside the Fortress and go back and forth. I am sure it is not easy, but I would think real love and companionship would make it worthwhile.”

“Yes,” said Cara. “I think it could work easily if you united yourself with the right person, someone who shares the same beliefs and notions of duty as yourself.” Cara glanced at Tomas who was accepting a new drink from a barmaid.

“It sounds like a rather sad and dull life,” said Lena. “I am glad my Martin will be a lord so he can devote a proper amount of time to me and our future children.”

“Yes, it seems that lords and ladies have ample time on their hands to devote to their families or do other activities. Don’t you agree, Martin? I am sure your mother would,” said Tomas with a smile.

“No more than yours, Tomas,” said Martin with a red face. “I still wonder where you might have gotten that nose of yours.”

“It is like my grandfather’s,” said Tomas seeming not bothered by Martin’s words. “My mother’s activities are not talked of as yours. I wonder if she will disappear at the hunt as she did at the last festival.”

Lena looked at Martin who was glaring at Tomas. “Has your father disowned you yet for joining the Sentinel, Tomas?” asked Martin. “It would be rather convenient of an excuse instead of admitting you were his wife’s bastard.”

“Enough,” said Galen in an angry whisper. “We have been over this before again and again. You two do not need to come to blows in this tavern. Martin, your intended is sitting right next to you. Do you think she wants to watch you die at the hands of a novice of the Sentinel? Tomas, your High Captain is in the room. How do you think she will react if you accidently kill a lord’s son in public? Your honor and shame is the Sentinel’s honor and shame.”

“I am not a bastard,” said Tomas angrily.

“He knows you are not, Tomas. He is just trying to get under his skin, just as you are his. You two always do this,” said Galen.

“What of what he said about my mother?” asked Martin.

Galen sighed. What could he say? Martin’s mother was talked of all over the village.

“Your mother is a high lady of the kingdom. People like to gossip and spread rumors of all high ranking folk. You will have to learn to ignore it as yours and your future lady’s time is coming,” said Galen.

They were all five quiet for a few minutes as Tomas, Cara, and Martin ordered more drinks. Galen could tell Tomas was becoming rather inebriated, but at least he didn’t goad Martin anymore.

“When will you be married?” asked Galen wanting to break the silence.

“In the spring,” said Lena. “We will all travel with the king’s party to Navalia in a few weeks for the prince and princess’s betrothal blessing, and then come back here to witness the wedding. Our own wedding will be a few weeks after.”

They all five chatted for a while, the atmosphere between Martin and Tomas thawing a little as they continued to talk, and Tomas continued to drink. At one point the High Captain walked up to the bar next to them. She said something to the barkeep and waited, leaning slightly on the bar top.

“Hello, High Captain,” said a man standing just down from her. Galen knew he was a young lower lord of the court. He had seen his brother, Alaric, speak to him at festivals.

The High Captain turned his way and looked at him.

“It will be getting cold in your Fortress soon,” said the young lord obviously drunk. “You might want someone to warm you bed.” The man moved closer to the High Captain.

The High Captain smiled. “I have two rather large fireplaces in my rooms. I have no use for one as unsubstantial as you.”

“I am more substantial than you think,” said the man leaning near her. “I hear you might prefer high born lords or higher in your activities, but I think you are missing out by overlooking some of us lower lords. We are very enthusiastic after all.”

“I don’t know what you are insinuating,” said the High Captain. “But I think it is best if you shut your mouth and walk away, before you regret it.”

“What? I didn’t say anything except what is talked about in the court, and I know it must be lonely sometimes in such a position. Who could blame you for looking for some companionship amongst those in the court? I hear you are well worth the time it takes to break past your icy exterior. You really don’t have to act all high and mighty to me. You might have been a lady and now a High Captain, but in truth you are what most females are, aren’t you?”

Galen watched as Tomas stood up abruptly and walked over to the High Captain. He got between her and the man at the bar. “Are you trying to say what I think you are trying to say about my High Captain?” asked Tomas loudly.

“Tomas,” said Cara quietly with annoyance. She got up walked over to stand next to the High Captain.

“This has nothing to do with you, whoever you are,” said the young lord. “I was talking to the High Captain, not you.”

“I am a novice of the Sentinel, and you will not say such things about my High Captain in my presence,” said Tomas as he swayed a little.

“Novice,” said the High Captain putting her had on Tomas’s shoulder. “It is fine. You should go back with your friends.”

“No,” said Tomas moving his shoulder to shake the High Captain’s hand off of it. “This man is practically calling you a whore. I will not stand for it.”

“Tomas,” said Cara horrified and standing by his side. “You have to do as the High Captain asks.”

“I wasn’t calling her a whore, anyway,” said the man. “A whore sells herself for money. I believe your High Captain takes her pleasure for free.”

Tomas reached for the young lord to grab him when he stumbled. The man laughed and caught Tomas shoving him away hard into the bar. Before Tomas could react, Cara stepped forward and kicked the man with her boot. He fell backwards onto the floor as those behind him quickly moved. Cara withdrew the sword she kept on her hip and held it over the man’s throat. Galen stood up and moved to the bar.

“I think you have had enough fun, tonight,” said Cara dangerously calm. “I am sure your wife or father or whoever is at home is wondering where you are.”

The High Captain moved to stand next to Cara as Tomas gathered himself and stood next to Galen. Galen noticed that Roderick and the prince in glamour had come to stand close by.

The young lord on the ground looked up at Cara and the High Captain and nodded. Cara withdrew her sword, and the man stood up slowly, looking at Tomas.

“Must be nice to have some woman fight your battles,” the young lord said in a mocking tone.

Tomas looked angry and open his mouth, but before he could answer the prince put his hand on Tomas’s shoulder and leaned in, speaking in a whisper.

“Choose carefully what you are going to say, Novice. Take it from a man who is in love with a strong woman, what that man thinks of you is no matter, but a woman like that,” said the prince nodding toward Cara. “Her opinion is of worth.”

Galen saw that the High Captain had moved closer to them. She looked out of the corner of her eye at the prince and grinned. Tomas nodded slightly and stood up straighter.

“She is not some woman, she is a high level novice of the Sentinel, and will soon be an Elite. You are lucky she also has restraint and honor, or you would already be dead,” said Tomas as he looked at Cara before he glanced at the glamoured prince.

“Well done,” said the prince in a whisper.

“Why don’t I escort you out, my lord,” said Roderick as he grabbed the young lord’s arm.

“I will come with you as well, Roderick. I want to make sure our lord here finds his way towards his home,” said the High Captain. Roderick nodded and started dragging the young lord towards the door. The High Captain followed, but before she left, Galen saw her turn around and look at the prince with a small smirk. She made a very small motion with her head towards the door.

“I should be going as well,” said the prince. “I hope all you novices will stay out of trouble for the rest of the night, and be back at the Fortress by curfew.”

“Yes,” said Galen. “I believe we will be leaving ourselves fairly soon.”

“Good,” said the prince. “I wish you all a good evening.” He walked swiftly from the tavern.

“Are you alright, Tomas?” asked Cara walking over to stand near him.

Tomas nodded. “I am fine. I could have handled it myself, but it was more fun watching you,” said Tomas with a smile. “You are brilliant, you do know it don’t you?”

“I do, but it is nice to hear you believe it.”

“I do,” said Tomas smiling at her. He then turned to Galen. “Who is that Elite, really? I cannot place him. You said you talked to him before.”

“I don’t know him well, but I will say he is a rather high ranking Elite, and one you definitely want on your side,” said Galen as he smiled at Tomas.

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