The Sentinel of Cassendar: Navalia

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 8

Roderick sat atop Magni looking over the rolling hills of Winsdell. It was a cloudy morning, the sun was up but he could barely tell it. A cold wind blew, causing Magni to move restlessly as Roderick adjusted his cloak, wishing he had chosen to wear the fur lined one instead. It was one of the last few days of fall, and the weather was telling him winter was well on its way. He would need to get used to the cold. They would be traveling in two days to Navalia. It wasn’t known as the winter kingdom for nothing. The trek there would be brutal as Roderick would have to ride on horseback alongside his High Captain and other members of the Sentinel who would be traveling with the royal family.

He looked over to his right to see Dracia tugging on her gloves as she loosely held Aarit’s reigns. He eyes were scanning the hills as if looking for a glimpse of something, but Roderick knew not what she could be looking for. Roderick watched her as she searched. She was absolutely breath taking. He had never seen a more beautiful woman, and he doubted he ever would.

The cool wind had added a rosy hue to her pale cheeks, as it blew a few strands that had fallen from her braid across her face. Her eyes were bright and clear, and her full mouth was curved into a slight smile as she looked out. She sat up straight in the saddle, wearing her High Captain uniform with her black and silver cloak. It was strange how she could appear much more beautiful to him in her blacks and silvers than any lady of the court dressed in her finest silks.

“It is beautiful out here, isn’t it, Roderick?” asked the High Captain as she continued to look out. “Even now when the trees are almost bare and the grass is brown, it is so unbelievably lovely in these hills.”

“It is beautiful,” agreed Roderick as he stared at Dracia.

“I have taken all this for granted for so long, growing up here. There is so much I have taken for granted in my life; my skills, my good fortune, and the people I love.”

“I would not agree with that, Captain. Your skills are well earned. I know how hard you have worked on them, and how hard you still work on them. I believe any good fortune you have had is of your own making. I think you respect and cherish those who are close to you. I know no one as devoted as you.”

“You always think better of me than you should. I believe I have you quite fooled as who I really am.”

“No, High Captain, I know who you are very well,” said Roderick, knowing there was no one he respected or loved so much as her.

“I will miss these hills,” said Dracia with a sigh. “I have many happy memories here, some with Leal and Lexine, and many with you.”

“We will not be gone too long,” said Roderick. “We will be back in less than two months, I believe.”

Dracia sighed again. “I am being realistic, Roderick.”

“What do you mean?”

“We are walking into a very dangerous situation. The Navalians will not relent until they have what they want. What they want, I am not willing to give them. Princess Lilith will not have Leal, no matter what she does to me.”

“Your prince will not let you sacrifice yourself for him. You must know this,” said Roderick. “Besides, there is still hope. I know Galen and the princess are working hard to find a way to help you.”

“We leave in two days, Roderick. We are running out of time. I have not given up all hope, but I need to be prepared to do what I have to do to save Leal and the kingdom. Lilith will destroy both Leal and Lanoxan if she is given the chance. I will not let that happen. If it comes to it, I will need your help to do what I have to do.”

“Dracia,” said Roderick with dispair in his voice. “You can’t think I will let you do this. How could I let you do this?”

“Do you trust me?” asked Dracia as she turned and looked at Roderick.

Roderick stared at her for a moment, seeing that a few tears were falling down her face. He felt his own breath hitch, wishing there was something he could do to take away her pain.

“I trust you more than anyone,” said Roderick quietly. “Even more than much of my own family.”

“Then you will do as I ask of you when the time comes,” said Dracia. “You will promise me this now, Roderick.”

Roderick stared at her, not speaking. He did trust her, but what she was asking was impossible. Was she really asking him to help her sacrifice herself for the prince and kingdom?

“Please,” said Dracia as a few more tears fell. “We are both of the Sentinel. Our first loyalties are to the kingdom and the Cassendars. I might need your help to save them both. I need to know I will have it.”

Roderick closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I can never say no to you. I will do whatever you ask of me.”

“Thank you,” said Dracia as she gave Roderick a sad smile. “I will leave word with the Upper Elites that if I do not make it back, you are my choice for High Captain.”

“I am honored, but it will not be necessary. I may have promised you I would help you save the kingdom and the prince, but I will find a way to see you safely back home, Dracia. I hope you will believe me.”

“I do believe you mean what you say, but if you cannot do it, I don’t want you to blame yourself. I have made all the choices willingly that have led me to where I am now. I can’t say I would change anything. I could never not love him, though my life might have been easier if I could have found a way to separate myself from him.”

Roderick wasn’t sure what to say to this. He couldn’t imagine Dracia not loving the prince. He had known of their love almost as long as he had really known Dracia. It always seemed a part of who she was to him, but he could not say that sometimes he wished she didn’t love Prince Leal.

He had seen the tears she shed over him. He had seen the pain in her eyes as she endured having to hide her love for him. He did sometimes wish she was free of the love she shared with the prince. He wondered if she might have been happier in the long run, free of cares of hiding her feelings, of dealing with a relentless king, and an evil Navalian princess. He wondered what it would be like if she was free to love another, but he stopped his thoughts there as he always did.

It was useless to wish such things because the fact was, she did love Prince Leal, and she always would. It really was a part of her, and there was no separating that part from the rest of her.

“You cannot change who you are,” Roderick finally said. “And part of who you are is tied to the prince. He does love you, Dracia. I don’t know if I have ever met a man more in love than him. He may not have always done right by you, but I believe he always means to.”

Dracia sniffled a little and smiled at Roderick, causing him to smile back at her. She laughed a little at him and shook her head. “Come on, we need to get back. I need to speak with my Upper Elites and Darron.”

“I will come with you,” said Roderick as they both turned their horses and walked back towards the Fortress.

“No, I want you to take Galen and go see your mother and brother before lunch. Spend the morning with them, as you will be gone for a while. I know your mother will appreciate it.”

Roderick knew she was right, but he didn’t want to leave Dracia alone to face the Upper Elites and especially Darron. He didn’t like her meeting with Darron alone at any time.

“I could go with you to your meetings, and then visit my family with Galen this afternoon.”

“I can handle my meetings, and I am training your brother this afternoon. I promised him a lesson before we left. I will be fine with my meetings. I can handle the Upper Elites and even Darron. You do not need to worry.”

He did worry, though. He worried constantly about his High Captain. He still worried about the knife that struck her during the battle. He worried that Darron may be planning something that would harm her. He worried that they still didn’t know who had really attacked the kingdom. At least she had been persuaded not to ride out before their trip to Navalia.

Roderick had been successful in convincing her that no good would come of putting herself in unnecessary danger unless they had a solid lead. They could work on the mystery while they were away, and do more scouting when they returned. The coming winter weather should stop most attacking armies until spring.

When Roderick got back to the Fortress, he stopped in the large field where the novices were in the middle of a session. He watched Dracia as she rode on to the front door of the Fortress, leaving Aarit in the hands of an attendant. Seeing her walk in the door, Roderick rode on and sought out Galen who was in a session in the fields. He talked to the Elite in charge to let him know Galen was excused.

He waited by the Fortress as Galen went to the stables and borrowed a horse. Galen rode back to him quickly atop a large black stallion with a white marking down his nose. They turned towards the village and rode together, urging their horses into a slow trot.

“How do you feel about traveling to Navalia?” asked Roderick.

“I am concerned of what we will face once we arrive, but I am happy to be serving the kingdom and the High Captain in this way.”

“Have you had any luck in being able to help her with her problem?” asked Roderick.

“No,” said Galen with frustration. “I feel like the solution is very close, but I just can’t grab it. I had hoped to have a handle on it before we leave, but it is not looking likely.”

“I am sure you are trying as hard as you can. We will have a good ten day’s ride with the large amount of people traveling. Perhaps you will find a way on the road.”

“I hope so,” said Galen. “If we don’t find some way to help her, I worry what will happen when she faces the Navalians.”

“I do as well,” said Roderick. “But she will not be alone. I don’t plan to leave her side unless I am forced to. I understand the prince has talked to you about watching over her as well.”

“Yes, he does not want her alone at all once we are in Navalia unless it can’t be helped. I understand he is particular warry of Prince Fannar.”

Roderick felt an angry growl grow inside of him. He released it as a frustrated sigh thinking of the Navalian prince taking advantage of Dracia. “The prince has good reason to want to keep the High Captain away from Fannar.”

Galen looked at Roderick, but did not ask any questions. He only nodded and faced forward. They rode on through town, weaving through people and horses. At the edge of the village, they turned right and rode though the small gate that led to their family home. They were met by two attendants at the front door as Galen and Roderick dismounted. Handing off their horses, Roderick knocked on the door and waited for a few moments. The head of their brother’s household, Jac, answered, smiling at Galen and Roderick as he opened the door.

“Master Roderick, Master Galen,” said Jac as he moved aside to let them in. “It is good to see you. I hope the Sentinel is standing true this morning.”

“The High Captain is strong and just,” said Galen with a small smile.

“Very good,” said Jac. “Lord Alaric is in the east sitting room. I believe Lady Glain is there as well if you are looking for them.”

“We are, Jac. We can find our own way, go back to whatever it is you were doing,” said Roderick good-naturedly.

“Very well,” said Jac. “Do you plan to stay for lunch?”

“No, we will be heading back to the Fortress before long,” said Roderick.

Jac nodded and walked back towards the kitchens as Roderick and Galen turned to walk to the east sitting room. They entered to find Alaric looking over some messages by the fire as their mother worked on some sewing in a chair across from him.

“Roderick, Galen,” said their mother happily as she dropped her sewing and stood up. “What a nice surprise this morning.”

Roderick walked forward and took his mother’s hand. He leaned in and kissed her cheek before stepping back to let Galen do the same.

“It is nice to see both of you,” said Alaric who was now standing. “I hope all is well.” Alaric sat down, waving his hand at the nearby sofa.

“We are both very well, my lord,” said Roderick as he and Galen sat on the sofa. “We will be leaving for Navalia soon, so the High Captain suggested we come and visit with you before we go.”

“Did she now?” asked Lady Glain with a look of distaste. “I suppose that was gracious of her.” She did not sound as if she thought it was gracious at all.

“She is very gracious” said Roderick, ignoring his mother’s tone. “I am glad she suggested it. I am ashamed I didn’t think to ask. I am happy to speak to both of you before we are gone for a few months.”

“So, Galen is still going with you, is he?” asked their mother. “He is only a novice; I thought it rather odd he is included.”

“I am a high level novice, mother,” said Galen sitting up a little straighter. “This will be part of my last test before I take my oath as an Elite.”

“If you take your oath,” said Lady Glain. “You could still change your mind, Galen.”

“My mind is made up. I will serve as an Elite of the Sentinel. I believe it is the right path for me, and I will serve the kingdom and my High Captain with pride.”

“I suppose you are as enchanted with her as your brother,” said Lady Glain shaking her head.

“I, like Roderick and all the Sentinel, respect her as our High Captain. She has shown she is worthy of all the respect and devotion I can show her,” said Galen as he stared at his mother.

“How are your lessons going with the High Captain, Galen?” asked Alaric before Lady Glain could speak.

“Slowly, but they are very interesting. The High Captain takes safety very seriously. I know it will take some time to learn from her, but if I can do half of what she is able to do with her Mystics, I will be satisfied.”

Their mother huffed. “So, you are going to Navalia. How do you think you will like it?”

“I am sure it will be interesting,” said Roderick carefully. “But I know I will yearn for home rather quickly.”

“I agree,” said Galen. “I plan to enjoy the new experiences, but I think I will be happy to leave Navalia when it is time.”

“I suspect your High Captain is looking forward to the trip,” said Lady Glain with a slight smile. “If the rumors are correct, she will be very anxious to see a certain someone in the Navalian royal family.”

“You shouldn’t listen to such rumors,” said Roderick, sounding a little harsher than he meant to.

“Now, now, Roderick, I am sure our mother meant no slight to your High Captain. She was merely stating what many have seen. It was clear that Prince Fannar favored Dracia Yates, and it seemed to many that she encouraged him.”

“He may have shown a preference to her, but I know for a fact she did not encourage him in anyway. I think she would be glad to never see the man again.”

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you sounded jealous, brother,” said Lord Alaric with a crooked smile.

Their mother looked irritably at Alaric before turning to Roderick.

“Of course, Roderick is not jealous of anyone showing attention to the High Captain. Why would he be?”

Alaric shrugged. “She is a very beautiful woman, and Roderick spends an extraordinary amount of time with her. She seems to enjoy his company. It would only be natural if there was some feelings of affection between them, at least on one side.”

“Your brother could never love someone like her, so cold and unfeeling. She is just like her mother in that regard.”

“The High Captain is neither cold nor unfeeling, mother. I have not known a more caring person in my life,” said Roderick.

“I don’t understand how you could be so blinded by her, Roderick,” said his mother with an irritated sigh.

“I think I just described how, mother. A pretty face can make one overlook many things,” said Alaric.

“I harbor no jealously towards the High Captain and Prince Fannar or any other man,” said Roderick irately. “I am very devoted to her as her second and her friend. I will not have you speak ill of her.”

“Why do you think so ill of her, mother?” asked Galen calmly.

“You both don’t know who she really is, or what her family is like. Her mother alone is the most wicked woman I have ever met. Her father has his own dark side, I imagine. Growing up in a house like that, I don’t see how she can be anything but just like both of her parents.”

Roderick lowered his head and rubbed his eyes with his hands. He looked up and shook his head. “Mother, we came here to spend some time with you before we both had to leave the kingdom for a while. I don’t believe we will run into trouble, but I would hate for anything to happen and this be the last conversation we ever have. I ask you to desist in trying to devalue the High Captain in front of Galen and myself. Let us talk of other things, so Galen and I can leave Lanoxan thinking well of you.”

“Very well,” said his mother as she picked up her sewing. “Galen, how are your studies going at the academy?”

“They are going well,” said Galen as he looked at Roderick with wide eyes. “I have learned much this first year.”

“Will you be able to continue your studies if you become an Elite?” asked Alaric.

“Yes, the High Captain would like me to at least continue to learn healing. She will be happy to have a healer serving in the Sentinel.”

“How is your friendship with the princess?” asked his mother. “I notice you two spend quite a bit of time together at court events.”

“We do,” said Galen. “We have become close friends studying together at the academy. She is very brilliant. The other day she figured out how to bind water mystic to a parasite in a plant and draw it out. It was impressive. I had not thought of it, but it seemed so obvious after she did it.”

“I am glad you like her,” said their mother. “How does she feel about you becoming an Elite?”

Roderick looked at Galen who had one finger curled over his lips as he stared ahead into the fire. He looked like he didn’t even hear his mother’s question.

“Galen?” asked their mother. “Did you hear me?”

Galen shook his head, and then stood up. “I need to go. I am sorry to leave so suddenly, but there is something I have to see to.”

“But you just arrived, my dear. Whatever it is can wait. Tell him, Roderick,” said their mother as she put her sewing aside again.

“No, it cannot,” said Galen as he looked down at Roderick. “I just thought of something very important that the High Captain needs. I am the only one that can complete the task for her, so I will need to see to it now.”

Roderick opened his mouth slightly and stared at Galen.

“It is something that must be done before we go to Navalia, brother,” said Galen with feeling. Both of his eyebrows were raised, and he seemed to try to be telling Roderick something.

Roderick started to understand him. “Is this the task you have been working on for some time for the High Captain?”

“Yes,” said Galen nodding. “I will need to see Princess Lexine and perhaps the prince as well, and then go to the High Captain, maybe at our lessons this afternoon. I will need to go now to prepare.”

Roderick stood up. “He is right, mother. We must leave now. This is very important. I am sorry we could not stay longer, but we will both write when we reach Navalia.”

His mother and Alaric stood.

“I wish you would not think to go now. Surely you can say for another thirty minutes, maybe even lunch. Whatever this is can wait. You have two days before you leave.”

“No, we cannot be detained another minute,” said Roderick. He walked over to his mother. “I wish you well mother. I do love you, and I hope you know it.” He took her hand and kissed it before moving aside to Alaric, giving Galen an opportunity to bid his mother farewell.

“Goodbye, my lord,” said Roderick bowing slightly. “I hope you fair well while I am gone.”

“Be safe, Roderick, and watch out for our little brother,” said Alaric, looking at Rodrick and then Galen. “

“I will,” said Roderick. “We will return in a couple of months.”

Roderick looked one more time at his mother before he walked form the room, Galen behind him. They walked out of the house and found their horses standing close by.

“You really think you can help her?” asked Roderick as he mounted Magni.

“I think there is a good chance I can. Thinking of Lexine using water Mystics to rid the plant of a parasite makes me think I can do something like it for the High Captain. The magic in her is like a parasite. I am not sure I can rid her of if completely, but I might be able to help her bind it away from her when it strikes.”

“What do you need to do?” asked Roderick as he watched Galen mount his horse.

“I need to find a way to speak with Lexine and probably Prince Leal, and then have them both go with me to see the High Captain. Do you think there is a way we can manage it?”

“Yes,” said Roderick. “If the prince is in the palace, he will see me if I ask for him. I will tell an attendant I have news from the High Captain. The prince can find the princess for us.”

Galen nodded as they rode back towards the town. Roderick could see the wheels turning in his little brother’s mind. He hoped whatever he was thinking on, would be successful and give some protection to Dracia.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.