Stars Riddle

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Chapter Seven

Caidan did his best to hold onto his patience but it was running thin. The king had made stricture after stricture for Caidan in his new life. He was not to see Raederle without permision. He was not to leave his room without permision. He could not do much of anything without permission! Caidan chafed at all the new restraints.

“You seem to think that I’ll run off any second,” Caidan told the king with rage bubbling beneath his words. “But you know that I have no idea how to leave this deminsion.”

“I think that the girl does though.” The king’s words send a spike of fear into Caidan’s heart.

“You can’t hurt her,” Caidan declared with red corners of rage in his words. “Please don’t hurt her.” He was pleading now and he knew it.

The king only nodded. “Keeping her alive earns your trust. I see no need to harm her,” the king agreed.

“What is it you want me to do?” Caidan asked with suspecion. “You said that Raederle was dangerous. Only a fool would keep a dangerous woman in their home and you are no fool.”

“That almost sounded like a complement,” the king said with a laugh. “You should be careful about what you say.” The king’s voice turned deadly serious before saying, “Some people will be listening. They may misshear or missinterperate what anyone says. You are used to speaking your mind but such things are dangerous here.”

“You want me to take speaking lessons along with self-defense?” Caidan asked with surprise.

“I want you to practise being silent. You don’t need to know how to speak, you need to not speak at all.” The king’s voice turned into echoes as if he were prosiding over a case in his great hall.

“One minute you’re threatening me and the next your looking out for my safety. What are you really after?” Caidan showed suspicion now.

“This may be hard for you to believe, Caidan,” the king began, “but you and I want the same things. I want you to be safe and happy.”

“I was safe and happy in Winding!” Caidan insisted. “You forced me to abbandon my friends when we were in trouble!”

“Your loyalty to your friends is admirable but misguided... much like your loyalty to Fate,” Braudin said from his corner of the room.

Caidan threw him a look of vinom, contempt and shock. Braudin just smiled, welcoming a fight. The king could see that he would need to distract them both.

“Forget about Fate and about your friends. Your friends will thank you one day,” the king said with little feeling.

“You’ll kill them all. I can’t let you destroy the world... destroy them!” Caidan’s voice broke into a sob at the last word. He fought keep his emotions under control.

“Death is not the end,” the king declared. “People like you and I cannot regret small actions and petty lives.”

“You left me to be raised by a villiager and then act surprised when I grew to love them all.” Caidan was no longer trying to hold back his anger.

The king shook his head. “You mistake pity for love.”

“I pity you but I love them,” Caidan snapped. “What do you think you can gain by keeping me here? Do you think that I will forget love?”

“I only pray that you will learn strength. Pity cannot move a ruler. I have forced you away from your friends so that you may learn strength. You cannot learn strength when you are surrounded by love but you will learn strength here.”

“You’re wrong,” Caidan said with conviction. “Love is a strength not a weakness.”

“The wolves have told you that love makes a person stronge but you may notice that they are being killed to extinction,” the king pointed out. “They are not stronge.”

“Fate will bring them strength,” Caidan promised with viamince. “The villiagers are stronger than you think. Raederle is stronger than you know!”

“I already told you: the girl has nothing to fear from me.”

“Your messanger said my villiage had nothing to fear too. Then you destroyed everything and everyone! There is nothing you can say that will make me trust you,” Caidan swore.

“I told you not to trust anyone when you first came here,” the king reminded him before walking out; leaving Caidan in a kind of prison. He had not been given permision to leave. Caidan was sure that the king planned his exit just so.

The Nemph city was full of the busy hum of a metroplolis. Crowds rushed this way and that, shouting orders or hawking their wears. It was not the paniced hum of a city in termoil, it was the healthy buzz of a city in its prime. Evan felt a prick of ease in his subconcious. He was home.

Evan should be dancing for joy. Enemies had tried to attack him but he had outsmarted the shadows and made it back to his people and family. He had proven that he deserved to be thought of as an adult and as a capable Nemph. Still, something prickled in the back of his mind. The battle was not over with just yet!

He could not let himself relax. The battle was still to come. Why couldn’t the Nemph masons see that? The library was a wreck but the council still stood and they would not allow a young Nemph to tell them how to run their city.

“You young people seem to think that you can do everything better. You want a say in everything!” The oldest mason complained.

“I can only tell you what I saw, mason,” Evan tried to explain.

“My son would not lie,” Tarale defended him.

“Of course not,” the mason agreed. “The Longvine name has a long been respected as an honest and just house.”

“My dear husband would be proud to hear our son address the council of masons. He would be proud to have our son follow his footsteps and venture outside.”

“The Longvine name has spoken in favor of allying with humans every generation,” the mason agreed. “Still, this council prides itself in making well thought out decisions. We will take the time to do so. There is no need to jump to conclusions. This council will find the proper solution.”

“The council cannot always take its time!” Evan said with anger. “There is not enough time for the council to consider every possible outcome. It might be too late to make any decision if you wait too long!”

“This problem did not happen over night. The problem will take time to go away. The shadows were banished hundreds of years ago. They took time to plan before trying to take their revenge. We need to plan before moving foreward.”

“The enemy is already far ahead of us,” Tarale reminded them. “We cannot afford to wait too long.”

“Do not rush us,” the mason admonished. “I gave my word that the council would not rest until a solution was found. I’m a man of my word and I will keep my word.”

“Your word will do no good if there is no one left to see,” Evan pointed out.

“I’ll do what I said,” the mason promised. “You don’t need to remind me every day.”

“Get in there and vote or discuss or whatever it is you do,” Mistress Tessa ordered the Nemph mason. “The village council at Winding was just the same,” the old woman whispered to the others. “Their wives had to drag them in by the ear before anything got done.”

“You plan on bullying the council into voting?” Evan asked in surprise.

Tarale nodded in approval. “Whatever works.”

“It will work. The council will make a decision by the end of the week,” Mistress Tessa promised.

“You work fast,” Tarale said.

“I’ve had a lot of practice,” Mistress Tessa said with a smile.

Raederle paced her room, trying to calm her nerves. Edwin had tried. He had given Raederle all the help he could. He even promised to give Caidan messages but she still could not help her heart from pounding.

She had a nervous energy that she could not ignore. Raederle had to do something... she had to take action or she would go mad! So, Raederle paced up and down, wating from something to happen, for an idea to strike her.

“Sire, we’re under orders,” Raederle heard a deep voice from the hall shout. “No one is to enter.”

Raederle could hear voices yelling but she could not make out the words. She pushed the distraction to the back of her mind for a moment. Raederle was too busy trying to get her nerves under control to pay attention to what happened outside of her door. She had no control over what happened in the hall but she could control her own feelings.

Raederle should have been paying more attention to what happened outside of her room. The next events may not have surprised her so much if she had paid attention.

No idea formed when the door flew open. Raederle’s mind went completely blank!

“You are my son’s cohert?” The man who banged open the door asked. His lip curled in a sneer as he talked. Raederle found that she did not like him one bit. “I’ve wanted to talk with you, to make some Willers clear to you.”

“I’m sure you’ve already made these matters clear to your son,” Raederle said in a dry voice.

“My son’s precense would only complicate matters. I’m sure that the two of us can settle this reasonably.”

“I’m surprised that you have such respect for me but none for your son,” Raederle said before she could think.

“I know my son well enough,” the king said in a near growl. “I know that he is a romantic who rushes to the wrong conclusion.”

“You think that I can find the right conclusion?”

“I believe that you can see the right path when it is pointed out to you.”

Raederle began backing up slowly. The king had a glint in his eyes that scared her. Fear made Raederle’s heart beat faster and faster until she could hardly think. Her hand moved of its own violation to the ring on her finger. She pressed down the stone and could only hope the Nemph would hear her and know what to do.

“Calm down, girl. If I was going to hurt you I would have already.” The king walked towards her slowly. “My son will play his role if you are safe and unharmed.”

“What role do you have in mind for him?” Raederle asked, trying to hide her shock.

“The same role every father wants for his son. I want him to be successful. I want him to have more than I ever did.”

“You want to control him,” Raederle said with real anger. “You want to trick him into doing something but he is smarter than you give him credit for!”

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