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Chapter Ten

I found myself walking to my room, the hallway towards it was just before the grand staircase. Levi was waiting there, eyes focused on a distant place while he wrung his hands. Only then did it dawn on me why. Tonight would be the first night the royal chambers would be used by new royals in two years. Taking a deep breath, I tried to calm my hammering heart. We had stayed together last night and the night before, there should be no difference in feelings, only venues.

“Ready to head up?” Levi glanced up when he heard my voice. He nodded, turning to ascend before stopping.

“Are you sure we should go together? I can go sleep in my old room.”
“This was the arrangement, remember. Plus, we have already shared a bed twice now, what’s a third or tenth going to change?”
“That is not really the answer I’m looking for. Are you comfortable with us sharing that room, are we not going too fast?”

Studying him, I saw how his cheeks slightly reddened, even the tips of his ears coloured. His eyes were on the floor as he gripped the bannister, the carved fiend at its base snarling in anticipation of my answer.

“Levi, if I was uncomfortable, I would not have let you into my room last night or even set foot in yours. We may be going faster than any other normal couple on Earth, but we aren’t exactly normal, are we?” Coming to stand at his side, I clasped his hand as I took the first step. “We came in here together, we might as well take the rest of the steps together.”

He squeezed my hand, taking a step as well. Slowly, we climbed the staircase until we were at the top, glancing towards the menagerie than to the closed doors of the royal chambers. A light orange reflected on the wood under the door, a fire calling for us.

Letting go of Levi’s hand, I ventured forward, holding down the cold handles of the doors and pushing them inwards. Levi left me, taking the initiative of entering the room first.

The hearth was in the corner, a blazing fire sat within the iron grate. A large, welcoming canopy bed was in the middle of the room, pushed up against the wall. It was decorated with a dark purple comforter, black sheets and fluffed up caramel pillows. A fur rug rested slightly under one of its legs. Lastly was a desk, bigger and fancier than the library’s one, resting in front of one of the windows. There would be an excellent view of the forest and kingdom when the curtains were drawn through the window. Two doors were next to each other, leading to a large bathroom while the other was open to a walk-in closet. All our newly made clothing and shoes had already been moved in, neatly folded or hanging up.

“The moons are bright tonight. Come look, we can see the Lizard Folk returning to their forest,” Levi stated, taking my hand and pulling me in front of him. He pushed the curtain back as he pointed to the small figures making their way home. Some jumped or danced while others chased each other and walked casually. I wondered what they were talking about.

“We are meant to go visit the villagers, pay respects and leave an offering to Ebus one of these weeks coming,” I started, touching the cold glass as the figures slowly disappeared into their forest, the black almost seeming to swallow them up. “Have you... Have you by chance heard a voice calling to you at night, trying to get you to go there?”

“No...” He touched my shoulder, turning me around to face him. “You think it’s one of the deities calling to you? You know that sounds crazy.”

“Y-yes, but I wanted to ask.” Sighing, I walked past him, slowly starting to take out the trinkets in my hair. “The last couple of nights I haven’t been able to sleep peacefully. A woman’s voice tries to summon me. Last night was the only night I have not heard it.”

Levi was silent, staring at a spot on the wooden floor. He rubbed a hand over his face as the other rested on his hip. He looked like he was debating something, a thought being thrown out every time he glanced at me. The silence was making me nervous. At this point, he probably thought I would gut him with a knife while he slept.

“If the voice comes while we are sleeping,” He began with a sigh, “Wake me up and we follow its instruction. If we need to go into the forest, we get the Mirk brothers since they would know their way around.”

Nodding, I placed the last trinkets onto the bedside table and slipped the heels off my throbbing feet before standing up and heading to the bathroom. This would be the first time I was taking a bath in our new chambers while Levi was just outside the door. With that in mind, I hurriedly stripped, washed, dried and pulled on my nightshirt before leaving. Levi was already passed out under a blanket on the couch by the fire. Light snores came from him as his chest rose and fell gently. Smiling, I pressed my fingers to my lips before touching his forehead and heading to the bed.

I was standing in a field of maize, the sun warm on my face. There was a spread picnic blanket over flattened plants. A tweed basket was knocked over with its contents messily strewn on the ground. I wondered what had happened to have caused such a mess until I saw drops of blood on the pale-yellow crops and a broken path through the wall of maize. Where the edge of the path was made was a torn jacket, its design and material similar to the one Levi had worn.

“Do not be afraid, this is not your dream, but someone else’s.” Jolting, I spun around towards the voice. The woman smiled, revealing two long fangs tucked neatly among small serrated teeth. Her scales seemed to glimmer against the sun, almost like the light was being repelled by her void-black skin. She clasped her hands loosely in front of her causing the golden bracelets to jingle. The metallic silver of her eyes gazed down at me with slitted pupils, making me feel scrutinized.

“W-who are you? What do you mean by a dream?” Stumbling back, I almost tripped over something. Glancing down, I saw that it was a rapier, its blade snapped in half. The resemblance of the pattern in the blade made me shiver as it was that of the King’s sword. “A-answer me.”

“Your mother never dared to attempt commanding me when I made myself known, must be Earth father’s influence.” The Lizard Folk woman tilted her golden-crowned head, switching her gaze so it made me feel as if I were prey instead of a queen. A growl rumbled in her throat yet the corners of her mouth lifted in amusement. “I am the Lizard Folk Goddess of Darkness, Ebus. Though, I am known for meddling in other practices.”

Gritting my teeth, I prepared myself to flee. Following the path of least resistance would be best, but I did not know what monsters she had lurking around in the tall crops. Something terrifying and hungry for certain.

“Oh, this is the best part! Watch, Little Queen.” Ebus laughed again, bringing her hands to her chest as she nodded her head in the direction of the broken maize path. Scared and confused, I watched as Levi came stumbling through the opening, gasping for breath as he glanced around. His eyes ran right over me. He could not see us. Blood ran down his temple from a gash in his hairline while another wound soaked the side of his crumpled and dirtied shirt.

“Harper!” He shouted, turning in a circle while holding his side. His only answer was a monstrous roar and birds cawing in protest in the distance. He shouted again, pulling at my heart as tears began to fall from his eyes and his body shook. The roar came again, much closer now. Levi swore, taking off into the maize again in a different direction, leaving Ebus and me alone.

“What are you doing to him?” I hissed, watching on as a nightmarish monster barely missed me as it pounced into the circle before crawling in the direction Levi took, fast on his trail.

“I am doing what I am known for. My babies do not like starving away due to boys and their wet dreams,” Ebus stated, letting her hands fall to her sides. “This is what he deserves for dreaming about your kingdom taking you away from him. Very selfish, no?”

“You’re the one who called me here, why?” Lifting my chin, I had to force myself to meet her emotionless gaze. “What do you want from me?”

“So many questions! Nesryn showed much more patience than you, listened she did. Why can you not be like her, why must Earth father have so much control over your upbringing and disgrace the line?”

Ebus seemed to grow, easily towering over me at 8ft and possibly more. She made me feel like a child, nervous and afraid, but her torturing of Levi and complaining of my father caused me to fill with rage as I balled my hands into fists.

“Leave my father and Levi out of this,” I growled, taking a step forward. “I’m listening, so speak or hold your fucking peace and leave us alone.”

“Very well, Little Queen.” Ebus flared her nostrils, shrinking down to the height of normal Lizard Folk. “It is past time that you pay respects at my altar. Your Dark Army has been awaiting your presence for far too long and are biting at their chains. Any more time and they will break free, wreaking mayhem on this land you call home. Tomorrow is the Crimson and Shadow moon, an eclipse of sorts in your world terms. This is perfect time; you must offer respects now. If you fail, say goodbye to your beloved’s sanity.”

I woke up gasping for air. My hair was damp and the silk sheets clung to my skin. Glancing around the room, I saw Levi still on the couch, the blanket now crumpled on the floor.

Trying to free myself from the twisted sheets, I hurriedly made my way to Levi's side. Kneeling down on the fur rug, I began to shake his shoulder and call out his name. He did not respond straight away, but when he did, he jolted up onto his elbow, pushing himself up. He was gasping for air, sweat shimmering on his skin.

"Harper!" He glanced towards the bed frantically before feeling my hand on his thigh. He instantly grabbed me, embracing me tightly. "You're alive..."

"Yes, and so are you," I mumbled, moving to sit on the edge of the couch and holding him back just as tightly, hand coming to the back of his head. "Just a silly nightmare, yes"?

That possibly can come to life any second if we miss tomorrow...

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