Chapter Thirty-Six: Impossible Tasks
Rushing through the halls of Evangelis, Halda yelled out for the King, unfolding the letter in his hand, the red stamp of Sorin Ribaya, leader of Alden’s High Council stamped at the bottom.
It had been early in the morning and he’d been stood outside in the rookery, clearing his mind and thinking through his and Dalamis’ discussion.
That was when the Raven landed, baring the envelope with the Ignis seal, as permitted by the King he began to open it as he sprinted through the mountain.
The letter in question was most definitely an emergency but Solon’s location was the issue he was struggling with.
Dalamis, who had heard Halda’s voice echoing, had run from his room fastening the tie of his bight robe around his waist, the curls on his head wild and seemingly more lively than the rest of him as he caught up with the Captain of the Guards.
“What’s going on?” he asked the strawberry-blonde.
“The City Of Embers is under attack”
“Who’s attacking it?” he asked.
“There are reports of a Fae” Halda stated, his pace slowed and his words hesitant as his eyes failed to meet Dalamis’.
Seeing the shift in his mood, Dalamis tried to observe it and figure out why he could look so sheepish.
“Who?” he said.
Halda stopped dead in his tracks, his hands going slack by his sides as he temporarily faced the ceiling.
Turning to face the robed man, he looked him in the eyes as he said “Vallen Harkhallow”
Almost appearing offended, Dalamis scrunched his eyebrows “My father might have been a paranoid man, but he wouldn’t attack a human city. He wasn’t that violent”
“He threw your brother off of Heaven’s descent”
“Because he felt threatened, he would never make the first move to attack. He is like a bee, he is harmless unless you force his hand” Dalamis explained, wanting his points heard loud and clear.
Beginning to shift again, Halda said “Clearly, something has changed” before calling out for the King.
Dalamis catching up again, asks “How could my father be such a threat? He’s one Fae”
“According to what Sorin stated in her letter, he has unleashed a plague of insects. They glow like nothing she has witnessed before and the sting people have suffered has resulted in incineration from the inside out.”
The gruelling look on Dalamis’ face told Halda all he needed to know.
“Do you think that this, the sea creatures and the attack here with the invisible things, connected?”
“I am not sure, perhaps Ida and the others have discovered some answers”
“I still do not understand one thing, how is it that my father is involved. He has no reason to hurt anyone, besides, where would he have found such hideous beasts? It does not add up” Dalamis stated thoughtfully.
“All we can do is to tell Solon and hope that news comes from the others soon”
Halda was on the verge of calling out for the King again when Kayla’s head poked out from behind a door, her eyes squinted with an unamused grimace but Halda was unsure whether it was a glare or a state of half-consciousness.
“Can you speak any louder? Jeez, it’s like three in the morning could you keep it down?” she hissed.
“We’re sorry, we’re looking for the King, is there any chance you know where he is?” Dalamis asked, assuming Halda wouldn’t apologise, for in his eyes, he was carrying out important work that took priority over sleep and the rest of the others.
“Isn’t your boyfriend top guard? Shouldn’t he know?”
“Not all of the time”
“No she is right, I should know. I got caught up with other things” Halda admitted almost holding his hands up in surrender to his wrongdoings.
Appearing to wake up with a mischievous play on her lips, she opened her mouth saying “Oh, things. Do you mean you got caught up in his bedsheets?” with a wink to top it all off.
Halda stood babbling like a suffocating fish, unable to conjure up a reply, nevertheless, she continued “Your best bet at finding him is his room I suppose. I can’t help any more than that, but just try not to wake up the rest of the mountain” and closed the door rather aggressively.
“I cannot say that I’ve ever seen you speechless before” Dalamis teased.
“Solon’s room is this way,” he said taking steps in the exact direction, Dalamis on his heels with an amused smile playing on his lips.
On reaching the King’s temporary quarters, Halda knocked heavily on the door, his barefoot tapping repeatedly on the solid ground.
Dalamis couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen Halda nervous or anxious, scared yes but never nervous, there was a definite difference.
It took a moment before the door was answered, Queen Florenta stood wrapped in a silk gown of grey, her hair pulled back with a band.
As she spoke, her voice remained soft and humble but tiredness was evident which was not a surprise.
“What brings you here before dawns rising?” she asked.
“I apologise for the sudden visit, I received a letter from Sorin. She claims the City Of Embers is under attack and that Vallen Harkhallow is at the root of it”
Appearing beside her, a blanket pulled around his body, Solon places a hand on her shoulder, the gesture receiving one in return as she places her fair hand on his.
“Is Sorin taking any action against the attacks?” Sorin said, his voice deep with sleep.
“I am unsure, she said nothing of the sorts in her letters. But perhaps she has since she sent the letter.”
“Has Vallen been captured?” he continued to ask.
“There’s no mention of it my King”
Giving her husband a wary look, Florenta added her other hand to their two already stacked on her shoulder.
He looked her in the eyes searching for a solution to the problem, but only found adoration and care.
“What would you have me do my King?”
“It will take too long for my guardsmen to reach Ignis, do we know anything from Salatia”
“Not as of yet” he stated a little dismally “However if Nerina follows her usual pattern, we can expect one soon”
“Await the letter, as soon as you receive it I wish to be informed. Until then I will personally address a letter to Sorin, I would have it that Dalamis, Stavros, yourself and anyone else willing to sacrifice rest, to attempt to hunt down Vallen. Use whatever information you have, I will try to gather more information but it will be late afternoon before I receive replies, do what you can” Solon commanded.
“Yes, my King” Halda said and then turned to walk away, however his movements seized when Dalamis spoke up.
“What will happen to my father when he is found”
“That depends on the trial” Solon stated without sugar-coating anything.
“My father is not doing this alone”
“And how is it you know this?” Solon asked with a suspicious eye.
“My father would not attack people”
Halda trying to cut in to stop him from raising any red flags, opened his mouth to speak but Dalamis intervened and pushed on to say “My father is not a murderer, he is only violent if provoked, this is not his doing entirely. I am not defending his actions, but I am telling you that he is not alone”
“Do you have an inkling as to who else may be involved? Should your theory be right that is” Solon asked.
“No, my father did not have friends towards the end of his reign, none at least willing to do something like this”
“Then I have a task for you, I demand to know who is responsible” Solon commanded his temper a little shorter.
“How?” Dalamis asked “It could be anyone”
“If you are so adamant, then you will find them, besides you knew your father the best out of those here. He raised you afterall and therefore you are the best chance”
Overwhelmed and trying to slot pieces of thoughts together, Dalamis desperately said “I have nothing to go on”
“Neither do the others, I trust you and I would not give the task to you if I did not. Now I must focus my attention on the letters, please try as best as you can to figure this out, will be with you as soon as I can”
“We understand” Halda stated, taking up Dalamis’ hand and drawing him away from the door feeling resistance as he did so.
“Why did you try stopping me back there?” Dalamis asked Halda.
“Solon will be at a loss at the moment with what to do and you stating that your father is not working alone makes it seem as though you are involved.”
“I said I was not defending him, but even if I was, he is my father and I am going to help him in some way. As Solon said, he raised me”
Without making eye contact, his one hand scrunched at his side, Halda kept walking.
Dalamis, on the other hand, brought him to a stop with a slight tug on his hand, but the man didn’t turn around or look in his direction until his name was called to which his name dropped in response.
Dalamis reached out to his chin and turned Halda’s head, tilting it to see into his eyes.
“You do not have to understand why, just [please have faith in me” Dalamis pleaded.
“I do have faith, it is not that I do not understand why, it is how I am more confused about how you could stand behind a man who hurt you for so many years”
“I could say the same to you” Dalamis stated
“I do not know what you are implying,” Halda said, genuinely confused.
“The King, he cared for you as his own for so long, but in doing so, hurt you the most. You barely left the island, never made friends and you did not completely love until you left there” he said.
“Perhaps, but I still feel caged here, I do not feel free just yet.
Removing his hand from Halda’s cheek, his hand was caught and pressed to Halda’s lips who left gentle and whispering kisses on his wrist.
“We will be free Dalamis”