Beneath the Crown

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Chapter 31


When the time came to finally leave, I gave my children a kiss on their heads and said my goodbyes. I found Raylon on the shuttle landing bay, waiting for a shuttle to lower to the ground.

“Brother,” I called out to him, “Where are Ash and Connie?”

He turned to me, “They are on their way. Connie said they are just waiting for the manufacturers to make her something for this trip.”

I nodded, “I want to ask you, brother, do your Mal’net’s still allow to be mounted? I thought we could all go riding.”

“Yes, they are very tame. But are you sure the women will want to go? Riding one can be very scary if you do not know how.”

“We can teach them.”

“Very well. I should have everything needed at the house.”

I spotted Rein standing by the landing bay, waiting. I went up to him, “Rein, I need you to stay here, and keep an eye on Laylar and the children for me.”

He turned to me, “Yes my king. But may I ask, who will be at your side?”

“I have two other guards coming with me. And Rein,” I said stepping closer to him, “Make sure it is only your eyes that are on my daughter.”

He shifted and looked away, “Yes my king. I would never. . .”

“I know you wouldn’t. It’s not you I worry about.”

Connie’s and Ash’s happy voices carried to me and I turned to look at them approaching. They both had a smile on their faces and as I stared at Ash with longing, I felt my heart break again at her words.

How could she ever think she is not good enough for me. It is I who is not good enough for her.

I took a quick look at my brother and I could see in his eyes how much he loved Connie.

You are a lucky man, brother.

I will never have that again.

They stopped when they reached us, “Ready to go?” Connie asked.

I nodded and when the shuttle lowered to the ground, we climbed on and took our seats in the back. I looked out the small window and saw Rein standing by the edge of the landing bay and Laylar approaching him.

That boy is trying to prove himself to me. Maybe I should start taking more notice if I am to ever decide if he is worthy.

It took only a few minutes to reach Parna. Or that is how it felt once Ash and Connie began to speak, and laugh.

When the shuttle landed, I stood and reached my hand out to Ash.

She took it with a shy smile that didn’t reach her eyes. I led her onto the clear landing bay on top of my brother's home, and as soon as she stepped onto it, I felt her hand tighten in my grip and she stopped.

I turned to find a terrified look on her face as she looked down.

“Ash, is everything alright?”

She swallowed and shook her head. Her eyes were still wide as she looked down through the roof and through the clear floor below it at the hundreds of feet of rock face and the distant ground below.

She is afraid.

I went to her and gently turned her face to look at me.

She met my eyes, “Ash, don’t look at it. Just look at me, and take one step at a time.”

I pulled her gently as her eyes remained fixed on mine and with one small step after another, I led her to the door that led inside.

When we reached the stone stairs carved out of the rock the house was attached to, she calmed.

“Who the hell has a glass floor in a house that hangs over a cliff?”

I chuckled, “My brother does. But if you are afraid, I will ask him to change it.”

“What good will that do? Besides you can’t ask him to remodel his whole house just because I am afraid of heights.”

I smiled, “Let me show you.”

I led her to the large open lounge and she stopped on the rock still under her feet. I let her hand go and went to my brother.

“Raylon,” I said getting his attention.

He turned to me, “Yes?”

“Can you change the floor? Ash is afraid of heights.”

He looked over my shoulder at her then nodded, “Of course.”

He went over to a small panel on the wall, and after pressing a few buttons the floor grew darker until it was completely black. It changed some more and when it resembled the same patterns and colors of the rock around the house I went back to Ash.

“Better?” I asked.

She nodded, “That’s pretty awesome, but it’s still glass right?”

“No, it’s not glass. Glass is too weak for a home like this. It’s made of a translucent metal compound filled with smart matter. It’s the strongest building substance known to exist in the universe. An asteroid could hit this house and the planet would fall apart but this house would remain intact.”

“Right, thanks for that nightmare-inducing visual,” she said with a roll of her eyes.

She seems to be more relaxed. More. . . warm towards me. Could she have reconsidered her own words from earlier?

With a chuckle, I took her hand again and led her to the massive windows that looked out over the valley below.

“It is amazing though,” she said as she went up to the window and placed a hand on it. As soon as her skin touched it, the smart matter moved to her palm and a dark patch formed.

She jerked her hand away and stared at the patch as it began to fade.

“What is that?” She asked turning to me.

“The smart matter. It responds to touch.”

As she looked out at the view with amazement, I turned to Raylon and saw him and Connie standing holding each other as they smiled at me.

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