Beneath the Crown

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Chapter 40

Ash

I thought my eardrums would pop with how loud Connie squealed into it, but I couldn’t wait to tell my best friend that I let him all the way in.

When she let me go, I looked over at the men. I met the king’s eyes and he smiled at me.

I should really stop thinking of him as the king. No boyfriend of mine is going to be called your highness in the sack.

My own thoughts made me giggle and when Connie gave me a frown, I just waved it off. We went back to the men, and as Raylon pulled her into his arms, I bit my lip and looked at the king.

He smiled at me and gestured with his head for me to go to him. I walked up to him slowly, and when his arms came around me I took in a deep breath of his wonderful scent. I lay my head down on his chest and my arms went around to his back. I opened my eyes and caught a smile and a nod from Raylon.

“Brother,” he said after a moment, “Do you still want to go riding?”

“Yes,” Zasrus said, “The sun will be setting soon.”

He pulled out of my arms and met my eyes, “We need to get ready.”

“Ok,” I said and smiled, “What do I need to do?”

Raylon showed us to a garage type storage room at the back of the house. He opened the door, and inside were six metal armor suits of some kind. Not the antique-looking kind, but rather smooth, and lightweight. There was no helmet, just a thick chest plate attached to the bottom leg part.

“What the hell are we going to be riding?” I asked as Raylon took one of the suits off the wall and handed it to Connie. He grabbed another one and handed it to me. I braced myself for the weight, but as soon as he let go, I realized it weighed hardly anything.

“Mal’net’s,” Zasrus said, “They may look frightening at first, but you have nothing to be afraid of. They are very calm and friendly animals.”

“Ok,” I said eying the strange metal suit, “How exactly do we get into these?”

Zasrus came to me with a smile, “Place it on the ground, so that it stands,”

I did as he said, balancing it on the feet in front of me.

“Press this,” He pointed to the bird-like engraving I saw on the throne. I did as he said and the suit beeped once and the emblem glowed for a moment.

“Now just step into it.”

I frowned at him.

He placed his suit on the ground and did the same to his. He turned his back to it after the beep and took a step back.

Like something out of a movie, the suit melted over him like liquid metal. It formed around his body again and he smiled.

“Now that is cool,” I said with wide eyes. I turned my back to my suit and took a step back. The liquid felt cold as it spread over my legs and chest. It tightened around me, and when it fit nice and snug I nodded.

“Ready?” Raylon asked us all, and with nods, we made our way outside. He led us down a short path at the back of the house to a hill of fallen rocks, covered in small bushes and moss.

He pulled out what looked like a silver dog whistle and blew into it. I didn’t hear anything, but after a moment, I felt the vibrations in the ground.

Raylon turned to us, “The leader of the pack is called Damus. I will ride him. Once we mount, we will have maybe two hours of riding time before the suits run out of battery. The rest of the herd will follow Damus, so once we mount, and I go, the others will follow. I will guide us around the planet, then back here.”

Around the planet? What the hell are these things, Sonic the hedgehog? And why do our suits need a battery?

I looked up at the pile of rocks and waited nervously.

“Don’t be afraid,” Zasrus said from beside me, “They will not hurt you, and you will not fall. That is what this suit is for.”

I looked at him with a racing heart, “I trust you,” I said.

He nodded, and I heard heavy stomping coming from the rocks. I looked up and saw a beast the size of an elephant come charging towards us. Its skin a dark grey color, with yellow eyes on a snout that extended like a dog. Its long tongue hanging out and its massive, sharp white teeth were the size of my fingers.

I took a few steps back at the sight of it, but as soon as it saw Raylon, it slowed and its pointy ears fell back.

How the hell are we going to ride that thing!

Raylon took a step closer to it and placed a hand on its head. From behind it, I saw more of the same kind of animal coming. They were all a little smaller than Damus, but still huge.

“Alright, let’s mount,” Raylon said and went to the side of it. The thing lay down and lowered its head. Raylon swung a leg over and sat on its neck as the beast stood up. I heard another ping from his suit and his legs stuck to the animal like glue.

“What is that?” I asked him.

He shifted a little then met my eyes, “Mal’net’s have a unique metallic compound in the skin on their backs. That is what the suits are for. They are magnetic so that we do not fall off.”

“Right,” I said as my mouth went dry. Definitely not sweet little ponies!

Zasrus led me to one of the animals, and as I got close, the things head spun to the side, its long fangs only a few inches from my face and sniffed me. I stood frozen in place and waited. It took another sniff then its ears fell back and it lay down.

I let out a breath and swung a leg over its neck. As soon as I sat down, my suit beeped and I felt my legs get stuck into place. I tried to pull them away, but they didn’t budge.

I guess that’s one way to make sure you don’t fall off.

I reached out my hand and gently touched the thick fur on its neck. It was incredibly soft, like a fur rug from home. I smiled and dug my nails into it until I felt the hard skin below. I gave the animal a scratch and I heard a strange sound come from its nose. A purring of sorts, only much deeper.

When Connie and Zasrus were mounted, Raylon turned back to us, “Once Damus goes, the others will follow. I would say hold on, but the suit will do that for you. I will guide them, so don’t worry about trying to direct them. Are you all ready?”

I nodded to him with a terrified smile. Please just start with a nice slow walk.

“Alright,” he said and turned Damus to face the house. With one strong kick of the animal's legs, it jumped onto the roof, where the shuttle stood and I gasped.

The others followed and when my animal jumped onto the roof, I could feel my body shaking.

Why are we up here?

Raylon led his beast to the edge of the glass roof, to where the ground ended hundreds of feet below, and with one last look and a devilish grin, he made a clicking sound with his mouth and the animal jumped off the edge.

FUCK NO!

It was too late, as soon as Raylon fell off the edge of the roof, the others ran forward and did the same.

When my beast ran to the edge, I tried as hard as I could to get my legs unstuck and to jump off, but it was no use. The thing took two long strides, then leaped off the edge.

“FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

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