Beneath the Crown

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chapter 45

Zasrus

She is back already. I wish this discussion would just end, so I can go to her.

The other four fathers still argued among themselves and when Lord Savnor stood to take a call, I shut my eyes and rested my head on my arm. He spoke for a moment, then came back to the table, “My king, it is getting late. May we call an end to today’s talks and return to them tomorrow again?”

Thank the universe!

“Yes,” I said as I stood, “Thank you all for your wise input today. We can discuss it all in more detail again tomorrow,” I heard the sarcasm in my own voice as I left the room with a long sigh.

I rubbed my eyes and looked down the hall. Where would she be? In her room? In mine?

I touched the little ball under my ear, “Ash?”

I waited but didn’t receive an answer. Perhaps she is already asleep. It is late.

I nodded and made my way to my room. I was exhausted and in desperate need of sleep. I wanted to see her, but not if I would not be able to think.

I went to my room, took off my crown, and fell onto my bed in all my clothes. I shut my eyes and within only a moment I was fast asleep.

*****

The next morning I woke up and once I was bathed, dressed and ready to be seen, I went downstairs to the breakfast room. I smiled at the younger children, all chatting away to themselves.

I made my way around the table, to kiss each of my children but frowned at the empty seat next to Tomlee, “Where is Laylar?”

Tomlee turned to me, “I don’t know. I think she may still be in bed.”

Asytar giggled, “Or she is sneaking in the forest with that guard again,” she said and followed it with loud kissing sounds.

“Alright, you two, behave. You are ladies, not hooligans.”

I sat down in my place and when the door opened, I saw Connie and my brother come in.

I frowned, “Is Ash not with you?”

They both shook their heads, “No,” Connie said, “I haven’t seen her since yesterday. Maybe she is still in bed?”

“Perhaps,” I said but the worry in me began to grow.

I touched the com again, “Ash?”

Still no reply.

I touched it again, “Laylar?”

When I didn’t get a reply, I looked up and met my brother's eyes. He frowned at me and tried to call them both as well.

When he didn’t get an answer, my worry grew even more. I stood from the table, “Excuse me,” I said and went out into the hall. When the door to the breakfast room closed I pressed my com again, “Rein?”

“Yes, my king?” He answered almost immediately.

“Have you seen Laylar or Ash this morning?”

“No my king. The last time I saw Ash was last night when she took the Prince and Princesses to bed. I . . . I saw Laylar last night as well, in the forest, my king.”

I shook my head, Asytar was right.

“Find out if anyone else has seen either of them this morning. Have the guards search the palace.”

“Right away, my king,” he said and I heard the worry in his voice as well.

Where could they be?

Rein had said that Ash was last seen in the hallway to my children’s bedrooms, so with a quick step, I made my way there. I checked every room, then went towards the door leading out to the gardens.

I looked around the freshly cut grass, the perfect flower beds, and the tall trees to the far side.

“Rein, have you found them?”

“No my king. I have men searching the forest, as well as the palace, but no one has found them yet.” I shook my head and lowered my eyes to the ground as I thought about where they could be.

I strolled forward, towards the trees, and paused when I saw a dark patch of something on the grass. I bent down and touched it with my finger. When I raised my hand to examine it, my heart sank at the sight of dark crimson blood.

I shot up and ran towards the medical wing of the palace. I burst through the doors to one of the healers, “Test this!” I said holding out my finger with the blood on it, “I want to know what species this is from.”

The healer nodded and wiped the drop off my finger with a small glass screen.

I paced the room as I waited, my mind racing with what could have happened to them.

“My king,” The healer said and I ran over to him.

“Who’s is it?” I asked at the grim look in his eyes.

“It’s human.”

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