Six days later, Korom was ready to tear his brother apart just for fun. After getting back to Toria, they had settled Lorzarian in a far off wing of the Keep used for not so welcome guests. Not that it would stop his mist from going anywhere it wanted to, but it made Bor and Korom feel better.
The first day, after they returned from the ship, the females had spent all day telling Lorzarian how much of an ‘asshole’ he was for taking Tulip. But by the next day, he had charmed them all, including Freyna, into liking him.
Now, the sound of the females laughter grated at his insides. Not because of any other reason other than he knew that it was his tall, handsome, charming brother, making them all laugh.
All of his life, most Torian’s looked at Korom with fear. Some with anger and hate for taking a place in the Keep as an infant. Others just pretended he didn’t exist.
But not Lorzarian. He turned heads everywhere he went. Even Bor’s mother had taken a liking to him. It was irrational, childish and petty to feel the way he did, but he couldn’t help it.
He sensed someone approaching from behind and knew it was Bor from the energy the male gave off. Korom was getting used to recognizing the signs his mist gave him, understanding more and more of what each sense and feeling told him. It was a strange form of communication between his two sides, but something he found he now relied on.
“Are we allowed to kill him yet?” Bor grumbled, moving to stand in front of Korom.
He grinned, loving that he had at least one person on his side.
Korom smiled, his eyes narrowed. “If we do it at night, we can say he just left.”
Bor’s eyes twinkled, “Yes. We can bury him in the garden, under the Hurmil Flowers. They are so rare, no one would dare dig them up.”
“Maybe we can let Spot eat him. He won’t expect it.” Korom mused, feeling lighter from the banter with his brother.
Bor nodded, “I like that plan better. Spot is just a beast after all.”
Another energy approached, this one soft and light, with a hint of sweetness.
“Are you two plotting how to kill Lorzarian again?” Lady Lilly’s voice asked. They both turned to see her walking towards them, the soft pale blue gem set in her forehead catching the sun.
Bor turned to her with a wicked smile. “It would be so easy, my love. So quick. No one would know.”
He pulled her into his arms when she stepped up to them, before bending down to give her a long, passionate kiss.
Once they pulled apart, she said, “No killing anyone in our home, Bor. And no sic'ing Spot on his either. It’s bad enough the staff are pissing their pants every time that Spinner leaves Violet’s room. It took me long enough to convince them that Spot was safe, they don’t need to see him tearing Lorzarian apart.”
“Oh, but my love, it would be so much fun to watch.” Bor sounded like a disgruntled child not let out to play with his favorite toys. It made Korom smile wider.
Lady Lilly just shook her head and let out a long, exasperated sigh.
“No killing the house guests, got it? Besides, he’s not so bad.”
Both males groaned at her words, making her laugh.
“Don’t be like that. He’s trying really hard to fit in. Not that you two are making it easy for him.”
“Does he have to be so…. So …”
“Annoying?” Korom finished for Bor.
Lilly just shook her head. She rose up to kiss Bor on the cheek, and walked away. They both watched as she went to her sisters, who were sitting on a large, soft cushion in the sun, listening to something Lorzarian said to them. They laughed again and Korom turned away.
Bor spoke from his side. “You know you only have to say the word, and I will help you get rid of him. This is your home, Korom. Never forget that. But… saying that, my mate is right. We have not tried very hard to get to know him. You and I both know that what the females see of him is only an act. Perhaps if we actually took the time to speak with him, and not make excuses every time he tries, we would learn more about him. Lilly, Tulip and the other females will not let him leave, brother. We must get used to him.”
Korom groaned, knowing and hating that Bor was right. He knew that Lorzarian was only spending time with the women because it was the only way he could learn more about Korom.
Bor’s mother had spent hours with the male, telling him all about his youth. The few times Lorzarian had managed to find Korom alone, Korom had made up ridiculous excuses not to spend time with him.
If he was honest with himself, he was scared. Scared that he would care for his brother. Scared that this was all a lie, and that he would end up hurting those Korom cared about the most. Scared that if he let the male in, he would learn that his past is more terrible than anyone could have thought.
“I know,” Korom sighed, “I can see how much Tulip and her sisters are starting to care for him. I will ask to speak with him after dinner tonight.”
Bor nodded, approval clear in his eyes.
“Any news of the Garamores?”
Korom shook his head, “Nothing. Every ally Toria has is searching for the ship, but so far has found nothing.”
“I don’t like this. I had the Scholars look at the data files Lorzarian gave us. Your brother had a great deal of information about the ship he saw when his crew was killed. They believe that even Decagon sensors may not pick it up. That means that we will not know it is here until it is above the planet. We need to be ready.”
“I have a large fleet in orbit already. They are monitoring the skies above Toria. The Decagon has sent out the information and many of the planets in the territory are doing the same. Once we hear anything, we will be able to move.”
Korom felt the warm softness of Tulip approaching and couldn’t keep the smile from his face.
He turned as she got close, loving the glint in her eyes as she looked at him. She walked right into his open arms, hugging her slight frame into him tightly.
“Are you two plotting murder again?”
He chuckled, “We were. But Bor decided that it would not look good if a guest at the Keep was brutally slaughtered while under the care of the king.”
Tulip just shook her head.
“What is he talking about today?” Korom asked, hating the surge of jealousy he felt rising.
She glanced back at the others, then met his eyes. “About you. He was telling us about the day you were born, and about the few short months he got to spend with his little brother. You really should come sit with us.”
He sighed. He knew he should. He should have done it days ago, but it was still so confusing to Korom to have his real blood brother in the same space as him.
He bent to place a kiss on Tulip’s head just as his com pinged in his ear.
Without lifting his lips from her, he pressed the activation and mumbled, “Yes?”
“Commander,” The soft, trembling voice of one of the captains in orbit said, “They have arrived.”
He tensed, his eyes lifting to look at Bor.
The King of Toria looked fierce as he slowly raised his gaze to the soft blue sky above.
Tulip felt the exact moment when the shit hit the fan. Korom held her in his arms with such a tight grip, she could barely breathe. Bor looked absolutely deadly, his green eyes glowing to a point where she thought they might ignite in flames. Both men were tense, their eyes lifting to the skies above.
“They are here,” Lorzarian said in a flat, dangerous tone. He had come up behind her so silently, that she hadn’t even realized he’d left the large cushion.
Korom lowered his head back to her. “Go to your sisters and prepare to travel to the command vessel.”
“You’re taking the females with you?” Lorzarian asked. She was about to tear him a new one for that, but when she looked at him she saw real confusion in his eyes.
“Yes,” Korom said without missing a beat, “This threat is to the planet. Therefore the safest place for the family is on the command vessel.”
Lorzarian thought about that for a moment, then nodded. “Yes, you are correct.”
“Go, my love,” Korom said to her, “Be quick. Pack only what you need, leave the rest.”
She nodded, giving him a quick kiss, then ran over to her sisters.
Lilly was on her feet, having already been told the news. As the Lady of Toria she was given the same updates as Bor.
Rose pulled Violet to her feet, all of them looking pale and worried.
Spot jumped down from the tall tree he had been perched in, his massive body shivering with anger.
Without a word, the four sisters and one Spinner ran for the large doors of the Keep. Lilly and Violet ran into Bor’s wing, Spot not far behind. Rose bolted up the stairs to her apartment, and Tulip ran towards the other end of the Keep. She was breathing heavily when she threw open their bedroom doors.
She loved this home. Tears pricked her eyes at the thought of losing all the cherished memories her and Korom had made here. Of never hearing Violet singing in the halls. Of watching as Bor kidnapped his mate every chance he got and snuck them off to a quiet, unused room in the Keep. Or feeling Korom the moment he entered the room.
But now was not the time to get sentimental. If the attack on Earth taught her anything it was to move when you needed to move.
Pulling open the doors to hers and Korom’s wardrobe, she began placing what she thought they might need on the bed.
A young woman ran in, her long yellow gold hair in a tight braid down her back. She bowed her head when she saw Tulip, then marched over to the storage panel on the wall. She pressed a few buttons before the whole thing popped out and became one of the storage crates she had seen on the ship.
With ease, the woman moved it to the bed and began packing all the stuff Tulip had laid out.
“You do not need so much clothing, Tulip,” Wetra said as she tossed some of Korom’s uniforms to the side.
Tulip wasn’t going to argue with her. Wetra was what would be called a handmaiden on Earth. She saw to Tulip’s and Korom’s needs, mostly just cleaning up their home and helping Tulip get used to life on Toria.
“You’re coming with us,” Tulip stated, tossing a few more items on the bed before she moved to the nightstands.
Wetra paused to look over at Tulip. “No. I have to go to my family. I will not leave my mate and our children.”
Tulip’s heart fell. How could she protect this woman. Protect them all. She loved this planet, the people here and her life. She had to do something to save them.
Tulip placed the small box of her personal keepsakes from Earth into the large crate then turned to face Wetra.
“Stay safe, okay. Bor and Korom and all the other warriors will do everything they can to make sure nothing happens to anyone here.”
If Wetra believed her, it didn’t show on her face. She just nodded and went back to packing her things.
Ten minutes later, Tulip followed Wetra as she all but ran for the shuttle that stood waiting on the large landing pad in front of the Keep.
Lilly and Bor were already on board, as was Keel and Tark. Korom sat in the pilot’s seat with Oris at his side.
“Where’s Rose and Violet.”
“We’re here!” She heard Violet call out. She turned to find Rose and Violet running out of the doors. Rose had a small backpack over her shoulder, while Spot carried Violet’s large metal crate. They entered the shuttle and once they were all settled, Korom shut the doors and lifted off into the air.
Tulip looked out of the window at her home below. It was a stunning, solid building, made of the most beautiful pale white stone. The lush gardens around the Keep shone with bright colors, only separated by the black stone paths that lead around the space.
Wiping the tear that escaped her lashes, she tore her eyes away from the ground as soft white clouds began to block her view.
Ahead, she saw the sky growing darker as they broke through the atmosphere. In the darkness outside, Tulip saw a sight that chilled her to the bone. Hundreds of large Torian battleships were firing on one enormous ship. It looked like nothing more than a pile of junk welded together. Yet every hit of the weapons from the Torian ships seemed to just vanish into the metal hull without a single mark. The Garamore ship moved slowly, not firing back at the battleships. It was like they didn’t even care that they were surrounded and outnumbered.
Bor cursed in Torian, an echo of his words coming from the front of the ship.
Korom turned them away from the scene outside, before the Command Vessel came into view. It hung still and quiet in the night sky, surrounded by almost thirty large battleships. They didn’t fire, nor did they engage in any way.
Ahead of them, Tulip saw another shuttle landing in the large open space in the belly of the vessel. Bor’s mother, brother and sisters were on board that shuttle and it brought a tiny amount of peace to Tulip to know they were all safe.
Korom landed their shuttle beside the other one, then leaped from his seat. As soon as the atmosphere seal was in place, all the males ran off the shuttle, heading for the command room.
Tulip felt a hand slip into hers and looked over at Violet. On her other side, Lilly and Rose held each other as they all watched the one sided battle begin through the vast open doors of the landing bay.