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    Demiurge
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Incandescence - 5. Allies and Enemies

*Some violence-it's pretty tame

*Brief mention of trauma

A pounding headache was forming in the back of my head as Talon stomped across the distance between him and his cousin. Suman pushed himself to his feet. I caught his wince as he placed all his weight on his burned wrist. He watched Talon approach with detachment, and I frowned. Loren came to stand next to me, eyebrows lifted in silent question. Rah’s head poked out of the tent as Talon struck out. Her eyes widened and she hurried forward.

“What is happening? Talon what’re you doing? Why are you here?” She snapped. She grew more concerned when she saw the blood dripping slowly from Suman’s hand. He hadn’t even raised his hands to defend himself. He was backpedaling, ducking, and dodging as fast as he could, but it was barely enough to keep him ahead of Talon.

“Kalian stop them! We can’t kill Suman! Whether he and Sumerion get along or not, he’s still a Dlethian prince. This would be the perfect excuse for Sumerion to declare war!” Talon paused his assault. He turned to Rah and his knife caught my attention. There was blood on the blade.

“I am also a prince, whether I like it or not, and he attacked my spouse. Emissary or not, Kalian is still a representative of Dimian. Is that not also an act of war?” The siblings began to bicker. Talon gave his cousin a dirty look when he tried to inch away. Loren wandered from my side and strolled towards a panting Suman.

“Tell me, sneaky little princeling, what good are you to us alive?” The siblings and I all grew quiet as we waited for the answer. Loren waved at him to start talking and the prince let out a short laugh. He nearly fell to the ground and crossed his legs as he came to a sitting position. No longer avoiding Talon’s attacks, it was now easy to see a slash across his jaw and a thin line of red over his chest. It soaked into the tunic he wore. Trained or not, there were few people we’d come across that could hold their own against Talon in hand-to-hand combat. At the same time, Suman hadn’t fought back and that bothered me.

Suman’s eyes found mine, “We’d heard stories about how strong you were, but every time you came to court you were so meek. You weren’t that person I met when Sumerion forced those peace talks after you’d overthrown your ambitious warlord. You were so disappointing. It wasn’t any fun at all.”

Talon was losing patience, fingers twitching on the handle on the knife hanging by his side. He looked ready to cut his cousin’s speech short, but someone beat him to it.

Loren laughed, walking a slow circle around the other man, “Kalian could destroy your entire court without blinking. Then, since he’s the kindest soul I’ve ever met, he’d probably whine and bring everyone back to life. You’re confusing his commitment to peace for weakness and that’s why your palm is shredded right now.”

Rah shifted from one foot to the other, “The group that defeated Anders and restructured Dimian? Kalian’s the glue that holds it together. He united them in the first place. He has a way of bringing people together and soothing the worst dispositions. How else do you think Talon calmed down enough to be diplomatic? Or well, as diplomatic as Talon can manage.”

“As I was saying…” Suman quipped, rolling his eyes and then grinning at me, “Initially you were incredibly disappointing. A horrendous pushover. I had no idea what Talon-literally infamous for his strength and lack of mercy-saw in you. I wrote you off. I mean honestly, what was I to think when you allowed my grandfather to shit on you every time you came to court? You were a laughingstock.”

Talon moved forward but I flicked my wrist and light snaked out, wrenching the knife from his hand and tossing it across the clearing. He looked down at his empty hand, across the clearing, and then frowned deeply at me. I scowled softly at him and stomped forward, waving Loren impatiently out of my way.

Crouching in front of Suman, I narrowed my eyes, “I don’t care what you think about me. Talon is mine and I don’t have to explain to anyone why. I wasn’t sent to your country to create more problems, so I kept my mouth shut. You still have not answered Loren’s question. Suman, what good are you to us alive?”

He grinned at me, dragging his knees up to his chest as he rested his arms on them. Blood was dripping down his jaw now and the horizonal stain was spreading farther over his chest. How deep had Talon managed to slash him? He tilted his head the other way, running fingers through his own blood, “Absolutely none. I’m not loyal to anyone. I care about one thing only and it isn’t relations between Dimian and Dleth. I instigate fights and I think it’s safe to say that I will physically fight one of the other men here at some point.”

“And you’ll lose to every one of them. Kalian included.” Talon growled behind me.

Suman laughed out loud, covering his mouth. He grinned up at Talon, “That’s the point dearest cousin. If I’m going to die, I’d rather it be in a fight. Not because my grandfather finally worked up the courage to do it himself.”

Suman lifted his fist and I stiffened as his fingers uncurled. I frowned as his grandfather’s voice met my ears., “You think I care if they kill him? It will be just one more problem that those fools in Dimian solve for me! Just like Anders! I won’t have to lift a finger! He’ll spread his poison and the general will beat his head in. Or better yet! My own heir-Talon-will behead him. He’d have to return home at that point. They are so sensitive about murder there. One carefully placed comment about Talon’s whore and I think that’d be all it took!”

I took in Suman, bleeding, wrist badly burned, and the palm he held out was badly torn from my attack. He was still smiling, but there was a twinge of sadness in his eyes. He looked away and tucked his arm against his chest, “So get on with it. That was the whole reason I was given this task. It is a suicide mission. It has been from the start. At least this way I have a fighting chance.”

Our small campsite was silent as we processed his words. This was all very convenient for him. There was no trusting anything that came from his mouth. It was just like Suman to have a tearjerker story to fall back on when he’d crossed a serious line. He was too smart for this. Perhaps Talon’s pessimism was starting to rub off, but I didn’t believe his story for a minute. Again, Loren stepped in before anyone else had a chance to respond.

He sighed heavily and then chuckled, “Your excuse is weak. Kalian is gullible but he’s not stupid. You cannot flip your entire demeanor and expect us to believe you. Your grandpa wants to kill you? Cry about it. It doesn’t excuse any of your behavior.”

“Also,” Talon interjected, “You’ve exposed too much of your hand. You were in Dimian. Why? You have Magik and can fight. Your Magik is dangerous, and you knew it would immediately create problems. You wanted it to. You guarded your secrets until you thought their reveal may create the most drama. Stop trying to play a victim.”

My head spun as Loren picked up where Talon left off, “You bent the Council to anger. You twisted Talon into an easy friendship. He’s absolutely stunning, but sometimes his ego gets in his own way. No one would ever have the ability to influence the great Shadow Walker that way. The beautiful brooding king can be dense but he’s not stupid either. None of us are.”

Suman chuckled and it quickly turned into a crazed laugh, almost maniacal, “Oh, forgive me. I’ve been around Sumerion too long. You all are far harder to manipulate. How refreshing.”

I was staring at Loren. He’d noticed the too-fast friendship as well. I turned to my husband whose scowl was mixed with a fair amount of sulking. When had they figured it out? Rah had been quiet this whole time and she patted her brother on the back. My husband avoided everyone’s eyes. Talon had never been exposed to Anders. Had that made him more vulnerable to his cousin’s Magik?

I didn’t think he was cocky. He was justified in having an arrogant streak. Talon was very strong. Is that why it had taken him longer to notice that his decisions and actions weren’t entirely his alone? Suman didn’t grasp control the way Anders did, but he could still influence behavior enough to force rational men to become enraged for no reason. Hanja and Eon had looked like they may fight and Tyren had even stepped threateningly toward Wren. My teacher wasn’t a coward, but Tyren was still beyond weary of Wren. He’d grin and bare the odd familial relationship they’d been forced into, but Tyren was never relaxed with the white-haired assassin around. For him to be ready to engage Wren? Suman had power. Whether he was lying about how much he knew about it or not.

I swallowed, “So, what’s your goal here? You picked a fight. To what end Suman? I seriously doubt it was with the intention that I may kill you and free you from your grandfather. You’ve said it yourself, killing him is the only thing you want. If you’re dead, that’s not possible. It makes no sense.”

“See? Pretty and intelligent. Again, he can also melt your face off. If it’s any consolation, he’d still feel bad afterward.” Loren laughed behind me and I rolled my eyes. I kept my mouth shut, though. This was the first glimpse of the real Loren I had since he’d left Illiath. Howevee his laughter stopped short and Loren’s tone dropped, “Talon and I wouldn’t feel bad for taking care of you, though, should you attack him again.”

”Loren it’s fine.” I sighed, “Nothing you say is going to bother him.”

“Oh, I don’t know.” Suman cracked his neck and let his head fall back, eyes on the darkened sky overhead, “As many praises as your little group sings for you, you have an uncanny ability to push all the wrong buttons, Sun Prince. You hurt my feelings. There, are you happy? Was that enough for you? I lost control because of your constant badgering.”

Rolling my eyes, I moved forward, gripping his chin, “Suman. For the last time, why should we let you live? You’re a threat to everyone here and the people we care about at home. If you don’t want your cousin to rip your head off, you better start singing your own praises.”

He batted my hand away and his eyes locked on mine. He stared me down for so long that I felt Talon getting restless behind me. Rah even stepped into my field of vision, ready to intervene. His eyes were searching and the teasing smile slowly began to slip, “Earlier, when you were moping by the fire, what were you thinking? What were you thinking in the clearing when I saw you stuff down your rage?”

I didn’t look away as his attention became searing. So many things, but part of me knew what he was referring to. I closed my eyes for a moment and then rejoined the intense stare off, “Your grandfather doesn’t deserve power. He should have never been king. He should never have been given the opportunity to hurt so many. Your country is poisoned by it’s ruler much like ours was until we intervened.”

“That’s the man Dimian chooses to keep on the throne. The ally your country seeks is a monster.” Suman whispered, an unfriendly smile returning to his face.

“You’re right.”

“He deserves to die and no one has ever had the guts to stand against him.”

“He does deserve to die. I agree. Your country does not deserve to go down with him. Thousands. Families just like yours and Talon’s. How would that make us better than him?” Suman grimaced. I was waiting for his normal argument. The one where he insisted he didn’t care about anyone else. I followed grey eyes to the tent where the girl hopefully slept. They then drifted to the dying fire where the bundled-up toddler was still somehow sound asleep. She had a visitor. Loren was poking at her. Rolling my eyes, I tried not to laugh at the strange look on the older man’s face.

“I won’t work with people who wish to keep him in power.” Suman stared at Loren as he prodded the sleeping toddler as well.

“Then work with people who wish to remove him from it and keep the country on its feet.” His stare snapped back to me, studying again.

“You can’t promise me that. Dimian’s formal decision was to ally with Dleth. Sumerion is Delth and unless Talon bends to his will, we have no options.”

“He has more than one heir.” Rah mumbled. She kneeled next to me, face grave as she looked over at her cousin.

“You want the throne?” Suman’s eyebrows rose and a grin started to spread.

“Talon is needed in Dimian. I am not. I have been training for this since Anders fell. I can fight, I’ve trained in diplomacy, I have Magik, and…I-I can see now.” I frowned and linked my fingers with hers where he couldn’t see. Rah never complained about her sight. Not when she was completely blind and not even when it had been slowly restored over a two-year period. It’d been painful and overwhelming for her. I knew that after watching what my own child had gone through. It hurt me to know it was something she still got self-conscious about even now.

But Rah smacked me out of my thoughts when she continued, “You know Dleth better than I do. You obviously have connections as well. I don’t have those. Suman, we could do it together. After Sumerion is dead, it’ll give you something else to work on.”

“To obsess over, more like.” Talon scoffed, “We’re of the same blood. I can’t believe how pathetic you are. Kill him and then what? Spend the next forty years twiddling your thumbs like a crazed fool? I still think we should get rid of you here and now.”

“Of course that’s what you think Talon. That’s your answer for everything. Remember the last person you treated this way was your sister.” I sighed, rubbing my temples.

“Yeah, and she betrayed us. Love, you aren’t helping your cause.” I slammed my annoyance over the connection and heard him hiss a little. It was something I had discovered over years of blissful marriage. Extreme emotions forced over the connection could hurt. Like a sudden, terrible headache. Petty? Yes, but it made him be quiet.

“As I said, you can’t promise to overthrow him. You’d be going against your Council.” Suman’s focus had darted behind me, most likely to Talon.

“That’s why we have meetings. Like the one you ruined. To discuss. To make plans. If you would participate in them, act like an emissary, your opinion could be heard. I will not lie. I can’t force the Council to agree to anything, but I’m sure they’d be very interested to hear what we saw today.”

His eyes narrowed, “I’m sure they’d also love to hear about how I attacked you and caused another…disagreement in your home where you felt the need to restrain me. Again.”

“That’s all up to you.” I extended my hand to him slowly. Rah went rigid next to me and I felt anger and apprehension swelling over the tether. Suman eyed it and shifted.

“What am I agreeing to Sun Prince?”

“Work with us. Not against us. The Council and Dimian included. As Rah said, you have connections. You were able to travel within our capital city with only Wren knowing. You’re useful and if you intend to help Rah, this is a good place to start.”

“I will…consider it. For now, I’m going to bed. I need to be well-rested when we have to face Sumerion. I can’t miss a wink of beauty sleep.” He ignored my hand and stood.

I let out a huff of irritation and lunged forward. He went on the defensive as my fingers wrapped around his burned wrist. I climbed to my feet as I spoke my spell under my breath. Suman’s eyes widened as red and gold light wrapped around his injury. I smacked my free hand against his chest and he grimaced as the light spread across his cut there. That healed before his wrist and my fingers jabbed at his jaw. He turned his head and I let my palm rest against the wound there. Soon, I stepped back, staggering a bit. I’d used a lot of Magik. It was foolish, but it was done. I couldn’t take any of it back. He looked me up and down suspiciously. Then he resumed walking back to his tent, rubbing his healed wrist.

Hands found my hips and lips brushed my ear, “Are you insane?”

“I love you too, Talon. You shouldn’t have come. I had everything under control.” Rah rolled her eyes at us as she remained seated on the ground.

“You weren’t answering. I could see him attacking you.” Talon pouted against my neck. His hands were traveling. It wasn’t sexual and it annoyed me more as it occurred to me that he was checking for injuries.

“Then you could see me defending myself as well. Right Talon?” He mumbled in affirmation and wrapped his arms around me. My annoyance flagged right away and I turned in his arms. It wasn’t fair for me to get angry. Had the tables been turned, I would’ve reacted in the same way. His retirement from the Verseckt proved that. He leaned down as his fingers came up to stroke my cheek. I met him halfway, closing my eyes as he tugged me even closer and our lips met.

That was the moment Loren took his prodding too far and a sharp cry reached across the campsite to where we stood. Talon stared over my shoulder as I turned. Loren was holding his hands up as he squatted next to the child. His eyes were wide as if he’d been caught breaking something. The screaming was broken up by cries and I felt Talon slowly turn to me, “The fuck is that?”

“Suman saved two villagers today. One is asleep in the tent. That’s the other.” I broke from his arms, hurrying over to where poor Loren was frozen in mortification. Perhaps this explained why the man was nearing 40, had been in a relationship with Amaris for seven years, and remained childfree. I’d never seen him so disturbed.

I picked Eira up and cooed softly, ignoring they grey eyes watching me with levels of horror that surpassed Loren’s. Rah came to stand next to me and tried calming the child with soothing words. The screaming and crying didn’t let up. I shot Loren a withering look. He was still holding his hands up, though he was standing now. He winced and smiled apologetically.

“Can’t you make it stop?” Talon complained, still a safe distance away.

“She’s upset. She had a hard day and woke up to a strange man poking at her face.”

“Fair. I’d cry if I had to wake up to Loren too.” I rolled my eyes at Talon and held the child on my hip with one arm, conjuring the butterflies again. Nothing was working and I felt my own eyes growing wide as the fussing began to give me a headache. My attention was drawn to the tents where Suman’s was partially open. I couldn’t see him, but his hand extended out and a bird sang from his palm. I moved my hand quickly and the butterflies fluttered away. The vague shape of a bird replacing them. I concentrated hard and made its mouth move to match the song as it flew. It was more detailed work than I was used to and I felt sweat bead my brow. The crying finally stopped-thank the gods-and the child smiled.

“That was the worst noise I’ve ever heard.” Talon groused as he stalked up behind me. Big, blue eyes stared at him and I glanced over my shoulder in time to see him bare his teeth at her. I glared at him until I heard her giggle.

“You’re not supposed to like it, you awful tiny thing.” Talon complained. I ran fingers through her strawberry blonde hair and smiled softly at him. His eyes narrowed immediately and he shot me a warning look.

“Hey, goblin man. You’re staying here. He touches Kalian again, murder him.” Talon inclined his chin at the other man. Loren had seemingly soldiered through his child-related trauma. He looked up as Talon spoke.

“Awe, Talon, you trust me with your cute husband now? Since when? I’m honored.” Loren rested his hand on his chest, a sly grin spreading across his face. He wasn’t completely back to normal. His sarcasm and smiles were still lacking a little, but I was feeling relieved. My friend hadn’t completely broken the expert fighter.

“Gods, Rah, you’re in charge. If either of them touches Kalian, explode some brains.” Talon sighed, dragging his fingers through his long hair.

“You’re not in charge of me.” Rah called as she retreated to the tent.

At the same time, I gripped his jacket, “Why do you get to put people in charge of me? You’re confused Talon. Who’s in charge here? Not you shadow boy.”

He smirked at me, fingers caressing my jaw lightly, “I have so many things to say, but you seem to have a parasite love. Doesn’t seem appropriate.”

His eyes flicked to the girl and her small hand smacked lightly against his chest as she smiled up at him. I laughed as he glared darkly down at her, “Goodbye Talon. You’re supposed to be watching our child, remember? You didn’t leave him alone, did you?”

Talon frowned at me as the end of my sentence left me fast, anger propelling it, “Yes, I’m completely irresponsible. This isn’t my first day. I made sure someone was watching him.”

He rubbed his neck as I stared at him, “Please tell me you left him with Tyren and Hanja.”

Talon bit his lower lip and slowly let it slide from between his teeth, “If that’s what you want me to tell you, I will my love.”

“Talon.”

“I was short for time-“

“I swear to the Gods if you-“

“He was nearly chomping at the bit to see him and Wyn missed his uncles!”

“Talon,” I pinched the bridge of my nose-channeling Hanja-and glared at him, “Please tell me you didn’t leave him at Murder Manor with Wren.”

“Again, if you want me to tell you-“

“Talon!”

“Technically, I left him home. Eon is staying with him at our house. He’s nowhere near theirs and he’s with Eon. Eon’s a stable, responsible adult.” Talon argued, inching away from my touch.

“Wren’s not there?”

Talon nodded and then faltered, “Nope. Wren was not there…when I left.”

I gripped his collar and yanked him to me, “He’s going to be though?

“Well, love, it’s cruel to tell him he can’t spend time with his partner and favorite nephew don’t you think?” He ducked out of my grip and I couldn’t move fast enough with the girl latched to my side. He grinned and blew me a kiss as shadows spun quickly around him.

“Just wait until I get home. Talon, I swear to the gods!” The shadows swept him out of existence and the toddler on my hip whimpered.

Can’t wait love.

You say that now. I’m going to kick your ass. You can stay in your house in the lower levels. You’re not touching me for a month.

His laugh shuddered across the connection and I wanted nothing more than to squeeze out the reserves of my power so that I could jump and smack the smug smirk off his face. I could picture it. I just knew he was proud of himself.

“You two have incredibly strange foreplay. I am confused and aroused all at once.” I flicked my fingers in Loren’s direction and he narrowly dodged an arc of light meant to smack him in the face. I marched to the tent Rah had, as he called after me, “Weren’t you nicer at one point?”

 

Over the two remaining days it took to reach the capital, one thing was becoming frighteningly clear: Eira was handling things far better than Laika. The teen was deeply disturbed. She hardly spoke, barely ate, and got very little sleep. We were starting to worry that day had ruined the poor thing. Rah had her arm linked through the other girls’ as we made our way down the impossibly long hallway in Eichrin castle. The toddler was on my hip and was busy playing with the moon pendant draped around my neck. Suman was leading the way and Loren kept pace with me to my right. We had all adhered to the dress code today. It felt odd being covered in shades of black. My undershirt was white and it was the only non-black article of clothing I wore. Rah wore a full-length dress that was off shoulder and made of silk and satin. It clung to her and showed off strong, wide shoulders. I pouted softly. Everyone’s shoulders were better than mine and it was unfair.

Suman wore a black velvet tunic that hung to his thighs, silver leather pants tucked into black boots and his hair was swept up and off his neck in a mess of his black spikes. Movement to my right drew my attention to Loren. He was staring at the prince with confusion clear on his features. Loren’s black fitted jacket and black everything else looked out of place on the man too. I was used to his shades of green that matched his normal bright personality. He was a tiny bit like Tyren in that way. I tilted my head as his two different eyes traveled over the other man. My eyebrows rose slowly and he quickly looked away when he saw me looking. His curtain of dark brown and grey hair hid him from further scrutiny. It didn’t matter. I was already freaked out. Loren was looking at Suman as if he was interested in him and it bothered him. Fair. It bothered me that he was interested in Suman as well.

I shifted the child on my hip as Suman opened the door at the end of the hall for us. Once we were through, we continued straight forward. To court. I ran my fingers gently over the girl’s back as she looked around. The court was quieter than Dimian’s had ever been. People lounged on ornate black couches on either side of the room. Many stood in groups as they spoke. No matter where they sat or stood, all of them turned to look when Suman shoved his way into the room. We followed and were met with curiosity, indifference, and downright hostility. A lot of the woman and some of the men quickly chose me as the target of their animosity. It was fine. I was used to it. Jealousy looked good on them. I made myself keep moving with my group, even as I felt my confidence waning. I could tell myself whatever I wanted to, but the stares and whispered words hurt.

I tried to ignore them. Instead, I focused on the six onyx columns that soared from the dark floor to the equally dark ceiling on either side of the room. The windows behind Sumerion’s ridiculous spiked throne were arched and let in all the grey light you could ever ask for. I was drawn back to looking at the throne and the various sharp black and silver pieces that it was built from. Its points rose into the air and made its king seem larger and more threatening. He rested one elbow on the flat arm of the throne. The seats and arms were the only non-pointy parts. I watched the fingers of his other hand tap on his thigh as he watched us get closer.

At last, we were right in front of the throne and the man himself. He seemed focused on the two girls that we’d brought along. I flinched. I hadn’t wanted them to come, but I was scared to leave them alone. I didn’t trust anyone but Loren and Rah and I wouldn’t let the young survivors out of my sight in this accursed place for even a moment.

Sumerion’s eyes landed on the girl in my arms, “Forgive me, I had always thought you were male. I was unaware you were able to produce children, young duke. I’d always heard you referred to as ‘Talon’s bitch’ and everyone spoke of how pretty you were, but I seem to have been mistaken on your gender.”

Whispering and outright laughter filled the room. The king was obviously proud of himself as he smirked down at me. I jumped as Loren let out a sharp laugh, “No one told me this king had a sense of humor. It pairs well with his poor eyesight and ignorance.”

Suman turned to stare at Loren, a grin shifting his whole expression. I stepped forward as I heard gasps and more gossiping, “Your soldiers destroyed an entire village to kill a single child. These two are the only survivors. Unfortunately, I do not possess the ability to conceive.”

“Well, can’t say I’m surprised. You might’ve been useful to Talon if you could.”

Something in me snapped, “I may not possess the ability, but it certainly doesn’t stop your favorite grandson from trying. Vigorously, whenever he has the chance.”

Sumerion was shocked momentarily into silence. Rah took the opportunity to interject, “There was a formal treaty when Delth and Dimian agreed to ally together. A stipulation in that treaty demanded that the persecution and execution of Magik users cease. Dimian opened it’s gates to welcome those with gifts if you did not want them here.”

“Oh, was that in there?” Sumerion stroked his chin. His focus was still on me, anger coloring his grey eyes darker.

Suman’s palm raised and the king’s voice filled the air, “They don’t belong on this planet, let alone in my country! What are they going to do? Monitor my soldiers in my country? I’d like to see them try! I won’t rest until every single Magik user is dead!”

Everyone was staring at the prince, myself included. Suman glanced over his shoulder, snickering when he saw my expression. He wiggled his fingers and his grandfather’s voice cut off but then started again, “The little sun wielder thinks he can order us around. He’s only still alive because he married my grandson. There are plenty of beautiful women in Dleth who would love to be queen! The boy thinks he can keep Talon’s attention when he’s so far from home and surrounded by his own kind? I give it a year before I’m pushing a divorce through to welcome a more fitting marriage!”

I couldn’t stop the laugh that forced its way out. I gathered myself quickly and brushed hair out of Eira’s face, “Anyway, you called for your emissaries and they are here. What pressing matters did you need them for?”

“As far as I knew, there weren’t real emissaries in place.” Sumerion said. His voice was low and dangerous as he looked between Suman and me.

“Suman and I were nominated and we intend to work together as was requested by his majesty.” Rah finished, a hint of doubt coloring her voice as she resisted the urge to look at Suman and see if he’d chosen to cooperate. He’d never given us a real answer. The prince grinned at his grandfather and nodded. Sumerion looked like he was almost ready to explode. I wonder how vexing it was that I had managed to win over another of his grandsons. They continued to defy and hate him. I smiled and Loren smirked at me, crossing his arms.

 

Without having a real reason to call Rah and Suman back to Dleth, the meeting with the king fell apart. He didn’t have much to speak about. It had been another tactic to throw us off and shake our confidence. He’d waved off the slaughtering of an entire village as if it were a common occurrence. In Dleth it probably was. I lay on my face in the tent. There was still light streaming in, but I’d exhausted myself by jumping our entire group as far as I could. I was barely able to stand. I knew it was foolish and dangerous, but I wanted to be home. At the same time, I dreaded it. We’d dropped Laika off with distant family in Luftwan-not far from the safehouse we’d once stayed in. We hadn’t been so lucky with Eira. She didn’t have any next of kin. They’d been wiped out when the village had.

So, she was making the return journey with us. Tyren would know what to do. We could find her a family. She’d be safer in Dimian than she ever would in Dleth. She still had Magik, even though we hadn’t seen it. If she stayed in Dleth, she’d never have a peaceful life.

I closed my eyes and rolled onto my back, sleepily grasping at the connection and trying to pull Talon’s consciousness across it. He came easily after a moment. I smiled to myself as I felt his presence fill my mind. The world around me began to fade and the white room that’d become almost a second home to us began to take shape.

 

It looked different each time. When Talon had first created it, there were no details. Everything was white and it was just him and I. Then when Anders had me, it’d been a couch with the other details not defined. Now, it was a bed much like the one in the seaside estate. I was laying under fluffy blankets and my head was pillowed on his outstretched arm. He laid on his side next to me. I rolled from my back onto my side, nuzzling my nose against his sternum.

“Did you start the trip home?”

“We’re almost through the Humiad Forest.” Fingers collected the hair that’d spilled over my face and he secured it behind my ear.

“That’s a lot of power. You jumped twice two almost three days ago. With horses. The second jump, you added two more people. To jump this time, you’d have all of that plus Loren. You fought Suman with Magik too. You’re being reckless Kalian. This isn’t like you.”

“I am tired, but I built some up over the days we traveled by horse. I wanted to get out of Dleth. I want to be home. I’m sick of this. All of it.” A finger traced down the slope of my nose and then dipped down to tip my chin up. Lips pressed to mine and the warm blanket was pulled tighter around us as if Talon could block out the world. I wish he could. A hand on my lower back encouraged me to scoot closer as he continued pressing slow kisses against my mouth.

“Do you want me to come to you?” He mumbled softly against my mouth.

“No. Wyn. We’ll be there soon. It seems like Suman has agreed to help us. At least for now. I’m not even sure how far it extends at this point. He made a great show of standing with us today against Sumerion. That’s a good sign.”


‘’It doesn’t necessarily mean he agreed to anything. He could’ve simply saw an opportunity to rile up the king.” I closed my eyes and tried not to let his words sink their teeth into my optimism. It didn’t matter in the long run. Suman and I had found a common goal. We both agreed that Sumerion needed to be removed and I would do everything in my power to see it done.

“Sleep, Kalian. I’ll see you soon.”

 

The dreamlike scene fell away. I was back in my tent. I jumped as I rolled onto my side and found Suman sitting in the corner of the tent. He leaned forward when he noticed me, chin cradled in his palm, “It seems, dearest cousin-in-law, that we need to have another chat.”

I apologize. This chapter is really dialogue heavy. I hate dialogue for the record, but I always seem to write so much of it.

I will continue waving my Loren flag until the day I die. I love him 😂

Anyway, thanks for reading/reacting/commenting.

🖤D

Copyright © 2021 Demiurge; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

The enemy of my enemy is a friend is an old concept. They and Suman have a tenuous alliance to rid them of Sumerian. How they can achieve this without civil unrest remains to be seen. The royal house of Dieth all seems to have strong Magik. What gift has Sumerian hidden so carefully?

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What a baby, continuously wailing, whimpering, and whining for others to figure out its needs; what you’d expect from the infant but not the Dleth Crown Prince. I’m not sure he proved a case for why he should have been spared. His one redeeming quality was protecting the teen and the infant of magik.

While Suman is quiet crazy, the King is completely and utterly insane for power and control. Ironic that he should feel superior to one Prince, if not two Princes, that actually have the power he can never possess through his reign of terror; Suman has much to learn, but can he comprehend…

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7 hours ago, Seraph28 said:

Thank you....would I be considered 'insane' for being fond of Suman?😉😂

Insane??? No, but living dangerously, YES.

Anyone that clandestinely attacks the first and only council kingdom’s leaders, in the name of fighting a tyrant, while hopeful to gain help in eliminating said tyrant, and by undermining possibly the kingdom’s if not the world’s most powerful magik wielder is definitely touched; Kalian did ask him to defend why he shouldn’t be executed RIGHT NOW for giving every indication of intent to kill him; yes, he is insane…and lacking social graces too.

@Geemeedee, in honor of Eon and Wren’s relationship, why would your desired matchup of Loren and Suman be any less traumatic…ahem, I mean meaningful; oh goodness are the days of the gatherings of “uncles” going to drive Kalian crazy while entertaining Wyn. Even Talon may join Wren in sharpening the knives.

Ironically, the extreme matchup of the Princes of Light and Dark seems tame compared to that of Eon/Wren and the possibility of Loren/Suman. Is this a mashup of The Addams Family and The Munsters? Hahaha 🤣 

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This chapter was illuminating. You confirmed my impressions of Suman and yet added to his mystery. He's still utterly intriguing and I can't quite pin down his loyalty, but I believe he cares about the children of his kingdom. He's connected to those who cannot defend themselves -- perhaps unwillingly, but the bond is there.

I'm not surprised Loren clocked Suman's manipulation after he'd been the target of it. Noy only is he smart and quick-witted, he is perceptive to the point it could be construed as a flaw. He grew up in the royal court, where being painfully self-aware is a boon. It also explains why he was utterly gutted by Amaris: he allowed himself to be blindsided by someone he should've been able to trust implicitly.

Loren's attraction to Suman isn't completely surprising. The man is a kindred spirit of sorts: an abused and ignored member of the royal family who defied his station by becoming a deadly combatant and a treasure trove of court intrigue. Hell, if I were Loren, I'd be equally turned on and disturbed by my erection.

Rah remains the perfect envoy. She disappears into the background (for the most part) and only applies her influence and opinion when necessary. Likewise, I have to applaud Talon's intervention. If only every spouse was so willing to drop everything and come to their partner's aid.

Gosh, your characters are complex. Even Sumerion, whom I wistfully imagine desperately clutching his bowels after Suman (or maybe Loren) has eviscerated the tyrant.

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