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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Crown Prince Yoshi - 12. Chapter 12

Chapter 12

Midori leaned his elbow on the wooden table mounted under a tree, and watched Yoshi peel peaches. He cut them into pieces, and took a small piece, holding it to Midori’s mouth with a small smile.

Midori took the offering, the sweet taste teasing his senses. He could live this way forever. Yoshi looked happy peeling peaches and slicing them into pieces. His white robes light to counter the heat of Dwind. With each hour the sun lowered, eating up the little time they had left in peace.

“You’re thinking too hard,” Yoshi said, his gaze focused on the peach he was slicing. “What is it now? The war? The allies? Your people?” Yoshi sneaked a glance at him. “Your father?”

Midori hid a smile.

“Why do you ask?”

Yoshi returned his gaze to the peach.

“I’m learning to read you. I’m afraid you’re the sort to keep everything inside.”

“That worry is mine too,” Midori said, remembering Yoshi leading the Earith wars. His one-track mind, never once allowing himself out of the great wall he built around his heart. Admirable for a commander, torturous for a lover.

Yoshi smiled then and held out another slice of peach. Midori took it with a sigh, and studied Yoshi.

“In the palace, the first thing I had to learn was how to hide what I was thinking. My father hated that rule. He would urge me to cry when I got hurt, and laugh when I was happy. My mother on the other hand—

Yoshi broke off and stared at the peach he held.

“I thought she was being cruel to me,” Yoshi said. “Hiding my smiles, my tears, my pleasures, protects me, she said. Not showing my weaknesses. It was the hardest lesson to learn. I tell you this because the only person who I’ll trust truly now is you, Lord General, and that won’t be easy for both of us.”

“I’ve told you before, I’m not afraid of the burden,” Midori said.

Yoshi held out another piece of fruit.

“Then, when we’re alone like this, don’t keep your thoughts from me,” Yoshi said, in a gentle tone when Midori took the fruit and ate it. “Whatever it might be, no matter how small, tell me, Midori.”

Midori moved his chair closer to Yoshi. Taking Yoshi’s right hand, he stared at the peels on the plate.

“How many people have you peeled a peach for in your life?” Midori asked, staring at Yoshi’s hands.

“Three,” Yoshi shifted in his chair, meeting his gaze. “My father, my mother, and now you.”

Midori took the knife from Yoshi’s and placed it on the table. Bringing Yoshi’s hands to his lips, he pressed a kiss on Yoshi’s fingers.

“I was thinking that this might be the last quiet hours I have with you in a while,” Midori said, holding Yoshi’s gaze. “Depending on the outcome, you’ll be back at the palace.”

Yoshi placed the rest of the peach on the plate and reached for the white napkin on the table, using it to wipe his free hand. He brought his fingers to Midori’s jaw, and Midori took in a small breath at Yoshi’s gentle caress.

“My mother,” Yoshi said, holding his gaze. “She concerns you.”

“She’s the Empress,” Midori said. “My father dares treason, wanting what is hers dead. Do you think she’ll look past that?”

“We get through your father first, and worry about my mother later.”

“But—

“We wish to keep this matter until the war is over,” Yoshi said, holding Midori’s gaze. “The Empress Mother is important to me, but so are you, Midori. I’ll do what is needed to keep us together. Do you trust me?”

Midori smiled, leaning closer, Yoshi’s fingers still caressing his jaw. He kissed Yoshi then, sharing the taste of sweet peaches. The taste of spring, so beautifully full, he could never get enough.

“I trust you with my life,” Midori murmured against Yoshi’s parted lips.

Yoshi closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around him, pulling Midori into a tight hug, the peaches forgotten.

With Yoshi in his arms, Midori forgot they were outside, and kissed Yoshi as if they had all the time in the world.

***

Yoshi returned from a short bath in readiness for his meeting with Lilind. He wasn’t looking forward to seeing that ruthless woman, but her support would make his army stronger.

“General Midori is meeting with his men,” Sando said, when Yoshi looked around his quarters and found no sign of Midori. “Lord Lenoth is arranging for supplies and needed input from the General. We’ll have a more comfortable ride back into the Imperial Lands thanks to him.”

“I’m anxious,” Yoshi said, sitting on a stool as Sando helped him dry his hair. “We’ve spent so much time trying to unite the Quads. I worry on what is happening in the palace.”

“The Empress has Sayuri,” Sando said, gently combing Yoshi’s hair dry. “She won’t let anything happen to Her Majesty.”

Yoshi closed his eyes, letting his fear and concerns flood him here with only Sando. After tonight, he would have no time for this weakness. It was the only way to cut down Namik and reach his mother in the palace.

A knock on the door had him taking in a breath of disappointment. Time alone was hard to come by.

“I’ll send them away,” Sando said, moving to answer the door.

Yoshi stood and reached for the inner robes cream robes laid out on the bed. He wore them fast, tying the ends with nimble fingers. Taking the black pants, he slipped them on and turned when Sando touched his elbow.

“Your Highness,” Sando’s tone had Yoshi turning.

Yoshi paused when he saw Tai Migi standing a few feet away.

Sando moved to get the white silk outer robe embroidered with gold stripes on the edges and a red phoenix on the back. A gift from Pipa’s people.

Yoshi extended his arms out and Sando helped him wear the robes.

“You’ve returned,” Yoshi said, meeting Tai’s dark gaze. “My mother?”

Tai reached into his pocket and pulled out a red sachet. He held it out to Yoshi, who opened it and turned over the contents onto his palm.

Yoshi frowned at the rectangular long steel key. Meeting Tai’s gaze, he lifted his brow.

“Has it come to this?” Yoshi asked, shocked.

“The palace is rife with poisoning plots, Prince Tailen’s people fighting to take over spots in the Empress’s retinue, and court officials seeking to name Prince Saki the Empire’s Heir. With news of your life, the Empress has found renewed strength. She will make her move as the Princess Naria arrives at the gates.”

“I should be there,” Yoshi said, gripping the key tight. “She should have let me go to the palace.”

“That key is her safety, once she activates the inner palace’s defenses; you’re the only one who can unlock them.” Tai advised. “Take comfort in that.”

“Meanwhile, she has to face Tailen and his son,” Yoshi cursed under his breath. “What if her plan fails and they are locked in together?”

“The Empress is not without her strengths,” Tai pointed out.

Yoshi sighed. Yes, Almira’s plotting made him wonder if his heart would ever beat in the right way.

Shaking his head, Yoshi started to turn away from Tai, but paused when Tai met his gaze.

“What else?” Yoshi asked.

Tai winced, his gaze sliding to Sando who stood behind Yoshi tying a belt around his waist. Once it was in place, Yoshi murmured.

“Step back.”

Sando picked up the bath cloth Yoshi had used and hurried away to the connecting bath.

Alone, Yoshi frowned when still Tai didn’t speak.

A secret, Yoshi frowned.

“Step closer,” Yoshi ordered.

Tai nodded and closed the distance between them. He shifted close, his face as close to Yoshi’s as he dared, then moved to whisper into Yoshi’s ear.

“The Empress reminds you,” Tai said, just as the door opened and Midori entered the room. “The heart cannot always be trusted. Make no promises to the one close to you. You’re soon to be the Empire’s father; chances for censure must not exist.”

Yoshi’s grip on the key tightened to the point of pain. His gaze on Midori, he fought to remember that Tai was simply a messenger and could not be faulted for his mother’s clear order. Tai stepped back and gave Yoshi a bow.

“I will now help complete preparations to leave the Citadel,” Tai murmured.

Tai left without a word to Midori.

“Everything okay?” Midori asked, approaching Yoshi, a small smile gracing his lips.

He looked handsome in red robes, his jaw shaved clean and his hair held back neatly. Yoshi’s heart rolled in a sweet violent tumble when Midori kissed him in greeting.

“You look,” Midori teased, “like royalty. Tai is back from the Capital. Her Majesty okay?”

Yoshi stepped closer to Midori; resting his head on Midori’s left shoulder. His grip on the key still tight, he wondered how he could love two people destined to fight each other.

Midori rubbed his back and pulled him into a warm hug.

“The Empress is well,” Yoshi whispered, keeping Tai’s message a secret. He hid the key in his robe’s pockets. He didn’t want to fan Midori’s misgivings about the Empress.

Sando appeared on his left holding a heavy gold clip.

“I must secure your hair for the evening,” Sando said.

Midori let go of Yoshi and moved to sit on the edge of the bed while Yoshi sat on the closest stool.

“I feel relieved having Tai around,” Midori stated. “Once we leave this desert, your safety becomes priority. He is a very reliable, deadly man. Perfect for keeping you safe.”

Yoshi held still as Sando pulled his hair into a tight knot on top of his head.

“Don’t get too close to Tai,” Yoshi warned.

“Yoshi—

“It is best for now,” Yoshi said, with a frown.

Midori studied him for a moment, and then sighed.

“Sando, why does the Prince frown so?” Midori asked.

“He is practicing,” Sando answered, finishing with Yoshi’s hair. “See, with his hair up, and the frown on, he certainly plays the role well.”

“What role?” Midori asked.

“Dare to make fun of me and I will make you drink soup in the underworld,” Yoshi warned Sando.

Sando chuckled, and winked at Midori.

“See, he is scary, is he not?” Sando grinned. “He would make a great lord of the underworld. All he needs are fangs, and two horns.”

Midori laughed.

Hearing Midori’s laugh, Yoshi was hard pressed to keep his annoyance in place. So, he got up and chased after Sando intending on tickling him to death instead.

When Sando fell on the long couch, Yoshi wet his index finger and stuck it into Sando’s ear.

“Eww!” Sando scowled, between laughs. “Stop that.”

“Take it back,” Yoshi warned, his tone serious, as he fought off Sando’s attempts to stop him.

“You’re merciless,” Sando complained. “I was only teasing you to stop you frowning.”

“I’m no lord of the underworld,” Yoshi said back.

“I’m not so sure right now,” Sando said. “He surely must have the same mean streak you do. Get your wet finger out of my ear.”

“Take it back.”

“Enough, children, you’re going to hurt each other.” Midori wrapped his arms around Yoshi, brushing his lips over Yoshi’s lips, distracting him enough to save Sando. “Who would have guessed there was such a side to you, Yoshi? I’m charmed.”

“More like annoyed,” Sando said, moving away from the couch, rubbing his ear with his sleeve.

“You should be thankful to have our royal spit in your ear,” Yoshi said, moving to reach for Sando.

Midori stopped Yoshi by literally pulling him onto his lap with a laugh.

“Don’t make such declarations in public, My Lord Prince. People might truly discover the truth about you. Our royal spit,” Sando scoffed and walked off, unimpressed.

Midori kept laughing and Yoshi turned to look at him with a smiling face.

“You’re a mystery,” Midori said, holding Yoshi against his chest.

Yoshi traced Midori’s smile with his fingers, locking the sight of it in his heart. His mother’s words floated away, and he decided he would worry about her orders when the war ended.

“I think I’m ready to face the Sand Queen now,” Yoshi murmured, meeting Midori’s gaze.

Midori nodded after a while, and then held him tight.

****

The Citadel’s main hall was filled with Klud council members and Lilind’s closest officers. Pipa worked with Sema, ensuring plenty of food on the tables, flowing drinks, and a merry atmosphere thanks to the musicians on a dais in the corner.

Lilind stood by the main table, talking to the councilman Miyu and a scholar from the Citadel’s school. Pipa hoped the scholar would not anger Lilind; the matriarch had little patience for educational argument, and less patience for formal gathering. Lilind was only here because the Prince would not meet her anywhere else.

Pipa let out a soft sigh.

“Are you worried?”

Pipa turned to find her mother and father standing behind her.

She couldn’t help her smile. Her parents rarely appeared in official events such as this, Sema must have impressed them with his tales of meeting the Royal Prince. Her brother was thoroughly impressed by the Prince who had let him play in the pool with him.

Pipa accepted a hug from her father, then her mother.

“The hall looks marvelous,” Petri said, smiling at her. “My daughter has outdone herself.”

“Oh Mom,” Pipa waved off her mother’s praise. “I’m worried they will all hate the food, and think the music too boring for royalty.”

“From what I hear, His Royal Highness is not too picky,” Miye, her father said, his gaze searching the room. “Your little brother keeps talking about him.”

Pipa winced remembering an afternoon of Sema climbing all over the Prince. She shuddered at the memory of it. It didn’t make sense that she was the eldest in the family, yet her two brothers kept her on her toes, never once helping her save face.

As though to remind her that there was no mercy to be offered, Sol came into view, clutching Sema’s hand too tight, making him struggle. They headed straight toward them.

“Mom, tell Sema he’s not to jump on the Prince,” Sol said, his expression one of horror. “No matter how much they played together earlier, this is not the time.”

“You’re just jealous,” Sema snapped at his brother. “I got to talk to him with Pipa, and you didn’t.”

Sol sighed and let go of Sema, his expression full of annoyance.

Pipa sighed again, and turned to her mother, her gaze pleading. The two brothers would likely make trouble tonight.

“Where is the Prince?” her father asked, “Is he not here?”

Pipa rubbed her stomach feeling as though the butterflies in her stomach were going to fly out of her throat.

“He has not arrived yet,” Pipa said, concern coloring her tone.

The fact that the Prince had yet to make an appearance worried her. She feared he would rethink the offer to meet Lilind and the nobles. After all, Lilind’s behavior in the desert was beyond acceptable.

While the Citadel had offered its army, Pipa needed Lilind’s support in order to keep Dwind whole. Going to war was a hard decision for her people, especially a war to fight for the capital. She loved maintaining independence from Lilind, but there were those in the Citadel’s Council who wanted Lilind’s support. Without Lilind's approval, there would be no end to the protests of going to war.

Pipa wanted to help the Prince, because it was the only way to gain political freedom from Lilind and those old council members.

“He won’t let you down,” Sema said, interrupting her thoughts. “He is not like that.”

Pipa smiled, and petted her little brother’s head. If only the world were as simple as it seemed to Sema.

Sol moved to stand on her right and squeezed her shoulder, looking older than his sixteen years.

“I’ll help in any way I can,” Sol said. “Semak is mobilizing the soldiers you promised to the Prince. He says not to worry.”

She lifted her hand to stroke his jaw, grateful, but stopped when a commotion started at the entrance.

The Prince’s Chamberlain, Sando appeared at the entrance into the great hall.

“His Royal Highness, Prince Yoshi Taimeng,” Sando announced, and the room stilled, the musicians stopped playing as they stood in respect.

Pipa glanced at Lilind in time to see the matriarch brighten with excitement.

Pipa turned to see the Prince enter the great hall. She took in a breath at the sight of the man she’d dined with by the pool earlier. Yoshi looked different now, dressed to reflect the trappings of his station. Gone was the relaxed man who had joked with Sema. Now, there was only a very powerful man, his aura enough to suppress any lingering doubts in the room. The Furian Telia and the Lord General of Fier flanked the Prince. They made a formidable trio.

Pipa did not miss the black guard entering the hall and spreading out around the walls of the great room.

This was power, she supposed, breathtaking and frightening.

“Your Royal Highness,” Lilind greeted, when Yoshi stopped before her. “Welcome to Dwind.”

She gave him a graceful curtsy, and only rose when Yoshi took her hand and helped her up.

“Lilind of Dwind,” Yoshi said, his tone neither cold nor warm. “Dwind is enlightening. We have had many experiences in the sands.”

“Come,” Lilind said, waving her hand toward the main table in the center of the room. “The people of Dwind are honored to have you here on this auspicious day.”

Yoshi followed her, and took a seat at the head of the table, his shoulders straight, regal with every breath.

Lilind took on the task of introducing Dwind nobles and officials. Conversation moved from introductions to pleasantries, and soon excitement took over as the room came alive with activity. Everyone wanting to meet the Royal Prince and his people. Pipa tried to keep track of Lilind and the Prince but her mother touched her arm, distracting her.

“Will he eat our food?” Petri asked. “It’s frightening, Pipa, serving royalty in our home. What if he gets ill?”

“Stop obsessing, Mom. His people handle his food,” Pipa murmured, holding her breath when the crowds parted and Yoshi appeared alone, heading toward her. When had he gotten up from the table? “Here he comes. Don’t freak out.”

“Oh, Pipa, he is really so handsome,” Petri said, squeezing Pipa’s hand. “Maybe you can marry into the royal family.”

Pipa shuddered as the Prince reached them afraid that her mother would embarrass the family more than Sema ever could. Yoshi was alone, the General from Fier having stopped to talk to two council members and The Furian caught up with Lilind.

“Lady Pipa,” Yoshi said in greeting, his gaze warm. “You have planned a wonderful gathering.”

“Your Royal Highness,” Pipa said, giving him an elegant curtsy. “Thank you for gracing us with your presence this evening. Allow me to introduce my family. My father, Lord Miye, my mother, Lady Petri.”

Yoshi gave both of them a short nod when they gave him a formal bow.

“My younger brother, Sol,” Pipa said, resting her hand on Sol’s shoulder. Beside Sol, Sema stood grinning at the Prince wide. “And you remember Sema.”

Yoshi surprised his chamberlain when he moved closer to Sema and crouched before her young brother.

“You clean up better than me,” Yoshi teased Sema, touching the silver clip holding Sema’s hair on top of his head, and the neat silk grey robes he wore for the occasion.

“And you are really the Prince,” Sema said, in a shy voice, he moved closer to whisper into Yoshi’s ear, though his voice carried. “Can I tell you a secret?”

“Of course, Sema,” Yoshi nodded, not moving away, allowing the boy to brace his hand on his shoulder.

“Everyone’s afraid of you,” Sema said.

“Are they?” Yoshi asked with a small chuckle. “What about you?”

“Not at all,” Sema said with a grin.

“Brave boy,” Yoshi said, patting Sema’s cheek.

Yoshi straightened up, adjusting his robes.

Pipa felt her mother grip her arm, no doubt nervous about Sema’s behavior toward the Prince. It was an offense to touch the Prince’s body without expressed permission. Sema was beyond offence by now, Pipa thought. They were lucky Prince Yoshi had a forgiving nature.

“Be at ease,” Yoshi said, his tone gentle, when he faced her parents. “Your son’s enthusiasm gives us hope. Reminds us why we must fight to protect peaceful times, for the Empire’s future. Lord Miye, Lady Petri, you have a lovely family.”

“Your Royal Highness,” Lord Miye said with a wide smile. “You honor us with your words.”

Yoshi turned to Pipa.

“It is obvious this Citadel is in good hands. As per our earlier agreement, General Midori will oversee the Citadel’s forces. As we head to the Imperial Lands, we will not forget your kindness or the Citadel’s needs, Lady Pipa of the Klud.”

“Thank you, Your Royal Highness,” Pipa said, elated.

Yoshi paused when his chamberlain came up behind him and whispered into his ear.

“I must take my leave now,” Yoshi said, when Sando stepped away.

“Your Royal Highness, I beg you, a toast first,” Sol said, his voice strong as he waved a waiter close. “To the prosperity of the Empire, and His Royal Highness’s great future.”

Yoshi met Sol’s gaze, and for a moment, Pipa feared the Prince would refuse. Her parents breathed out a collective sigh of relief when Yoshi’s chamberlain handed him a goblet. In an instant it seemed, everyone in the room held a goblet.

Pipa turned to Sol, hoping he knew what to say. Words could turn into a diplomatic massacre in seconds.

Sol gave her a small wink and held up his goblet.

“To the Royal House of Taimeng, may it guide our Glorious Empire for generations more and lead us into prosperity. The Klud Clan declares allegiance to His Royal Highness Prince Yoshi Taimeng of Amana, heir to the throne.”

Sol dropped to his knee in a formal bow, his actions leading the guests into similar actions. With one toast, Sol cast the Citadel’s future in with the Prince and hushed the wagging tongues of any critiques.

Pipa rose and watched the Prince drink from his goblet, honoring the pledge. Across the room, Lilind’s gaze studied her and she smiled when Lilind gave her a small nod of approval. When the Prince won the war, their future would surely change paths, Pipa thought in excitement.

***

“I hope you’re not offended by my insistence to meet out here. I like the night air,” Lilind said, when Yoshi joined her outside, leaving the party in progress.

They were relatively alone, though Yoshi knew Tai Migi lurked in the shadows as Lilind kept up a slow walk along the grand corridors of the Citadel.

“To be truthful, we prefer quiet evenings as well,” Yoshi said, folding his arms behind him. “Constant formal constraints have us yearning for a moment of ease. It feels good to be out here.”

“You remain your father’s son,” Lilind noted, warmth in her voice.

Yoshi gave her a sidelong glance, remembering that his father had hated formal events. That she knew it was not surprising. Lilind of the Dunes was a woman of grand age. She didn’t look her years, but her great adventures tied along with his grandfather told enough.

“My Prince Father is long resting in the afterlife,” Yoshi said, “We miss him.”

“He was a good man,” Lilind said, “one who thoroughly enjoyed life.”

Yoshi agreed with Lilind’s assessment. In some ways, Yoshi’s reluctance to take on the mantle of leadership was tied to his father. He craved the freedom to do as he wished, out here. Yet, his destiny was clearly leading him back to that heavy seat of power his mother guarded.

They walked in silence for a while, and only stopped when they reached a balcony showing of the city streets in the moonlight.

“Are you angry with me?” Lilind asked, not looking at him. “The gauntlet in the desert, testing your bloodline.”

“My fury burned out in the fire,” Yoshi said. “Your reasons for testing me, my mother’s reasons for setting me aflame. If I dwell on them, I might raze your quad to fine dust. So, it is best to let it go.”

Lilind turned to him then, amusement in her eyes.

“You talk as grand as your grandfather, Emperor Vulan.”

“What was your purpose for the test?” Yoshi demanded.

Lilind studied him for a moment, and then gave a small shrug, her gaze returning to the city below.

“You’re quite the diplomat,” Lilind praised, evading the question. “Forming an alliance with the Citadel means you have officially given Pipa power to enter the Quad Council in the Capital. She will have power to hold the Citadel’s Council to account. Those old fools governing with her have turned lazy. All they worry about is a quiet life, and do not think of the future.”

“Pipa is ambitious,” Yoshi said. “The future will need her.”

“A future you are trying to forge, with an obstacle laying siege to the Capital. Her Majesty alone in that inner palace. Are you sure she is safe?”

“She is,” Yoshi said, his hand slipping into his pocket to grip the key Tai Migi had brought him.

Lilind spared him a glance, her gaze unreadable. She simply faced him and held his gaze.

“The loving tide of one family leads a whole state to love, with the family’s kindness, the state is kind, yet with the ambition and voracity of one man, the same state falls into a tide of rebellion and unrest,” Lilind stated. “That is the nature of influence. Wise men speak too much, yet there is truth in their words.”

“Are you asking me to consider Namik’s reasons for rebellion?” Yoshi asked. “They are the result of the House of Meng’s greed.”

“The Prince Tailen is not your opponent,” Lilind said, shaking her head. “Namik of Fier means to rule this Empire. If he succeeds in placing that wimp Saki on the throne, the false emperor would only be a puppet. This cannot happen.”

Yoshi frowned.

“Namik’s ambition,” Yoshi murmured.

“You have barely started your fight, yet you cling to the largest weakness,” Lilind noted.

Yoshi bit back a protest, knowing she meant Midori. His heart squeezed tight at the thought of sending Midori away from him. He dared not imagine such an outcome. Somehow, in the past few weeks, Midori had turned into a vital part of his life.

“You are as headstrong as your mother,” Lilind said, when he refused to comment on Midori’s presence by his side. “No matter what I say, you’ll do what you want. As she did with Prince Tailen. I warned her to purge his house from her court, but she ignored me.”

Yoshi sighed, and moved to study a beautiful glass vase filled with flowers. Dwind had a way with glass, he thought. He imagined a vase such as this would draw interest in the capital. Rich households would appreciate the elegance. He made a note in his head to have Sando research on Dwind glass.

“I leave for the Capital tonight,” Yoshi said, his hand dropping away from the glass. “It is much easier to travel without the sun.”

“Your Royal Highness,” Lilind said, her tone unexpectedly formal. She held out her right hand to him. “Your house is now mine, as it was with your grandfather, Vulan Taimeng.”

Yoshi took hers and a warm thrill went through him when she gripped his hand tight. A trail of fine sand swept over his fingers, and he frowned when it wrapped around his right wrist. Warming his skin as the sandy tendrils banded into strong smooth red glass with a phoenix seal.

“My gift to you for making it through the gauntlet,” Lilind said. “One hundred of those elite men you fought in the pit to join your Black Guard. This seal is my allegiance to you, Prince Yoshi. When you are Emperor, it will change accordingly.”

Yoshi stared at the glass band around his wrist.

“I loved your grandfather,” Lilind said, when she let go of his hand. She winked at him. “Our fates were not to be, but that doesn’t mean my love ended. In some ways, I consider you a grandson, though you are not mine. I admit, albeit with a small grudge, that Almira the dragon Empress, has done well bringing you up.”

“That was why the test,” Yoshi scoffed. “What would have happened if she didn’t pair me with a Furian?”

“I would have paired you with a son of Dwind,” Lilind answered. “She beat me to it, allying her house with the Furian Princess. The dye is cast. She is a fire breathing dragon indeed.”

“Both of you excel in naming each other,” Yoshi pointed out.

Lilind looked at him at that comment, and gave a delighted laugh.

“Does she still call me the Sand Queen?” Lilind asked, her tone full of amusement. “Or my personal favorite, the sand-clogged brain.”

Yoshi chuckled and refused to comment, lest it be used against him in the future. He dared not irritate the Sand Queen, or the Dragon Empress.

“Wise choice,” Lilind complimented, leaning on the balcony at ease. “Now that we’re one, all is well, young prince.”

Lilind turned to the city again.

“When there is peace again, Prince Yoshi must visit Dwind again. Promise me.”

“Of course I must,” Yoshi agreed. “I have yet to see the people dance, or ride their horses in the sands.”

Lilind nodded, and stretched out her right hand into the sky. Sparkling sand twinkled in the bright torches lighting the night, and Yoshi marveled at the unexpected beauty.

****

Yoshi left Dwind in high spirits, accompanied by a hundred thousand skilled soldiers. With Tai Migi taking on one hundred of Lilind’s elite men into the Black Guard. Yoshi felt confident in their abilities.

Mostly, he was glad to have Lilind as an ally, though she remained in Dwind to oversee the wellbeing of the people. He didn’t have to worry that Lilind would join Namik’s war.

As they headed toward the Imperial Lands, Yoshi’s gaze strayed to Midori on his right. The man seemed preoccupied this night, but it was expected. It couldn’t be easy meeting your father in battle. It would take more than a few kisses to soothe Midori’s troubled spirit.

Yoshi turned to his left and smiled when he saw Telia keeping her pace with him. Her determined expression enough to let him know that she was anticipating reuniting with the Princess Naria. Her loyalty made him feel stronger.

Joining Telia was Lady Pipa Klud. Her ambition for her Citadel enough to drive her to a war that had found her in a peaceful home. He had promises with her, Yoshi thought. Promises he hoped to realize in the future.

Behind him, Sando brought up the rear, no doubt worrying about all the minute details Yoshi didn’t have time to think about now. So many important souls surrounding him, Yoshi thought, gripping Senbon’s reigns tight. Each one placing their trust and hope on him. At another time, the weight of it would have frightened him.

Now…he rather hoped he wouldn’t let them down. Yoshi wanted to fulfill their dreams, and create the peaceful Empire they all needed. Namik’s hatred had brought him an interesting band of allies, one he didn’t think he would have made without this war.

Urging Senbon into a faster pace, Yoshi felt excitement race through him as everyone around him increased pace to match him. He set them on a wild ride across the desert. Hurtling towards the Imperial Lands and a battle that would decide the fate of an Empire.

****

2012 lilansui
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  • Love 8
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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“The loving tide of one family leads a whole state to love, with the family’s kindness, the state is kind, yet with the ambition and voracity of one man, the same state falls into a tide of rebellion and unrest,” Lilind stated.  “That is the nature of influence."

 

Wise words applicable to many generations, some more than others....

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So happy to see  this story continuing!!! Love the love between Midori and Yoshi...adore Sema and his indomitable personality and honesty! Awesome chapter...can't wait for the arrival at the palace!!! :worship::heart:

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I look forward to the next chapter and to the battle that Yoshi faces.  The biggest and most important battle of his life.  He is surrounded by good, strong people and I am confident in his success.  But at what cost?  Hopefully not that of losing Midori.  The deserve to be together.

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I think that's one o your best chapters so far.

Poetry in the words, magic in the sky. Politics, feelings, family etc.. You play on every scale 

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