- 2 -
Was there ever hope?
“I still remember my father refer to the old saying: A griffon without wings is a man without pride. I didn’t understand it until later when I met Darius, but that was another story. Now at the end of my journey, I can understand in reflection what really went on that day, but in my naïve state- it was just another day.”
Drake stared at the tall looming doors. All of his instincts were telling him to run, but his mother- the Queen of Glyn- was awaiting him along with his crying brother. He heard the sniffling and whining through the doors. Mustering up his courage, Drake took a deep breath and stepped across the threshold.
Queen Charlotte lounged in her long red chair. She stared out the window at the setting sun with narrowed eyes. The sun brought the red colors out in her hair and lilac gown. She looked like a deviant and dangerous entity in Drake’s eyes. Kaius cried into her side. Kaius cringed when Drake walked in through the doors.
Drake felt like a martyr walking up to his mother. “Mother?”
“You were mean to your brother,” Charlotte said looking out the window.
Her words cut through Drake and sent a tremble through his body. Drake knew his mother would never harm him, but he’d seen her fight and had never been able to get out the ruthless images in his head. Drake had always admired her and his father, but his mother was scarier.
She sighed. “You were mean to your brother again.”
“Sorry.” His eyes looked down at the floor.
“Now what should your punishment be?”
“My queen!” The door burst open and a soldier with our black armor walked in.
Charlotte leapt up and held her sword against his throat. “Well what is it?”
“Vladimir. I’m sorry my lady. The king instructed me to move you out of the castle.”
“Very well.” She sheathed her sword and grabbed Kaius’ hand. Drake trailed behind her.
A memory tugged at Drake’s memory Vladimir was a terrifying man. His cold and calculating gaze when he’d spoke. His look of utter hatred when he’d laid eyes on Drake. But the real reason why Drake found him so terrifying was when Vladimir laid eyes on his mother. She froze and the look on her face was as if she’d seen a ghost. His mother was always so composed and calm, but that look of hers chilled Drake to his bones.
The guard led them to a painting of the family with red draped curtains. Behind the painting was a secret staircase. The guard led them through the secret passageway. It filled with smoke until they reached the exit.
Right outside the walls swords clashed. It was a massacre. Balls of fire laid the outside and the golden cornfields were set aflame. The whole city burned except the castle, which was being broken into at that very moment. Bodies were littered everywhere.
The King and his army was nowhere to be seen in the clearing where the guard, Kaius, Charlotte, and Drake came out.
Sweat broke across Drake’s skin as he followed closely after his mother. He knew the danger of the situation even back then.
The King didn’t leave often because of the peace treaty between the 4 nations: Glyn, Celestin, Caldor, and Yore. And Glyn recently gained momentum from the newly discovered Lyutharian stone mine in the east and the crops were doing well.
Lyutharian stones recently replaced coal as their energy source. They were now on the same playing field as the other nations. The red stones lasted longer and had magik properties. Even though they increased the army’s strength, Vladimir’s rebel force had more and knew how to use them.
Back then Drake was a scared and weak child. He didn’t understand the complexities of war and wanted to be a warrior like his parents- he was naïve.
When they got into the woods on the west side of Glyn, they stopped to rest.
“Where is my husband?” Charlotte asked.
The soldier wiped the sweat from his forehead. “Captured by the rebel force, likely.”
She grabbed the soldier’s neck and slid a knife out from her sleeve. “I asked where he was.” It was almost comical the fear that she struck within the soldier.
“When he sent me, we were in the south-west as Vladimir’s army came at us with arrows alight with fire.”
She slid the knife back into her sleeve. “Watch my boys.”
Drake wanted to protest, but he knew to obey. There was no defying Charlotte. Kaius, however, wasn’t so trained.
“But mommy. I want to go with.” Kaius whined as tears streaked down his face.
Like always, her eyes softened. She sat on her knees and cradled Kaius. “Sh, my little one. I will only be gone for a bit. Your big brother will watch over you. Right Drake?” She peered at Drake, daring him to disobey.
He nodded complacent. Drake didn’t want her wrath focused on him, not that he planned on staying just to watch his whinny little brother.
Charlotte smiled, wryly. Kaius climbed out of her lap and sat down next to him. Drake automatically scooted away.
“Are you sure, my lady?”
“As sure as the three moons in the sky.”
The soldier saluted and Drake watched as his mother disappeared into the forest. He didn’t think he’d see her again.
It wasn’t shortly after that they’d begun moving again. Drake kept up with the soldier’s pace easily, but Kaius was another matter.
He cried, wiping the tears from his face. The soldier picked Kaius up and tossed him over his shoulder. Kaius kicked and screamed, thrashing his limbs around, calling for his mother. It was too late though. She’d already gone.
The cabin wasn’t too far deep into the woods. It was small, but hidden behind a thick willow tree near the swamp. Not a soul would go near without the fear of being robbed by bandits.
There were three small beds inside and some food on a wooden table. There wasn’t anything else.
“We’ll stay here tonight,” said the soldier when he sat Kaius down on one of the beds.
Kaius folded his arm and frowned. His puffy cheeks were red covered with snot and tears. The soldier removed his chain mail armor and sword then placed it beside his bed. He stretched his arms and lay on the bed.
Drake crept to the table and grabbed an orange tearing off the skin. He watched quietly as both Kaius and the soldier closed their eyes. It was his chance. He put a few pieces of fruit in a knapsack and crept near the door. Unbeknownst to Drake, Kaius was completely awake.
Drake opened the door and closed it silently behind him. He made his way back towards Glyn where he saw smoke in the woods.
When Drake reached the clearing, he cowered behind bushes. Vladimir was there and he held a sword to the King’s throat. Drake held in a gasp. Charlotte was in a cage like cart. There were others there as well. Drake hadn’t the time to process the whole scene when he heard a bush rattling right beside him. Kaius hopped out of the bush. Drake instinctively tried to stop him, but Kaius rushed past him, making a beeline for their mother. Drake cursed his luck and his brother, but he could not afford to be rash.
“Mommy,” Kaius cried at the bars.
“It’s alright sweetie.” She looked at her son with sadness. She wished he’d stayed away.
Vladimir grabbed Kaius’ shoulder and threw him to the ground.
“Please don’t harm him!” Charlotte pleaded.
Vladimir sneered at Drake’s trembling brother. He stared at Kaius with wide eyes when he noticed his green eyes.
Drake jumped out from the bushes and placed himself in between Kaius and Vladimir. Drake stood his ground, but he could feel his legs shaking.
“Don’t lay a finger on him,” Drake dared.
Vladimir saw fire alight in Drake’s eyes and sneered at his shaking legs.
“Well Vladimir. What do you want to do with them?” a hooded figured asked.
Vladimir turned his back on the child. “Leave them. They’re of no consequence. Glyn has fallen.”
The cart pulled away.
“Mommie!” Kaius leapt to follow them, but Drake grabbed Kaius’ shoulder and watched as they pull away.