Blessed Alliance (p. 2)

The cabin hall fell deathly silent in awe. Sӧlitha made her way through the crowd as he spoke. A fit of wrath surged through her weary core as she blurted out, “Brother, surely you speak in jest or from simple madness acquired by your injuries. It is well known to all by now that you intend for this human-woman to become your betrothed. The appointed occasion has not yet arrived.”

Lady Rüvym appeared from the far end of the hall, near the infirmary doorway. She interjected with a thunderous voice that echoed down to where everyone stood.

“In truth, our great king is neither facetious nor does he suffer from any wound-inflicted madness. Before the fall of Phëläniciä, I witnessed the sacred marital rituals performed in the Valley of Lilies. Therefore, Malaykah is our Divine Queen who shall rule alongside His Majesty, King Alëxios.”

Alëxios wasted no time to address the medic, who by then stood with his jaw wide open.

“Now, for the last time, I order you to attend to her at once.”

The medic bowed and led the way to the infirmary. All eyes anxiously followed the king to their destination. At first, the medical staff wrestled with Alëxios to give Malaykah a proper examination. Then, she was placed on a cot and given several heated blankets to treat hypothermia. A dislocated shoulder from the fall was determined to be the source of her pain. When she awakened, the medics drew heavy brown wool curtains closed for privacy. Finally, the slender medic nodded at Alëxios to sit her up.

She leaned her head on his chest for support while the staff discussed the best method to reset her shoulder in place. They fretted over, angering the king further by causing more distress. There was no way to get around the pain that would be inflicted to set her bone back into its socket. Malaykah’s eyes swelled with tears.

Without moving her mouth, she said, “I am in pain now, but not afraid of what will come next. My actions were of my own volition. I wanted to be brave because I know that you are. I wanted to help everyone; it was the least I could do.”

Alëxios gently clutched her closer and nestled his chin in her hair.

“My kinsmen are fortunate to have such a strong queen. All of Phëläniciä is grateful for your service. I could not be prouder to be your lovemate,” he replied out loud.

It startled Malaykah that Alëxios heard her thoughts. Though her body had been thoroughly warmed with blankets, she began to convulse with anxiety. A short blonde nurse injected a syringe with a numbing antidote into her shoulder. As she relaxed, the slender medic switched places with Alëxios. Once the nurse braced her up, the medic forcefully rammed her shoulder bone into its socket.

~Ch. 14, Somewhere Beyond the Stars and Sea~

Blessed Alliance

Alëxios chose to forgo the customary greetings with the mayor in favor of demanding immediate treatment for Malaykah. He stormed through the halls with his arms full. He had insisted on carrying her since the moment she was retrieved from the icy river. Nine members of the waitstaff and three physicians frantically attempted to treat the king.

Alëxios dodged and weaved through the vexed crowd, which shook the very foundation of the house. No one in the cluster was fast or strong enough to catch him. He only stopped jostling about when Malaykah seemed to rouse back into consciousness. She had been slipping in and out for quite some time.

She opened her mouth to let out a faint raspy whisper.

“You’re hurting—I hurt—my shoulder—“

Alëxios gasped in horror, then lowered his forehead onto hers.

“Forgive me, my love,” he whispered before looking up at their audience. “Why do you stand like mindless statues?” he roared.

An old slender medic with bronze skin and blue hair sauntered behind Alëxios to fretfully tap him on the shoulder.

“My Lord, we meant no offense. In fact, we are here at your service to tend to your wounds. Therefore, please allow us to examine you at once,” he said.

Alëxios tilted his head back with a glare that could quickly have burned a hole in the cinder walls of the cabin.

“You seem confused. I stand before you, fully alert and well enough to show you that someone important has a greater need for care than me. Surely you can know this; unless there is sand in your ears, lack sight, or are incompetent. There is no need to examine me, he replied.”

The medic glanced at Malaykah’s lifeless body (she passed out once more), then back at the king.

“Sire, we can attend to the maiden in due time. But, at this very moment, our main concern is for your wellbeing,” he answered confidently.

For a brief moment, there was silence. No one knew precisely what the temperamental king would do or say next. He stood motionless with his eyes closed.

“Clearly, you do not understand. She is NOT just a maiden,” he exhaled sharply.

The lead physician took a step forward to look closer.

“Ah, yes! She must be the magnificent Divine Maiden. Her arrival has been acclaimed throughout the realm,” he answered.

A long silent pause kept the crowd nearly breathless as they awaited the king’s response.

Alëxios laughed maniacally, then stopped. “She is the Divine Queen of Phëläniciä, both deity and royalty,” he announced with venomously darted eyes at the medic.

~Ch. 14 (revised), Somewhere Beyond the Stars and Sea~

Divine Interlude

The dark night sky was unmerciful to the war-worn travelers. After what seemed like endless hours of trudging through an icy river, the Phëläniciäns took their continued trek to land. The sounds of women and children bitterly weeping echoed through the thick black forest. 500 Wounded soldiers marched in formation with a dignified ceremonious demeanor. Byakko led his remaining dragons to form a protective air flank around them.

It came as a great surprise when they exited the forest and arrived upon the seaport town of Bäussëll to see that the city had not been exposed to the fallout from the siege of the neighboring kingdom. The villagers slept soundly in their warmly lit cottages, utterly unaware of the massive destruction that took place merely hundreds of miles away. A Phëläniciän Royal Officer named Künsey led the distraught party up a long hill towards the mayor’s house.

The lavishly huge manor rested atop a cliff, which overlooked both the town and the ocean. The mayor’s staff scrambled to quickly rouse his household at the insistence of Künsey. Mayor Cläuveous instantly sprang into action by having his staff attend to the immediate needs of the Phëläniciän refugees. Physicians were called to the manor, bakers were mandated to prepare a feast, and nuns were sent to the sanctuary to calm the young Phëläniciän children. None of this was an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence. On the contrary, Bäussëll had a respectable alliance and a long-standing treaty agreement with the kingdom of Phëläniciä .

~Ch. 14, Somewhere Beyond the Stars and Sea~

A Gem About Moï

For the most part, I am good at making decisions. I manage my affairs with a sound mind. However, there are legitimate moments when I cannot muster enough critical thinking skills to “land the bird.” Folks might not know or understand my lavish attraction to candy. I love all kinds, really. That’s why (a memory of my twenty-something-year-old self) a trip to a candy store haunts me to date.

I remember going in with feverish excitement and spirited determination. I wanted something, but wasn’t sure of what it was. I couldn’t decide how much I wanted or if I should mix it with something else. I panicked; my throat was dry and I felt hollow on the inside. A bead of sweat ran down my forehead, only to collide with a single tear drop. I ran out of the store without ever speaking to the clerk, let alone buying anything.

Today I went on a mini adventure. I almost regretted it as soon as I began because I felt like an outcast and I didn’t know what to buy. I’m glad I didn’t run away. That was a big step for me. I found some items that I liked and was confident in my choices. I thought the relief I felt when I sat back in my car was enormously satisfying, but when I shared my gifts with my family they made me feel like a Powerful Queen for having such good insight and taste.

Illuminated Reflection

I used to believe the sun and moon were lonely, like me. They both reside in a realm of isolation, like me. They both are continuously subjected to ridicule and praise, like me. The only difference is that they never wallow in despair from lack of gratification. They take pride in how they bring warmth and illumination to all near or far. They never despise their reflection because they know their worth. I aspire to be like the sun and moon.

Baptism of Chaos (p. 3)

They arrived upon a large bronzed metal circle plate that covered a hole in the ground. Malaykah and  six maidens retrieved sticks to wedge the circle up. Meikko used her mighty tail to nudge the plate away from the hole, which revealed an opening big enough to fit several bodies through. One-by-one, they each staggered down a stairway into a dim-lit tunnel. They walked for several miles until the cobblestone path led directly to a river. The river was waist-deep to the average human. Phëläniciän women and children variously ranged in height, so it was decided that the weakest and smallest would ride on top of Meikko’s back to get through the river.

Lady Rüvym and other ancient royal constituents climbed aboard after the children were settled. Sӧlitha wrestled to carry a small onyx-toned little girl, in order to petition for a spot on the dragon. The tot fiercely protested, obviously in favor of remaining with her mother and older siblings. Malaykah watched from behind as Sӧlitha abruptly shook the child, then slammed her down on the stone ledge of the tunnel. She turned around to meet Malaykah’s gaze, without so much as a gleam of remorse in her eyes.

The little girl stood passively braced up against the ledge with a thumb in her mouth. She watch Meikko trail away then began to wail. Malaykah pitied her for being put in such an undesirable situation. The child had been separated from her family when the river’s currents swept them far ahead within the traveling party. Malaykah steadied herself enough to snatch the child onto her hip. This time the girl did not protest, but instead wearily nestled her head on Malaykah’s breasts.

The passageway narrowed and the footpath steepened. Soon, those who walked found themselves swimming into deep water. The situation became direr when a series of loud explosions were heard from above. The tunnel rocked, causing the water to rise overhead. Malaykah quickly swam to the surface with the child clinging to her for dear life. Most of the riders safely clung to Meikko’s matted fur, and were able to resist falling off. Malaykah gave the toddler to Lady Rüvym for safe keeping so she could survey the area for anyone in need of assistance.

Suddenly, the pace of the current quickened. Malaykah held her breath and dove underwater to swim ahead. She gasped to see they were all headed towards the exit way of the tunnel, which led to a giant waterfall. There was nothing she could do to stop them. She yelled at the top of her lungs to warn them, “HOLD ON!”

The party plummeted out of the tunnel inside the rapids of the waterfall. It was at least a forty-foot plunge. The night sky was filled with more explosions that reminded Malaykah of the many Forth of July celebrations she’d participated in with her family back home. She clutched onto a falling she-wolf, who had long been a part of the king’s harem. Malaykah used her own body to shield the maiden as they crashed into the ocean.

When she awakened, she felt her body moving downstream in icy cold water. Her senses were dulled, but she knew she was being carried by someone and her right arm was stiffly numb. She looked up to see Alëxios’s determined face. He smiled down at her, then continued to stare off into the distance. She noticed the bloody gash just above his eyebrow. He’d obviously given the Tengu hell before joining the evacuation effort. Malaykah rested her head on his well-defined collarbone and watched Byakko and twelve other dragons tow the remaining survivors.

~Ch. 13, Somewhere Beyond the Stars and Sea~

Baptism of Chaos (cont.)

Malaykah froze in astonishment at the violent scene, which reminded her of something from out of a horror film. She tried desperately to process the melee. Since the castle grounds and city were all still fairly new to her, it was hard to decipher their precise location through the flaming smog. Breathing in the smoke made her lungs burn as if she’d swallowed a pitcher of acid. She was able to somewhat come to her senses, only after Lady Rüvym clutched her arm with throbbing force.

Meikko decided it was best not to fly so they would not crash into an unseen wall, pillar, or pole. Slowly, the trio trekked towards what was deemed the southern lane. They each stopped on several occasions to recover from slipping on bloody cobblestone. Suddenly, a thick liquid rained on them from the sky. Malaykah covered her mouth when she realized it was simply more blood.  

The surviving Phëläniciän citizens clamored about trying to sift the severely wound from the dead. Families hid beneath debris and broken boulders from the battered castle. Livestock and the entire market square had been burned to rubbish. A deathly-foul stench masked the multitude of sweet flower garden fragrances that once made Phëläniciä a coveted kingdom.

Alëxios managed to fight with divine alertness and unimaginable clarity. He sliced through the grounded Tengu with ease, as he knew Byakko and the other dragons tore the enhanced Tengu to shreds from up above. In his mind, he reminisced on the duels he had with his deceased father in the borderlands of the Gods. It was there that he learned build stamina and to control himself through visible and invisible elements. He proved himself to be a formidable threat to the Tengu clan who brazenly stormed his castle.

It was his nature as a God of War to relish the opportunity to crush opponents. The sound of his katana slicing through scores of bodies drowned out the noise of burning screams. He felt a euphoric rage surge his senses. The death toll on either side was of no consequence.

A giant Tengu emerged out of the crowd. He could have easily been one of General Torahgän’s offspring, being that he was well over eight feet tall. The over-sized mallet he twirled in his hand was twice the size of most of their weapons. Alëxios dodged each attempted blow, which infused the Tengu’s anger. At one point, their weapons locked mid-air for an unknown amount of time. The gridlock was broken when the Tengu’s arm slipped as he became weary. Alëxios bested him with the same leg sweep he performed on his father. Before the Tengu had a chance to recover, Alëxios cut a clean strike and beheaded him.

~Ch.13, Somewhere Beyond the Stars and Sea~

Baptism of Chaos

Lady Rüvym beamed with pride, as Byakko lent his enthusiasm that their king had finally found his match. Their sense of relief for the kingdom to enter into an era of wholeness was not lost on Alëxios or Malaykah. The unprecedented event for two deities to unite had not even been predicted in the ancient Mystic Scrolls.

Unfortunately, the blissful serenity abruptly came to a halt when the party caught a glimpse of a medium-sized green dragon fly nearby. They all quickly climbed a mountain side for a better view. The dragon immediately turned around and changed its course to engage with them. Malaykah tensed up as she allowed Lady Rüvym to rest against her shoulder.

Byakko lunged into the air to talk to the green dragon. “Meikko, what news have you at this hour?” he asked.

The green dragon reported without delay, “Father, the north wall has fallen and the palace is under siege. We have been overrun by the Tengu clan, who have undoubtedly employed the aid of dark arts to take to the sky.”

Both dragons landed before Alëxios and bowed in reverence. Lady Rüvym doubled over in horror. Byakko growled with rage, but tempered his wrath in front of the royal family. He looked at Malaykah’s puzzled expression, and thought best to confer with everyone present to avoid the waste of anymore time.

“My Queen, through unfathomable circumstance I would like to introduce Meikko. She is my daughter, eldest of my litter, and Captain of the dragon guard.”

Meikko bowed politely and looked at her father in disbelief, not fully aware that the king had just recently taken a bride. Alëxios cut the introduction short in an effort to get more details about the attack on the palace. He nodded his head for the younger dragon to continue their briefing. “What has happened?” he asked.

Meikko turned her attention to the king and began, “Hours after you took gravely ill, the footguards put all of their attention on the inquiry. Somehow a Tengu slipped inside the northern wall and found the underground entrance to the labyrinth leading to the courtyard. Once inside, a flare was lit to signal for the rest to scale the drawbridge and breach the gate. Before the first-responding sentry had a chance to retaliate, they were struck by a spray of arrows which fell from the sky.”

Alëxios clasped his hands over his face with grief. “They waited for the perfect opportunity to attack, as the entire kingdom focused on my recovery.”

Byakko interjected, “Do not place any blame on your perilous circumstance, my Lord. Clearly the Tengu devised this plan beyond the scope of your poisoning. That mock-battle we had hours before then was meant to serve as a distraction.”

“To which we all let our guards down, as they expected we would,” Alëxios countered.  

Lady Rüvym recovered from nearly fainting and pushed away from Malaykah’s arms. “We mustn’t dally any longer, or there will be no kingdom to return your bride to!” she instructed.

Alëxios looked at his grandmother and then Malaykah. A shadow of frustration and anxiety darkened his eyes. He knew that he could not leave them in the valley without protection, but also needed every able-bodied soldier to defend the palace. There was no safe place for them to hide. Ultimately, he decided they should all return to the palace at once. Though his concentration would be on reclaiming his territory, he put faith in Malaykah’s presence as a divine entity. Her task would be to assist Lady Rüvym with guiding the Phëläniciän citizens to the evacuation route.

With the assistance of the dragons, they all swiftly arrived at the border of the castle. The dreadful scene was almost too much too handle, as the city was engulfed in roaring flames. Byakko flared his nostrils while they descended in the courtyard. Bloodcurdling screams could be heard from every direction, and smoky flames obstructed the view for miles around.

After instructing Malaykah on where to look for the escape route, Alëxios gripped the hilt of his sword and charged into the fray of the battle. Byakko enlisted Meikko to guide the Queen and Lady Rüvym. “Tarry here no longer!” he said before joining alongside Alëxios.

~Ch. 13, Somewhere Beyond the Stars and Sea~