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~