Alëxios approached them anxiously. He looked exhausted and was covered in Faerie blood. His eyes reflected a deep sadness. The battle weighed heavy on him, considering he had to execute those of his kin who also rejected him. It could not have been an easy task. Byakko and Meikko were well aware of the gravity of the situation.
He looked at Meikko and asked, “What news have you? Where is Malaykah?”
At first, Meikko did not respond. She could not look him in the eyes and began to tremble in anticipation of his wrath, especially after her father’s rebuking.
Byakko nudged her briskly with his tail and said, “Hold your head up and address the king at once, soldier.”
Meikko did not stall this time and did as she was commanded.
“Lord Alexios, I humbly beseech your mercy. Queen Malaykah insisted upon assisting with the cannons. The Faeries that did not perish on their naval ship took to flight and quickly discovered the source of where our ammunition flowed. We had no choice but to engage in combat. It was then that I lost sight of the queen. When I realized that she was no longer among us on deck, I searched for her immediately. Captain Mi’yämë sent his mate to help me. We put on an aggressive investigation, but the Faerie army was relentless in their attack. It was not until after we defeated our foes that we learned of her whereabouts. Regrettably, Captain Mi’yämë fetched his dying mate from the sea. With his last breath, Trëgӧürnë recounted how the eunuch roughhoused the queen and kidnapped her. Captain Mi’yämë determined that the eunuch must be in search of the Őrb because we found your She-wolf maiden dead from a slit throat.”
Alexios remained silent to mentally and physically absorb all of the information delivered. Fortunately, his temperament was not initially swayed into fury. Instead, he paced about composedly, which was a surprise to both Byakko and Meikko. However, his silence kept them in suspense, so Byakko abruptly interjected.
“Bässäm has gone rogue. I knew we could no longer put our confidence in him once he became emboldened by Sӧlitha to verbally assault Queen Malaykah at the palace. He did not express an ounce of gratitude at her leniency or her request to help guide the maidens back to their homelands. We played right into his scheme when we decided Känëbräl’s home would be the last stint of our tour. She lived not far from the Tri-cities region. I am certain Captain Mi’yämë also wanted to stop off there, to search for the Őrb.”
Suddenly, all the color drained entirely from Alëxios’s face. His look of contained alarm shifted to anguish, and tears swelled in his eyes. Byakko and Meikko glanced nervously at each other, not knowing what to make of his drastic mood change.
“My Lord, have you taken ill?’ Byakko asked.
Alexios pursed his lips together, then let out a heavy sigh. He chose his words carefully as if he did not want to relay what he had experienced.
“In truth, I have listened to your reports and concurrently communicated with The Ultimate Creator, Chrëst. I am quite disturbed by both messages delivered to me. A shocking revelation has come about.” He walked up to the highest point of a cliff and stared blankly out at the canyon below. Byakko and Meikko curiously joined him.
Alëxios continued to speak, “Meikko reported Malaykah was forcefully hauled off Captain Mi’yämë’s vessel by the eunuch, Bässäm. I was just informed they then traveled to the cove of deep waters, where he sought out the oracle. From there, Bässäm entreated Mäüdräh’s support to locate the Őrb. The Moon witnessed those events and has demanded a trial be held. Chrëst agreed to her demand. Therefore, I must journey to the Tri-cities to retrieve Malaykah and bring her to The Moon.” A steady stream of tears drifted down his face, and the canyon quaked with a low tremble. “The 3rd Season of Judgement will be rendered at the trial,” he said.
“What will become of our queen?” Meikko gasped.
Alëxios answered in a distant tone, “I can only conclude Mäüdräh’s trickery caused catastrophe to befall my bride. The Moon’s offense will not decipher between an innocent victim and delinquent crooks. If Malaykah is to be punished for Bässäm’s attempt to steal the Őrb, I am certain no mercy will be shown to her, given she is a foreigner to this realm. The eunuch’s fate is of no consequence. My only concern is for Malaykah. I failed to protect her in every dire moment of her time here. Even after the siege, my performance did not improve. Not once did I imagine she would fall into the clutches of such immoral creatures. This fiasco is entirely my fault because I did not make her my priority, and now she must suffer.”
Since his arrival in Phëläniciä, King Alëxios did not shed a single tear. After his rescue from captivity, he vowed to keep his injured feelings locked away from the rest of the world. However, Captain Mi’yämë’ and the rest of the Sea Pirates persuaded him to use his wrath as a tool to weaponize their cause with the powers of a god. Aside from his grandmother, Malaykah was the only living being he felt comfortable enough to show his vulnerable side with. In this instance, he allowed himself to share his grief with Byakko and Meikko because he could not contain his sorrow.
~Ch. 26, The Realm Beyond the Stars and Sea~