1st Year Finale

The Alpha squad dismissed from class shortly after a quick debriefing. Each team member was sent to the infirmary for observation to ensure no neurological or physical damage had occurred during the experiment. As they were released to lunch, Savoi asked everyone to and share their feelings. Her reluctant comrades caused more tension between them. Farouk continued to sulk silently long after his memory sequence ended. Roudan wanted to say something encouraging, but was dismayed when Shevchenko returned to giving him the cold shoulder. Yoshida dared not speak, in fear that his apathetic nature would only agitate Savoi and result in chastisement.

Before they assembled in the chow hall, Savoi took command of the group. She had always felt it was her duty to assess and rally her team’s spirits for the success of their squad.

“Look everyone, I know things got awkward for us just a little while ago. I think it’s important to remember that even though we didn’t start with common goals, we have them now. The pain and trauma from our pasts were conjured to fuel our desire to end the war once and for all,” she said, then turned to Farouk. “Maaz, there is no shame in your story. You loved a girl who did not feel the same energy towards you. She used and hurt you deeply. Since she isn’t here to apologize, please allow me to do it on her behalf. I’m sorry for your troubles,” she said.

Farouk teared up at being acknowledged, finally.

“I loved Taqdeer since we were tots at the ashram. Every part of her smile, gorgeous hair, and smooth olive skin kept me afloat. I thought we were so similar, she was even shy like me. I was blind, and almost killed my beloved Taha because of it,” he said.

Yoshida fixed his lips to speak, but shrugged at Savoi’s cold glare. Then he pat Farouk on the shoulder to show support. Savoi could see that he really wanted to offer his empathy, so she nodded with a warm smile. Yoshida took the gesture as a sign of good faith.

“I would like to apologize to you as well. I’ve given you grief since we arrived from the MEPS station, without warrant,” he said. Savoi’s smile beamed brighter, which gave him a chill. Though he felt he had given Farouk his just due, her eyes told him she wanted him to continue. “I’m sorry about the girls and everything else,” he shrugged.

Shevchenko took offense to the display of affection Yoshida poured over Farouk, which was not provided after her memory sequence. In fact, he barely spoke a word in her direction. She glanced at Roudan to see if he also had bought into the mushy feelings fest. To no surprise, he had.

Roudan gently nudged Farouk on the chin and said, “You spruce up rather nicely, kid.”

Shevchenko did not want to be left out of the bond her squad had formed. “Come on, let’s get some much-needed chow.” She briskly grabbed Farouk’s hand to pull him through the doors. ‘You have an amazing palace. The textbooks give it no justice,” she said.

For the rest of the 1st term, the Alpha squad trained rigorously to function as a unified team. Countless hours were spent in developmental courses which established the principal foundations of their core studies. Both the midterm and exit exams proved to be a daunting for each member. During this period, intel had discovered at least thirteen separate deadly skirmishes within the kingdom. The dueling houses had increased their manpower significantly. This caused great to the Tribunal Council, who then reached out to General Benavides. He assured them that Calvary Academy hosted several promising cadets that would be vital in leading the demise of those insurgents. One afternoon, he summoned Roudan to his office. Roudan was instructed not to notify his team of the meeting.

When Roudan arrived, General Benavides had prepared a chess game for them to play. Roudan sat stiffly in the plush armchair. The room was thick with tension and the stench of Brandy flavored cigars. A little-known fact was that General Benavides fancied circus clowns. The walls were covered top to bottom with portraits of medieval clowns. Roudan found this twisted sense of humor equally unsettling as the permanent scowl the General donned every day.

The men play for several hours with little talk. Benavides was impressed with Roudan’s level of skill. Roudan won nearly as many matches as the General. Eventually, the tension eased into a mutual respect. Benavides won the final round and celebrated with a cigar. Roudan respectfully declined his offer to join him.

Benavides drew long on his cigar, then sighed heavily.

“I suppose we should get down to the business of why I brought you here,” he said.

Roudan tensed up again, realizing the fun time was over. He leaned in inquisitively to listen.

Benavides took in another drag, then puffed his words out like a steam engine.

“The time will soon come when you will have to lead your squad into the fray to defend our kingdom. It is imperative that you are ready. As it stands, everyone is still very fragile. I imagine the lingering effects of the memory sequence experiment have each member licking their wounds. You must toughen them up and draw them out of themselves. The entire kingdom will not survive through many more outbursts of the rebellions fueling this war.”

Roudan left the General’s office shortly after that warning. It both sobered and tormented his spirit.

~The Waring Robins~


Alëxios sent the lead physician to treat Malaykah with medicine to help her rest comfortably, though he was unsure how well the antidote had taken effect. His severe headache made it clear that he was no longer privy to her thoughts. It would be impossible to know whether Malaykah made that choice on her own or if it was due to the pregnancy. Two things he knew for sure; she was in excruciating pain and terrified of something at the same time.

Alëxios demanded a conference with The Jade Rabbit and Lady Rüvym to get to the bottom of it all. He was enraged and worried for Malaykah’s safety. When the two entered his study, Alëxios verbally pounced on ‘Yù tù.’

“I demand you tell me the meaning behind Malaykah’s condition at once! Has she been ruthlessly sabotaged by The Moon? I believe she was set up and impregnated with an evil demon,” he said.

‘Yù tù’ became indignantly offended by the accusations hurled at him.

“How dare you speak of such vile things regarding the pure intentions of The Moon and her innocent children! We may have your ancestor, Lord Chiyou, to thank for the queen’s present state. All who knew of him declared him a monster, and it is written in the Sacred Scrolls as well. However, let us not forget; it is your seed that was merely fertilized with The Moon’s essence,” he replied.

Alëxios raised his voice loud enough to shake the entire palace.

“All that I am sure of is that I refuse to rear a motherless child! Malaykah had better be revived back to health promptly!” he exclaimed

The Jade Rabbit bounced high in the air, then on a long desk.

“Or else, what?” he asked defiantly.

By then, Lady Rüvym had enough of the shouting match.

“Stop this madness, this instance! Both of you shall put aside your enormous egos in favor of reason. Queen Malaykah is half-human. In truth, we all were concerned whether she would even successfully conceive, let alone carry Alëxios’s offspring to full term. Couple that with the essence of The Moon. Her children are the most powerful elements to be manifested within the realm. Malaykah’s divinity has never been questioned here, but her humanity is what is at odds. Her human traits have been dormant all the while, but now it appears the matter must be reconciled as she prepares for the birth of a triple-divine heir,” she explained.

‘Yù tù’ gasped, “Ah, now that made perfect sense!”

Alëxios sat in his chair with his head buried in his hands.

“I do not understand. The Moon specifically chose her for this surrogacy. Why would she do so with the awareness that it might harm Malaykah.”

“The Moon saw this plan as a perfect solution. She would not have made the demand if she thought it would not succeed. Malaykah is stronger than you give her credit. We watched from afar while she was in the Tri-cities. Her displayed divinity, compassion, and tenacity (be it a human trait or not) made her the most admirable and desired creature in the realm to The Moon,” ‘Yù tù’ chimed.

“Unfortunately, we shall all have to wait this out and pray Malaykah can survive this daunting task,” Lady Rüvym replied.

~Ch. 31, The Realm Beyond the Stars and Sea~

Between Realms

Malaykah decided to take a walk outside to clear her head. A light rain shower began during her stroll, which made her glad that she thought to bring an umbrella. The rain soothed her mind but often made her joints ache.

“You always looked divine in the rain,” a familiar voice said behind her.

Malaykah tilted her head back to see Alëxios.

“I hope you’re not expecting an Orisha dance,” she chimed.

“You captivated me with your dance,” he replied with sincerity.

Malaykah laughed and said, “I haven’t danced in years.” Her face sobered, and she stopped walking. “The doctors told me I have a weak heart. Apparently, there’s some kind of unknown enzyme attacking my entire body from inside.”

Alëxios turned her around to face him. He was drenched from the rain, so she lifted her umbrella over his head.

“Their diagnosis is all wrong. You have the strongest heart of anyone I have ever met. Unfortunately, though, it appears your onset of suffering stems from your time within the realm. Think of it as an adverse effect on your humanity.” He affectionately ran his fingers through the coils of her all-white tresses, then said, “I stand before you now, and your eyes are just as vibrant as the night we met in your garden.

Malaykah gushed at his flattering praises, then glanced away to look at a flickering street light.

“I’m not the same as when we met, and certainly not how I was in the realm,” she replied.

Alëxios tilted her face back to him. His eyes glowed, as hers did in response.

“Do not mistake me for any human men who are merely attracted to fleeting appearances. On the contrary, I am a deity who continuously requires your soul next to mine. I cannot rule my kingdom if you are not seated on the throne at my side,” he said.

“I haven’t been to the realm in over nine years. At this point, I don’t believe it’s even possible for me to return,” she answered in distrusted confusion.

Alëxios grinned slyly, then said, “Have no fear. Künsey and I will dwell with you here in the human realm. I consulted with The Moon to have the goddess Isis create him an amulet that would allow him to enter this realm without any harm to come. As you have seen, he is well able to manage our affairs.”

“Well, I suppose you have it all figured out then. You came here with no disadvantages. I love how the two of you arrived as successful businessmen,” Malaykah chuckled.

Alëxios caressed her bottom lip with his index finger, then said, “The only realm that I would be at a disadvantage in is the one where you refuse to be by my side.”

She kissed the tip of his finger and replied, “There is no such place.”

Alëxios proposed that they marry right away, but Malaykah postponed the event in favor of allowing her family to get to know him. J’aime and her children were instantly taken in by his charm. They marveled at how he doted on Malaykah and treated her like a queen. His generosity as a philanthropist made him a sensation everywhere. After six months passed, Alëxios and Malaykah married and retired to a quiet life.

Fourteen years later, Malaykah’s health began to rapidly decline. Alëxios spared no expense and sent Künsey to search for a cure. Their efforts were to no avail. She became unable to speak, though she could communicate through her thoughts. Alëxios feared she would soon perish, so he persuaded her they should return to the realm.

Künsey was fortunate enough to find a soothing oil to help her sleep peacefully. One night, after Alëxios applied the oil with a light massage, they both drifted off to a night of deep sleep. When they awoke, they found themselves neck-deep inside a lake. They smiled knowingly at each other. For they both knew they had finally returned to the borderlands of Phëläniciä.

~Ch. 29, The Realm Beyond the Stars and Sea~


Alëxios walked alone on the Phëläniciän beach under a cloudy dark-blue sky. The Moon kept herself hidden from him, and his royal subjects followed suit. His somber mood had the entire realm on edge as they wondered whether Malaykah would truly become the surrogate mother of The Moon’s children. This maneuver guaranteed Phëläniciä would garner realm dominance. All the other races of creatures prepared their respective kingdoms for a showdown to settle the matter for once and for all.

Byakko flew overhead and landed mere paces behind the king. He did not speak but patiently waited for Alëxios to acknowledge him. After a few steps, they both stopped in their tracks.

“Am I a mad god, unable to control my wrath?” he questioned Byakko with a nod.

“You have acted in accordance with laws established by The Ultimate Creator, Chrëst, and disciplined yourself to tame your emotions. This success is well known by all, even Queen Malaykah,” Byakko responded.

“Then why does she not trust me to keep myself from ruin? I confessed that I shall always become overwhelmed with erratic thoughts whenever she is unwell, yet I still managed not to destroy the realm on the occasions that I had access to her mind,” said Alëxios.

Byakko sighed and answered with great care, “This is not a matter of trust. The two of you are at odds against each other’s true nature. Your nature and reputation as a god of war can terrify anyone. But, then, there is also your desire to help and protect maidens in distress. Queen Malaykah’s nature as a nurturer is akin to that of a protector. Yet, she is not a maiden in need of rescue. Upon her next return to the realm, there should be an effort to learn how to rely upon each other. As a couple, you shall be the bridge between strengths and weaknesses.”

Alëxios signaled for them to continue their walk.

“Malaykah is not only my Queen but also my divine soulmate. We are bound for eternity. Though she has not yet relinquished her role in the human realm, I am certain she desires to dwell within the realm with me. Therefore, I shall continually strive to protect her, regardless of whether she is to produce my heir.”

“Is that to say the anointing to bless your seed and her womb did not take effect?’ Byakko asked in confusion.

“It is far too early to know. My stance shall remain, either way. If she is to be ostracized for her humanity or inability to reproduce The Moon’s children, I shall gladly renounce my throne. The furthest ends of the realm beckon for me to take her and dwell in peace,” Alëxios replied.

Byakko halted his steps and signaled for Alëxios to mount his back.

“Your Majesty, I am not without understanding of your mindset. However, before you result to drastic measures, hear me out. I believe to have a better solution for this dilemma,” he retorted as they took flight.

Malaykah’s return to the human realm did not happen expectantly as it occurred in the past. When she woke up, she was not in her home or in the hospital. On the night she lay in the bathtub to treat her excruciating body aches, her transition to Phëläniciä stemmed from a stroke. She had been hospitalized for six months before her family had her assigned to a physical therapy facility. Once her brain returned to full functions, countless hours were spent retraining her on how to eat, walk, and speak.

Malaykah took her time and worked to reemerge herself back into the human realm. Her emotions fluctuated from extreme highs to debilitating lows. In her less manic moments, depression swung to anxiety. Restless nights kept her exhausted. Her daily battles with apathy made it nearly impossible to move forward.

Out of the depths of her despair, Malaykah found a small spark, which propelled her to fight back to a state of restored health. She began to appreciate her life and no longer wanted to waste any of it. J’aime and her children took turns with their watchful eyes on her progress. She kept her job in the accounting department but retired from being a dance instructor. The stroke had taken a physical toll on her body, and during her recovery, her hair turned completely white.

Malaykah’s memories of the realm and Phëläniciä soon became distant daydreams. It was her fervent wish to return to the human realm during her time in the Tri-cities cavern that kept her away for more than nine years. Though her request had been delayed, it had not been denied. She dared not to mention anything to her family. After all, she doubted anyone would believe that she had the ability to travel to an alternate world.

Life began to happen at an even pace. Malaykah watched Shannon and Alejandro finally tie the knot before their third daughter was born. Roy joined an international task force as a translator, and Roxy decided to study art abroad. Even J’aime took a promotion in accounting to work alongside her best friend.

~Ch. 28, The Realm Beyond the Stars and Sea~

Disposition of Grace (p. 3)

The Phëläniciäns took flight once more to head to the Tri-cities. Alëxios quelled his wrath so that he could find Malaykah in one piece. The battalion did not stop to take any breaks or rest from the cove. Time was of the essence, and no one wanted Malaykah to suffer another moment. It was then the longest journeying the fleet had taken together.

They landed on the outskirts early one morning. Daybreak could not come bustling through the giant trees and overgrown grass of the Tri-cities. Alëxios sliced through the paths with a saber, as he did not want to overuse the Excalibur sword for remedial tasks. The hordes of cherubs stampeded through the area until they stumbled upon Alëxios.

They all bowed down to him reverently, then carried on their way to roam about. It became clear that the mindless cherubs would not have been able to help Malaykah, even if they recognized her divinity. The battalion followed a small gaggle within the second cave since Alëxios read the engraved markings that indicated to do so. Before long, they hit the bottom of the cavern. Alëxios sensed a powerful aura nearby, which caused him to become anxious.

Around the corner, they found Malaykah lying lifelessly on the ground. Her face was hidden behind her long braids. In her hands, the Őrb globe clutched tightly to her chest. Suddenly, the Őrb dissolved. Then a forcefield of twinkling silver and blue stars stretched over her body. At first glance, she appeared not to be breathing.

“Malaykah,” Alëxios called to her in an unevenly shaken tone.

She stirred only a little and moaned weakly.

“Malaykah, I am here. I have come to help you,” Alëxios called again with more confidence.

He knelt down beside her, then tried to touch her hair. The powerful aura of the forcefield knocked him back, at least eight feet. Alëxios used cat-like agility to land on his feet. He sighed heavily and covered his hands over his face.

“This is the aura from The Moon’s children. Apparently, they are protecting Malaykah. This is quite the mystery, considering The Moon has ill will against her for an obviously misunderstood trespass,” he said.

He walked back to Malaykah and called her name three times more. Finally, she let out a long sigh and turned her head. She was blinded by a thousand tiny bright lights when she opened her eyes. Her ears rang, her head ached, and her throat felt raw. She tried to sit up but was dizzied by all of her ailments. Then, through the lights, she saw two piercing green eyes. She came fully to her senses, and all her conditions ceased at once.

Malaykah was surprised to still be in the realm. She was certained that she prayed to return home before she black-out. The shield evaporated soon after, which allowed Alëxios to finally embrace her. She looked out at the dragon fleet and spotted Meikko among the others. The young dragon appeared to weep. Without awareness, Malaykah unleashed the veil to her thoughts. Alëxios gasped in horror at the entire revelation of her ordeal with Bässäm.

He hugged her tighter to his chest and cried, “My love, why did you not call for me to be by your side? How could you hide away your thoughts from me when you were in danger?”

Malaykah pulled away from Alëxios and looked him in the eyes.

“I only wanted to protect you. I knew you would lose control if you found out what Bässäm

did to me. I couldn’t save Känëbräl, but I had to save the rest of the realm.”

Alëxios sat with a brief silence. He was unnerved that Malaykah sacrificed herself to save him from destroying the realm. No one could have, or even ever, offered to put him before themselves. He knew that none of his consorts in the harem would have made the same choice. It was unfathomable to him why The Moon was angry with her.

Malaykah stood and leaned against the cavern wall.

“We have to go now. We have to go to The Moon,” she said.

Alëxios stood and grabbed her shoulders.

“How do you know of this?” he demanded.

A single tear slid down Malaykah’s face. She looked at Alëxios fearfully and said, “The Ultimate Creator, Chrëst, just told me.”

~Ch. 26, The Realm Beyond the Stars and Sea~