Authors: April Bowles
The days following General Balwin’s step forward to becoming King had brought great hope on the country. Wishful dreams of becoming an honored place once again bloomed in all corners, giving the people reminders of a once long pride they felt before the Queen took over so many years ago.
With Arianna dead and gone, Kalu now had the opportunity to undo all that has been done and it would start in a world changing adventure back into the Seni nation where we would set out for peace.
Things were quiet but my mind was always going. I knew of my father’s plan to go back to Seni and it was always a forward thought. The others were completely oblivious to it and it was hard to keep it a secret like my father had wished until he got the chance to make all the arrangements and tell them.
I was up in the late hours just days after my own crowning and stood on the balcony outside of my room at Balwin Manor. The stars were shining brightly that night and my head was tipped back, gazing up at the moon that shone even brighter with them.
A pair of strong arms gently wrapped around my waist out of nowhere and I was pulled back into a body. “And what is her highness doing out here in the middle of the night?”
I smiled and touched the arms in front of me, leaning my head back. “You don’t have to call me that, Zayden.”
He turned me so he could look into my eyes with his vibrant blues and his own smile, much more perfect than mine. “I know, Love but I thought I would at least once.” I laughed quietly to myself and kissed him for his amused remark. “Really though. What are you doing up? I didn’t even notice you leave.”
I shrugged and turned back around. “I don’t know. Just couldn’t sleep, I guess.”
“You all right?” Zayden wrapped his arms around me again and all I could think about was what was about to happen.
I felt worry the most and tried holding in my tears but my sadness was obvious on my voice. “Should I be? Everything’s changing.”
“What do you mean? Not that much has changed.”
“Something is bound to with my father as King.”
“What are you worried about?”
I paused, hesitating my response. “What if he wants peace?”
Zayden laughed. “Peace? Why does that worry you? I thought you hated this war.”
“I’m not worried about that. I’m worried—about you.”
“About me?” He sounded as though it was odd and moved around me so he could see my face. “Why?”
“I know what I want, Zayden. Yes, I’ve always hated the war and have always wanted to see it end but I know that’s not what you think. When we met you said war was your life and to end it would be to end you and that’s the last thing I want.”
“That’s not going to happen. You should know that’s not me anymore, Love. If peace is the King’s wish then he can see it through without me standing in the way.”
“Of course and it would make being with you a whole lot easier. We wouldn’t have to hide.”
“But would you go back? You said you may.”
Zayden’s mood seemed to change and he looked away from me up at the sky. “That’s a completely different matter that I don’t think I’m ready to even consider yet.”
“Okay. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have to be. Everything that I’ve done in leaving was my choice and I’m just saying that going back will be mine too.”
I hugged him quickly and squeezed my eyes shut. “I love you.” It was all I could get out without completely breaking and exposing my father’s plan.
“I love you too. Have you gotten enough air?”
“Yeah. I should try and get some sleep. Sorry that you woke up without me.”
“It’s okay. I had a feeling where you’d be. It was the first place I looked.”
I smiled back and we got back in bed together, holding each other close. I felt tired. I wanted this rest but I was still worried. Zayden said it would be different but would he still think that if he knew the true plan? I didn’t know and it ate at me until I was finally able to find sleep in his arms.
We were woken early with a message to meet the King. We got ready as we would have normally done to start the day but Adele seemed slower at it, almost like she was worried still. I would have asked but she didn’t seem to be in any kind of mood that I wanted to see turn into a fight so we just left.
The walk down the street was quiet and I was even more curious about her behavior. No one said anything though. I think most of them were still half asleep and just didn’t have anything to say.
We arrived in the great hall of the palace and were escorted to a table to await the King.
“Well, this is fun.” Ruby muttered.
Adele’s eyes looked around the table and she merely nodded in response. “Mmm hmm.”
Another pause proceeded and Aleksander approached before I could have asked her if anything were wrong. “Good morning, everyone. I’m glad you could come on such short notice.”
“What is this about?” I asked.
“Yes, well, I suppose we should get right to it then.” He was about to continue until Trever began walking over. “Ah, I’m dreadfully sorry about this, would you excuse me for just a moment?” No one said a word as he walked away and met Trever half way through the great hall. “How’s it coming?”
Their voices were quiet but I focused my thoughts and tipped my head back like I was tired and closed my eyes just so no one would see them turn black. The voices were now as clear as if they were next to me.
“Done. Your gear and your horse are prepped and ready. It’s just waiting for you.”
“Good. While I’m briefing them. I’d like you to gather a list of officers in my command and bring it to me so that we may choose the next General.”
“I’ll get right on it.”
“I have no doubt and bring the book. It’s time they find out everything.”
“I’ve got that ready too.”
“And what of Ryon? Is he—”
“Yes. Not happy but we know it’s for the best for now.”
“I’ll have him meet us with Kole and I can assure you, they’ll both be on their best behavior.”
“I hope so.”
The talking stopped and I looked up with an extreme amount of curiosity while Aleksander walked back to us. What were they talking about? What is it we finally got to find out about?
“Okay, so I’ve called you all here because this war has gone on long enough and now it is time for it to end but someone has to start it and I fear it’ll have to be us. I’ve made the arrangements to travel to Randal and I strongly advise that you all come. We go to see the King.”
That was slightly unexpected but I still didn’t know if we should. “But my father shouldn’t be there. That would be pointless.”
“Ryon has already looked into it for us. He got back early and it’s the perfect time to put an end to this. I’m going to try at my second attempt to make amends and you three need to do the same if you truly want to stay with them.”
I looked at Adele next to me. Of course I wanted to stay with her but her mood hasn’t changed and she just had this sorry expression when she met my eyes.
“You knew about this?” She didn’t say anything but nodded.
“Zayden, I shouldn’t have to stress how important this is.” Aleksander explained. “Even if I did it alone and it worked, your city could still fall. You know who plans to rise to the throne if you don’t.”
I pulled the letter I received from Seni out of my pocket since I’ve always carried it with me. It was said from my father but the words inside made it clear that it was Lamar threatening to take over the throne in my place. I gripped the letter in my hands just thinking of what Lamar could do then looked up at the King. “So, you’re asking me to be someone I’m not?”
“No, I’m asking you to be who you were born to be, who you are. You can help change the world. Your vision is no longer about war and you have a reason for that. A rather beautiful one, sitting next to you.”
I looked over at Adele and she gave me just a look while taking my hand without a word. I spoke low and I kept my eyes on hers. “You should have told me this was going to happen. I never saw that life as me. What if I can’t?”
Adele glanced over at her father and Aleksander answered for her. “If you can’t then I’ll find a Prince that will. I’ve actually already gotten an offer.”
“What?!” Adele became highly alert and leaned forward on the table.
Aleksander just shrugged with a smile. “What can I say? Word travels quickly about Kalu finally having a Princess.”
Adele looked at me with worry like I had to do something or she was going to be given away to someone else.
“She can’t be with anything less now, Zayden. It’s either you or one of them.”
My eyes narrowed on him. “That’s very indecent of you. Why don’t you just say it? I don’t have a choice because you know I won’t give her up!”
“Then I guess that settles it. You should all prepare to leave and dress accordingly.” He got up and looked at me one last time. “If you change your mind, all you have to do is say good-bye.” He walked off, leaving everyone looking at me.
“You’re not really going to do that, are you?” Troy asked.
I was still looking at Adele and gripped her hand tighter in mine. “Not ever.”
“You should have known it would have come to this.” She said. “Your father has always been proud of you, no matter what stupid things you’ve done. You can’t let him down now when he’ll need you the most.”
“Yeah but I know exactly what’s going to happen when I get back.”
“You can fix things.”
“But going back?” I was truly concerned while I kept our hands together. “It may not yet be safe for you.”
“I’m not staying behind. Don’t even suggest it. I’m coming with you.”
“But if something happened to you, I’d never—”
Adele stopped me by covering my mouth quickly with her hand. “Ah! No! Nothing is going to happen to me. You have nothing to worry about. We’re all going. No matter the danger, remember?”
I let out a long breath through my nose. Adele quoting me again made me see that there really wasn’t another choice. We would all be going—together but there would still be danger.
“Come on. We should get ready.”
I gave in a little too easily as I got up with the others to leave. I knew it would be dangerous for her but talking her out of something that would make us part would be impossible to do. I didn’t want that either but I also wanted her to be in the safest place and right now, I didn’t think that was Seni.
“Get ready and meet us downstairs.” Adele said.
We nodded and went to retrieve our armor that we wore for the trip into Kalu once we were back at the manor. I was looking much more Senian now dressed in silver and felt much more like myself. Seeing it in the mirror made me glad that we were going back like I suddenly wanted to now. I attached my weapons to me and met up with Troy and Darius downstairs where we waited for the other three to prepare themselves.
I imagined what it would look like but when I saw it, I liked it so much more.
“Just when you think you couldn’t be more attracted to someone.” Darius muttered.
He was right. The Kalu Assassins were dress in the colored sets of armor we’ve seen in the cases but actually seeing it on them was a gift.
Adele had her hair up like she did when we first met, held high atop her head with two metal rods and her long bangs hanging out on the side of her face with her collapsing sword resting at her side. She was beautiful.