The Silver Siren (Iron Butterfly #3) - Chapter 65
I shifted my weight and saw that Faraway’s head was actually lying across my back. “Faraway!” I called out playfully to him. “Move.”
“Thalia…don’t.” Alba appeared suddenly and came to stand where I could see her. “You mustn’t be upset. It was time. I told you there would come a time when your Guardian would leave you. I said you would wake up and he would be gone.”
“What do you mean?” I demanded.
“The Guardian has but one purpose. To give up his life so that another may live. Faraway chose you from the beginning. He was drawn to your strength of courage and your selflessness. Even the wolf saw it. And since you took two lives with you when you departed, he offered up his own, so you could bring two back.”
My heart stopped beating and I began to cry out in pain. “No! You lie. He’s just sleeping. He can’t be gone!” I pushed away from Kael, turned under the weight of Faraway and wrapped an arm over his still warm neck.
It couldn’t be. It wasn’t fair.
But no matter how I tried to call out to him through mindspeech, he wasn’t there.
Wolf? Even Wolf refused to answer me.
Please Faraway, answer me.
Nothing. I heard nothing but silence.
Kael wrapped his arms around me as I mourned the loss of a piece of my soul.
Five years later.
“I don’t want to hear about another delegation from the south. We have no need to trade with the country of Azure.” I threw my hands up in frustration.
Lorna tapped the table with her fingers, pointing to an item on the list that I might have missed.
“Horses. They raise and breed the best purebred horses,” Lorna said, taking advantage of my soft spot for horses.
“Then send Master Joss and Darren out to Azure. Let them meet the delegates first. I am wary of bringing strangers into our land while we are still new and susceptible to other influences.”
Adept Lorna smiled. “That is a great compromise. I think you are learning your duties quite splendidly.”
“Not because I have a choice.” I rolled my eyes at her back when she wasn’t looking. She cleared her throat and excused herself, heading out the double doors of the great hall.
A tall form stepped out of the shadows and came to wrap his arms around my waist. “You knew Azure was known for their horses. I noticed the moment you saw them on the list. You were going to agree to the delegation days ago,” Kael nuzzled my neck. Even now, he still wore no color other than black, but it had never bothered me. Even on our bonding day, when we exchanged vows in Sinnendor’s halls five years ago, he wore black.
That was exactly why I’d commissioned Berry, the royal seamstress, to make Kael’s attire wedding attire both royal and manageable in case of a war.
I shrugged my shoulders. “Am I that easy to read?”
“Only because you’re my soul mate. I know everything about you.” He walked with me over to the large tapestry that now hung from the walls.
With the help of the Denai, Sinnendor’s castle had been rebuilt. There were more windows, more oil paintings, and more candles lit throughout the whole castle. It looked alive—properly lived in—again.
With the death of the King of Sinnendor, the title had fallen to Sevril, who’d barely survived his encounter with Kael. Kael had told me once that every time saw Prince Sevril, he was reminded of the terrible sacrifice Tomac had made—because of him.
Tomac’s one true act of brotherly love.
Still, when the war was over, Sevril abdicated the throne even though he had become completely human.
Bearen Valdyrstal was a natural leader, and the people of Sinnendor gravitated to my father. But Bearen also refused.
Which meant I was next in line.
Sevril had since spent all of his days locked in his rooms, reading and studying. I noticed once that he keeps a single jar beside his desk. No one else but the two of us would recognize it for what it is. It’s filled with blue liquid that shimmers slightly. It is the last of his gifts, the only one that wasn’t donated to me.
Even though it made me uncomfortable to see it, I couldn’t bear to make him part with it. Not after the sacrifice that he and Xiven made to help me. I’d never once seen him lose his temper, even though Darren and Joss often tried to goad him. Sevril had truly become my voice of reason in all things, a great advisor and a trusted friend.
I reached out and touched the tapestry, smiling at the feel of Kael’s hand on my back.
Once, I’d been worried about leading a clan, but now I was leading a country—or countries. We’d permanently opened up the borders between Sinnendor and Calandry. Many Sirens and Denai had found new homes, settling in both lands. In fact since the queen’s death, Kael and I had been traveling back and forth between the two nations, governing them. Although Calandry was doing fine with the clans governing them, they still wanted a queen. That was the Adept Council’s doing. My white hair and silver eyes were proof of hope in the union of the two races.
I’d more or less become the mascot for the future and was stuck with it.
At least until the next heir to the throne was old enough to start demanding her own pony.
The door burst open and a little girl with raven black hair, silver eyes, and an impish smile ran in. She headed right for Kael and wrapped herself around his leg.
“Ooh, help me, Daddy! Save me!” she cried out in mock terror.
A small red-haired boy entered the room, growling at her. “Roar! I’m a lion,” he said as he held up his chubby little hands and pretended to extend claws. “And I’m going to eat you!”
The little girl squealed in mock fright, but was interrupted by the boy’s mother who came running in after him.
“Fenrier, what did I tell you about scaring the princess?”
“Sorry, Momma,” the child said, but not before sticking his tongue out at Princess Lisanne.
“Sorry for the interruption, Thalia. I was watching them, but then they took off. I’m a little slow these days.” Syrani chuckled and gently patted her rounding belly. Fenri is hoping for a calm little girl to add to our brood. But secretly, I want another boy.” Motherhood made Syrani glow.
Gone was the spiteful, spoiled girl. She’d been replaced by a completely different woman. Everyone was watching Fenri and Syrani’s children carefully, because they were in fact—as Xiven had predicted—the combination of both Siren and Denai heritage. Already Fenrier was more powerful than some of the older Denai. It would be interesting to see what the future held for the next few generations.
Kael swung Lisanne into the air before depositing her on his shoulders.
She clung onto the top of his head and yelled, “Giddyup.” Her feet kicked him gently in the chest. “I want to wave to Grandpa!”
Kael laughed and led me, keeping my hand in his as we walked down the hall toward a side entrance. Two shadows fell into step behind us, quiet but observant. I waved jovially to Alek and Gwen, our personal bodyguards. Kael complained that I didn’t need a bodyguard since I had him, but after the war we were hounded with offers from SwordBrothers to personally guard our family. We took two of their best, Alek and Gwen. But we refused to be bonded to them. Their lives are their own.
We stepped out the side entrance and headed across the courtyard to the training field. Bearen yelled loudly to a young soldier as he corrected his stance and the swing of his sword. At least, on the battle field with the soldiers in training, he could fight with a smile. Life in the castle was another story entirely. Bearen and Portia turned out to be mortal enemies. He spent most of his days ranting about how terrible the woman is and how she was secretly trying to kill him with all her etiquette lessons. So he avoids the castle as often as possible, preferring the company of warriors to women. Or so he says.