Bloodlines, p.24
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       Bloodlines, p.24

           Trisha Lynn
 

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Finally, they walked up to a large set of wooden doors, they were arched at the top and two guards stood on each side. Much like at the front doors, these guards were dressed in a similar fashion, but their sigils were larger, more pronounced. They also wore brown leather bracers, and instead of vests, they had on a kind of over shirt that came down to their knees, in a tapered fashion, ending at a point. Golden stitching graced the sides in two solid lines. Leather straps crisscrossed the vest, and daggers were large and on display across it. These were clearly higher stationed guards, but it was odd how they were here instead of at the front doors. Unless these were the Elite Guardians that Loki had spoken of. The King's personal guards. She had no idea the differences and made a mental note to pay attention or ask Loki another time. When they saw Loki they nodded their heads, and opened the huge wooden doors.

  Loki sent her a small look over his shoulder and walked through. Hesitating only a moment, Adeila walked behind him. When she beheld the room, a small intake of breath caught in her throat.

  Dark gold carpet graced the center aisle; giant columns of stone were erected every few feet with glass balls of flame dancing inside them, giving glimmers of light across the large space. Ferns, flowers, vines and small trees grew from raised garden patches everywhere. Some of the trees had large glass flamed lights hanging from them, giving another soft light source. There were two giant stone and granite looking fireplaces on each side of the wall, and even though it was warm in the castle in general, flames whirled inside the fireplaces. Large dark green banners hung here and there with two giant light green oak leaves on them and tan stitched Celtic designs all around the edges.

  Her eyes went everywhere, trying to take it all in at once. She had thought that the throne room would be intimidating - just the name alone is rather daunting - but instead it was warm and welcoming, just like the small amounts of the castle she had seen so far. The vegetation was everywhere and the exotic smell of flowers was too beautiful to allow for intimidation.

  What caught her attention next were the two beautiful throne chairs, made from carved birch branches. The upholstery on the seats was a dark green matching that of the banner, and an oak leaf and the Celtic design was stitched into the backrest. Above them there was another banner, this one much larger than the rest, displaying the oak leaves with intense glowing gold Celtic designs intertwined and across the borders, and she almost looked at her wrist because she was almost positive she would have seen some matching marks there.

  That thought was erased when she turned to the two people standing off to the side in deep conversation with a few guards. Both of them allowed their eyes to wander towards them, as Loki walked up to them, coming to a respectful stop a few feet away and she could do little but follow.

  She took a moment to study them. The man was huge. Tall, broad and muscular. He made Loki look like the teenage boy he pretended to be on the human realm. This man was all warrior. He had medium brown hair that was a very simple short cut; his face was handsome with very masculine rugged features with a trim beard that was a shade lighter than his hair. He had a small scar that cut across his right eyebrow, which was odd because she was quite sure that Loki had mentioned something about the Fae healing extremely fast and rarely scaring. The King's eyes were the same dramatic light blue of her own with rings of even lighter blue, almost white, within the center. He wore simple brown pants, and a green button up short sleeved shirt. A sword similar to Loki's sat in a scabbard at his hip, the hilt was gold and it appeared to have leaves engraved along it.

  The woman was tall and slender in a flowing blue gown. Her hair was very long, flowing in dark golden waves down her back. Her face was delicate and sharp in features, her pink tinted lips generous and full, her eyes a gorgeous shade of dark blue with hints of violet and lilac on the edges. Adeila wished she had a mirror because she was quite sure that the nose, cheek structure and lips would be incredibly similar to her own. The Queen's beauty was warm and inviting. Her smile, when turned to them, lit the room.

  A knot of power and recognition hit her square in the stomach, and her heart made a leap, landing in her throat. She wasn't sure if she wanted to cry or vomit. The sheer emotions playing across her mind were a complete jumble. Fear, curiosity, betrayal, confusion, love. The love surprised her. She'd not even fully met these people, but the emotion coming off of them in waves, was that of love. Something she had never experienced at home. Something she had experienced – well – never. She knew that Marissa loved her like a sister, but this was so different. So powerful. She assumed it was only the fact that they were on the Fae realm. Could these people use trickery as a Fae magic? She doubted it, but she decided to play cautious, show them the emotions that she knew. The ones of anger, betrayal and confusion. Those she understood. Those she could count on. The other ones were just so foreign that she was nowhere near ready to think on or express.

  When finally their attention was entirely upon her, she gulped. The power and emotion radiating off them really was almost intolerable. They gave off so much of the aura that a King and Queen should give off, but the emotion at the forefront was the blinding one; the one of loving, devoted parents. It was so conflicting; she wanted desperately to get out of this situation. She wanted to run away, find a dark corner to collect her thoughts in, but the drumming within her core kept her rooted. Like the recognition and emotion was felt within her soul, within the core of her being. She vibrated with energy, with sensation. She felt it within her the magic that pulsed to the surface. It was igniting her from the inside out. Gritting her teeth, she kept it in check.

  Loki fisted his hand over his heart and bowed his head, the King nodded, and the Queen sent him a wide smile.

  Should she fist her hand over her heart in the same manner? But she was unaware of their customs. Instead, she stood, silently, awkwardly. Her emotions swirling around her, the thrumming in her core grew in intensity, so much that she wanted to vomit. She had to assume her magic was responding to this place, her emotions and the people before her.

  “Loki, thank you for finally seeing our daughter home. I suspect your journey was well?” The King smiled tentatively and allowed his gaze to sweep over her, and then his focus returned back to Loki.

  “Yes, sire. The portals welcomed her as we anticipated. Inside the realm I took the Jakdai woods to the river, figuring the fewer eyes the better, for now.”

  The King nodded and ran a hand over his beard. “Impeccable decisions as always, Loki. Thank you.”

  Loki made a small bow and then stepped back a few feet away from her.

  She self-consciously pushed an unruly strand of hair back over her tipped ear, letting her fingertip caress it, while preparing herself, as the King's attention shifted solely to her.

  “I am Bairon Dennoak and my wife Deleana. We are your biological parents. We welcome you home, my daughter.”

  When she only nodded, he continued. “Did you find your first portal experience disorienting?”

  She only nodded again. She appreciated their thoughtfulness to add some small talk to this increasingly awkward experience but she really just wanted to get down to figuring out what the heck was going on. She should be yelling, but the power and emotion radiating from the man's multicolored light blue eyes - so much like her own - had her lips almost trembling. She really just wanted to curl into a small ball and scream and cry. She felt so betrayed by her human family. So confused.

  Everything she'd ever known was a lie. Adeila had known that Loki could be telling the truth, they could and likely were, her real parents, but she guessed a small part of her hoped that it was a sick joke and she could go back to the human realm, pissed at him for wasting her time, but at least she could go back unchanged. She almost physically shook her head, because she knew even if this wasn't the truth; she could never go back to the human realm unscathed. This knowledge stayed with you. Stuck with you. She already knew she was different. The magic
within her blood told her that. Unfortunately, this being the truth was what would make the most sense. And the least sense, all at once. It was a lot to take in, but swimming in her innermost current of thoughts was that her parents really appeared to be the King and Queen of some Faerie land. She could do nothing but stare at them in awe.

  The King scratched the back of his neck. “I'm sure you have a thousand questions for us, but you have plenty of time. You cannot possibly know what your being here means for us. Would you like a tour of the palace? It will be your home, you will be its Queen, someday.”

  The gravity of the situation and his words struck every cord within her, and a temper erupted she could only assume came from the man speaking to her.

  “I cannot stay here. I followed Loki only for answers.”

  “We will give them all to you but you cannot go back to the human realm, it may not be safe for you.”

  A fire burned in the pit of her stomach. “The hell I can't! It has been safe for me all this time, why wouldn't it be now?”

  Loki piped up at her outburst. “Because now that you've been to the Fae realm, you’re more susceptible to the Fae. They may be able to sense you easier.”

  She rounded on him, hands on hips. “And who's fault is that!?”

  The Queen's gentle voice of reason. “We need you here, Adeila.”

  “Oh, so that is my real name then?”

  The Queen wrung her hands, obviously they did not expect her to be so difficult but dammit, she was confused and hurt and mad and, well every other emotion that comes with one finding out that their whole life was a lie.

  “Yes, we left you with your name and a considerable amount of human currency to see that you lived well. We also ensured that your birth certificate and adoption paperwork was passed through without question.”

  She rolled her eyes. “Oh, good. I had money, but not the love of my real parents. Great!” She shook her head, still not entirely believing all of this but becoming more angry and confused by the minute.

  “So the big question is why? Why did you leave me?”

  “For your safety.”

  “Safety! Everything is for my safety.” She was furious. How could they leave her if they were her true parents? Why would they do something like that? She just didn't understand.

  The Queen made a slight motion with her hands. “You are angry, and you have every right to be.”

  “Damn right I do! This guy -” she motioned to Loki. “Shows up and starts spouting nonsense about me being a Princess and ruling and having a destiny, oh and that I'm betrothed? What's that all about by the way?”

  She didn’t miss the frown and narrowed eyes directed to the silent figure beside her. Good. Get in trouble, you big jerk.

  The King's booming voice suggested they move this to somewhere a bit more comfortable. So the family reunion moved itself into what appeared to be a large dining hall. Huge stone fireplaces sat at each end of the room, above them were several chandeliers made of deer antlers and birch branches hung from high ceilings, lanterns hung from each wooden column, tall arched open windows let in the daylight and the scent of roses and lilacs wafted in from the garden, and in the center was a long wooden table. From its appearance it was old and scarred. Carvings of leaves ran along each leg, and the backs of the chairs were cut out leaf designs. She couldn't help but notice how stunning it really was.

  Loki held out a chair for her as she saw the King do for his wife. The King sat at the head, putting Adeila and the Queen facing each other on each side of him. Loki took a seat on the same side as the Queen but a few chairs down. It surprised her that having him stick around for this sent a very small bit of comfort through her. The other guards filtered in and took up their silent watch at each exit.

  Adeila looked to the table and saw many scuffs and marks on the polished wood; it had seen many things, this table. She drummed her fingertips along it, looking around. Potted trees and shrubs adorned every nook and cranny. A good sized apple tree graced the back right corner; several large vibrant red apples were ripe for the plucking. She could see many more tapestries hung along the walls, the one closest to her depicted a huge ivory stag, standing tall and regal above a grassy meadow, his head pulled back, bugling to his brethren.

  After a few silent moments the King began his tale.

  “Eighteen years ago a dark war came upon us. A large band of rogue Fae, from Goddess knows where, sought to siege the castle. You see, your Mother and I were very new to the throne at that time. I was not the initial heir; that had been my elder brother. Your Mother and I had only been married a few months when my brother was killed. His assassination was the first sign of the attacks to come. The council insisted I step in instantly, for the lack of an immediate monarch could be the downfall of an empire. My coronation was the very next night. Your mother was already pregnant, we'd only recently discovered.” He took a sip from a goblet that had been laid in front of him. She'd been so riveted that she hadn't even noticed someone pour it.

  “You see, there's little glory in being the second heir to an empire of Fae, as the lifespan of the Fae are much greater than that of humans. This was fine with me, as I had planned a simple life. I'd built a large home not far from the castle. We had obviously been invited to remain in the castle, but we wanted our own space to begin a family. It was all your mother had ever dreamed about, and I had every intention of giving her that.” He paused, pursing his lips. “The Fae have something called 'true mates'. It is a rare thing to find, something symbolic and intensely spiritual. Some wait their whole life for it; some marry and go about their lives without even awaiting their true mates. I got incredibly blessed by Lh'eanah that I found your mother so early. But that is something we will explain to you in time.”

  He looked to his pretty wife, sorrow filling his eyes. It was clear that he had wanted the world for the love of his life, his true mate, as he called her, but instead, politics out of their control, had changed the course of their future. Adeila couldn't help but feel a small tug at her heart for the apparent loss and sorrow they must have felt at giving up a child and controlling a kingdom they had never intended to control.

  “It was never a dream of mine to be King. It was never something I had given much thought to. My brother ate, slept and breathed this kingdom. He was the perfect ruler, this kingdom prospered and blossomed under his reign. He knew upon birth, exactly what was expected of him, and learned everything about being a ruler at a young age. I, on the other hand, had an easy upbringing. I was pretty much able to do as I pleased. I'm sure it sounds unfair, but it is the way of this realm and how rulers survive.” He scratched his beard and looked to Adeila.

  “I know that's a little off track but I want you to know how young and inexperienced we truly were at all of this. Bonding, marriage, parenting, ruling and most of all, learning what is right and wrong. What consequences our actions truly have on everything that happens.

  After I was appointed King of Oakend, nothing happened for some time. Ruling was fairly easy, and I was learning bit by bit about the politics of the land from the many counselors and advisers I had at my disposal. A few months passed before a small army came upon us one night. It was random and we were caught completely unawares, but because of the doubled guard from my brothers’ assassination, we were able to take out the small army easy enough. They were unskilled fighters, and I was shocked that such a untried band of rebels would come against an entire kingdom. Again months passed before another attack occurred, this one slightly larger. The warriors slightly more trained. By now we were on high alert, the invaders didn't even make it anywhere near the village's low walls before they were seen by our high towers. I was confused, as were my men and my advisers, as to what exactly they meant to gain by sending these small, insignificant armies. It was clear they were testing us, probing our strengths and weaknesses. Testing us for something much larger. Of what extent we didn't know. I sent out word to other four kingdoms to see if they were under
attack or knew anything of the rebellion. Our correspondence were always interrupted one way or other. We were alone. At that time we did not have mirror communication, which came a few years after, mainly for this reason.”

  His deep ice blue eyes so much like her own, turned glossy and faraway. “Your Mother was close to full term at this point, only a few more weeks until your birth. We were at a complete loss as to what to do. There was no way I wanted a child to be brought into such a confusing and torturous time in our existence. Living in constant fear of an attack. I had my armies training at full capacity under my eyes. One thing I always did enjoy was sword work and battle techniques. I'd trained for years as a warrior. It was really the only thing I had ever paid all that much attention to as a child. A King only needs a good general; he doesn't necessarily need to get his own hands dirty. So, since I never had aspirations as King, as a boy I learned everything I could from our guards. As soon as I could hold a sword, I trained alongside them. It was something I always enjoyed and was good at. I planned on being one of my brothers Elite Guardians. So at this time, I may not have known how to be a King, but I could certainly be a leader. So when my kingdom was under attack, I took over the planning, and we overtook two more large armies before they reached the village.

  It was the night of your birth that a larger army came, this one with well-trained warriors, some lesser Fae beasts, and some dark Fae. Beast's we'd never seen before. Things that lay dormant in the farthest, wildest reaches of our lands.” He closed his eyes and took a heavy, weary breath. “That night, some dark, winged beasts caused havoc to our armies early, causing enough distraction and chaos that some of the opposing army made it through to the village. Our people aren't ones to just sit back in idle terror. Each Fae, even if not trained as a warrior, is powerful in their own unique way. I think the army got more than it was bargaining for here in Oakend, but still a small band of enemies made their way straight to the castle gates. Your mother had already birthed you, and her own parents were keeping long vigil. I had guards, warriors and Guardian's at every inch of the castle, but the battle raged on, and these dark armies somehow found the secret tunnels below the castle floors and began invading within.”

  He swallowed more wine and his eyes showed a hint of strain at the memory. “I had no idea what else to do, so I made your mother leave with you. Something in my gut told me to get you out. She took a small army of my most trained Elite warriors and her parents to assist her and she fled to the human realm. It was an escape route we had always planned upon as a last resort. Your mother would flee with you, and live out in the human realm until things were safe here once again.”

  He shook his head. “To make a long story short, the dark Fae searched the castle killing everyone in their path, until my warriors killed off the majority. I made sure to get a few prisoners to question. These men, if you wish to call them that, had incredible appendages. Like horns, or wings or claws.” He gestured to the scar on his brow. “These claws or talons were tipped with some kind of poison that slows the healing process of the Fae, allowing them to scar. As I'm sure Loki has told you, the Fae have incredibly fast healing powers and very rarely scar. Fatally wounding a Fae is very difficult, almost impossible other than decapitation, incredibly strong poison or excessive use of iron mixed with Vestilselium.”

  When she nodded, he continued. “Again, off track, entirely. There is just so much to tell in a short time to make you understand. Needless to say, these were the epitome of dark Fae. A mixture between man and beast. Several days later, when all offending parties had been killed, rounded up, or fled; I began my interrogation. What I learned stilled my blood. They were here for you. They were searching for my offspring. Their master, whom, they died still refusing to give name to, wanted you. This “master” had told them very little only that they were to secure the return of my child.”

  He paused, taking a breath. “Now your mother and I do have some rare abilities that have been pushed out of the Fae bloodlines over the generations. Of course, with those combined, your blood is much more potent and special. But at no point was I ever aware that me and your mothers union would span the realm, let alone cause the interest of any dark Fae.

  It wasn't until a week after your mothers departure into the human realm did I send some of my trained men to find her. I knew then that I needed to fake your death. I needed the people to believe you had been killed in childbirth. Whoever was after you, needed to believe you had died. Everyone in the room that day and everyone that saw you were sworn to an unbreakable oath. If they uttered a word, they would be dead by the blood and magic the oath collected. Such an oath is something that doesn't often occur, most are simple verbal oaths that bind by magic, but when blood is spilled it causes the blood magic to be much stronger. Such oaths are sacred by our kind. This was a security measure worth taking to ensure that your life would not be forfeit. I even enlisted the help of the King of the North, Taivon Staghorne.”

  She turned to Loki, assuming this was his father. He nodded once and she turned her attention back to the King.

  “Taivon was incredibly helpful, always one of the brightest and imaginative men I have ever met. He set up everything with some of his warriors to assist me in making sure you were well taken care of. His resourcefulness amazed me, and he even had some tricks up his sleeves with human contacts in the human realm to make sure your adoption could be legitimate. Clearly his son took his path in that department.” The King gestured to Loki with a faint, almost paternal smile. It was clear they'd grown close over the years Loki had been in his service.

  “I wanted nothing more than to have you with us, Adeila, but your safety was and IS always my first priority. Needless to say we were able to get everything together, and your mother chose a family that appeared to have all the requirements. At that time the couple seemed humble and pleasant. We left you with them, and all of your paperwork and everything else you would ever need, including much in the way of human currency that the kingdom had established over the years. We also left the deed to a home we had purchased; so that you could stay close to a Fae portal to Oakend, but not too close to arise suspicion on either realm.

  We must apologize; however, it was several years later that we realized that the money we gave the humans went straight to their head and changed them. They started up businesses and had their own children that we knew must have taken up much of their time. We were under the impression they could not have children. We do not know much of the mortal realm; we know even less of humans. In the beginning, it seemed like the best of ideas, but as time went on we began noticing that they may have not been the best fit for you. That is why, when Loki approached me a few years ago about an endeavor into returning Fae to their own realm, I was on board. All around the idea was promising, but I may have also had my own selfish agenda. I waited until he and his teams were comfortable with the human realm before I sent him out to retrieve you. I though you would be happy to discover that those humans were not your blood.” He sighed and pushed his fingers along his temples. “Maybe we waited too long. We just wanted to be completely sure that the dark Fae were truly in belief that you were gone, and that their reign would die off. We have been led to believe that most of the dark Fae have been extinct and any kind of army that had arisen almost eighteen years ago, has been disband. Your return is safe now.”

  Adeila's eyes were wide, her heart ached. There was no question of the truthfulness of this story, but it was so much to take in. Her eyes flicked to the Queen's, she saw tears shimmering in them. She had a desperate urge to hug the woman. To soothe and comfort her. She had no idea why. It was almost unbearable.

  “We always loved you, my daughter. It was never something we intended. Ever. We wanted you at our side every moment of every day. We never intended to give you up. But I'd have rather you lead a life outside of this realm, then to not have a life to lead.” The Queens voice wavered and quaked, the sincerity in it brought tears to Adeila’s eyes. She met D
eleana's midnight blue eyes with moisture; a small nod was all she could muster. The Queen gulped, and pushed away from the table, the entire time her eyes glistened upon Adeila's own. Adeila couldn't help it, she stood up as well. They stared only a moment longer before making their way around the table to fall into each others arms. It was a heartfelt embrace, so comforting.

  The Queen, Deleana – her mother – was tall and slim, but her power was strong and unwavering. She smelled like lilacs and vanilla. Adeila sucked the scent into her nose, it was the most beautiful and real thing that she had ever smelled and experienced. Deleana held her tightly, and cooed in her ear, like she would a child. She stroked Adeila's hair. They stood there for several long moments, both allowing the tears to flow. A large arm came around them, the smell of leather and pine engulfed her. The King's muscled arms were hard but comforting as they engulfed both women.

  Her heart almost exploded with the feeling of true love. Real love. Love that only paternal feelings can give. Something she had never truly felt from her adopted parents.

  She realized then that she couldn’t entirely blame these people for what they did; she couldn’t even blame them for finding a family that wasn’t the most loving. How were they to know how time or wealth or success would change the human family, especially in a time when they themselves were in utter terror and turmoil? They couldn't have, they needed a quick decision. It's not like they'd had months of planning to root out the perfect family. And even if she'd lived a solitary, lonely and rather emotionless life with the human family, as her real father had explained, at least she'd been safe. It was clear that at that time someone had wanted her. Whether to harm her or not, it was clear that they never discovered the reasoning behind the attacks or the interest in her, but at least in the human realm she'd been safe from all of that. Concealed by magic and power. She felt at peace now. For once in her life there was truth, there was understanding, and there was undeniable peace.

  After they all pulled away the King grinned boldly. “How about that tour, my sweets?”

 

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