What do you mean by that?" The king's voice was steady, not hinting at the tremor growing within. He knew this day would come. when the Athanatoi would come seeking, threatening, calling. but he didn't expect it to be this soon. Dear God, he didn't want to be this soon, when he was so unprepared.
"Her." Hannah stared at him with wide eyes. She'd gone pale from the moment he'd opened his mouth and spoke his words and now she could all but feel herself suffocating, choked up by her own growing fear.
"What- but what could they want with me?" She asked, He didn't say a word, he only stared at her, his expression unreadable.
"That's enough. Hannah, you may leave us." It was the king who spoke, he managed to look steady and strong, but he could feel his fingers begin to shake, he didn't like where all this was going.
"This is about me, I'm not going anywhere. please, Don't make me leave just yet. please, papa." The king turned to her and something passed between them. There was a time when her father was her best friend, they were connected in a way only a father and daughter could be. But then the first whispers of war came five years ago, and little by little, day by day, he'd grown distant. The red-eyed immortals, had taken even that. Their relationship had evaporated.
But in that moment, in that quiet, unspoken moment of fear and vulnerability, something of their past relationship came to life. And that little something gave them both a breath of strength.
"Please papa, please let me hear this. I need to hear this. Please." He simply nodded, a lump in his throat, he ran a hand behind his and tried to swallow past the lump in his throat, before turning to Jasper.
"What do they want with my daughter?" But he felt he already knew,
"They believe she will be the end of them."
"How is a nineteen year old supposed to be the end of a whole batallion of frigging immortal beings?" It was Ànemos who spoke, and his anger was palpable, sizzling through the air, cutting across Hannah's thoughts, bringing to life a small spark of hope.
Jasper shrugged, He didn't understand it himself. But then, who exactly understood the Athànatoi?
He shrugged again, just a light movement of his shoulders. amidst the fear of doom, Hannah thought it was graceful, fluid. And annoying.
"Why have you come jasper? Simply to warn? Or is there more?" He looked at her, and gone was the mischievous princess, with a gleam in her eye, and he wished earnestly for her. The mischief wasn't totally gone, he knew it, but in that moment, he saw a little girl, one that was afraid, and a part of his heart, a part he didn't know was there up until that moment, broke for her, and with that was a growing need to protect her. He didn't get it, he didn't understand it at all and it all but scared the hell out of him.
" I have come to warn, to lay myself down, give my service, to offer my help."
"And how is this to be? How can you help?" He turned his gaze to the Queen and held it.
"I'll fight." He said simply.
"The Athànatoi are not men, jasper of Moline."
"No, but I'm sure they bleed." The queen watched, looking for any sign of fear, or hesitation, she found none, and so she nodded.
"Anastasia?" It was the king to his queen.
"Leave us for a moment, we need to talk. Hannah, go with your mother."
"I will come to you." He added, an act of pleading, of cajolement. The Queen looked at her husband with a calm expression, but her eyes held fire. He would regret this, he knew he would, but also knew she would obey. And when she stood and stretched out her hand toward her daughter who got up and took it, when they both walked to the door and out of the throne room, he heaved out a breath of relief.
Hannah walked hand in hand with her mother to her parents chambers, neither of them said a word till they got there.
"What now, mama? Why me?" She said alas, when they got to the bedroom. Queen Anastasia wrapped her arms around her daughter and held her close to her breasts.
"Nothing and no one will harm you, my child. Nothing and no one." She said, running her fingers down her hair, and pled with God to make the words true. She walked her to the bed that sat in the middle of the room, her arms still around her daughter, and both mother and daughter clung to each other, as If for dear life. The Queen hadn't wanted to cry, but she couldn't help herself as the tears came hot and steady and she found herself crying as though a dam had been burst open.
"There now, my little girl, there." Her mother's words were soothing, but they also found a way to open the dam of tears. So she stayed there, her mother's arms wrapped around her and cried, cried until she had no more strength for tears, and yet the tears still came unbidden.
"Mama, what will happen to me? If I do not give myself, what will happen to our people?" Her voice broke on each word and Anastasia's heart broke along with it.
"I do not know what will happen to our people, but know this my child, know this, nothing and no one will touch you." Hannah rose her head at her mother's words and stared at her beautiful tear streaked face.
" I wonder if that makes me a bad queen. but it is days like this that makes me not wish to be queen. when I only want to be a mother."
Hannah rose a hand and placed it on her mother's cheek, her expression instantly fierce. " you are both, and you are beautiful at both. I can only hope to be a woman like you someday."
"My child." She said, and held on to her daughter once more, her daughter's head on her breasts, and her cheek resting gently on her daughter's hair. "My precious child." If only you knew, she thought.
"I will journey to the island, where the Athànatoi first parted with man. there is a woman, a seer, she waits." The king measured Jasper's words before speaking.
" Why do you bother yourself with this so much? Is this patriotism or is there more?"
Jasper didn't smile, didn't smirk and didn't try to make his motives understandable.
" it is a bit of both," he simply said.
The king nodded, deciding he wouldn't force the man to explain further. Knowing he couldn't.
" I will send guards with you."
"Much appreciated, your majesty, but that won't be necessary, I travel alone." The king looked at him a moment and nodded. Forcing guards upon him would be futile.
" when do you begin your journey?"
"In a week. At Dawn."
"You will stay at the castle till then." It wasn't a question
"Thank you, your majesty."
" Ànemos, please speak to Marietta, she will take care of it."
" yes your majesty."
"You may both leave." They both bowed their heads briefly and turned to leave, leaving the king alone in his throne room, his heart heavier than he'd ever known it.
He walked to his bed chamber like one under a deep stupor, and opened the door to find both his wife and daughter asleep. His daughter's head was resting on his wife's breasts and his wife's arms were wrapped around their daughter, and it hit him just then, that he would do all in his power to keep them as they were. Safe.
She watched him as he walked around the room, removing his crown, and then shoes, before sitting down, then running a hand down his face. He was tired, she thought to herself. And not just physically. He was Soul tired.
"What else did he say?" Queen Anastasia asked, her voice just a Little above a whisper.
" I thought you were asleep." He said, looking at her tenderly, an expression she knew so well, but was yet so unfamiliar. She liked it, and she smiled. And yet...
"I was. But don't slide over my question, Asher, what else did he say?"
"He is journeying to the island of the Athànatoi, he leaves a week from now, at Dawn." The queen gasped a bit too loudly, and felt Hannah stir above her.
"Baby?" She rubbed her eyes with her hands before staring up at her mother.
"I fell asleep."
"We both did." She nodded and turned to her father.
"You're back. Perhaps the both of you will need your room to yourselves now." She disentangled herself from her mother, and placed a kiss on her cheek. Getting up, she walked to her father, She placed a hand on his chest, bending so she could place a kiss on his cheek.
"All will be well, papa. God will help us." She said, when he turned to look at her. He squeezed her hand and rested his forehead on hers. "Amen."
She had wept with her mother, and had tried to be strong for her father.But now, she needed to let out the storm She'd kept locked within when she was with the both of them, the storm that had quietly been gathering while she was in the throne room, the storm that was threatening to wash over her.Her father, before she left his chambers, had sworn to keep her safe.But she didn't feel safe. She felt like all hell was breaking loose, like the fires it threatened to unleash were going to come down on her, and she had to run... run very far away.She walked hopelessly to the stables, holding back her tears. Not yet, she told herself. She walked past the horses, not stopping to greet them as was her wont, her heart in her throat, her spirit downcast.She walked to the old supply room and opened it, not caring to close it behind her, not expecting anyone to be around as it was well after dusk. She walked to the corner of the room and dropp
He stared at her like she'd grown a second head, at least that's how his steady, searching gaze on her made her feel."Your parents must know. You can't leave without them knowing." He said calmly, before looking away from her, staring into nothing and then looking back at her.He tilted his head- she found he did that when he had something worth wondering about on his mind- He reached out for her hair and held a handful of curls in his hand."Some of the hair will have to go." And she was right, about the crazy.Her eyes grew wide as she took in his words. He might as well have asked her to her to cut off a finger. Perhaps it was vain, but she took great joy in the long length of her curls."Why?!" She shrieked."Because, hair like this will be noticeable wherever we go. Any one will be able to spot you easily. We don't need you being noticeable. Not that you're very hard to notice." He added the last p
It was well after their breakfast before they spoke of why he was there with her in the first place."Why did you need to see me?" She asked after successfully biting and swallowing a blueberry."We need a plan. How do we convince your parents to let you come with me?"She had been shocked that he used the word 'we' and not 'you.''We' as in, we are in this together. But she didn't say as much. But it touched her, it mattered."Well, I guess we would have to convince them that leaving the castle would be the safe and right thing to do for me."He cocked a brow at her,"How do we do that?"There was the word again, we."Come with me. They'll listen to you. If you tell them that leaving would be safe, safer than it could ever be in this castle, they'd listen to you.""And if they don't? If they refuse and state the obvious, that there are more than a hundred guards in the castle to keep you safe, K
They had walked for several hours with very little stops. From time to time, he would stop to let him catch up with him, or when she needed to catch her breath. She was sweating profusely and was definitely grateful she had opted for a tunic and trousers instead of a gown."Are you tired?" He asked without looking at her. She looked up at him as she tried to keep up with his strides, stay by his side, which took much effort. His legs were long.She actually was tired, but she was not going to admit it. not now. Not yet."Naw." Was all she could say, she was literally trying to save her breath, And was glad beyond words when he stopped, though she wasn't about to say it.It was a small clearing with wildflowers and rocks that were big enough to sit on."Let's rest here a while." Jasper said, looking at her. Her cheeks were red and he was scared she was going to faint on him. She hadn’t complained since they started moving at dawn, he found it
Panic gripped at her and made her knees weak, but she managed to stay on her feet, although she no longer felt steady.She darted her gaze from left to right and looked, and turned around on the spot where she stood, before finally lookingback to where he had laid several minutes ago, and that was when shenoticed that both his sword and it's scabbard were gone too.But Where could he have gotten to? She wondered."Japser!" Her voice caught on the pronounciation of his name as she turned once more on her heels looking for signs of him or what could have happened. She walked to the rock where she had left him and was overcome by another wave of panic."Jasper!" she called out, this time louder than the first. She heard the sound of water and took slow unsteady steps toward the stream and she could have sworn her heart sighed in relief.But her relief was soon washed away with anger.
They made it to the tavern with no trouble and Jasper sighed a deep sigh of relief when they had their plates of food in their hand along with their jars of juiced fresh berries.They ate in silence. But then, Silence had been their company since the kiss they had shared earlier. Neither of them had wanted to bring it up, didn't know how to.They broke camp that morning and spoke at intervals, and even then, their conversation centered around what paths they would be taking, and since Jasper was the man with the map, he did most of the talking while she nodded. she mostly nodded."Good food." He said trying to break the ice. But He didn’t succeed.She nodded again and went back to her plate of fish and chips.He wanted to groan in frustration, but decided against it. it didn’t think it would yield any good.In any case, it was for the better no one heard her voice, regardless of the sweet femininity
She struggled with the desire to go out and be with him."How could I be angry with him and still want to be with him at the same time?" She whispered to herself in frustration.But however frustrated she was with how she felt, it was how she felt. She wanted to go out and be with him. and while one part of her wanted to beat him to bits for turning away from her again and again, another part of her, the part that yearned for him so much, wanted to kiss him till she lost all sense of what was meant and what wasn’t. And she would have willingly lost all sense if it meant she was tucked by his side, his arms wrapped around her.She groaned at herself, at her wants and turned on her side. It was Just her luck.
He believed her fine and good. But did he trust the whole situation?He could answer that easily. No, he did not.But he had not told Hannah that, he was not going to. The woman had diamonds in her eyes at the possibilities were before them, he wasn’t going to try to take them out of her eyes, and she genuinely looked excited at meeting this woman. He was curious, if he was being honest, and he wanted to share this adventure with her, but more than anything else, he wanted to keep her safe.He didn't take for granted that she wasn't completely stubborn, she understood his need to keep her safe, but she had a will of her own and not even him could keep her from seeking this woman, he wasn’t even going to try, didn't want to."Jasper? You're