Weaving Moonlight

The first in the Tales of Terrahgonia series.
Lux Robertson has a destiny.
Prince Stefan wishes to shape his own.
Jamie Cooper just wants to belong.
What do these three teens have in common? They all have a legacy to uphold. But to do this means braving a war against the tyrannical false queen of Terrahgoina, a mystical land long ago forgotten by mortals. But with hidden secrets and traitors in their midst, they may not survive to save the kingdom.

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19. Engagement Ball

Author's Note: Whoops. I forgot to update a few days ago. This chapter was initially just under 6k, but I've split it. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know if you think I should write a chapter prior to this one, introducing the Ndlovu tribe properly, please.

Updated: Sunday 18th May 2014

 

Half an hour into the evening festivities and Prince Stefan had still not appeared. Lux knew that being at the ball was dangerous, but she needed to rescue her father. A tracking spell had led her to this palace, but she was still uncertain of her sister’s fate. The spell would not work if she was dead, but Lux refused to believe that could have been her sister’s fate.

            The will-o’-the-wisps that had led her to safety after she had escaped Quinlan’s palace had taken Lux to the Ndlovu tribe. They were predominantly made up of black African mortals, so she fit it quite well, but there were also a number of Terrahgonian exiles. They had healed her, and now a few of them were aiding her.

            There were two other pairs, and Lux was escorted by Ronan, a young exiled Duke. Having masked their ka— their magical energies— in order to evade suspicion, the two had taken on the identities of two lesser known members of the nobility. Lux wore a long purple dress, with black gloves, and Ronan had a matching purple tie with his black suit and waistcoat. As expected of them, they danced a while, with Lux attempting not to step on Ronan’s feet too often. Whilst Lux had suggested to shapeshift, Ronan had stated it would have been difficult to mask their ka signature at the same time, and considering Ronan’s handsomeness, Lux was obligated to agree. She preferred gazing into Ronan’s twinkling grey eyes than the eyes of a complete stranger.

            “What are you thinking about?” he asked as they swayed.

            “Nothing,” she said, blushing. “Just that I really want to get this over with. What are we waiting for?”

            “It would be rude to leave before the prince has arrived.”

            “Wouldn’t it be rude to leave when he does arrive?”

            “Yes. We have to wait for him to announce his bride,” he explained. “Rumour has it that he was poisoned, but he’s fully recovering.”

            Lux gasped. “By who?”

            “I’m not certain. Some say a servant, and others say his sworn brother, Erin Arnette. It doesn’t add up.” 

            Lux gazed towards the elevated platform where three royal chairs stood. On the highest platform sat Queen Yolanda, drinking a glass of wine from a jewelled goblet. She wore a floor length green satin dress. Two other seats on either side of her remained empty.

            The next dance was a peculiar one that required dancers to change partners regularly. It was a merry piece with only a string quartet but Lux found herself stumbling too often to enjoy it. Lux wished that the Ndlovu tribe had provided her shoes with shorter heels. Thankfully, her new dance partner caught her as she tripped.

            “We wouldn’t want an accident now, would we?” The man gave a light chuckle. Dark and velvety as chocolate, the Unseelie king’s voice sent a shiver up Lux’s spine.

            “Quinlan.” She glared at him as he held her and continued the dance.

            “Guardian.” A smile tugged on his lips and his dark eyes glittered with amusement. “I had not expected to see you here.”

            “Neither had I expected you. What business do you have here?”

            “Something along the lines of a rescue plan,” he replied.

            “Who are you kidnapping this time?”

            Quinlan laughed as he spun her. “You do so enjoy painting me as the villain.”

            “You would call yourself a hero?” Lux asked.

            “Deary, I am what I am, and despite what you may perceive me to be, I do consider myself honourable.”

            “Well I’m sure—” Before Lux could finish her sentence, she found herself switching partners again.

            “Roland!” Lux was shocked to see him again[WM1] , but a wave of relief flowed through her shortly after.

            “Hey Lux. Are you okay?”

            “I think so, but Quinlan is here,” she said.

            He grimaced at the mention of the Unseelie king. “What is he be up to?”

            “I’m not entirely sure. He said something about rescuing someone.”

            “Well, it looks like the prince is here.”

            As the dance ended, Prince Stefan walked towards his royal chair. He wore a smart navy blue suit, which appeared very modern in comparison to the tunics and togas many of the men wore. It was like being stuck in a time warp. Even from a distance, his face appeared rather pallid and his eyes seemed tired. Yolanda stood to embrace her son and shortly after, she brought everyone to her attention by ringing a bell.

            “My son has been rather unwell today but as you can see, he is finally here to make his announcement,” she stated. She scanned her pale eyes across the guests and Lux felt her stomach knot up in fear and her hold over the glamour covering her ka signature loosen. When Yolanda saw her, she scowled. This was it. She had been caught.

            “How dare you!” the queen snapped. “What are you doing here, Quinlan?”

            The Unseelie king stood beside Lux and as everyone took notice, they gave him a wide berth. Unable to do anything besides stare at him, Roland pulled Lux away.

            “Now what kind of godfather would I be if I messed my own godson’s engagement party?” he asked.

            Stefan looked at him in a quizzical manner. “Godfather?”

            “If I recall, I did not invite you to his baptism either,” Yolanda said.

            “I think he rather appreciated my gifts.”

            “What gifts?” Stefan asked.

            Quinlan kept that wry smile, and in his smart black suit he looked like a classic James Bond. Or a Bond villain. “Well, I’m sure—”

            From the corner of her eye, Lux saw a servant in the same pale blue tunic as all the others approach the prince with a goblet of wine. Before Lux could scream a warning, the servant buried his dagger through Stefan’s chest— right into his heart. Simultaneously, he yelled, “For Terrahgonia!”

            Out of nowhere, an arrow whizzed towards Yolanda. Her eyes flashed violet and the arrow stopped just before it impaled her between the eyes. Then it dropped at her feet and she ordered for the guards.

            Lux walked towards the front of the ballroom, impulsively wanting to help Stefan. Despite the fact that she hardly knew him, he was still a Guardian and they had a sort of connection. Ronan held her back, but Quinlan was quickly beside the dying prince. He grabbed the treasonous servant by his hair, teeth bared in feral rage, and snapped his neck. Richard, who had disguised himself as a servant with Zanalin, collapsed to the ground as the guests gave a sharp gasp.

            “Get away from him!” Yolanda shrieked as she shoved Quinlan aside when she tried touching her son.

Stefan was on his knees with the dagger still impaled through his chest. “Stefan, please! Stay with me.”

            Yolanda removed the dagger and placed a glowing violent hand over Stefan’s chest.        

            “It’s no use,” Quinlan muttered.

            Yolanda ignored her and kept at it, her ka surging through Stefan’s wound.

            “We have to go,” Ronan said.

            “But Stefan…”

            “Is dead, as he should be. Richard made a great sacrifice,” he whispered.

            “What?” Lux looked around into his eyes and saw the conviction there. Many of the members of the Ndlovu tribe wanted the queen and her son dead. She had tried reasoning with them but it had been futile. “This was never about my dad, was it?” she asked. “You wanted them dead.”

            “Lux, you don’t understand.”

            “I understand just fine!”

            Ronan gave her a wary look as she drew attention to herself. “Would you calm down?”

            “Fine.” Lux spun around and skulked away in her painful heels, weaving through the crowd. She would do this alone.

 

The Ndlovu tribe had provided blueprints of the palace to Lux and the group she went with. Her father would most likely be in the dungeons. Unfortunately, Tracker spells were only so helpful. When she approached the corner that led to the dungeons, she scouted for guards. There were two. One appeared to be a Queen’s Guard, but the other was a regular knight. Lux approached them calmly, pretending to look scared and lost.

            “Excuse me but I think I’m lost.” Lux summoned up some tears for extra effect and the knight softened his face and approached her calmly.  The prince was assassinated and there’s a panic in the ballroom.” She noticed the Guard’s hand hover to his sheathed sword. She would have to take him out first.

            Lux let out a flash of blinding light, shattering the glamour of her ka. Quick as a flash, she grabbed the Queen’s Guard’s. Adding the speed of light would boost the strength of her attack. Lux smacked the Queen’s Guard on the head with the blunt of the sword, and then kicked the knight from behind. His head smacked against the wall and he came tumbling down. She was certainly grateful for the training she had received from the Ndlovu tribe.

            Grabbing the key and sword from the Queen’s Guard, Lux unbolted the door and walked down the steps. This led to another locked door but when she entered, she saw that all the cells were empty. Lux sensed that dark magic had been at work here, perhaps several hours ago. Another thing was clear as well. She could finally sense Jamie’s ka signature, and it appeared that at one point or another, he had been here.

            The door smacked open behind her and a flash of steel swung towards her. Lux attempted to dodge but it caught her left arm nonetheless. The Queen’s Guard swung at her again, and she was forced to parry with the sword she had stolen. His brutish face was twisted in anger and determination, his eyes promising retribution. He punched her in the stomach and Lux toppled to the floor.

            Just as he was about to bring his sword down on her, another sword appeared through his chest. His eyes bulged out as the sword was withdrawn and he collapsed to the ground. Stood behind where the Queen’s Guard had been was a raven-haired girl in a blue tunic.

            “You made a mistake when you didn’t kill him, Guardian,” she said.

            “Who are you?”

            The girl helped Lux to her feet. “Taravati, Warrior of Earth. You must be Lux. Come. I know where your father is.”

            Taravati didn’t give Lux a moment to think it through and she soon found herself following the girl despite herself. If this Taravati girl led her into a trap… but why would she do that?

            Soon enough, they found themselves outside a guestroom. It was locked but all Taravati had to do was stomp her foot and the door slammed open. Lux saw her father quickly sit up straight on the bed had lain.

            “Lux?”

            “Dad?” Lux ran to her teenage-bodied father and they hugged each other tightly. “Dad, Prince Stefan is dead. We have to go home.”

            “What?” he cried. “But the balance. He can’t be dead.”

            “I don’t know what that means, but we have to go.”

            “Well we can’t go home. Yolanda would track us. Besides, if your mother knows we’re all missing, she would have left London by now to my brother’s place. She knows the Failsafe plan.”

            “I can take you to the die Zwischen,” Taravati offered. “Quinlan was an ally of Stefan’s. If we get out of here alive, he can protect us.”

            “I’m not going anywhere with that creep. He kidnapped me!” Lux protested.

            “He did what?” Lux’s father asked.

            “Be that as it may, he is our only chance. Now come on, we have to go help Quinlan and Pietro.” Determination was etched on her face, with her eyes steeled with resolve. Yolanda might have thought her a lowly servant with that uniform, but she looked especially dangerous at that moment.

            “Who is Pietro?” Lux asked as Taravati left the room.

            “The Warrior of Water.”

 

When they returned to the ballroom, to state that it was pandemonium would have been an understatement. Knights and Queen’s Guard fought against faeries and a few members of the Ndlovu tribe. Meanwhile, several guests were still trying to evacuate the ballroom. Lux was pulled aside by Taravati as a throwing knife came towards her.

            “Thanks,” Lux said. Taravati only nodded.

            “Take this,” the Earth Warrior said, offering Lux’s father a sword. “I hope you know how to use it. I need to help Pietro.”

            In the corner to her left was a longhaired man being attacked by three knights at a time. Taravati headed that way. To her right, Lux saw a bloody faced Roland being attacked by a Queensguard, but luckily, a faery came to his aid.

            In the midst of it all, the band was still playing merrily away.

            “What’s with the music?” Lux asked.

            “Not a clue. Duck!”

            A sword came at Lux and she ducked just in time. Lux ignited her ka, forcing it to take a physical form in a luminous starburst attack. The knight collapsed, unconscious. She picked up his sword, but could not take his life.

            At the heat of the battle, Quinlan and Yolanda were going toe-to-toe. Their fight literally looked like a dramatized dance. Yolanda’s swings were full of anger and murderous intent but Quinlan’s movements were fluid and elegant.

            Lux heard a sharp shriek and her head snapped towards Zanalin, who had a sword thrust in her leg. She ran towards the knight attacking the tribe girl, but before Lux could reach her, sharp knives flew through the guard’s neck. Lux approached Zanalin, who had already removed the sword from her leg. She caught Zanalin before she collapsed to the ground.

            Beside the fallen knight was a longhaired man dressed in a blue tunic and leather trousers. He removed the knives from the man’s neck and somehow washed the blood away with water. His blue eyes darted towards Lux and then advanced towards Lux and Zanalin. He inspected Zanalin’s wound and then tore part of his tunic, fastening the fabric around her leg in order to ease the bleeding.

            Without warning, the man hurled himself at Zanalin and Lux, causing Lux to yelp in surprise. His arm was outstretched to his left and when he turned to bring his intense blue eyes on her, she saw they had flashed green. When he removed himself from her, she saw a block of ice on the floor encasing a volley of arrows. [WM2] 

            “Lux! Pietro!” To her right, Lux saw Taravati running towards them. “Reinforcements are arriving. Where is your father?

            Blood rushed away from Lux’s face as she stood in terror. She ran in no particular direction, leaving Zanalin in Pietro’s care. Someone grunted behind her and toppled to the ground. Lux turned around to see Taravati stood over yet another dead body.

            “Would you stop running around like a headless chicken before you get yourself killed?” Taravati said. “The last thing we need is another dead Guardian.”

            Several doors smashed open and gigantic 8ft brutes with green and blue tinted skin entered the ballroom. They wore leather armour and ancient Greek style helmets on their heads, their faces contorted in anger.

            “Dear gods, the ogres are here,” Taravati cursed. “Your father is over there beside the hovering violin. You run, I’ll cover.”

            Lux nodded and sprinted towards her left, dodging and parrying at those who stood in her way. Behind her, she heard the clash of steel on steel as Taravati presumably covered for her. She felt a tremor in the ground and wondered how heavy the ogres were or whether that was Taravati’s power over Earth in effect.

            When Lux reached her father, she saw that he was bruised and bloodied, but still fighting. The Queen’s Guard was attacking him with a great deal of brutality and yet just behind them, the orchestra played on, fear and terror clearly written in their eyes. But why don’t they leave?

            Lux parried the Queensguard’s attack before he brought his sword down on her father again. This gave her dad enough time to strike at the Queensguard’s leg. He roared in pain and his sword clattered away. Lux brought her sword toward his neck. This was it. Her heart thudded hard in fear and anticipation and her palms became clammy.

            “What are you waiting for, girl?” the man asked. “Do it.” But she couldn’t. Lux lowered her sword and the Queen’s Guard smirked. “Fool.” Then he twisted her wrist, taking her sword, and shoved it in her father’s stomach. Lux’s father collapsed to his knees when the golden knight pulled out his sword. Two shards of rock came through his gilded armour and the Queensguard fell.

            “You never learn your lesson,” Taravati scolded. Lux gasped and quickly stopped herself from crying. “We have to go. Quinlan says we must jump out of the windows.” She pointed towards the large stained glass windows that depicted fierce creatures, from dragons to manticores. “Help me with him, will you?”

            Lux and Taravati carried the weight of her father equally between them, but Lux noticed that this made them vulnerable to attack.

            “Don’t worry. Nafali is covering us,” Taravati insisted. They made it to the broken windows, where faeries and members of the Ndlovu tribe were already descending out of the palace.

            “Guardian,” Quinlan greeted. His bowtie was missing and his dark hair was askew, but excitement still danced in his eyes. “Thank goodness, you’re still alive.”

            “Thanks to Taravati,” she admitted.

            “Yes, well… Who is this?” he asked.

            “My father.”

            “Yes. I sense his ka. It’s getting faint though. Here, let me.” Quinlan reached out to her father and a layer of black mist wrapped around his stomach. “I’m not the best healer but that should help until we return to my palace.” Lux wanted to protest about returning there but there was little time.

            “Why are you helping my father?” Lux asked. “Did you want something in return?” Lux knew that faeries were tricky creatures. Quinlan could ask her for anything between a ‘small’ favour and her firstborn child.

            “I had a father once. I wish I could have saved him.” Lux hadn’t expected such an honest answer and was taken aback by it. Quinlan didn’t even bat an eyelash. “Taravati, take him will you? I’ll take the Guardian.”

            “Sure,” she replied.

            Before Lux could protest, Taravati jumped out of the window with her father.

            “What the hell?” Lux yelled.

            “I really haven’t the time, deary,” Quinlan said. “Come. We must get everyone to safety.”

            Quinlan didn’t wait to see if Lux was following. Instead, he charged at a particularly gigantic ogre, sliding between its legs when he hit the floor. He slashed at the tender part of the inside of its legs, but it remained standing. Lux swore under her breath but went running after the Unseelie king, regardless.

            The faery who Quinlan had saved ran past Lux and dived out of the window. Lux was beside Quinlan in the next moment but found herself weaponless. The ogre swatted her aside like a pesky fly but she managed to roll aside before it stomped its foot on her. The ogre gave a monstrous roar as Quinlan struck his sword through its foot.

            “Quick! Blind it with light,” Quinlan ordered.

            Finally feeling useful, Lux happily obliged. The ogre toppled to the ground and Lux shut her eyes when saw the faery king strike his sword toward the ogre’s neck.

            “Was that necessary?” she asked.

            “Very,” he replied. “Ogres aren’t very smart but they’re certainly resilient. Decapitation is safest.”

            “Quinlan!” a voice shrieked. Lux snapped her head towards it and saw Yolanda stood at the opposite side of the room, crushing a man’s neck as he stared on in abject horror.

            “Roland!” Lux yelled. She took a step towards him but Quinlan stopped her, holding on to her upper arm.

            “Don’t. He’s already dead,” Quinlan said.

            “No. We can’t just leave him.”

            Lux pushed past Quinlan and ran towards Roland and Yolanda, but it was too late. Yolanda shoved a dagger through his heart and then let him slump to the floor.

            “No!” Lux screamed. Hot tears flowed down her face as Quinlan grabbed her.

“We have to go.”

            Lux forced her feet to move. Why is the damn orchestra still playing? She thought to herself.

            Her body went rigid when she stood by the window. The fall was greater than she thought it would be.

            “I am not jumping,” Lux said. “It’s too high.”

            “Have a little faith,” Quinlan replied. Then he pushed her out of the window.

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