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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7. Melodies and Machinations

 

Lux

Waking up to music is not particularly out of the ordinary, but Lux immediately knew that something was wrong. No one in her family played the oboe, and it was obviously not the radio. Zelda liked listening to R&B, hip-hop, and pop, that sort of thing. Their mother had a broader taste but she would certainly not have the radio on at this time. The oboe was soothing and calming. The melody was in a minor key, and after a long introduction, it was accompanied by a piano. Lux was far from relaxed. It was happening again. The last time this had happened, Lux had been terrified, fearing for her sanity. At least now she knew what to expect. It was another reminder that one day she was expected to fulfil her purpose and continue the legacy her ancestors had started. But that was another matter.

 

When Lux knocked on the bathroom door that morning, her sister came out quickly, for a change. The piano in Lux’s head ceased playing and the oboe performed a descending chromatic scale. It extended the last note as an atmosphere of tension took over. Lux and Zelda stared at each other for a drawn out period of time.

“Good morning” Lux muttered. Zelda merely nodded at her, then walked past. The two had hit a rocky spot in their relationship. Lux loved her but there was something she was not telling her. Her little sister had started practicing magic- something they all thought would never be possible. Every time a Terrahgonian married a mortal, the family power was watered down. There had not been enough for Zelda, and she was only the second child. But one did not simply gain magic that was outside of the family without a cost- Lux knew it was possible and she could sense the foreign magic within her sister’s own ka, which was otherwise known as the life force. And it was killing her.

 

Everyone had a melody. Lux could hear everyone’s music, and it was akin to reading their life stories. It was their inner secrets, hopes and dreams, all fused together in unique and hypnotising pieces. Although alluring and beautiful, it was always more than Lux needed to know. As she walked down the school corridor, she tried to tune into only a few melodies.  Listening to everyone was far too overwhelming and it was almost like tuning into a radio broadcast. Cammie was endlessly chatting away about the upcoming winter dance to her. The school had moved the date up, as mock exams would be taking place in December. Lots of people were buzzing about it but everyone in year 11 knew that it would not compare to prom.

“You and I have some serious shopping to do!” Cammie chirped.

“Please don’t kill me in the process” Her friend giggled and continued on about glitter. “Do you think he would be interested?”

“Sorry, who?” Cammie rolled her eyes.

“You weren’t listening. I was talking about Jamie. Do you think he would want to go with me?”

“Oh. Of course he would.”

“But you have to say that, don’t you?”

Cammie was not making things easy, and she was relieved that they would have to part for morning registration. Wanting to listen to a happier melody, Lux tried to tune into Cammie’s. She heard nothing. It should have been impossible, but it was happening. Even when people slept, Lux could still hear their song, endlessly playing. What was different about her best friend?

 

When break time came, Lux wanted to find her dad. If anyone would know what to do about her sister, he would. She doubted her sister would collapse and die today as her aura- or ka- was still very strong, but Lux did not want to take any chances. Her search was futile and break time was nearly over, so it was as she headed to her locker that she sensed a strange presence. Cold tentacles formed of shadow slithered their way up her legs, leaving her both frightened and exhilarated. Her body tingled and something that felt like a hand stroked her face. She momentarily closed her eyes to savour the feeling.

“You like that, don’t you?” A familiar voice purred.

“Shadow,” The creature laughed low and almost cruelly. It knew the effect it had on her too well. “What is the meaning of this?” Lux asked, seething with anger.

“Hello Guardian. It’s been aeons since I’ve touched or felt anything. Now I’m lucky to get even a sliver of satisfaction.”

At last, it took shape, into the silhouette of a man. The shadowy tentacles remained. If Shadow was testing her, then it would not be long until she lost her temper.

“I have felt not the pleasure of a caress,” It leaned close to her, running its hand down her face. “Nor the joy of a kiss.”

Shadow leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. Lux’s insides twisted, but not from pleasure but rather from fear. How can it be talking of aeons? Could a Terrahgonian be so old?

“What are you doing here?” Lux managed to croak out. Her mouth was sandpaper dry. It leaned back, finally not touching, neither with its hands nor its shadowy vines.

“He told me to fetch you.”

“Who is ‘he’?” Shadow ignored her question.

“He wants to meet you soon... now.” Then it finally hit her. It was talking about the hooded stranger.

“I am not going to agree to meet with a dangerous stranger.”

“Do not fear him. He does not wish to cause you any harm, this you can be certain of.”

“It’s not going to happen.” She insisted.

 

Shadow stepped closer again, its finger tracing her jaw.

“I’ll get you back in time for your next lesson. Trust me.”

Lux wondered how such a frightening creature could sound so assuring and soothing.

“I...” Lux was lost for words.

Part of her wanted to run off screaming for the hills, and yet she was at this point far too intrigued. ‘Curiosity is no reason to put my neck on the line’ She rationalised.

“You are worried about your sister, are you not? Come with me and I will give you the answers that you desire.”

“How did you know?”

“Consider it a gift of mine, if you will.”

“I will come with you if you agree to help me figure out what is wrong with my sister and help me sort out her problems if she is in danger.”

“That is two things, and hardly an equal bargain.”

“That is my offer. What would your master say if you dragged me kicking and screaming?”

“He would prefer you calm. I will comply and swear to you that I will do as you ask but in the future I would advise that you do not stretch my ability to be hospitable, as you will not like the result.” For the first time, its tone was irate, and laced with a flavour of bitterness. “I swear it.”

Satisfied, she gave it a handshake to seal the deal. Shadow’s hand was like ice clasped around hers. Its form shifted and it began to encircle and consume her. Light did not take kindly to being contained and so Lux felt incredibly claustrophobic. She tried to reclaim her hands, to no avail. Shadow seemed to have fully claimed them.

“Relax” A voice whispered.

Too frightened to fight it, she silently obeyed and was fully claimed by the shadows.

 

When Lux awoke, she was literally midair in the middle of nowhere. She screamed before she was fully aware of this, her heart racing inside her chest. She could not feel her hands, and she felt utterly abandoned as she descended to her doom. Shadow materialised and a black mist swirled around her.

“Your fear excites me!” It bellowed in a half drunk fit of laughter. Towards the last moments, it slowed down their fall and they finally landed in a pile of sand. Having landed on top of Shadow, Lux rolled off of it and coughed out the sand that threatened to choke her.

“You are an absolute maniac!” She shrieked.

“Smart observation, Guardian” She wanted to punch it but saw no point in the action. At this point, it was the one with the power and angering it would be unwise.

Lux looked all around and was shocked by the vision that she witnessed. The beach stretched out endlessly in front of her and was inhabited by humanoid creatures. They looked ferocious and merciless, as if they might come over and devour her. In contrast, the beauty to the golden sand was the violence of the raging, murky waters. The tide came back and forth, seemingly in argument with itself as it came and retreated in uneven intervals. Those that lingered too close were pulled into sea, and left gasping for breath. The tide was relentless in its mission to cause harm and misery to the inhabitants, with the windy storm complimenting it. Lux did not know where she was, but she was more than certain that she did not wish to remain here for long.

“Where am I?” Lux asked, more fearful than panicked. Shadow remained lying on the sand, at complete ease with the scene.

“You are in Nastrӧnd, my dear. He should be here any moment now.” The darkness of this place was affecting her. Fear gave way to rage, and rage to despair. Lux was certain that spending too long here would drive her insane.

 

Lux did not remember passing out but when she awoke, her vision was distorted. Luckily, her hearing was just fine and she was able to overhear a conversation.  

“For all your claims of being a superiorly intellectual creature, you have committed many acts of stupidity.”

“You told me to take her somewhere safe and secure. Nastrӧnd is that for me.”

For a moment, Lux had the feeling of drowning. She saw visions of a boy flailing around in the sea, his lungs obviously burning with the need for oxygen. The tide spat him out and he then combed his blonde hair away from his face. He did not speak but he did not have to. His gleaming green eyes pleaded for the help that he sought. The need he could not voice. Lux could not put a name to the boy but she immediately knew that he was familiar. When her vision was normal again, she realised that she was still in Nastrӧnd, but further away from the drowning shades. The vulnerable boy was gone, and her mind was far clearer than before. The cloaked man sat next to her on the sandy beach, but Shadow stood at a distance from them.

“See, I told you she would be fine. I can protect her the same way I have protected the boy.”

“You saw him too?” Lux asked.

“Saw who?” Shadow responded. It appeared that they were going to be difficult.

“Alright then, be like that, but unless I’m mistaken, I’m here so you can get your secrets out in the open, not cover them up with more lies.”

Lux was mad and felt that she had every right to be. She had been kidnapped, and then passed out for reasons unbeknown to her. ‘What is it about dangerous people and me passing out?’ She wondered to herself.

“You are quite right” The hooded man replied, removing the garment that kept his identity hidden from her. He paused for a moment, casting his blue-eyed gaze over her. “I am Stefan, Prince of Terrahgonia.”

Lux had gasped long before he had revealed his name. The memories of him came flooding back. ‘I’m rather disappointed that you have forgotten me so easily’, he had stated.

 

 Looking at him now, he had the same blue eyes, mingled with sadness and optimism. His hair was shorter, but still the same stark white that had made him seem so intriguing. Everything else had changed however. He was no longer the same gangly framed boy he had once been. His jaw had squared out quite finely, and the planes of his face appeared to have been sculpted by one of the great artists themselves. Beneath the cloak he wore more or less the typical clothes of a teenager, in jeans and a plain red t-shirt, but he was absolutely regal in his manner. He was both majestic in his manner of speech, as well as his posture.

“You never told me you were a prince. How could you have expected me to recognise you with that hood over your face?”

“I had not. I believe that is the point of wearing a hooded cloak.”

“But the other day when I met you, you seemed to expect me to recognise you.”

“What are you talking about?” He asked, his brows knitted in confusion.

“You are not the one who summoned me to Terrahgonia whilst I was asleep were you?”

“Not that I am aware of.”

“But Shadow was there too! It must have been you.”

 

 Stefan looked towards his Shadow, who gave no indication as to whether he was innocent or guilty of anything.

“Shadow, what is she talking about?”

“I have no idea, Stefan. Perhaps she has hit her head once too often, or the madness that is Nastrӧnd has already gotten to her.”

Stefan looked towards Lux once more, a worried expression like a stain across his perfect features.

“Now pleasantries aside, I would appreciate it if the two of you would get on with business.” Shadow interrupted. “I can’t hold this protective force field forever.”

“What is he talking about?” Lux asked. She was annoyed about Shadow’s rather dismissive tone, as if it was trying to hide something. Perhaps it knew more than it was letting on.

“In here we are safe. Chaos reigns in this realm and that is why you passed out.”

“Alright then. There is something I have been meaning to do.”

“And what might that be?”

Lux slapped him across the face. His expression was filled with shock as he tried to comprehend what had just happened. Stefan blinked a few times before looking back at her.

“What was that for?” He asked in a forceful manner of control.

“That was for leaving without saying goodbye.”

“I suppose I deserved that.”

“I thought so too. It’s good to see you again though. It’s been so long.”

 Stefan smiled but it was sad and slow; not quite reaching his eyes.

 

“So now that we are reunited, please tell me, will you join me to restore Terrahgonia to its former glory?”

Lux did not know what to say. Her previous argument with her sister had her thinking through the stranger’s offer very seriously- the stranger who apparently was not Stefan. Despite their childhood friendship however, Lux did not feel that she could truly trust him. She did not know who she was really dealing with. It had been years since she had met the boy at the swing set with the floppy white hair. For all she knew, he might have entirely disappeared as soon as puberty had taken place. Who was to say that Stefan was one of the good guys?

“Actually, I’m still debating about that.”

“Time is running out, Lux. You must decide and I cannot do this with you. You know me. You and I, we are a part of something bigger.”

Lux did not like being pushed around or pressured. She also feared his reaction if she was to refuse.

“I... I don’t know! How am I supposed to trust that you are who you say you are? That your intentions are true?”

 

Stefan grabbed Lux’s face and heat surged through her body. Her initial reaction was to pull back but she could not find the strength within herself to do so. Visions ran through her mind, filled with memories of their meeting at the park. Images shifted in and out of a cruel and strikingly beautiful woman who reined the kingdom with an iron fist, wielding her power as she sought fit. She was shown visions of prisoners being tortured for information, some going mad as their mind became unhinged. All the while, Stefan stood aside by the queen, his face calm and reserved. The vision dematerialised and was replaced by a handsome looking man with eyes that occasionally gleamed with gold.

“I made an oath to help you dethrone your mother, but be warned, I may not be held responsible for my actions after.” He threatened.

His face seemed to melt away, and in its place was a dark-eyed girl with midnight hair that seemed to flow endlessly.

“I believe that you can be what this kingdom needs.” Other images were not as decipherable, whilst others were not the sort that Lux wished to remember. At last they were over, and she kept a good distance from Stefan.

 

“What the hell is wrong with you?” She screamed. “You cannot just go around doing that to people without their permission.”

“I was trying to make you see. I’m sorry. I should have asked for your permission.”

“Yes, you should have. So you have some allies, some girl thinks that you’re the kingdom’s only hope, and you are obviously very ambitious. I’m more concerned about your relationship with the queen. What was her name, Yolande?”

“Yolanda”

“Right, Yolanda. Have the two of you got some bitter mother-son relationship? I bet you just want to take her out so you can have all the power to yourself. For all I know, you could be the Himmler to her Hitler. Did you know that he was allegedly worse?”

“You know nothing about me!” Stefan fumed.

“My point exactly.”

“So I take this as a rejection to my proposal.”

“Actually, it’s a ‘hell no’, and if you try that on me again, I’ll... I’ll bring you down to China Town.”

Lux wanted to slap herself for that of course. It had been going so well.

“My offer still stands, should you change your mind.”

“Don’t hold your breath, and please tell your Shadow to leave me alone.”

“What can I say? He has a mind of his own.”

But the stranger in the night had said that Shadow could not think of itself. “Goodbye, Lux.”

 

Lux woke up, startled. She was in her science class, her saliva drooling on her hand.

“Miss Robertson!” Mr Morrison yelled. “I’m glad for you to finally join us. You will be catching up in detention tomorrow.”

Mr Morrison took her diary and logged her detention first on the school database system, and then in her diary. It seemed that Shadow had somehow kept his promise after all. If the creature could think for itself then she would have to change the way she thought about it. He was obviously keeping a secret from both Lux and Stefan, and she was going to get to the bottom of it- right after he fulfilled his end of their deal.

 

 

 

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