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.


5. Mendacities and Machinations


The whiz of the arrow was loud enough for Stefan to dodge it. It impaled itself into the tree next to him, inches from his face. He knew that danger lurked in the forest but he had not expected to be attacked so directly. He heard a groan next to him and saw sap coloured eyes open on oak wood. He staggered back in fear and was acutely aware of the rustling leaves, far away. The prince made a move to put as much distance from himself and his pursuing attackers. Something grabbed his arm and he tried to flinch away. His attempt was futile. He looked down at his arm and saw that looked like a branch. The twigs morphed into individual fingers.

“The arrow! Remove the arrow!” A raspy voice yelled. Stefan’s mind raced out of control. He wanted to be rid of the vice grip. How could it be so tight? He calmed himself down and remembered his training. He had to be rational about the situation. It was clear that the tree was more than just a tree. It must have been a faery, and it was in pain. Stefan gripped his fingers around the arrow and pulled it out. Slimy green sap splurged from the hole but the faery-tree finally released its hold. He bolted away as quickly as he could... and bumped into someone.

Stefan fell on impact. Towering over him was lumbering man. He was very muscular but his face could not be clearly seen in the dark.

“You cannot escape me, mortal” Stefan was perplexed. He wanted to protest but before he knew it, vines were entangling his hands and the stranger grabbed him and lifted him up, so he dangled over his shoulder. “I would kill you, but I’m sure your new master would not be pleased.” He thought the prince was a mortal slave! It was true that he was not in his usual royal attire- for that could prove a fatal mistake- but he could not understand why this giant oaf could not at least sense his magical aura.

“Put me down! I am fully capable of walking!”

“And running away.” Perhaps he was not so stupid after all. Stefan could only see the ground and his kidnapper’s legs as he was carried away. Soon enough he could hear another voice, yelling to move faster.

“I got another one” His kidnapper said.

“Put him in with the rest” Stefan felt a sensation of vertigo as he was plopped on the ground. His strange make-shift vine handcuffs entwined themselves to a person in front of him. He saw a line of miserable people. He himself had been mistaken for a mortal slave. This must have been a chain gang! They were transporting purchased slaves somewhere, but where? Stefan tapped the man in front of him. “Where are they taking us?” The prince whispered.

“Shut up before you get us both in trouble” The man responded. Not used to such rude orders, he did so, grudgingly.

It took a long time to get to the Unseelie King’s palace on foot, by which time they were told to use the back entrance. They were taken into a bare, cold room where they were made to stand by a wall, so they could be inspected. Stefan had no wishes to remain amongst these slaves and was already devising a plan to escape. A man entered the room and scanned his eyes across them all. When his dark eyes rested on the prince, he smiled visibly. Stefan had been found out! The man wore extravagant robes, in emerald green, with intricately woven threads of gold. He whispered something to one of the guards, who grunted and nodded in response. The next thing Stefan knew, he was being removed from the rest of the chain gang. The finely dressed man directed him through confusing passageways, into a private room. It was only then that he spoke to him.

“If you wish to see the king, I advise that you first make yourself look presentable.” He remarked.

“How did you...”

“Well, I doubted that you were here to assassinate him... you and your army of one. It would take more than one egotistic youth to kill a faery monarch.” The prince tried not to take this comment to heart. In his eyes, he was already a man. Being thought of as merely a youth irritated him. The man brought out some clothes from a drawer and handed them to the prince. “You have two minutes to dress yourself. Do not attempt to escape.” Then he walked out. When the prince was finally dressed, the man directed him across more hallways. “I am Marcellus, by the way. I am the King’s advisor.”

When they arrived at the grand doors that were undoubtedly the entrance to throne room, they were immediately admitted inside by the guards. The room was dark and lighted by flickering candles. Marcellus led Stefan down the red carpet in the aisle of the obsidian marble floor. When Marcellus reached the dais, he nodded at the King sat on the throne.

“Your Highness, Prince Stefan asks for an audience with you.”  The King sat cross-legged on his throne, talking to a blonde girl stood by him. He turned to face his advisor and looked at the prince with a curiosity that unnerved him. It must have been a faery thing. Few creatures filled him with such fear. The King was just as Stefan remembered with dark brooding eyes that entrapped those that he gazed at. In all these years, neither his olive complexion nor his dark curly hair had changed. It had been a long time since that day he had wandered off into the Grey Forest and had been attacked by Unseelie Faeries. It had been the King who had saved him, after forcing him to beg. He had thankfully not seen him since.

“Well if it isn’t the young Princelet!” The King sat up, studiously. “And what brings you to my humble palace?” Stefan might have thought he was in a good mood from the tone of his voice, but his lips were unsmiling and his eyes were far too serious.

“Is it alright if we speak in private?” He asked, his eyes flitting over at Marcellus.

“As you wish. Marcellus, you have my leave to go. Tell the guards to leave too.”

“Your Highness, is that wise?”

“I can look after myself” His advisor pulled a fake smile and nodded, before vacating the room. The girl stood by the king made a few steps to exit the room.

“You may stay” She turned to face the prince, who was not particularly pleased.

“Relax, Princelet. Whatever you have to say, you can be assured that my slave girl will not go gossiping around the palace.” Stefan was not convinced but he had no choice.

“Alright, I hope I do not seem too bold, but I wish to ask you for your help.”     

“Please, be specific. What kind of help?”

“I wish to ask you to fight alongside me when I wage war against Yolanda.”

“You are waging war against your mother?” The King’s eyebrows had gone up. It was probably not what he expected to hear. “I thought the two of you had the same vision.”

“Perhaps once before” Stefan sighed. “But our people are miserable. Yolanda has imposed a hierarchy system unlike any other. Witches and warlocks dominate and everyone else is now second class. Mortals are worse than dirt.” He looked at the mortal girl apologetically. “No offence.” She simply nodded back. “And now she wishes to take over the kingdom of Nisyros.”

“I fail to see how this affects me and my people.” He remarked. Stefan was not surprised to see that the Unseelie King was so selfish but that did not stop him from being angered. Thousands of Terrahgonians and Nisyrai would suffer if his mother continued her reign. She had to be stopped.

“Your faeries have lived on the fringes of Terrahgonia and Nisyros for centuries because they are feared and despised.”

“Lovely reminder” Stefan ignored him.

“This is your opportunity to make a difference. You could finally give your faeries a good reputation. All you have to do is help me set things right.”

The King finally stood and took the steps down the dais to stand in front of the prince. Stefan’s heart beat faster from fear. The Unseelie King was unfathomable. It was impossible for him to predict what he would say or do. Yet strangely enough, the king smiled.

“So you think you have what it takes to thwart Yolanda?” Stefan admitted to himself that he had doubts about his plan. Planning a conspiracy was difficult, particularly when it was against ones only family member. But doubt was not something he could convey when everything depended on him at least appearing strong and confident.

“I believe that with the right connections and with the right plan, overthrowing the queen will be possible.”

“And why do you presume that I am the right person to ask for help? You have taken a big risk, coming here.” Of course the prince knew that. Here he was without protection and was heavily outnumbered. The king could slay him where he stood if he wanted to.

“Nothing is without its risks”

“Well said. My problem however is your obvious lack of experience. I would be risking my life, and therefore my court, for a mere boy with dreams.” Stefan wanted to make an outburst but he knew he had to stay calm. “But perhaps we could make a man out of you.” The King unsheathed his sword and lightly cut through the air with it using small wrist movements. The blade glinted dangerously, but even without it, its warrior was still a formidable opponent. “I challenge you to a duel. If you best me, I will assist you in your plans. The winner will be identified once their opponents has lain down their weapon and has begged for mercy.” Stefan did not like the sound of having to once more beg the same arrogant faery for his life but it was better than a fight to the death.

“And how do I know you will keep your word?”

“I shall swear an oath if you prefer. Every faery is bound by their oaths, even those of the Unseelie court.”

“Alright then. Do you swear that you shall help me usurp Yolanda’s reign over Terrahgonian and my attempt she makes on taking over Nisyros?”

“I solemnly swear so to do, in the name of Styx.”

Then he attacked, swinging at Stefan’s neck. The prince ducked just in time, though a clump of his snow white hair was sliced clean off.

“Woah! I wasn’t ready.”The king kicked him square in the chest.

“Not my problem” He growled. The duel had only just begun and Stefan was already starting to worry. He managed to roll aside before the blade was brought down on him hard.

“Is this a civil duel or a fight to the death? You nearly hacked me to death.” The king walked up to him slowly as he got up.

“You talk too much” He lunged with the sword, but this time Stefan anticipated it. He had already began imagining his own trusted sword appearing in his hand, and sure enough it materialised in his grasp, formed out of the shadows. There was a loud clang as the two blades made contact. Stefan had at least managed to block one attack. “I was beginning to think you had forgotten to bring your weapon to the party.”

“And miss you on all this fun?” The king’s blade cut him across the arm, leaving it stinging.

“Pleasantries aside, I’m going to have fun carving your face.” Stefan was not really sure what he had done to deserve to be the subject of such resentment, but he did not let the threat deter him. The fight had just begun.

The prince managed to get a few cuts on the king too but the king delivered some hard blows to the face. He was getting tired of playing things safe. He was a powerful Terrahgonian with across to some interesting in forms of magic. The flimsy rules made would not limit him in this department. He concentrated momentarily and shortly after, several Stefan’s encircled the king. It was something he had learned as a boy and had used on his mother to drive her mad. Two Stefan’s thrust their swords at the king but he ducked on instinct as the girl gasped in horror. Illusions were a speciality for the prince and nothing gave him greater pleasure than out-smarting others. So whilst the king hacked his way through several versions of him, the prince witnessed this interesting display from the comfort of the throne, unseen. The king was feral in his attacks. Having been disarmed, he continued fighting mercilessly with his bare hands. Yet there was elegance in his fighting, as if he were dancing. His movements were at times short and sharp, but other times slow and graceful. Stefan was both captured by this performance, and terrified. Each defeated illusion lay lifeless on the floor. That might soon be him.

“Come on Princelet! Your illusions have given me a nice warm-up. Now why don’t you come and fight me yourself?” The king shouted at various directions. He did not know where Stefan truly was. This would give him a slight advantage. The prince dissipated into the shadows and reappeared behind the king. Hoping to make it count, he lunged at the king’s thigh. He howled a mighty roar, but he was far from defeated.

“Quinlan!” The slave girl yelled out. Quinlan was the name of the faery that had haunted his nightmares as a child? He had expected it to sound more menacing, more cynical.

“Play time is over.” He spat, delivering yet another blow to the prince’s face. Stefan should have blocked. He should have held it together and kept a grip onto his sword. Alas, he did not. He fell on the floor with a thud and his prized sword clattered away. His jaw in agony, he was weaponless and vulnerable. He knew now that Quinlan was not the Unseelie king for nothing. He was powerful and it was clear that he had been holding back at the beginning of the duel.  He walked up to the crumpled prince and smashed a foot on his rib cages. Now it was Stefan’s turn to scream in pain. “Surrender and beg for my mercy” Admittedly, the offer did not sound so bad. He had nothing to lose but his ego. But he had much to gain from wining.


“Tell me then, how do you possibly hope to defeat me?” In too much agony to respond, Stefan simply melted away, becoming one with the king’s own shadow. He knew now he could not overcome the king using conventional methods. He was too strong. Beads of sweat trickled down his face from exertion. The prince needed to find his opponent’s weak spot, and quickly. An idea merged in his mind, but it was risky. He was too weak to execute it alone. Unless...

Stefan separated himself from Quinlan’s shadow, collapsing on the floor. The king swivelled quickly to face him.

“Game over” he whispered. The prince raised his arms towards Quinlan, palms touching. The moment he separated them, the king cried out and soon sprawled across the floor. Standing tall however, was the king’s shadow. It was his silhouetted figure, but three-dimensional. It knew its mission and made haste, grabbing Stefan’s discarded sword. It materialised behind the slave girl, holding on to her with the sword at her neck.  The prince sat up to bear witness as the king stood to his feet, his face paled.

“Take one step... and the girl dies” Stefan barely croaked out. His lips were bleeding, leaving a metallic taste in his mouth. He held on to his chest as if this would help him keep a grip of the swirling emotions he felt. The king tensed his jaw and stared directly at him.

“Release her at once. This is between us.”

“Perhaps...but the rules stated nothing of this. So, stand down.” Quinlan continued to simply look at him, challengingly. Stefan’s eyes flickered to the shadow and slave girl, sending it an instruction. It grabbed the girl’s arm and twisted it behind her, and she cried out. Quinlan flinched but did not yet back down.

“Do you really have it in you to have her killed?” Stefan did not think so, but he could not let him know that.

“I will do whatever it takes to ensure that Terrahgonia is restored back to her former glory. Sacrifices are necessary.” Quinlan nodded, understandingly. Then he knelt on one knee.

“Then I surrender and beg that you release my slave.” The prince could not believe he had won. The mighty king of the Unseelie court was surrendering. But the prince was suspicious. Unseelie fey were very sneaky.

“I believe the terms were that the loser was to surrender and beg for mercy. You have begged for her release.” Quinlan seemed to give a genuine smile.

“How observant of you. Very well. Prince Stefan, I beg that you have mercy on me and my slave girl.” He drawled. “Is that good enough?” But it was not. This was the faery that had made him live in constant, fear years after their first encounter. As far as the prince was concerned, he was going to pay.

“Not even close” There was the piercing sound of bone snapping and a shrill scream. Quinlan’s eyes broke wide and the bemused smile faded. Stefan forced himself up and lumbered towards the kneeling king. “Your shadow will break another one of her bones until you beg to my satisfaction. You can feel it can’t you? It feels as though you are the one hurting her. It’s almost blood curling, knowing that-”

“Stop it! Alright? Please stop this. It is torturous. I beg that you may find it within yourself to forgive me. This is revenge, is it not? I take it that you clearly remember our first encounter.”

“Yes, I do.” Guilt struck Stefan as his eyes flitted to see the slave girl. Her expression was of shock and horror, contorted in pain.” He could not help but close his eyes, sickened with himself.

“I take it you are not used to acts of cruelty.” The prince only shook his head.

“Well then, how about you end this and accept my surrender?”

“Alright, I accept.” In almost no time, Quinlan was at the other side of the room, attending to his slave. Stefan did not understand what was so special about this slave. Although he treated his own well enough, he had been brought up to think of mortals as lesser beings. Quinlan seemed to be whispering words of assurance to her. Finally, she walked passed him, making no eye contact with the prince, tears streaming down her face. He was alone with the king.

“If you do not mind, I would rather like to have my shadow back.” The king requested. He had almost forgotten. With a gesture of his hand, the king and his shadow were one. There was momentarily a gap of silence. “You know, I was not sure that you had it in you.”

“Me either”

“Would you like to know a secret?” He asked, approaching him. He put a hand on Stefan’s shoulder. It was unnerving to have the Unseelie king so close to him, displaying a seemingly friendly gesture.  

“I was hoping you would do exactly what you did.” Stefan’s mouth gaped open. Quinlan shut it for him, and chuckled as the prince flinched away. “You do not seriously believe I would make such an error as to allow a prized possession remain in the room?”

“You let me...”

“But of course. So what are the plans for conquest? We should talk business.”

“I have many trusted subjects at my side already. Though I am still in the midst of recruiting, with you and your faeries as allies, I am one step closer to achieving my goals.”

“I do hope you are not having misconceptions that my faeries are in any way involved in your schemes.”

“I thought we had a deal”

“That I would help you. We spoke nothing of my subjects.” Needless to say, Stefan was furious. He had endured all of this for the help of only one faery? Quinlan was a powerful fey, but Stefan needed quantity and quality in this upcoming war. “There is no point in getting mad at me. You alone bare this fault” The Unseelie King turned to sit on his throne once more. Stefan was speechless at his own stupidity. “I do advise you get that rib cage of yours looked at. We shall talk another day but at present I have other matters to attend to. Meet me tomorrow. Arrive in the forest at about the same time and you shall be greeted by two of my trusted knights. Do exactly as they say. My subjects are not to know I am helping you.” Stefan simply nodded. He was disappointed to say the least. He raised his hand and his sword immediately flew to his hand. He sheathed it and readied himself to leave.

“Until tomorrow then” Stefan dematerialised, fading into the darkness.    


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