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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9. Mother Dearest

Mother Dearest

Her grey eyes glittered with sorrow as she looked down at the prince. Her face became his world in that moment. Prince Stefan had had this dream before but he was no closer to understanding who this woman was. Her dark chestnut hair framed her porcelain skin as she cooed at him happily. Yet all the while, her eyes revealed everything. Something was wrong, and Stefan already knew what would follow. He watched her as she then stepped back, saying. “I love you. I have to go but I hope we will one day be reunited.” Then she faded into the shadows, gone.

 

            Stefan woke with a start, and saw that the time was three in the afternoon. He had never been one for normal bedtimes, and as he had grown, he had begun to find it increasingly difficult. His servant and dear friend, Taravati, had called him a bat, and whilst he was nocturnal, he refrained from sleeping upside down, as she had joked. He wanted to know who the woman was, but there was no one to turn to. Refusing to let the dream shake him, he pulled the cover back towards him, and reattempted to catch up on his sleep. Unfortunately, an intruder banged the door open, disturbing him.

            “Who dares?” He yelled, throwing his covers once more.

            Taravati stood before him, in a simple green tunic. Her sleek black hair was fashioned in a high ponytail and her caramel eyes were wide. She seemed to blush and quickly turned her face, smiling.

            “I’m sorry, my prince, but-”

            “Look at me when you address me.” Stefan demanded.

            She raised her brows but did as she was told. Then Stefan understood. He was shirtless, and they were alone in his private chambers. The thought was enough to make him turn away as well.

            “Please explain to me your reason for barging into my personal chambers.” Though his words were polite, his tone was near venomous. Some people were not morning people; Stefan was not an afternoon person, at times.

            “I thought you would be sleeping and you would not notice. I did not wish to waste time and to be honest, you don’t sleep for long but when you do, you are like the dead.” She explained, biting her bottom lip in nervousness. She was being completely insubordinate of course but Stefan overlooked it when she spoke her last sentence. “And you mother is here.”  Stefan’s heart practically skipped a beat.

            “What? Why is she here?”

            “She says she has news to share.”

            “She could have contacted in advance.” Sleep was now at the back of the prince’s mind. It could wait, but his mother could not. He got out of bed and headed towards his bathroom. “Please tell her I will be with her as soon as possible. Meanwhile, try and entertain her.”

            “Entertain her? How?” Taravati’s eyes showed the fear she dared not begin to voice, but her outrage resonated clearly in her voice.

            “I do not know. You were once a part of the Nisyrai nobility. Think of something, and quickly.”

            “Thank you for the reminder.”

            Stefan called her his servant, but that word implied that she had her freedom. She was by law his slave, and it was something that he often tried to make her forget. She was his friend and as long as she was in his care, she would be treated well. With his mother here, however, he was to remind her of her true place, lest she forget herself.

            When Stefan was ready, he arrived in the living room area reserved only for his mother’s visits. The ceiling was decorated with spectacular frescos of cherubs and musicians. The floor was carpeted with exquisite rugs on top of the marble floor. The room was furnished with grandly dressed chairs, and grandfather clock that opposed a fireplace. The queen was draped in a casual manner on one of the long sofas, showing of her marvellous flowing red dress. It hugged every curve quite nicely, and the length of it gave the illusion of the sofa being consumed by fire.

            “Mother,” Stefan greeted. He knelt in front of her, took her hand and kissed it. “What a surprise it is to see you.”   

            “A pleasant one, I hope.” Stefan was far from pleased, but he only smiled.

            “I asked your slave for some tea a full two minutes ago. I would have mine whipped for such poor service.”

            “Taravati will be here soon, I imagine.” He assured her. “I will take immediate action if you like.”

            She had to know that he had not gone soft for the slave girl. He saw his servant as a friend, but letting Yolanda know this would not be wise.

            “Oh, not now. I am not in the mood for unpleasantries. Really, she should be disciplined by now.” Stefan stood, just as Taravati entered with two cups, a teacup and a pot of sugar. She laid them on the glass table and curtsied. “Well, it is about time. Now pour the tea, girl!”

            In the year of so that Taravati had been under the servitude of the prince, the queen had never learned her name. She did as she was told, not daring to correct the queen, and passed the cup to her.

            “Would you like some tea, my lord?” She asked Stefan.

            “Yes please.” After doing so, Taravati took a seat, forgetting herself.

            “What do you think you are doing, slave?” Yolanda asked. Taravati’s eyes widened at her stupidity, whilst Stefan merely rolled his eyes.

            “I shall handle this, mother.” Stefan strode over to where his friend sat, frozen in place by her own fear. “Arise on your feet and remain standing until the day in done.” Against her will, Taravati rose instantly. “Now be gone.” She managed a quick curtsy, before swiftly exiting the room.

 

            “Discipline her or replace her.”

            “Yes mother. So what did you wish to speak to me about?” He took a seat, opposite her.

            “I have had talks with the kings of the Parted Islands.” The people of the islands had long ago consorted with Nisyros in their fight for independence against Terrahgonia. In return, they had gained independence, but they worked together as a Union. “A few of them have agreed to offer up their daughters for your hand in marriage. You would choose your preferred bride, of course.” Stefan felt as if his world had been shaken.

            “Marriage?” He fumed, rising on his feet, not caring about the spilt tea. It was all he could do to stop himself from smashing it to the floor. Instead, he placed the cup on the table and began pacing.            “I did not agree to this.”

            “No, but you will.”

            “This is absurd, mother. I cannot marry someone who I have never met, yet alone love.”

            “Then I will arrange a ball.” She stated matter-of-factly. “Oh, it will be magnificent,” Her voice was now an uncharacteristic chirp “and I will have the young ladies shipped up here as soon as possible. You will announce your choice, just before midnight.” And so it was said and so it would be done. Stefan knew he had no choice, and he was running out of time.

            “If it is for the good of the kingdom, then I would see it as an honour.” His mother was too happy to notice his gritted teeth.

“Of course you would. We are in need of allies and I imagine that it was just nervousness talking before.”

            Stefan wished that he could refuse her but losing her trust was the last thing that he needed.

            “Besides, I thought you could use the companionship. After the little mishap last year, I thought you would never make another friend. You have yet to prove me wrong.” The incident that Yolanda was referring to was about a friend he had made, who later attempted to assassinate him. Pietro, the friend in question, turned out to be a member of the Resistance. Stefan had never trusted anyone again. Those at court were the worst to befriend. They would stab their own family members in the back to get higher in the social ladder. It was a good thing he had Erin, who he regarded as a brother. Unfortunately, he was busy with an apprenticeship elsewhere.  

            “How very thoughtful of you.” Stefan plastered a smile.

 

            Another servant entered the room and bowed. The young man was standing in for the prince’s butler.

            “Your surprise guest is her, my queen.”

            “Excellent! Do invite him in.” Yolanda’s face lit up in excitement. She immediately swung her legs into a normal upright sitting position. He door swung open again and a familiar face entered the room

            “Your Highness, I present to you, King Quinlan of the Unseelie court faeries.” The stand in butler announced.

            “A butler. Cute. Now get out.” The guest ordered the young man. Frightened, he fled immediately, forgetting whom his true master was.

            The Unseelie King was dressed head to toe in black. His shirt was tucked into his jeans, where a chain hung. His leather boots were both practical and stylish, completing the smart-casual look. Quinlan was altogether dressed completely unlike a typical courtier, much less a powerful king.

            “What is he doing here?” Stefan asked, his tone even.

            “Yolanda gave me a proposition, and I came to discuss my answer.”

            “What proposition?” The prince aimed the question at his mother again.

            “My offer to join us in our battle against Nisyros.” Yolanda smiled. “Now please stop ignoring our guest. It is rather rude of you. So where do you stand, Quinlan?”

 

            Instead of answering right away, the faery king sat next to Yolanda and held her hand.

            “You still have it, don’t you?”

            “I…” Quinlan moved his hand to her wrist and then Yolanda’s fisted hand opened to reveal the phoenix feather that she kept. Her expression was horrified and her mouth was aghast. “How did you…?”

            “I have my ways.” He chuckled. The feather radiated warmth, even to Stefan who sat opposite them. He was puzzled to say the least. How did the Unseelie King know of the feather?

            “Did you give her the phoenix feather?” He implored.

            “Me? Of course not.” The prince was relieved. Yolanda had told him that his father had given the feather to her. The thought of having Quinlan for a father was horrifying. “He always loved you, you know. Even when he was-”

            “I think that is quite enough.” Yolanda pulled her wrist away from his grasp, and hid the feather once again.

            “His face haunts you, even to this day, does it not?” Her face was pale, and her eyes- though steeled- showed her hurt in brief glimpses. This was a side to his mother that Stefan rarely saw, but he could not deny its existence. Something in Stefan wanted to protect her from Quinlan’s cruelty. In that moment, she was vulnerable; and in this dangerous dance, this daring game, the vulnerable and weak were killed.

 

            Stefan waved his hand and he knew he had successfully implanted a thought in her mind. It was a skill he had learned a long time ago, but it had to be executed with precision in order to work. Most of the time his mother was too mentally well guarded for it to work on her, but in this moment she was rather weak-minded. Yolanda gave the faery king a cunning smile and uttered the words her son had chosen.

            “Yet my life goes on. He is my past and I aim to keep him there.”

            “I see,” Quinlan nodded. “I could do with a drink. Something strong would do.”

            “But of course.” Yolanda made a hand bell materialise, and rung it. Taravati appeared once more, ready to be of service.

            “Fetch me something refreshing, darling. Alcoholic, of course.”

            “Would you prefer anything specific? Wine, whiskey, cider?”

            “Surprise me.” She left promptly and returned with a glass and bottle. She poured the bottle and hand it to Quinlan, who drank it in one gulp.

            “Would you like a refill?” Taravati asked, shocked.

            “No. I’m quite sated.” She placed the glass on the table.

            “Yes, now leave.” Yolanda snapped.

            “Wait. Come here.” She looked at Stefan, desperation plainly written in her eyes. He gave her a barely noticeable nod.

 

            Quinlan clasped her hand and rubbed it with his thumb.

            “Just as I thought,” He muttered. “Very interesting.” Then he pulled her in his lap and smelt her neck, pulling her hair back to do so. Stefan coughed in order to catch the faery’s attention. Quinlan merely smiled but neither apologised nor released the girl.

            “Quinlan, what you do with your mortals is no business of mine, but when it comes to the property of others, it is different.” Yolanda stated. Stefan saw Taravati cringe at the mention of her as the property of someone else. She had been born free and she had sworn to die free. “Now I advise that we get down to business, as my patience is running thin.”

            “But of course.” He never turned away from Taravati and wore a faint smile as if he found something particularly amusing. “You may leave us.” Quinlan pushed Taravati up, and she left, a bit too eagerly. “It’s always business with you these days. When do you ever take time to relax?”

            “In my sleep. Now please, tell us your decision.” Yolanda’s smile was so tight it looked as though it may crack.

            “After careful consideration and deliberation with my advisor, I have decided that it is best that I do not offer you my help, or indeed help from my subjects. I do not wish to involve myself in your affairs.”

            The queen just stared at him for some time, her smile completely wiped off. Stefan himself had wondered how she would deal with it. Quinlan could not assist them both. Although he was potentially immortal, there were ways of killing a faery monarch, and if Yolanda were to find out of his dealings with her own son, a bloody death would soon follow. The prince, however, was mostly worried about his own next at that moment. The Unseelie King could still reveal his plans. Logically, it made sense. If Quinlan told the queen of his oath, then all she would have to do is kill the traitor, thereby releasing Quinlan from his oath. As far as he was aware, he had never exactly had his best interests at heart.

            “You are refusing my most gracious offer?” She asked.

            “Indeed I am. I do however immensely appreciate your hospitality.” The faery stood, ready to make leave.

 

            “Quinlan, I will give you only one last chance.” She remained seated but held complete authority in her voice. Quinlan kneeled in front of her and ran a finger down her jaw, just barely touching.

            “Are you threatening me, my dear?”

            “Not a threat. A promise.”

            “Just like you promised him?” Yolanda slapped him in that instant, and Stefan got the feeling that he let her. “Goodbye, False Queen.” Quinlan rose to his feet and made his way towards the door. No other person, Terrahgonian or not, would ever dare to show the queen their back. She demanded respect at all times, especially from Stefan. Yolanda yelled something incomprehensible. Whether it was a name or a command, Stefan knew not, but Quinlan had stopped in his tracks.

            “Turn around and face me.” Yolanda commanded. The faery king did so, as if hypnotised.

            “You are playing a very dangerous game, my dear.” The Unseelie King warned.

            “I am not as weak as you might believe. I will not back down.”

 

            “So you know my True Name. How did you get it?”

            “I think you have an idea…” Yolanda purred.

            “I have revealed my name to only one person in my entire lifetime. If you laid a single finger on her-”

            “She is fine, although I can not say the same for you.” She stood then, and her dress flowed behind her.

            “Mother, I do not think it is a good idea to attempt to control a faery king.” Stefan pleaded.

            “I am not attempting anything!” She yelled, her true fury finally blazing. “I am doing it. Now kneel to your queen.”

            “I have no queen.” He muttered.

            “Kneel to me!” The faery’s expression of pain made it clear that he was trying to fight, but Stefan knew it was hopeless. The power of a True Name cared not for status or wealth. Slowly but surely, Quinlan lowered himself to the ground, on his knees. “Much better. Don’t you think so Stefan?” Though seated, he could clearly see the kneeling faery king. He was forced to smile and agree.

“Much better.”

“Come here and look at him. The great Unseelie King undone by a simple name!” Yolanda lifted Quinlan’s chin, which had hung low in defeat. His dark eyes glared at her but her gaze was unwavering. “This is how your subjects should treat you. They must look up at you… fear you.”

“I should have killed you long ago when I had the chance.” The defeated king drawled.

 

“How dare…” Yolanda gasped, midsentence and released her grasp on the fey. Then she roared, loud and croaky. She clasped her stomach as if it may have been the cause of her pain.

“Mother! What is wrong?” Stefan felt utterly helpless. Yolanda did not reply, and instead collapsed to her knees. Her son was at her side immediately, attempting to comfort her.

“What is wrong with her?” He bellowed at the faery king.

“I tried to warn her that her plan was ill-advised.” The king chuckled in hysterics even as Yolanda slipped further and further away into a realm of pain and anguish.

“What do I have to do save her?”

“And why would you do that?” As expected, the Unseelie King was being completely unhelpful. Stefan’s mother was unhealthily pale and convulsing as though she were possessed. He had to concentrate deeply to remember what he knew about the ren- the True Name. Everyone had one, but faeries were especially fond of their Names. Faeries had the purest types of magic, and so the power of a faery king could be incredibly lethal. If using Quinlan’s Name had caused this problem then perhaps releasing it would fix it.

 

“Mother, release his name!”

“No.” Her violet eyes rolled to the back of her head.

“Please, mother. Release his True Name.” Yolanda could be stubborn when she wanted to be. They both knew this. “This serves no purpose.”

“Alright… Quinlan, I release your True Name.” She passed out in that instant, at last at peace. Stefan checked for her pulse and was relieved to feel it beating steadily. He did not notice when Quinlan stood up, and was only made aware when the Unseelie King stood towering over him.

“Why you saved her is beyond my reasoning. The way I see it, your job becomes that much harder.”

“I was not ready.” For all her faults, the prince could not deny his love for her. She was the woman who had raised him. Just knowing that he was planning to betray her was enough for his stomach to tighten. He could not be the one to kill her. He knew this now.

“I hope you are not having second thoughts.”

“I…”

“I must honour my solemn oath,” Quinlan kneeled to Stefan’s level. “And if I am unable to do so, there may have to be serious repercussions. Think on it. The way I see it, she deserves to die.”

“No one deserves death.” The faery king shrugged and made his way to leave.

“You know where I am if you need me.” 

 

Stefan was left alone with his unconscious mother. Her raven hair carpeted the floor, and for once her hard-set face was at peace. She was not the cruel, sadistic tyrant. She was his mother, now and forever. How was he to betray her? How was he not to? Prince Stefan kissed her lightly on the cheek.

“No matter what, I will always be your son.” 

 

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