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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2. The Dark Side of the Moon

Stefan

The man rode on horseback in the early hours of the morning. The wind whipped through his hair and swirls of water vapour surrounded his mouth as he breathed. It was a dark and dangerous forest. Many had been led astray by mischievous faeries here before. The young man feared not. This assurance compelled his brave steed onwards. Laughter and music were heard mingled with screaming and moaning. The young man knew all too well of the ways of the Unseelie court. They lured mortals to the realm of Terrahgonia, in the forests that separated it from Nisyros. There they were forced to do as their new masters pleased, often dancing late into the night. Many of them died from exertion, for mortals were incredibly fragile in comparison to faeries. They were the lucky ones. The young man saw the pleading eyes of a girl no older than himself but he could not directly intervene, as a powerful king ruled the Unseelie Court. It had been the king who had allowed him safe passage through the forest and he was not willing to handle the king’s ensuing wrath. Instead, he muttered an incantation. That would be able to protect the mortals for the night. The faeries would doubtlessly allow them to rest but they would never again see their families or live the lives they once knew. No mortal was permitted to leave either the kingdoms of Terrahgonia or Nisyros once they entered.

At last, the rider found himself in the capital city of Antalya. His horse trotted on the cobbled streets where the second-class citizens lived. It was becoming slightly more common for mortals to earn their freedom, but even then they were not treated with much respect. Their homes were a drab grey and they all seemed to slant sadly. Some had shattered windows, whilst others had missing front doors and had to do with curtains. Those that had once tried to individualise their home with paint now had chips and cracks, the once fresh paint peeling off the front doors. Prince Stefan saw a few mortals, who were still awake staring at him, their eyes filled with equal parts of curiosity and fear. It was uncommon to see someone of his stature ride through such a poor area. Their fear was not misplaced, for the young man was the Crown Prince of Terrahgonia. Finding it rather nerve racking to be stared at, the prince rode on.

Before he could enter his mother’s castle, he had to prove his identity to the guard. He rolled up his cloak a bit and showed the guard his bracelet. It had the royal crest on it and was therefore a symbol of power. The guard scanned the bracelet with a detector. Although they were more commonly used to scan the bar codes imprinted on the slaves, this particular device was programmed to check the authenticity of guests as well. Terrahgonia liked to embrace technology and regarded it as closely linked to magic.

The large iron gates were opened and he rode onwards. His mother’s palace was much like usual. The large castle was foreboding even without the darkness for added affect. It had a gothic style with tall spires that rose up high in search of the Heavens. Grotesque gargoyles with sharp, animalistic fangs and cold, lifeless stony eyes donned the walls. They were enchanted to watch the surroundings for anything the queen deemed unworthy. Still, Queen Yolanda insisted on having warlocks and ogres patrol.

The interior of the palace was not as sinister as one might expect. It was regal with high ceilings, and decorative Corinthian columns. The ivory painted walls gleamed from the light of the chandeliers whilst the ceiling and walls were beautifully gilded. What dominated this room was not the peculiar shade of green chosen for the carpentry, or even the solid crystal doorway that led to the Queen’s private quarters. It was the giant oil painting of Queen Yolanda, battling in the war that had led to her ascension to the throne. The prince often looked at it to remind himself what his mother was capable of. He knew that there was no true way of knowing whether this exact scene had ever happened, but that horrific expression on her face and the gleam in her eyes had been one he had seen firsthand. An ornamented gold frame completed the piece, championing it as something spectacular.

 

 Prince Stefan was directed to the throne room, where he found his mother, the queen, sat on her throne. On occasions when he visited on business, there would be another throne for him to sit on. The prince knew that his mother had a purpose to everything but she often kept him in the dark about her plans. He hoped that she simply wanted to have some mother-son bonding time but he realised how ridiculous that seemed. She had insisted that it would be best to meet late. She was not usually nocturnal, and as his mother had instead always teased him, calling him a creature of the night when he wouldn’t sleep on time. She also knew his power was greatest during the hours of the night. No, this was business, plain and simple. It was not an invitation from his mother. It was a summons from his queen.

 

The room had always seemed rather bright to Stefan, for his mother’s personality. It seemed she had redecorated. Small chandeliers hung at the left and right sides of the room, suspended in the air. A purple strip of carpet ran along the marble floor, complementing the plum and gold gilded walls. The obsidian Corinthian columns with its gold laurel leaves were against the ancient Greek traditions. The ceiling was decorated with the paintings of death scenes in battle. Many of them showed the Queen herself, riding off into battle, hacking at enemy soldiers. Prince Stefan looked too closely at one and it seemed to come to life and played out the scene. He could clearly hear the sound of battle raging. Horses whinnied and galloped all around. The cries of agonised, fearful souls tore through Stefan’s usual placid façade. For a moment, he was there with the dying and his mother’s look of bravery was instead that of madness.

“I hope you like my new arrangement, dear.” Stefan was finally able to tear his gaze away. The prince walked across the marble floor and stood before his mother. He looked hard into her violet eyes. They had been blue the last time they had met.

“Hello mother.” He was still and formal, giving her a respectable, short bow. She was as glamorous as she had always been to him. Her skin never revealed her age, as she used a secret potion to help her looking young. Her long dark hair cascaded past her shoulders. Her dress was inspired by ancient Rome, stunning and regal.

“Oh pish, posh! There is no need for formality here.” She smiled. “You are my son. Besides, the guards are outside.” For a moment there, where was a wild glint in her eyes. Whatever she was up to, it would not be good.

“I noticed.”

“How have you been darling?” She asked sweetly. It was strange to Stefan how normal his mother could seem. But she was not. He knew she was a power hungry dictator. It was safer to play along.

“I’m fine, mother. And yourself?”

“I’d be better if you visited more often.” She tightened her fist and Stefan was momentarily worried that she was mad. A familiar bright light emitted from her fisted hand, and the worry came to pass. Yolanda opened her hand and a bright, luminescent feather appeared. Stefan had asked her mother about the phoenix feather, and had been told that it was a present that his father had given her. She often stared at it for its beauty, but it was clear that she had some sort of emotional attachment to it, as if it gave her access to long passed memories. The feather was a stunning mixture of reds and yellows of different shades. Sparks seemed to sizzle from it and the prince wondered how his mother constantly kept it. He wanted to push his mother to get to the point but he had learned long ago that his mother would reveal information at her own leisure, and there was no point pressing her to do otherwise.

“I imagine you are wondering why I insisted that you came here so late.” She stated, moving her hand with the feather in an elegant fashion. She watched as the feather followed. Stefan had seen the feather many times before, but he was still mesmerised by it.

“I am sure you have a good reason” Stefan did not truly agree with his statement but he knew it was prudent to agree with her. His mother smiled at him- the same cunning that normally meant something dreadful was about to take place.

“Tell the guards that it is time,” She replied ominously. The prince did as he was told without question. Questions were often a waste of time. He opened the iron door and stepped out in the corridor. The guards immediately straightened up, in attention. The ogres always stood up straight and were rather serious about their jobs. It was the warlocks who often slumped.

 

“The queen says it is time,” The price told them. The ogre’s twisted faced did not change but the warlocks looked wary.

“Of course, Your Highness.” Two of the ogres swiftly walked away. Tension rose inside Stefan. The last time his mother had a ‘wonderful surprise’; a lot of Terrahgonians had gotten hurt. He knew she was capable of cruelties. Even the king of the Unseelie Court faeries was careful not to cross her. Stefan stood there, and heard the familiar voice of a prisoner struggling. His stomach tightened as the ogres dragged a teenager about his own age. The attempts were futile of course. Ogres did not have much talent but they were definitely strong. The prisoner looked slightly battered, but the prince had witnessed far worse. His shaggy blonde hair was dishevelled and his lip was split with dry blood. He wanted to look away from the prisoner’s sorry state but he forced himself to show no emotion. He had gotten enough practice in the past, after all. Although his face was a plastered mask, guild pricked at him from inside. The façade was a difficult burden he kept up, but allowing it to crack would be catastrophic.

Prince Stefan walked into the throne room, with the guards and the prisoner following just behind. “Finally! I thought I would have to wait until my son’s coronation!” Yolanda barked. The ogres sheepishly apologised and left the room as swiftly as possible. The prisoner wore no chains but he did not need to. The iron bracelets around his wrists bound his powers. “Stefan, this is our lovely guest, James.”

“Guest?” The prisoner chuckled. “If this is how you treat your guests, I’d hate to see how you treat your prisoners.” Stefan of course knew that she was only trying to be pleasant. He just did not understand why. She claimed that all prisoners were enemies of the kingdom. They were branded criminals, plain and simple. Stefan was rather amused by James’ bravery but was worried for his life. Yolanda was far from amused. Her fake smile was wiped straight off and she made a tugging motion with her hand. James bellowed in pain.

 

“I shall warn you to refrain from angering me, James,” Yolanda said, her voice soft and smooth.

“You’re already going to kill me. Why should I give you the satisfaction?” The prisoner spat. Stefan respected his bravery but also saw it as stupidity. He knew that she did not bother attempting to be kind without reason. This prisoner must have been of some value.

“I know who your family are. If you care not for your own life, then perhaps you do for theirs.” James gritted his teeth. “Just as I thought.” A small smile crept up her face. “James, this is my son, Stefan. I am sure you have heard of him.” The prisoner looked at him briefly and gasped.

“I don’t know whether I should bow or kiss the floor at his feet.” He stated, feigning awe. This might have made the prince laugh if his comment was not so detrimental. He wished that the prisoner at least attempted to preserve his own life. The prince narrowed his eyes at the prisoner and only had to suggest pain to the other warlock’s mind and he did a double take, but stayed standing.

“You can start by showing some respect.” He warned.

“Honestly, James. I do hope you do not treat all of your hosts this way”. The Queen stated, as if it were his entire fault. ‘Only partially’ Stefan thought.

“James here is a piece of the puzzle,” His mother stated. She let that sink in for a moment. “He is the Guardian of the Moon.” It was like a punch in the stomach. The prince knew what this meant. If Yolanda could get James on her side, then everything could be ruined. His mother had plans of making him King once she decided to retire but it was likely that she would live on for a long time. The last thing he wanted was to become a puppet monarch. Stefan wanted to reform Terrahgonia, a land both in and separate from Faerie. But there were risks to his plans and he knew what the ultimate price would be for failure. He had not overlooked the Moon Guardian, but getting any information on him had proven difficult, as his sources were limited. He showed a small smile in an attempt to appear normal but this facial expression sickened even him. It was no surprise that the prisoner quickly looked away from him. He wondered how he must feel. He must have felt alone, vulnerable and scared. ‘I cannot involve myself emotionally,’ he remembered.

“What do you want with me?” The prisoner asked; his voice now hoarse.

“We would like you to join us, as I told you earlier.” The queen raised her voice. It was never a good thing to make Yolanda repeat herself. Why this buffoon was testing her patience, he knew not. The prisoner shook his head slowly.

“No. I won’t.” Yolanda’s eyebrows arched upwards in surprise. Stefan knew this was not a good sign.

“Come now, James.” The prince intervened. “Do not be foolish. You could have riches beyond your imagination. We could shape Terrahgonia together and bring it back to its former glory.”

“I don’t know whether you have something stuck in your ears, your highness, but I have already refused.” Stefan’s pleasantries vanished. He did not like being mocked and this prisoner had gone too far. Surprisingly, his mother seemed rather cool and composed.

“Then it is decided.” She nodded. She looked at her son with those cunning violet eyes of hers, a sort of madness twinkling in them. Something terrible was about to happen. The prince could feel it in his gut. “I think he needs to embrace his darker side… don’t you?”

She rose from her throne, and gracefully descended from the dais. As she raised her hand towards the prisoner, his face contorted in pain, yet there was some obvious resistance from him. Most Terrahgonians unfortunate enough to be the victim of Yolanda’s tortures would have been begging for mercy by now, but it seemed that James was far from any typical warlock. Not only had he been impertinent, but it also seemed that he had more strengths than just talking. Was it even possible to control a Guardian?

“Kneel to your Queen!” His mother exclaimed.

“I will not. I will...” The prisoner gritted his teeth and then an excruciating roar erupted out of him. The prince watched in fascination and terror as the prisoner began to kneel.

“Stefan, my son, it is time.” She ordered. The prince was not sure what was expected of him but he stepped towards them. “Take my hand”. He understood she needed him. A part of him wanted to refuse and help the prisoner but he denied these feelings. He knew it would do no good now. He had a plan and he was to stick to it. Collateral damage was expected. But how many more lives had to suffer before the kingdom would be rid of a tyrant? One more it would seem, he thought and then took his mother’s hand.   

 

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