Raising Kane

The Queen has ruled with an iron grip for years. But even an iron grip isn't enough. She needs more power. And there is one person that can help her. An inventor by the name of Kane. She sends out her most powerful assassins- teenage girls called Devias- to find him. All have failed, and been killed. And now it's Natalia's turn.

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39. Epilogue- Because It's Always Good To End On A Happy Note

My footsteps echo off of the castle walls as I walk. There’s probably something I should be doing, but I need a while to think.

Eventually, I find my way to the castle gardens. They’re beginning to get overgrown, but I don’t care. They’re quiet and secluded- exactly what I need right now.

I sit cross legged on the ground, and drop my head into my hands. For now… I just let myself think.

First, my thoughts go to Kane. He may never be able to craft again- all the bones in his hand were shattered beyond repair. But he’s happier than ever, and with his intelligence, he’ll make a good ruler.

Once we returned to the castle, Kane helped me draft a speech announcing the Queen’s disappearance, and her earlier appointment of me as her heir. I’ve never been much of a speaker, but Kane took care of most of it for me.

So far, I’ve done my best to adapt myself to the necessary position. The only help I have is from Kane and Tallima. The other Devias remain as my personal bodyguards, but they tend to avoid the political sides of my new position. I don’t trust any of the nobles- they probably are all eager to have a young ruler sitting on the throne. Most of them probably believe they will be able to manipulate me in one way or another.

The kingdom will fall, and you will long for my leadership soon enough.

“Not likely,” I whisper. The kingdom was mine. I would rule it as best I could.

There are footsteps, and I look up to see Kane approaching me. “Natalia?”

“Kane.” I hurriedly stand.

His broken hand is hidden inside a glove today. He takes my hand with his uninjured one, and we turn to look at the gardens.

“You seemed flustered today.”

“Kane… I’m not ready to rule.”

“We defeated the queen,” Kane replies. “She’s fled, and left you with a kingdom. She means for you to fail. So we have no choice but to succeed.”

I sigh, turning to look at him. “I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.”

“Rule fairly. Be the leader you always have been,” he replies. “You know you won’t have to do this alone. You have all of us backing you.”

“I know, it’s just… overwhelming,” I reply. “I went from only caring about finding you and getting out of my situation alive, to ruling a kingdom. That’s a large shift for only a few weeks.”

“It is,” he agrees. “But we can make it. Together.”

I nod slowly. I turn to look away, but he speaks again.

“There’s something… something I wanted to ask you. I know we’re both young… but… after all we’ve been through, it’s hardly fair to call either of us children anymore. I… I love you, Natalia. And I wanted to… to ask you…” he flushes, stumbling over his words. It’s kind of cute, especially since he’s usually a very smooth speaker. “To ask you for your hand,” he manages to rush out. He looks up at me, his brown eyes wide with near desperation.

I freeze, my eyes meeting his. “Kane… are you proposing to me?”

He flushes. “I- I mean… I know it’s kind of abrupt, but… I’ve ruined it, haven’t I.”

    My heart warms as I look at him, red faced and awkward. In a way, it’s adorable. I laugh, and he hesitates, like he’s worried I’m going to say no. Then I pull him close to me, and kiss him. As always, the kiss is accompanied by a slight glow, and a rush of energy. I smile, loving the feel of it- loving the feel of Kane and I being together.

When we break apart, his eyes are wide. “Was that… a no?”

“That was a yes,” I reply, laughing. “For someone so smart, you can be such an idiot. Of course it’s a yes. I love you, and I’m not afraid to say it.”

A smile breaks out across his face. “You… really?”

“Of course, if you don’t mind being a king,” I add hurriedly. “Seeing as if you married me your only choice would be to become the king.”

He smiles. “I suppose I could deal with that.”

“Good. Then that’s a yes.”

He stares at me for a moment, like he can’t fully imagine what I’m saying. Then he nods. “Does that mean you’ll kiss me again?”

I cock my head like I’m considering it. Mostly, I just enjoy keeping him on edge. If we’re going to be together for maybe the rest of our lives, then he’d better be ready for me to mess with his head a little.

“I suppose I could allow that. Just don’t make a habit out of it or anything.”

He laughs. “Alright, whatever you say, Queen Natalia.”

“Alright, Kane.”

“Just Kane?”

“Well I can hardly call you King Kane, can I? That just sounds strange.”

“Well you could-”

I cut him off with another kiss. This time, he kisses me back, putting his arms around me and deepening the kiss.

“Well, if it isn’t the two lovebirds.”

We break away from the kiss, to see Tallima walking towards us.

“About time you two admitted it,” she laughs.

“Kane, will you leave us for a minute?” I ask.

“What?”

“Go away.”

“Alright…” he gives me a half smile, before departing.

As soon as he’s gone, I rush to Tallima’s side, laughing. “He proposed to me.”

“He what?!” A girlish squeal rises from Tallima, and she laughs. “You’re serious?”

I nod. “Completely serious!”

“That’s… amazing! What did you say?”

“Yes!” I laugh.

Tallima lets out another squeal, and we embrace, still laughing hysterically.

Finally, we break apart. “I can’t believe it,” she says, her voice full of delight.

“I know!” I agree.

“Tallima?”

I turn at a man’s voice. To my surprise, I see Tallima’s father walk into the courtyard.

“I think it’s for you…”

She walks towards him, a slight smile playing across her face. “Hey.”

“I got your message. The queen is really gone?”

She nods. “She is. The castle is ours now.”

“Tallima…” his voice is nervous, and I realize what he might be about to ask. “Now that the Queen is gone, would you be able to come home? Your brothers miss you, and so does your mother. Now that the Queen is gone, you don’t have to stay here anymore, and play bodyguard to the new Queen.” His eyes dart to me, before looking back to Tallima.

She smiles gently at him. “I… I want to come home. And I will.”

His eyes light up with hope as I feel a stab of frustraction. She’s going to leave me- just like that?! Her next words, however, restore my hope.

“But I’m coming back. Natalia will need close friends at her side when she’s ruling. I want to come home… I really do… it’s just… Natalia will need me.”

He nods slowly, though I can see sadness in his eyes. “I… understand. As long as you’ll come back first.”

“I will.” She turns back to me. “As long as that’s alright with you?”

I smile. “Go. I’ll be here when you come back.”

“Good. Congratulations about Kane.” She turns and reaches out, taking her father’s hand. They walk out of the castle together.

She’ll be back. She’s a smart girl- she’ll make a good advisor.

I turn away, smiling to myself as the sun shines on my castle. I have so much to do. A kingdom to run, a wedding to plan, and a boy to marry. But for now, I’ll let myself enjoy the sunshine.

And for the first time in years, I feel completely at peace

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