Slumber Page 4

They knew why he was here.

“Valena.” Mr Rosonia exhaled heavily. “She is one of the Dravilec then?”

“You had your suspicions?” Syracen asked.

Valena’s father merely nodded.

“She is needed. Your daughter is needed by her people.”

“You want to take her?” The mother now spoke up, her voice trembling.

Syracen smiled. “She will be well cared for at the palace. And you may visit. She will be taught by the Royal Dravilec how to use her power. She is strong. I could taste her energy from Sabithia it was so strong.”

The Rosonia’s stood in silence for a moment, mother and father questioning one another with their eyes. Finally, Valena’s father turned to Syracen and nodded. “You may take her, my Lord.”

I gasped in outrage. My parents had died rather than see me in the hands of this slithering beast of a man. I wasn’t the only one outraged. The elder girl shrieked and grabbed Valena to her, refusing to let her go. Valena screamed and cried; terrified, confused, not knowing what was going on. Mr Rosonia managed to wrench Valena free. He let his wife take her upstairs. She returned quickly, Valena dressed snug and warm, but still crying. Her mother hugged her, quiet tears rolling down her cheeks as her daughter clung to her. Her husband came over and pulled Valena away, ignoring his elder daughter who sobbed in a ball on the ground. He kissed Valena’s cheeks, choking back his own tears, promised he would see her soon and handed her into the arms of Syracen Stovia. Immediately, sensing what only children could, she began shrieking and beating at him to get away. Careful to hide his disgust, Syracen reached down and thrust the squalling six year old in my arms. I pressed her close, ashamed for my part in all this. Valena stopped struggling, and instead looped her little arms around my neck, her legs around my waist, and bawled into my shoulder. A memory of my little brother doing the same not too many weeks ago when he had fallen from a tree and cut his leg flashed through my mind and I squeezed the girl closer, as if I alone could protect her.

Stovia hurried us out of the house and we walked a distance away to the bridge that would take us out of the village.

“Lieutenant Sandstone,” Stovia called quietly, and the soldier trotted forward on his horse. “Take Valena. I can’t carry the two on my horse.”

Sandstone dismounted and tried to pry Valena from me. The girl began to shriek, her tiny hands gripping to my cloak, my hair, refusing to budge. And even though I winced at her tight hold, I refused to hand her over.

“That’s enough,” Syracen grunted. He pushed Sandstone out of the way and gripped a hold of Valena, bruising her small arms as he ripped her from me. I cried out as his arm swooped down, his hand cracking across her face. I rushed at him in a rage, beating and pushing at him. I was pulled off by the soldier. Syracen, to spite me, hit Valena one more time. Sobbing, furious, I fought against the soldier only to be beaten by the pummelling fists of the Captain of the Guard. The next thing I knew, Kir was in the fray, hitting and punching at those who tried to hurt us. I no longer felt pain though. I was too angry. Too immersed in my fury to feel anything else.

Finally, I was pinned to the ground by the Captain and as he stared down at me I noticed his eyes for the first time. They were blank. Empty.

“Captain… After we leave the village, I want you to take two of your men and burn the apothecary to the ground. With the Rosonia’s inside,” Syracen demanded from somewhere to my left.

The Captain nodded robotically, and it was then I knew. With the evocation of the Dyzvati weakened by Princezna Haydyn’s grief and age, Syracen’s magic was able to penetrate it. He was compelling the soldiers to do his awful deeds.

I was lifted to my feet, my heart heavy and despairing.

Syracen appeared before me, holding Valena close, her little cheeks red from his slaps. “Now you can live with the fact you just had Valena’s family killed.”

My despair must have translated to my face for Syracen laughed gleefully.

“Don’t, Rogan.” Kir struggled against a soldier, his young face mottled with anger. “He was going to have them killed anyway. Don’t let him make you think you did it.”

Syracen curled his lip in disgust. “I’ve had enough of you. Sandstone!”

The whip appeared in the soldiers hand and Kir was pushed into the dirt.

“NO!” I screamed, my heart lodged somewhere in my throat.

“NO!”

“NO!” I bolted upright in bed. The sheets twisted around my body, my skin clammy, my hair stuck to my neck. Immediately, I sensed I wasn’t alone. Turning slowly, I saw her sitting in an armchair by my bed.

“You were having a nightmare again.” Her soft, gentle eyes were sad. “More memories?”

I nodded, feeling choked, the nightmare still keeping me in its hold. “More memories.”

Haydyn sighed and slowly drew to her feet. I watched her float across my large bedroom suite and pull the heavy brocade curtains back from my windows. I winced at the sunlight that streamed in, too bright, too adamant, willing my bad memories away whilst I steadfastly anchored myself to them.

“I told you I’d speak to Raj to see if he had a tonic to help you sleep without the dreams.”

Raj was the Royal Dravilec, Valena was his apprentice. I shook my head. “I told you no.”

“You’re the only one who ever says no to me.” Haydyn sauntered back to sit on my bed. Her pale hair shone almost silver in the sunlight, her beautiful face teasing and serene. “I wonder why I let you.”

“Because you love me,” I stated matter-of-factly as I pushed back the covers to get washed and dressed for the day.

“Yes, I do.”

The statement was so melancholy I spun around to face her. It was then I saw it. That gloom in the back of her eye, in the slight dark purpling under her eyes. It had been appearing more and more over the last few weeks and I didn’t like it. “Something’s the matter.”

Haydyn shook her head. “Just tired is all.”

“Perhaps we should speak to Raj about a tonic for you.”

She didn’t look convinced but as always, to appease me, she nodded. “Perhaps.”

I grimaced when I realised she was fully dressed for the day. Most times when Haydyn came into my suite it was still so early she was in her nightclothes. “I overslept?”

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