Slumber Page 5

Haydyn grinned. “Haven forbid, but you did.”

I rolled my eyes at her teasing. “You know I hate oversleeping. It muddles up my entire day.”

“I know. That’s why I let you sleep.” She grinned unrepentantly. Sometimes she really was like an annoying younger sister. “You need a little ruffling up now and then, Rogan.”

Making a face at her suggestion I was too straight-laced (which we both knew to be as far from the truth as possible), I pulled on the servant’s bell to let them know I was ready for my morning bath. They would come to me as quickly as they would Haydyn. After all I was her best friend, her family. I had been ever since I had been brought to the palace eight years ago by Syracen Stovia. I was only eleven years old at the time. Haydyn was nine. At my arrival, Valena was quickly ripped from me and given to Raj. Kir was taken to live with Syracen and his family. And I was left at the palace with Haydyn.

Both grieving for the families we’d lost, it hadn’t taken long for us to find solace in one another.

Haydyn’s mother had died in childbirth, leaving Haydyn alone with her father. The Rada had pushed and pushed him to take another wife, to have more children, but he had loved Haydyn’s mother too dearly. He couldn’t bear the thought of making someone else his Kralovna. That left only the Kral and his baby daughter. Two peas in a pod they were, Haydyn told me. Inseparable. She had depended on her father for everything in life. Love, comfort, affection, friendship, advice, security. With him gone she was adrift. And I happened to be the float she grasped on to in his passing. She demanded I be put in the suite next to hers, where I had roomed ever since. I was to be given the run of the palace as if I were royalty. And I was. In return she looked to me for love, comfort, affection, friendship, advice and security. I feared my presence was hindering Haydyn to become the truly independent leader Phaedra needed, but I gave her my strength because she was the only family I had left. And because, after a number of years of begging me to tell her why I screamed in my sleep, I told her what Syracen Stovia had done to my family, Kir’s and Valena’s. There was only my word against his. By then I had been at the palace for four years. Kir had run away only a year after our arrival and Haydyn had grown strong enough that Syracen didn’t chase him for fear of disrupting the peace. And Valena couldn’t remember anything before being brought here. And of course Syracen hadn’t done anything violent or untoward since his return because Haydyn’s evocation overpowered him.

But she believed me. And she made the Rada listen to me. She ordered that all twelve members of the Rada travel to Silvera to judge Vikomt Syracen Stovia for his crimes. Even if the Captain of the Guard had not come forward and confessed what he remembered doing under the compulsion of Syracen, I knew Haydyn would not have stopped until he was punished. She was only thirteen. But I was her family. And I was not to be hurt.

I pledged my everlasting loyalty to Haydyn that day.

The Rada were disgusted by Syracen’s methods and ordered him imprisoned in Silvera Jail – a lone prisoner. He didn’t take the news well. I remember the sweat beading on his forehead and the nosebleed he sustained as he fought to break through Haydyn’s evocation. Powerful as he was, he was strong enough to reach for Haydyn to use her as a shield in order to escape. The Captain of the Guard did his duty, however, and killed the threat to the Princezna’s life. His death didn’t ease my grief. But I felt freer than I had since the death of my family.

The servants arrived and Haydyn took her leave while I helped the girls fill the bath with the hot water. Like every morning they swatted at me to stop.

“The Handmaiden of Phaedra shouldn’t be doing servants work.”

I grunted at the nickname I had been given many years ago. It made me sound like something I wasn’t.

After they were gone, I let myself wake up as I soaked in the tub, and became irritated at having lost a few hours in the day. I hurried out of the bath, towelling my long hair dry and plaiting it. It hung heavy and damp down my back, the end brushing the bottom of my spine. Quickly, I dressed; my clothing as fine as Haydyn’s; a dark rose dress of the finest velvet. I hadn’t ordered any of it from the seamstress. All my clothing was chosen by Haydyn. Haydyn loved clothes and jewellery. I put up with it because appearances within the palace had to be upheld.

“Ah good, you’re dressed.” Haydyn barged into my room without knocking. Lord Matai, second lieutenant of the Guard and a young Vikomt of good family, was Haydyn’s newest bodyguard. He hovered over her protectively even when it was just her and I.

I smiled indulgently at her behaviour and then noted the slight strain on her face. “What’s happened?”

“Nothing. I think.” She shrugged elegantly. “Jarvis and Ava have requested me in the Chambers of the Rada.”

I hid the instant worry that caused me. His Grace, Vojvoda Jarvis Rada, was the highest ranking member of the nobility of Sabithia and the Chairman of the Rada, as well as the Keeper of the Archives. Her ladyship, Grofka Ava Rada, was a widow and the only other member of the Rada who lived in Sabithia. They were both good people, and they loved Haydyn dearly. But Haydyn relied too heavily upon their opinion, and oftentimes they forgot that Haydyn even had a voice. Particularly Jarvis, whose responsibilities and position – especially that of Keeper of the Archives, the very exclusive control over mage history (meaning no one but he was allowed entrance into the archives until his demise, and then only his appointed successor would have the privilege) - had given him an inflated sense of self.

It nettled me. But it wasn’t my place to speak for her. Like a frustrated parent I wanted her to become aware of her own voice and independence by herself.

“Well then.” I threw both Haydyn and Matai a blasé smile. “We best go and see what they want.”

Chapter Two

“Ah, Princezna.” Vojvoda Jarvis stood to his feet, Lady Ava at his side. He bowed deeply whilst Ava dipped as low as she could into a curtsey. “Looking beautiful as always.” Jarvis smiled kindly at Haydyn like a doting grandfather. His eyes flicked to me and he gave me an expressionless nod. Jarvis and Ava were always uncomfortable around me. I knew it was because they were ashamed of what Syracen had done to my family.

Ours was a strained relationship.

“Your Grace.” Haydyn gave a shallow curtsey. “My Lady. I trust you are both well.”

Prev Next