Myth of Light – Chapter 2
As Nyx and her brother Raven walk the town, they receive a warning of an impending war. Should they believe the rumor?
Later that night, Nyx and Raven stroll the streets towards the castle. The sky is still dark and cloudy, not showing a star in the sky. Their eyes adjust to the darkness peppered with small, blue lanterns, and their blue glows light the area around them. Live shadows bound across the road before them, mimicking creatures in the night. The brother and sister pair watch them snake around corners and disappear.
“I can’t go much further, Nyx, I’m exhausted,” Raven yawns, dramatically stretching. Nyx rolls her eyes.
“Fine, lazy bones. I figured they’d be out and about on the town, but I’ll find out what’s going on tomorrow,” she agrees with a huff. As they turn around to head back to their tunnel, a sudden green light catches her eye. “What was that?”
“What was what?” Raven mumbles, sluggishly turning her direction.
“That…light?” She looks around to see where it went and, behind a sandstone ridge, sees another green glimmer. “Come on!”
“Aw, Nyx, I just wanna go to bed,” her brother grumbles, but follows her around the corner. Nyx tracks the light for a few more turns, catching a glimmer here and there, then suddenly stops short. Before them stretches open space.
“Nyx, we can’t be out here, come on,” Raven states, suddenly more awake and ready to protect her. Nyx slowly backs away.
“I just…thought I saw…” she trails off as the green light catches her eye one last time. She whirls in its direction once again but freezes as she sees a figure holding the green, glowing creature, standing up against a sandstone formation.
“What do you want?” her brother growls, going full protection mode and shielding Nyx with his body. She shoves him back so she can see the person. The figure steps forward and uncovers her face. Her dark skin reflects the green light from the foxlike creature she holds, and her pale eyes search their faces. She removes her hood, showing off her long, black dreadlocks accessorized with small, gold bands.
“Please listen,” she urgently whispers. Nyx and Raven unconsciously lean in with wide eyes, totally captivated. “The dark lands will be at war. You need to leave the city.”
“We’re not at war,” Nyx immediately objects, looking at Raven.
“When?” Her brother tilts his head skeptically.
“You need to leave as soon as possible,” the mysterious woman urges. “Don’t tell anyone. There are spies about. Quietly. Quickly. Leave.”
“You’re kind of giving us short notice,” Nyx huffs, glaring at the woman. “And not letting us warn anyone else? Sounds fake.”
“I’ve been trying to contact you, Nyx, Raven. I’m glad I finally got your attention,” she admits, petting her glowing creature.
“How do you know our names? Why should we trust you?” Raven asks, then he gives her a charming grin. “I haven’t seen you around.”
“You can’t trust anyone. But if you don’t leave, you will be caught in the attack,” she pleads. “I fear for your lives.”
“Can we go with you right now?” Raven offers. Nyx grabs his shoulder.
“I can’t just leave,” she hisses.
“Why not? This is our ticket out!” He searches her face and shakes his head. “It’s because of Jet, isn’t it?”
“He’s my friend, Raven.”
“Don’t trust the prince!” the stranger pleads again. “He’s not telling you everything.”
“Who’s out there?” a loud voice calls out of the darkness causing all three of them to startle.
“Meet me in the fire forest,” she whispers, looking mainly at Raven. In a moment, the stranger is gone, and Raven and Nyx are left standing alone. Raven quickly turns to his sister.
“Like I said,” he loudly commands to Nyx, startling her more and earning a confused glare. “This is the desert, and we are not to go out there. There are nasty monsters that will eat you. In one bite. Whole.” A guard rounds the corner and Raven turns to him. “Kids these days. Gotta tell them time and time again. Show ‘em the ropes and they forget the next day, am I right?” The guard gives Raven a strange look, then looks at Nyx as she’s towed behind her brother walking by.
“Yeah, stick within the limits where it’s safe,” the guard agrees, nodding to Raven. Raven nods back, and they hightail it out of there.
Neither of them say a word until they are back in their section of tunnel 16.
“So do we…pack up?” Raven offers, gesturing at their minimal possessions.
“We can’t trust a complete stranger telling us to run,” Nyx speaks in a hushed whisper.
“But what about an attractive stranger?” Raven strokes his stubble like he’s thinking.
“You can’t be serious,” Nyx huffs, annoyed. “We can’t just leave.”
“Easy for you to say,” Raven retorts, brandishing his injured arm. “I have to go back to digging sand while you go meditate with a prince. Do you know how annoying sand is? And heavy?”
“Listen, I’ve been at the palace and haven’t heard anything about a war-” Nyx starts, but her brother cuts her off.
“Yeah, and those strangers gallivanting into the castle today were here for what? Tea and crackers? How about peace talks? Or strategy meetings? Maybe they’re our allies?” Raven hisses back, lowering his voice. “It’s seems like pretty compelling evidence to me.”
“Okay, fine,” Nyx begrudgingly agrees. “I’ll talk to Jet tomorrow and see what I can find out.”
“You can’t tell him about the woman,” Raven pleads. His serious gray eyes bore into her dark ones as he makes sure she understands. She shifts under his gaze before finally sighing.
“Fine, I won’t. If I hear of any war or fighting or attacks…then we’ll talk, TALK about leaving tomorrow night.”
“Thank you,” Raven grins. “I will be devising an exit strategy.” Nyx crosses her arms and drops the conversation. Tomorrow is going to be an interesting day for her.
A Friendly Chat
Nyx walks through the castle gates the next morning. She’s escorted inside by a guard and guided to the servers’ quarters, breathing a sigh of relief as she sees it’s pretty much empty. She showers, gets a fresh set of black clothes, steps into the specifically designated closet to recharge for a moment, then heads to the prince’s quarters.
Along the way, she keeps an eye out for the colorful young man she saw yesterday. Their horses are still in the stable, so she knows they are still around.
She enters the prince’s suite and immediately gets to work. She just starts making the bed when the prince emerges from the bathing area; a towel around his waist and a towel around his hair.
“Nyx!” the prince exclaims from behind her. Nyx freezes, her heart racing for some reason. She takes a deep breath and reminds herself she’s done nothing wrong before turning around. Then she sees the smiling prince wrapped in a towel and immediately turns back around.
“Jet! Go put clothes on!” she screeches with her eyes closed.
“Do not give me orders,” he fakes being upset.
“Give me a warning next time! How many times do we have to go over this?” she huffs, putting her arms over her face to add to the dramatics. “Clothes are mandatory even in your own suite.”
“I thought a prince should be able to do whatever he wants in his own suite,” he jokes, then adds in a teasing, high-pitched voice, “Oh, what embarrassment!” Nyx hears him walk a few steps and a door shut. The prince seems to be in his dressing lounge, so she opens her eyes and heads to the bathing area to collect towels. She puts her armful in a basket and turns to gather more.
“Shall we start over?” Jet calls from his dressing lounge.
“Goodmorning, your highness,” she responds loud enough for him to hear.
“Goodmorning to you,” he replies cheerily, opening the door again. Nyx looks at his attire, which is more formal than usual.
“Special occasion today?” she practically squeaks out, trying to keep the nervousness out of her tone.
“Ah, boring meetings,” he states, rolling his eyes. “Fellows from the central plains have come by for a chat.”
“A friendly chat?”
“Of course they are friendly,” Jet replies, giving her a pleasant smile. “No need to worry about it.”
“Of course,” she responds, turning to get back to her work.
“Did you sleep well?” Jet questions, following her.
“Yes, I did. Now, good sir, you should finish getting ready for your ‘friendly chat’ you have,” she jests. He grins at her again.
“Do I not look put together? I thought I was finished getting ready,” Jet teases back, looking down at his clothes. Nyx looks at him as he gives her yet another charming grin.
“You look elegant as ever, your highness.”
“Oh, stop with the ‘highness’, you know my name, Nyx,” he says with a wave of his hand.
“Alright,” she smirks. “Donovan.”
“Not funny,” he responds, purposefully letting the smile drop from his face.
“Alright, Jet, Prince Jet, go be prince. I have to work.” Nyx turns away but has a smile on her face.
“I could change that in a moment,” Jet argues. He stands up a little straighter. “Nyx, you are to accompany me to the central plains meeting.” Nyx takes a breath as her heart starts racing again.
“Very well, sir,” Nyx responds, turning and curtsying. She pastes a smile on her face, but nerves about the meeting still tumble inside her. “I will gladly accompany you and be at your beck and call.”
“You do not have to do that,” Jet sighs, his dark eyes giving her a serious look.
“Oh, believe me, I do,” Nyx states, giving him a serious look right back. She quickly bows as she sees the queen enter the room.
“Donovan, it is time, come along,” the queen urges. She’s flanked by two of her dark-skinned guards.
“Very well,” Jet replies, straightening up again. “Nyx, I require you to accompany me. Come along.” The queen gives him an approving nod and struts out of the room. Jet follows and Nyx flanks him. As she walks, she wonders if Jet actually wants her company or if he is just making a wise strategic move to have her appear alongside him.
They enter the room, and Jet sits at the large table, just to the left of his father, the king, whom Nyx rarely ever sees. He is a stately man, large but athletic in frame, and his dark gaze constantly evaluating. He always made Nyx nervous. His pale, clean-shaven face holds a hardened expression, and his black hair slicked back into a man bun shows plenty of gray.
The queen sits at the king’s right hand. Nyx copies her guards and waits at attention along the edge of the room. She stands opposite Jet’s seat so she can be in view of him. Other nobles of high rank take up a few more chairs on their half of the table.
The doors on the other side of the room open, and the troop from the central plains enters. The older man, who is obviously the leader, takes his place opposite the king. His colorful, right-hand man, who Nyx saw the other day, moves to sit…at his right hand. As the young man pulls out the chair, he notices Nyx and makes eye contact. Nyx freezes, then gives him a small smile and nod before looking down. She glances back up and sees him still looking at her with his green eyes. A blush heats her cheeks as he gives her a small smile in return. He sits down and turns his attention to the meeting.
“Your majesties, King Melanthios and Queen Charna of the dark lands,” the leader of the central plains troop greets. “We come under the protection of your treaty with our Chieftain Umber.”
“Send Chieftain Umber our regards. We welcome you as the central plains warchief and are very interested in why you have come,” the king responds calmly.
To be continued…
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© 2021 Ariel G. Wach