After the exiled princess became more and more aware her sister was nowhere in Angati, she went into a rage. When Blesse found her, the bed drapes were torn, feather pillows ripped open, clothes strewn across the room, books pulled from their shelves haphazardly, and the mirror. Examining the broken, reflective shards, he almost felt sorry for it. She always had a tendency to break any mirror she saw herself in, so they were always unfortunate victims of her rage. It was all because of her eyes.

In the middle of the room, Theia stood there, laughing hysterically. "They're gone. They're all gone."

"Are you . . . . alright?"

"Perfectly." Pulling away the window drapes, she threw open the balcony doors. "Feel that cold, Blesse? My big sister gets sick easily, so a cold like this could kill her. Unless she has the High Priest's medicinal tea. Did you know his mother was an herbalist from Fundum?" She giggled before continuing. "I'm the last one. I'm the only one that can rule now. They have no choice."

She'd lost it. Blesse knew she hated her family, but now that she had what she'd always wanted, Theia's sanity had completely shattered. And that worried him more than he could ever tell her. It was her defiant personality and determination that had drawn him to her all those years ago. This? This was not that girl.


Looking into the makeshift litter, Adrian wasn't getting any more optimistic about the queen's health. By now, Theia had probably completely overrun the palace and replaced the Angatian guards with her own men. Luckily they'd gotten a cart, something to cover it with, and three additional horses. Aquan, who was close to falling asleep in the slowly lightening day, drove the cart. Sol and Argentum rode on either side of him as Adrian led the way.

"We'll have to be careful," Adrian warned them.

"Why's that?" Sol inquired, not taking her eyes off Aquan, who had been in an intense pain just two days ago.

"It took me a few days, but I finally recognized that red-haired Skinwalker - the one Theia was worried about? His clan visits Kevasdal around this time every year. I've seen them a few times while running errands for my mother. Since they mostly use wolf hides, they've taken the wolf as their totem and call themselves The Pack. If they know, they may attack me for what I did to him," he explained.

For a few moments, the apprentice was quiet. After taking the time to choose his words, he asked, "Did you ever hear about anyone named 'Wasser'?"

"If I remember correctly, he was Blesse's twin brother. They're a bit younger than me - closer to Theia's age - but one day Wasser disappeared. No one really knows what happened. When anyone asked about it, none of them could explain it properly. Like their memory had been messed with." Now he rode beside the cart once more, looking up at the young dragon. "Why do you ask?"

"Just something Blesse said." And, for the moment, they left it at that.

There were very few Skinwalker villages, and f the three major ones, Adrian was from Kevasdal, which was closest to Angati. It would be another day's ride before they would see it. With this new information, they would all have to be careful with leaving Adrian's house. It was bad enough three of them had the blue eyes of Angati, but they also had an ill queen with them. The last thing they needed were insulted Skinwalkers.

When night hit, before they switched cart drivers, Sol and Aquan got inside the cart to check if Atheia was warm enough and to give her water. "She's ice cold, even with all these furs. I'll have to stay in here with her tonight. You okay with driving tonight, Adrian?" Sol asked the Skinwalker that stood just outside.

"No problem. I would do anything for Atheia." All he wanted was for Atheia to be healthy, to see her smile at him one more time. Just once more before he left her for good after everything with Theia was over. It was that thought as he stared at his water skin that he remembered an old Skinwalker legend. "The Tear Pool."

Everyone who could looked in his direction. "The what" Sol and Aquan questioned.

"The Tear Pool. As legend has it, after Phoenix nearly destroyed Wild Country, she felt a great sorrow and made a water pool with her tears in the forest near Kevasdal - the Phoenix Woods. It's said to be able to cure any sickness or injury."

"Maybe Theia should drink from it," Aquan retorted, having seen a fraction of the girl's instability while growing up at the palace.

Adrian shook his head. "Only those with pure hearts can drink the waters. If Theia drank from those waters without remorse for what she's done, it could make her worse to the point that she becomes self-destructive."

"If she hasn't already. And if this pool cures sickness for good, then why hasn't Atheia been taken to it before?" Sol demanded.

"Angatians can't leave their country." Argentum's voice startled them, all three jumping as they were reminded of this well known fact. "This is especially true of a crowned royal who gets sick easily and could potentially die on the way to be healed. It's just too risky."

And he was right. Their actions two days ago alone were a risk, and now they were risking the life of the one person who could properly rule Angati and lead it back to being a prosperous nation. If what had happened a Sol's village had been any indication, Oceana had finally let the rains return. It had to be a sign from the First Six that they blessed Atheia's reign.

After a few more minutes, the horse Adrian had been riding was tied to the wagon as he sat in the driver's seat, Aquan and Argentum on either side of him. Inside, Sol had heated the area by raising her own body temperature, trying not to touch the outsides of the furs the sickly queen was wrapped in. Eventually, after some time of his thoughts constantly going back to Atheia's health, Adrian fell asleep. While Sol, Aquan, and Argentum barely needed any sleep, Adrian needed so much more and had been staying awake mostly due to sheer will power.

Making sure the older man was fast asleep, Aquan started questioning Argentum. "So, you never said how long you and Adrian have been traveling together."

"Really? Well, if you must know, it's been about seven years."

"And how long has he known about you being a Nevgin?"

"A week after we returned from the Northern District."

"Then why keep it a secret?" Aquan pressed.

"I have my reasons."

Aquan was about to ask another question, but he saw - Was that steam? Okay, maybe he needed some sleep, too. Dragon Nevgin weren't able to breathe steam, and he'd seen pretty much every type of dragon Nevgin possible. So what in the name of Dragon was going on?


Luckily for Blesse, by the time night had fallen, Theia had calmed down considerably since he'd found her that morning. Carrying her to an unused room, he laid her on the bed and lit the fire using his gift from Abyssus. Sitting in a chair beside the bed, he stared at her now-serene face, unsure if he'd imagined that morning. She was always like that - violent in the day and gentle at night.

Unsure if she was truly asleep or not, he sat on the edge and gently, almost ghosted his hand over her cheek. The last thing he needed was to be the cause of her temper in the morning.

"Blesse? Are you staying?"

"Yes, I'm staying." He'd nearly frozen when she asked him, but smiled softly at her when he saw her violet eyes were still closed.

"Good. Everyone always leaves me alone." This time she did open her eyes as she slowly sat up, running a finger over the scar that had ruined his eye. Just as slowly, she removed it after seeing him shudder.

Not agreeing with her decision to back away, he took her hand and kissed her palm. This soon led to kissing as she pulled him down. In the morning, the men would question, but they would keep playing their roles as if nothing had changed, because in his heart, he knew it was true. He was her loyal soldier and frequently used form of stress relief. He knew he would never be anything more. Tomorrow would be just like every day in the past since they'd met at the age of twelve, and every day after this would be just the same.