a/n: Hi. IDK where the mistakes are at so ya kno, I sorry.
Edit: I reedited this chapter to add a small more tidbit cause it wouldn't fit in the next chapter.
With the war won came the time of restoration and recuperation for the three main kingdoms. It was a time of celebration, rest, and grief. All was silent around the table of the war room. The main commanders sat in silence within their assigned chairs, staring blankly at the sword lying in the middle. Out of them all, Endraw seemed the most lifeless. He did not stir, hands remained folded on the table, and eyelids remained heavily stagnant.
The King had entered with clear signs of war wounds on his arms and face. His left arm on a sling while the right was accompanied with a cane. General Lycan missing from his side. With a slight moan of pain and a small grumble he sat himself at the front of the table. Weary heads turned to face the King with some form of respect as they waited for his words.
He gave a heavy sigh, rubbing at his face and temples with his good hand. Lord Phage had taken this as the signal to begin the broadcast. She pressed her hand on the crystal in front of her and it began to channel all across the kingdom through a crystal satellite system. The noise outside of the kingdom had soon ceased to an eerie silence as people watched the crystals light up the midday sky. This was their first time witnessing large-scale communication that was commonly used in Phage.
The King of Aria cleared his throat as the sound carried throughout. Many inside the room had perked up to how clear his voice was projecting all across the Arian Kingdom.
"The strike team was a success, I only have high praise and thanks for all of the operatives before me. From the Kingdom and myself personally, thank you to all, especially for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice." His voice boomed despite his crippled nature. It was unwavering despite being clearly plagued with a deep sadness.
"I take this time to list off the names of those that have given us their ultimate sacrifice so we would continue to live under Aria's blessing." His hands shuffled at the papers before him, his hands shaking in contrast to his booming voice.
He began to list off the surnames of each soldier that had fallen in battle, followed by their class and regiment. This also included the Phageans that fought alongside the Arians as well. The list was long, but the feeling of empathy washed over the kingdom. Every citizen listened with sorrow and respect.
The broadcast had lasted long into the night, the only thing the King could do to respect those that had fallen. It was in the background for those to listen as they began to rebuild their kingdom from the long war.
"Lastly, I end with those in command that have died. Life of servitude, my dear brother, and your General of War, Lycan Aria. Ambassador of Aria to Phage, Ballistic the Conqueror, and a member of Regiment One, infantry, Nobilis Sparta."
Lord Phage removed her hand as the broadcast ended. The King got up with some assistance from Lyke and gave a solemn nod to the group. He took his leave without another word. There, lingered a very heavy air, broken by Endraw. He slammed his fists hard on the table, "He is not dead."
Lyke scoffed at his statement, "Wake the fuck up, Endraw. We all saw what happened, he's gone. We all need to start accepting what has happened." The Dragoon's tone carried a bit of venom as it echoed through the war room.
"... I don't need to explain myself, but I know he's alive-maybe not here in this plane, but-" Endraw stood quickly, whipping his head toward Lyke with slight aggressiveness.
"Stop, both of you. We will discuss matters after a nights rest. We are all feeling the damages of war. Rest." Lord Phage stood from her seat, her voice commandeering on the two who put a cap on their seething.
Lyke grit his teeth and stomped out with a clear distaste for the woman. Endraw's eyes trained hard on the sharpness of the Lord. She stared back with an enigmatic look. We continued our staring match as people began to file out slowly, giving the Paladin and Lord some space.
Cudel had bowed and made his way out of the room while Riel had pat Endraw on the shoulder in comfort. Knowing well it had no effect on Endraw, who continued to glare bitterly with sunken eyes at her, he followed suit with Cudel. With the sound of the door shutting between the two, silence befell the two on opposite sides of the table. The sound of the clock ticking away as the two commanders continued their intensive staring. The moon began to illuminate the room and cast its dewy glow onto everything. It gave the Lord the halo of moonlight that so fit her "Child of the Moon" persona.
"You want to ask me something." She tilted her head back as her arms folded across in slight defense. Her voice was a clear statement rather than a question. She was very sharp, intuitive, and clearly dangerous in that matter.
"You believe me." Endraw responded in the same manner, hoping to catch some clues from her responses.
"That's an interesting assumption." She responded without a change of tone or emotion. It was clear she was very used to negotiations and Endraw was going to lose the psychological warfare if he ever intended it to be.
"You have to believe me ..." Endraw closes his eyes in defeat as his head hung low. His hands bawl into fists atop the table in panging anguish.
"... I do, Paladin. I do believe you." Her voice oddly softened, "I can't explain to you why and how I believe you, but I know he is alive."
His head snapped up to stare at the Lord before him. There she stood with a softened face, her eyes no longer sharp but slightly wavering. "How ...- I mean ... what?" He was so taken back that someone had actually believed him. He was met with so many pitiful, sympathetic looks every time he had said his brother was still alive. It was strange to have someone agree with him so easily.
"... if you are up to the task, it will take about three months or so. Maybe more if I am wrong." She turned away to look out at the starry sky. The balcony slightly in crumbles, she gripped at the railing.
He didn't even question it. He stood straight, feeling a slight adrenaline filling his body. The tiredness that had plagued him the past few days since the victory was disappearing, "Tell me where and I shall go by daylight."
"Didn't I tell you? Three months or longer," She turned around with a slight scowl, "The hard part for all of us is waiting. You must not tell anyone. Keep the sword with you-if you will. Good night, Paladin." With the fading of her tone, she had disappeared.
"... n-necromancy? No, she can't possibly do that without a body ... what the hell?" Endraw cursed in whispers in the empty room bathed by the ominous moonlight.
The next week was filled with intense recovery of the broken kingdom. With the help of the Phageans, they used their magic to help lift, reconstruct, and repair the large buildings that were devastated during the barrage of attacks. Although it was slow, it was definitely expedited by magic. Many of the Arians were glad to have magic on their side to make rebuilding a lot easier.
Within these couple of days, the castle was busier than ever as well. It was later learned that the Queen had been injured, only saved by General Lycan giving his life to save the love of his brother. When the shields were down and the beam shot across the kingdom, the debris had fallen and Lycan was quick to cover the King and Queen. She had been knocked out by falling debris but was still in the cross fire of the beams raining down into the kingdom. Lycan created a barrier around the King and Queen as barrage after barrage came. He gave them enough window to escape to a safer area before succumbing to the miasma flowing throughout the castle.
The Queen had just woke from her coma and the maids of the castle bustle with life to attend to her. This also included the healers of the infirmary. Lyke had walked toward the infirmary in hopes to see his mother, but bumped into a healer in his haste. She dropped sheets of clean towels and fell slightly back, but Lyke shot out a hand to grasp around her to keep from falling.
"Woah, sorry." He spoke dejectedly.
"... Lyke!" The healer perked up as her eyes made contact with his.
"Oh-Lady Capriccio!" Lyke felt slightly flushed as he finally took another look at his old childhood friend. Her sand-colored hair and hazel eyes were slightly dull from what seems to be over-exertion of long nights tending to the wounded. Despite this, she was beautiful as ever.
"Lyke!" She smashed hard into the unsuspecting Prince and rubbed her face hard into his chest.
"You guys-! I'm just so glad you guys are safe!"
"-I ... I'm sorr-" He continued to stutter at the contact, completely surprised at her reaction. He wasn't exactly her favorite old friend, but she was definitely his.
She pulled away, wiping hard at the tears, "If I was there ... I could have-I could have done something! Protected you guys-"
Lyke's heart immediately dropped, 'Oh, right.' He thought to himself. He knew very well who was Capri's favorite friend was ... Nobilis.
"Stop. There's nothing we can do now." Lyke tried hard to reassure her and his tone. He put a stern hand on her shoulder, "I'm sure he would say the same thing, plus he wouldn't have wanted you out there when you are doing so much more here. You're saving lives, healing the wounded."
"... I know ... I know-I know," She cried out, "But it just hurts so much ... I prayed to Aria, Palais, Terra herself that you all would come home safely. I can not fathom how much Endraw is suffering right now."
Lyke didn't know what else to say as he never really dealt with this type of problem, especially with the opposite gender. He just pulled her in for a hefty hug, something his mother commonly did to him. A slightly suffocating but comforting hug. He could feel her tears stain the shirt he wore as her sobs warmed his chest. He grit his teeth to keep his composure for Capri. 'If only he had not died, he wouldn't have left such a huge hole in everyone.'
After her sobs turned to slight hiccups, he let go.
"I-I'm so sorry Lyke, I just-I haven't ... I wasn't able to-I cried on you, I'm sorry I've just been so busy-" She continued to stutter, her eyes flitting left and right. She was flustered, sad, and embarrassed.
"Lady Capri, stop. It's okay. I'm sure we all feel the same. We all feel as though it was too sudden, no time to grieve," Lyke's breath hitched as he forced it out, "I'm here for you, always." He felt the heat crawl up to his ears and face from such an empathetic line.
It felt as if it had been forever, but he eyed her features as a slight smile appeared on her lips, "You've really matured, Lyke. Thank you-thank you for letting me cry and not teasing me about it."
He felt the pang in his heart, that feeling that hasn't dissipated with years. He loved and hated it; he knew very well. These feelings were never going to be returned to him. Nonetheless, he absolved himself to watching over her. 'Maybe one day.'
He huffed to her response as she just smiled a little wider, "Sorry, I forgot I was taking this to the infirmary. You should come along as well, the Queen wishes to see you."
"Right, mother." He cursed at himself with getting caught up in the moment. He pulled all the towels from Capri's hands and carried them off toward the infirmary.
She followed along with a slight smirk at the gentlemanly gesture. Their footsteps making loud echoes atop the cobblestone hallway. They did not talk, but basked in the afterglow of a grieving session. They were both clearly tired anyways, but Lyke was hyper aware of Capri. He made sure to keep looking forward and maintain the space between the two. Right now, he felt a bit too guilty to chase after what he had been feeling for so long.
For now, his kingdom gained precedence. With each step, it brought him to the threshold of the infirmary and the waft of herbs and blood filled the air. It was heavy as ever, but nothing compared to what was on the battlefield. There was a private room to the far end which Lyke and Capri both walked towards. The guards looked up to the Prince and the healer, gave a nod of approval, and stepped to the sides.
Capri opened the door and Lyke stepped in with the towels. Light flooded into his eyes as he saw the features of his mother. She sat in the bed, talking casually with the Lord. She seemed in good health, and that was enough for Lyke to let out a breath he had been holding for some time. A good amount of weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and his hands as he had been standing there gaping at his mother. Capri took this time to remove the towels from his arms and on to the table on the side. She had ushered Lyke toward his mother.
"Lyke, my dear. I'm glad to see you are doing well." The Queen gave a weak smile.
Lyke took a once over at his mother, looking at the deep seated lines across the features of her face. The bandage packed tightly on to the side of her head, covering a good portion. She seemed to dawn a slightly sick paleness that was fading slowly. She was on her way to good health and recovery. "Mother, you don't understand how much I worried about you." He took a seat on her bed and gave her a very warm hug.
"You're so funny! I've never seen you so affectionate!" The Queen chided him and returned the warm hug. "My other son came to see me before you did, you know! How could you let that happen!" She released her hug and slapped his arm in defiance.
"Endraw is always on top of these things ... I ... apologize Mom." His head hung low.
"I'm kidding, Lyke. I'm glad to see you're okay. You were always second on these type of affairs, I wonder when my third son is going to come by? You think he's tending to the horses? Maybe sleeping among them? He always does that." She smiled and continued to pat at Lyke's cheeks.
Lyke's eyes widened as he looked around the room. It seemed no one had told her what had happened, not even the King. He grit his teeth and inwardly cursed himself at how cowardly his Father could be with this. Does Mother not know about the death of Uncle as well? Lyke turned to Lord Phage who sat there rather wordlessly. She was skimming through a textbook of some sort. Lyke then turned to look at Capri who had turned away and seemingly busied herself with the herbs.
"... uh, Mother." Lyke gulped. He tried hard not to frown, but felt his face drop to a stern grimace.
He watched as the emerald eyes of his mother had slightly dulled and her smile that was so wide slightly shortened. "I know, baby. You don't need to tell me. I know." She pressed a warm hand on his cheek once more. Lyke raised his hand to press on hers as his head hung low, "I'm sorry." He choked out with a slight whisper.
"Don't be, honey. It's okay ... I had hoped maybe I would have been wrong. I should have been more sensitive about it. I apologize." She cooed at him in hopes to rid of the solemn air. She watched as her son's features skewed in slight anger and sorrow. He shut his eyes to prevent himself from glaring holes at whatever was within his field of vision.
"You know ... I dreamed often of him. I told you often about my gift of sight," She ran a comforting hand through Lyke's unruly sand-colored hair that matched hers, "I dreamed of him being carried by his true mother. I believe he is in comfort."
The group sat in silence at the statement that left the Queen's mouth. It left an odd feeling of relief or hope. It was strange to say the least. The group basked in the sun for moments longer until the Lord had perked up.
"Well, I apologize for interrupting, but I hope we can move forward with my proposal, starting today if you wish. It should be an easy enough feat." Lord Phage closed the book gently and looked up to the Queen.
"I agree with you one hundred percent. We should start with it right away, and I have an excellent candidate to recommend to you." The Queen smiled as her gaze fell upon Capri who had finally turned around.
"What's going on?" Lyke looked at the Lord, Queen, and Capri in clear confusion.
Capri smiled with elation as she nearly skipped over toward the Queen with the prepared potion, "The Lord Phage so graciously has decided to start up an institution in Aria! With the permission of the Queen and King of course. It is a medical school for alchemy and healing. The profession will be standardized and refined. We could even branch out to war medics as well ... it could be revolutionary. We won't be short-staffed anymore if it becomes a common practice."
"Isn't that great? That way the Paladins would have a weight lifted so they can flex between shielding and attacking rather than holding mana back for healing." The Queen clasped her hands together in delight.
"That's ... pretty clever ... but still. They're healers, they don't know how to fight. That's the reason for the Paladins." Lyke scrutinized the idea of having healer roles on the battlefield, "The only thing we have close to that are the battle mages and that takes extreme aptitude to be offensive physically and magically. Those are exclusive to the Phageans due to their inborn talent for magic."
"And who created the battle mages?" The Queen poked at Lyke's forehead.
"... I mean, the Lord ... but still. I don't get how it'd be useful. It'd be one more person to protect in a team. I see it as useful as there will be more healers, but the sending them to battle part seems a way off." Lyke mused.
"He's right, it will take a large amount of time before any healer is technically ready to walk the same path as those on the battlefield," The Lord interjected, "But it isn't impossible, especially with the right teacher. I won't get into the technical details, but for now the institution is definitely going to be focused on creating a more common healing practice."
"So where do you plan to get a teacher with such knowledge of healing and battle? There aren't many mages that are apt in both schools of magic. I could probably count only a few."
Lyke protested as he looked to the Lord, "What, you can't be sending Cudel to stay here and teach are you?"
"Not at all, he is going back to Phage to be coronation as the new Lord of Phage once his duties are done here." She answered simply while packing her things.
"... what?" Lyke got up in shock.
"I proposed the idea, and wrote the material. I know the studies of most if not all schools of magic. Of course I would be the teacher." She turned to face the gaping Lyke.
"... what?! You're giving up your reign just to teach a school for healers?!" Lyke huffed in clear confusion, "How does that make sense? Can't you accomplish more with the title of Lord on you?!"
"Hush, don't yell at her now." The Queen scolded as she pulled hard on her son's arm and effectively sat him down.
"I never intended to keep the role of Lord, I am an usurper after all. Cudel was the rightful heir to the throne. Simple as that." She spoke as if it was a simple statement but it left waves of emotion.
Her actions made no sense to the Arians. Lyke made it a point in the back of his mind to ask Cudel about the finer details at a later time. It seemed the Lord Phage before him wasn't going to budge on giving out more as she left the room.
Within a couple of days, the diplomatic problems began to arise ...
"The Palaians need a leader. The council and the remnants of the Palais Church want you to be their new King." King Aria spoke out with a clear tone. His voice booming through the throne room as Endraw stood before him rather shocked. The Lord, Cudel, and a couple of other council members have stood next to the King of Aria and cast their gazes at him.
"We have also traced your lineage and you are a direct descendant of the goddess herself. Who is a better fit to rule than one from the goddess herself?" Lord Phage spoke as she turned to the council members who all agreed as well.
"... I don't know what to say." Endraw responded in a low tone, "I didn't think I had the capacity to be a King-leading yes, but King? I know little of the Palaian Kingdom."
"Honestly, it's not much different than the Arian Kingdom. They just have their faith integrated with their rulings. The Church is there to help you, which is akin to the Council for the Aria and the Covenant for Phage. They're just slow with progression." The Lord waved her hand as she explained.
"How dare you speak about the Palaian Kingdom like that?!" The Church representatives roused from their spots. The King coughed in hopes of returning the attention back to the situation at hand.
Lord Phage rolled her eyes ever so slightly, "As I was saying-"
"This Phagean harlot is clearly disrespecting us, King Aria!" The representatives hissed and pleaded.
The King rose from his seat, but slightly late as the Lord whirled around towards the Church representatives. With a graceful motion, she lifts her arm up then down along with a quick snap of her fingers. A bolt of lighting snapped through the air and blackened the floor in front of their feet.
"ALRIGHT NOW!" Yelled out the King as he huffed in frustration at the two. "Now Lord Phage ... I hope you can calm down. Palaians, please remain respectful while you are here, especially when she is the one who saved not only your kingdom but the world we all co-inhabit."
Her expression did not change as she exuded an air of calmness throughout the ordeal. There was the slightest smirk that had caught everyone off guard, "Well, of course, King." She placed a hand on her hip as her eyes fixed back toward Endraw.
He visibly flinched as his eyes took in her features once more. She definitely was calm and enchanting, and the smirk had struck everyones' hearts with a strange feeling of fear ... of course the Palaians wouldn't mesh well with someone so devilish.
"As I was saying, you should probably disband the Church and reappoint them with people you trust within the political sphere. Representatives from the masses would do best due to them having the most grounded experiences and perspectives." She looked away and down at her nails, inspecting them despite their pristine condition.
"She is taunting us, deceiving all of you! How dare she? And you let her get away with this?"
The Church, once more roused, seethed in anger as they continued their complaints to the King.
The King sat at the throne with an incredibly dejected look and rubbed at the temples of his head. Having become the median of the two opposing alignments in political views looked to be a tiring headache. They continued their rabbling and spewings while the Lord stood there, pretending to preen her nails. She still had her slight smirk from the anger she groomed from the Church.
"... if you would allow me to-" I coughed rather loudly to get the attention of everyone in the room, "If I become King, I am going to go with the Lord's suggestion. She does make the most sense as a King should be the one to protect and serve the masses, especially one with the title of High Paladin."
The King smiled as the Church remained silent and shocked. "Well Endraw ... you've certainly grown. I'm sure your father ... and brother would be proud as well. With the agreement of the Council and the Covenant, a two-thirds agreement, you are now the High Paladin of Palais. Your coronation may have to wait for the paperwork and such ... so it will take a couple of months. Until then, you should take this time to get more acquainted with those who will look up to you as their haven."
Endraw nodded and took a knee toward the old King. He wasn't really sure whether he was ready to rule, but he would take this time to develop into someone who would be. He could not ignore someone in need much less a whole kingdom.
The Church continued their incessant ramifications about the situation. Spewing curses of the goddesses upon the King and the Lord. "The Goddess Palais will smite your kingdoms for this heresy! We are the remaining order of Palais and you plan to just dissolve our order just like that?!"
This time, the King stood tall. Despite his wounded leg and arm, he seemed healed enough to give off a menacing aura. "Now, I do hope you understand that you are on ARIAN territory." He responded rather tersely.
The Church representatives all looked to each other and then back at the King. "You will come to regret this decision, Children of Aria, ... Phagean. High Paladin." The representative ended his sentence with much venom. They left with a portal provided for them. The group watched as the portal closed.
"Unfortunately, because you are not coronated yet, there will be a struggle of power happening over at the Palaian Kingdom. We are very much thrusting you into a possible civil war, but I am sure the people there are tired of fighting and most will side with you. Plus, I'm hoping with the backing of the two kingdoms, we can prevent another war." The King descended from his throne and placed a large hand on Endraw's shoulder. "You'll make a fine ruler, you need not worry much. We are here as your allies and mentors if need be."
"Thank you, truly." Endraw breathed out in slight relief. There was still some underlying pressure, but he had to learn to dissipate it. "I'm assuming I am leaving right away?"
"Yes," The Lord walked over to me, "But not alone of course. I am sending Cudel with you, you're welcome to take anyone else with you as well per the agreement discussed between the King and I." She glanced up to Endraw who stood a good amount above her. She seemed sure of her decision, as usual. To think someone so small would be so powerful. He secretly wished he had as much confidence as her.
"Well ... I have heard rumors you were stepping down from the throne, why would Cudel come along with me?" Endraw questioned in realization.
"He is a genius mage, but he doesn't dawdle much on politics. I feel he needs more knowledge about the three kingdoms anyways. He had fought alongside the Arians, gaining knowledge as he done so. Now he just needs to experience the Holy Kingdom; he will be your ally in the future after all." Lord Phage responded in a matter of fact tone.
"I see ... hopefully I can make some good changes as you have."
"I hope you do, too." She replied once more and turned to leave without a trace.
It still baffled him as to how easily she was able to move around with her magic. The King included had stood there and gazed at the place where she once stood.
"My King ..." Endraw tore his gaze from the floor back to the fatherly figure.
"You know, Endraw, you can refer to me by name when no one is around. Soon enough, whenever you wish."
"Frederick ... it just sounds weird." Endraw grimaced as the name left his tongue feeling grotesque.
The King laughed heartily and proceeded to slam his palm to the mid of his back in jest, "Get used to it, considering you'll be King soon enough. Anyways, what's on your mind boy?"
"... I just wanted to say that I really appreciate how you viewed both of us as one of your own." He looked down with humility as the stinging pain on his back was replaced with a comforting pat.
"Having three boys growing up and running around the throne was really rough. But really, the three of you brought so much joy to my wife and I. You've nothing to thank me for, as we never viewed it as burden. Don't ever doubt it." Frederick gave Endraw one more pat as he turned to face him, "To see two of my children become kings, I really must be blessed." He laughed rather heartily and began to walk toward his chambers.
"... two?" Endraw questioned. The answer struck him quickly. Endraw watched as the King was slow in his steps, majestic still, but definitely aged and war-torn. That and the Queen was not in the best condition either. The towering figure that ruled over the Kingdom of Aria as a warrior of the wind has begun to slow and wane. The winds of change were blowing across Terra herself. There were going to be three new kings in a matter of months. It all seemed rather coincidental.
a/n: vuv im sorry.