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Of Beastly Beauty(Part III)

The story you only thought you knew.

***

Introduction:

Reyon and Raphaela Blackheart were raised by the two most evil beings of any realm, Rolan and Lucia Blackheart, also known as The Blood Sorcerers. As young children, the siblings were ripped from one another by their parents when the five-year-old Raphaela could not control her magic, causing the parents to fear that she and her brother would use her magic to overthrow them. This fear stemmed from a prophecy that stated their child would result in their demise after becoming far stronger than they were combined. They were not worried about Reyon directly, as he was born without magic, but indirectly, they feared he would use his adopted sister’s magic to destroy them both. Thus, the children were violently torn from each other under threat of death should either fight back, attempt to see each other again, or otherwise disobey the heartless parents in any way.

Lucia left the family’s castle with Raphaela, taking the child to another realm. Little did the parents know, Raphaela learned how to hone her magic, quickly discovering her abilities to realm jump. She immediately returned to her brother, and thus began many years of secret visits between the siblings.

***

As Close as the Dragon’s Breath to the Flame

As the years passed, the siblings secretly journeyed to many realms together, using Raphaela’s gift of realm jumping. They saw such desolate lands as one that was a mixture of beauty and rage with volcanic mountains and colorful gemstones that grew from the ground, many towering to heights much taller than the siblings stood. Such lands as this one bore only odd life that did not include sentient beings and only gave life to more savage creatures. Still, the beauty and wonder such lands offered amazed the travelers, who returned many times.

Other lands boasted vibrant colors, as though from a child’s dream, with lovely creatures and sentient beings who welcomed the travelers with open arms. Still more contained flora of purples, reds, and blues, with wild creatures that were both gentle and dangerous. Within most worlds, sentient beings dwelled. Mankind, dragonkind, elves, dwarves, and centaurs were only a few of these races of being.

Wherever the siblings ventured, they always found something to enjoy as they shared each journey with one another. After regaining her memories of her adult years that were spent in other realms, she recalled her vast fighting skills. Therefore, much of their time was spent with Raphaela teaching Reyon to fight, both with swords and by hand. He quickly picked up on it, excelling beyond her own skills.

Raphaela was careful not to travel to realms where she knew their parents frequented. She was well aware of Lucia and Rolan’s travels, so she focused only on the countless other realms that she thought might offer her and her brother a grand adventure free from the chance of running into their parents.

During one of these realm jumps when the siblings were eleven and sixteen, Raphaela and Reyon stepped happily from a portal into a new land that bustled with life. Mankind mingled through a marketplace with shapeshifters, centaurs, and more. There were even multiple races that the children had never seen before. The two had seen much, but this realm was quite different. The shapeshifters there looked like humans, but with some feature of their counterparts showing. Some had dragon horns, while others had wolf ears or tails. Still others had the long necks of dragons or some other unknown creature. The only sign that the beings were shape shifters, rather than looking as they did all the time, was that they would occasionally shift right before the siblings’ eyes. Seemingly without reason, one of the individuals would simply change for a moment, only to change back and laugh, as though it was part of the conversation he or she was having with another individual. Likewise, some of those with the unusual features originally witnessed by Raphaela and Reyon would have those features disappear as the siblings watched.

Reyon and Raphaela beamed with excitement and grinned elatedly at each other before making their way through the marketplace. Foreign statues of all sizes, artwork, and more thrilled and delighted them. They inquired about the local currency, finding that the realm traded on odd forms of colorful gold, silver, and copper unlike any they had seen. Upon showing the various vendors their own forms of currency (gold, silver, copper, and gems they mined from their caves), each vendor was amazed and happily took the trades, finding such oddities to their realm to be of greater value than those found within their realm. The brother and sister found this amusing as well as wonderful, and they left the marketplace with many new treasures, which they would keep hidden in their favorite cave in Dark Haven.

They learned that this realm was called Cordova, and the kingdom they were in was Blahna. It quickly became one of their favorite lands to visit. However, their visits to this realm would only last a little over one year.

***

Upon visiting Blahna during their twelfth and seventeenth years, Reyon and Raphaela made their way around the community once more. They were stopped by a local merchant’s son, with whom they had grown quite close. The boy, named Repier, ran up to them as they walked through an indoor shop.

Repier breathlessly and urgently reported, “Quickly! You must leave this place!”

Reyon exchanged uneasy glances with his sister and then asked the young man, “Why is that, I wonder? Is something wrong?”

Repier started to answer, but Raphaela’s eyes widened as she shot her brother a look of panic and declared, “Mother and Father are here!”

Repier nodded and confirmed, “Yes! The two demons whom you named as your parents stepped through a dark portal in the center of our mining village nearby mere moments ago! They began rounding up captives and killing any who resisted! You must go before they discover that you are here! Our magical protectors, the Glimtrogs, are battling them now, and for some reason, it appears that your parents are overmatched! I do not understand it, as they are supposed to be the strongest purveyors of magic in any realm! But you must go! Quickly! Before it is too late!”

Their friend’s words caught Raph’s attention, but she said nothing. Her many years as an adult, although lost to her memory for a time, had returned to her as she began aging once more, and somehow, the detail mentioned by Repier regarding the evil sorcerers’ weakened magic seemed important… and familiar.

She was torn from her thoughts as Reyon grabbed her arm and ordered, “Raph! Snap out of it! Quickly! We must go!”

She shook her head to clear it and nodded. “Yes. Of course.” She then turned to Repier and hugged him briefly. “Thank you, my friend. Remember the flower that I gave you from another land? The one that could destroy even the strongest of magic?”

Repier responded, “Yes, and we have begun growing them here from the ones that you gave me. Our second wave of fighters now makes haste to the battleground with arrows enchanted with the fine ash created from that flower… just as you taught us.”

Raphaela smiled and said, “Very good. They might sense the flower’s magical properties approaching, but know that if they do, they will flee. Your people will be safe from our parents once our parents discover that you know how to use that flower.”

With that, Reyon grabbed his sister’s hand and pulled her away, insisting, “Enough! Come! We must leave before they sense you.”

As her brother dragged her from the building and to the nearest place where portals opened within this realm, she tried to argue that she could easily cloak them both. However, he countered that it could be too late for that and that they needed to escape while their parents were distracted by the battle. Unfortunately for them, they were both right.

Lucia and Rolan did in fact sense their opposition approaching with the weapon that could have destroyed them both. Likewise, the battle did distract them from sensing Raphaela, who did cloak herself and her brother as they ran to one of the few locations that would allow a portal to form. This realm was one where portals could only form within certain areas with the proper geological mineral composition to conduct magical energy. However, poor luck would put the entire family within a short distance of one another, with only the corner of a building dividing them.

***

Sensing the enemy approaching with the only substance that could kill the husband and wife, Lucia and Rolan swiftly teleported away from the battleground, fleeing without their intended captives. They did not even have time to open a portal before the soldiers’ deadly arrows began to fly. The first place they thought of when teleporting was the marketplace… more specifically, a secluded section of it at the end of an alley that ran between and behind two buildings. It was within the back part of that alley where portals could form, with another location in the marketplace roughly one mile away, and only a few others scattered around the entire realm. Upon thinking about that location, Lucia and Rolan transported directly to that spot. At that same time, the siblings were heading for the same jump site where their parents now stood, preparing to open a portal. Suddenly, Lucia perked up, snapping her head to her left and looking down the alley nearby. She had heard a familiar voice drifting through the passageway. It sounded exactly like Raphaela. Reacting to the sound, Lucia ran toward the voice, ignoring Rolan’s commands to tell him what she was doing and why.

***

Reyon and Raphaela raced through the marketplace, trying to reach the secluded jump site behind two of the shops. Weaving in and out of booths and beings of all kinds within the busy souk, they panted from panic over the thought of what their parents would do to them if their disobedience was discovered. As they neared the walkway that would lead them to the jump site, Reyon darted around the corner, only to find himself grabbed and pulled back away from the alley by his sister.

In a hushed exclamation, she ordered, “Stop!”

***

Lucia reached the corner of the buildings and looked around expecting to see her daughter, whom she had instructed to stay home. Rolan joined her and looked around as well, trying to see what his wife was looking for.

He asked, “What is it? What do you see?”

After a brief pause for thought, she responded, “I guess it was nothing. Come. We must away before we are discovered.” She paused once more and then tightened her jaw, adding, “And I must return home straight away.”

The two then returned to the portal site, opened a portal, and said their goodbyes with passionate kisses. Rolan then stepped through the portal first to his home, followed by Lucia opening a new portal to her own after Rolan’s disappeared. Just before stepping through her portal, Lucia looked up. She sensed a familiar energy in the air… a portal that resonated with Raphaela’s magic had just been opened somewhere nearby.

***

Reyon stumbled and slammed into the front of the shop from his sister pulling him back. He could see that his sister was frightened, but before he could ask why, she grabbed him once more and teleported them both to the other portal location that was one mile away.

Upon reaching the second portal site, Reyon fearfully asked, “What’s wrong?! Why did you do that?!”

She shoved her bags into his arms and ordered, “No time! Our parents were nearby! I’ll send you home first! To your bed chambers! Shove these under your bed and pretend to be asleep! You can hide them in our cave later! Now go! Get through quickly!”

With no time for goodbyes, she opened a portal and shoved him through. After sensing that he was doing as she instructed, she then opened her own portal and returned home to her window seat, where she already had a book sitting and waiting for her to pick it up and resume reading it. She hurriedly sat down and ripped it open, just as another portal opened, and her mother stepped angrily through it.

Lucia demanded, “Why did you leave the castle?!”

Raphaela naïvely inquired, “Whatever do you mean, Mother?”

Lucia snapped, “Do not play dumb with me, girl! I heard you in the Blahna market! And I sensed your portal’s essence just before stepping through my own! I smell it here now as well! A portal was opened here mere moments ago! Now answer me!”

Masterfully feigning innocence, the young girl replied, “I know not what you mean. The portal that you detect is not mine, but that of Minci. She visited me a short time ago, and our magical essence is frequently mistaken for one another’s. She asked me to accompany her to the caverns up the mountain where the minstrels currently play, and I told her that I could not leave the castle until your return.” Lucia glared at her daughter with distrustful suspicion, and Raph innocently added, “Please, feel free to ask her yourself. I can summon her.” Raph pulled a yellow stone from her pocket and held it up for her mother to see. Unbeknownst to Lucia, Raphaela knew that her friend would cover for her, as they already had a plan in place for such a moment as this. It was a standing cover story, changing out the minstrels for whatever other event was popular at a given time. “This is one of her Summon Stones. As you know, her Lankorian people are connected to these stones and can be called by simply…”

“I know what they are for!” Lucia angrily interrupted, still suspecting treachery.

“Okay, then. Shall I summon her?”

Based on the girl’s calm, sincere demeanor, Lucia thought for a moment and then relaxed her stance. Deciding that her daughter feared her more than anything else and would not risk angering her by leaving the castle when forbidden to do so, much less be brave enough to lie about it and offer to prove her lie without shaking from fear, she relented and accepted Raphaela’s explanation… albeit halfheartedly.

“No. That will not be necessary. I will return to your father’s side. However, I expect you to stay in the castle in my absence.”

Raph nodded and smiled. “Okay, Mother. I am sorry for whatever it was that made you return early. I assure you, I will do as you say.”

Lucia nodded uncertainly and disappeared through one of her portals. Raphaela knew that her mother was not fully convinced and would return after giving the girl enough time to leave once more. So, she waited five hours before returning to her brother’s side. Sure enough, Lucia did reappear twice: once one hour later, and again two hours after that. After those failed attempts to catch Raphaela in a lie, Lucia was convinced that her daughter was telling the truth. She then met with Rolan in Dark Haven before the two set off for other destinations in realms unknown.

***

Upon returning to Reyon, Raphaela and he snickered over how close they had come to getting caught. Raphaela commented that they had been ‘as close as the dragon’s breath was to the flame’ of being discovered away from home… and even worse, together.

***

After getting away with their deception, Raphaela never forgot about Repier’s words. She would spend many months secretly researching lore, written history, and rules of magic to learn why someone would say that it appeared her parents’ magic was in any way diminished. Her search would pay off in unexpected ways.

One Step Closer to Knowing

Late into Raphaela’s twelfth year, according to her proper timeline (her fifty-second year based on the realm of Compora’s timeline, where she had spent more than twenty years), Lucia took her realm jumping once more. The journey was not one of pleasure; it was intended to train the child in the ways of dark magic. Each realm held a different ambiance, and each realm held its own sources of magic. Likewise, each realm had various objects or natural traits that aided in the creation and execution of magic. For example, realms such as Cordova were made up of specific minerals and gemstones that would only allow portals to open in certain locations. Many such factors actually prevented portals from opening, while others fueled the magic that allowed it. From herbs or stones to manmade objects, there were untold resources to tap from each realm, and Lucia wanted the child to learn them all. This was a mistake, as it underestimated Raphaela’s power and overestimated her loyalty, ignoring Raph’s resolve to remove her parents’ hold over her brother and herself. Since Reyon was seemingly born without magic, Lucia and her husband had all but forgotten that silly prophecy about their child destroying them. After all, Reyon was their only real child, and he was harmless as long as he was nowhere near Raphaela or able to convince her to use her magic for his purposes. So, training Raphaela would be fine. At this point, the only reason Reyon still lived, since his parents viewed him as weak and worthless, was because he was their only leverage over Raphaela.

On the fourth day of this latest trip, after a long day of lessons in the woods outside of a community called Avenglen in the realm of Ravenwood, Lucia and Raphaela were seated at an outdoor table, eating their evening meal which they had gotten from a tavern. Lucia was never one for small talk, or for that matter, paying attention to Raphaela at all, so the two ate in silence. Lucia had brought Raphaela to this realm and this kingdom numerous times over the years, so Raphaela was fairly well acquainted with some of the residents there. However, on this particular day, she would meet someone new.

As she ate, Raphaela accidentally dropped a piece of bread. She leaned over from her stone bench to get it just as a young man, appearing to be around the age of seventeen, also leaned over to get it for her. As they both leaned down, she noticed the young man staring intently at her birthmark as he picked up the bread and handed it to her. The man seemed oddly familiar to her, but she knew she had never seen him before. He was handsome, yet rugged, in appearance. He had long, dark brown hair, with dark brown stubble, and his smile and sparkling brown eyes brought a feeling of calm to her heart.

She smiled and politely said, “Thank you.”

He nodded and looked between her and her mother before saying, “It’s my pleasure, Miss.” He looked at her birthmark again and added, “My name is Tyberius. I must say, that is a lovely mark on your wrist. Most unusual.”

She nodded and smiled. “Thank you. I am Raphaela. It’s a birthmark. I have had it my whole life.”

He smiled back and hesitantly responded, “I can honestly say that I have never seen its equal… but once. My baby sister. She was abducted as a baby.” He then looked almost knowingly at Lucia. “By an evil witch.”

Lucia’s eyes widened, and she appeared frightened. Raphaela was struck with intense curiosity at this, as her mother feared nothing, and Lucia quickly gathered their belongings and began to stand.

As she did so, the sorceress firmly stated, “That is truly a tragic tale. However, we must be going. The day grows short.” Raphaela tried to protest, but Lucia dragged the girl away roughly. “Do not speak back to me, child! We go, now!”

As Lucia pulled Raphaela away, the young girl looked back over her shoulder to see the young man standing there, watching her and looking as though his heart would break. Raphaela thought about the man the entire way back to their encampment in the woods.

Lucia fretfully led the way back to where she had instructed Raphaela to create a house for them to stay in when they first arrived. After reaching the house, Lucia began hurriedly collecting their belongings, mostly magical items, and Raphaela noticed that her mother intended to leave this Realm. Seeing this, the girl began asking her mother about the man and why they had to rush off.

She asked, “Mother, who was that man? You became upset after he told you his story. Why did we rush off like that? And why are we leaving so quickly?”

Lucia waved the child’s questions off, responding, “I simply remembered that we must return home quickly. Training is over for now. Go pack our things and forget about that man. It was nothing.”

Raphaela knew her mother better than to believe her, but she also knew her mother better than to protest. Instead, she made her way through the home as she packed. As soon as she finished, her mother instructed her to remove the building, leaving nothing behind, not even an imprint from its foundation. It took Raphaela a while, as the house was quite large, but she did it.

She proudly looked up at her mother, but her mother paid no heed, saying simply, “Took too long. Now come. Let us go.”

Her mother then opened a portal, ignoring Raphaela’s disappointment at the less than rousing delight from Lucia over a job well done. The two stepped into the gateway and returned to their castle, but Raphaela could forget neither the young man nor his story, much less the look on his face as he watched her leave. It consumed her every thought, and she could not get it out of her mind.

Later that same day, Raphaela was seated at the picture window in her bedroom thinking about the man, Tyberius, and reading a book when her mother came to her door and stepped inside saying, “Raphaela, I must leave for a few days. Something came up, and I must tend to it. I will be seeing your father tomorrow. Do you have a message you would like me to give him?”

Raphaela shook her head, responding hopefully, “No, Mother, nothing for Father directly. Just please ask him to tell Remmy that I miss him and love him. Can I not go? Can I not go see my brother? I have been good. Please, Mother, with our travels to other realms, I have lived more than fifty long years without…”

Irritated, Lucia sighed and interrupted, “Of course not! You two lost any further visits. You will never see your brother again. And I will not give that message to your father. I will only ask him to tell your worthless whelp of a brother that you are happier without him and are glad I took you away.”

Raphaela dropped her book and swung her legs over the edge of the window seat, horrified and bursting into tears as she exclaimed, “Mother, no! You cannot do that! He is the only one who truly loves me, and the only one I truly love! You cannot hurt him like that! You can’t use me to hurt him like that! I will die before I let you!”

Her mother laughed and scoffed, “Let me?! Let?! You arrogant, insolent brat! You don’t let me do anything! I am your mother, and I decide what I do or do not do! I am leaving now. You will stay here. Do not leave this castle. Am I clear?”

Raphaela nodded as tears rolled down her cheeks, and she whispered sadly, “Yes, Mother.”

Lucia then disappeared through a portal, and knowing what she had to do, Raphaela wasted no time. Her plan was to first find Tyberius, hopefully before he left the square where she had seen him. Next, she would go to Reyon before her mother could fulfill her promise and feed him that lie through their father. She was now masterfully skilled in the lessons her mother had given her on realm jumping, so she immediately put her book away and stood at the center of her room, focusing on opening a portal to where she wished to go: the kingdom they had just come from, Avenglen, in the realm of Ravenwood… and the young man who was so deeply affected at seeing her birthmark.

***

Upon stepping through her portal that opened up in the woods near the marketplace, Raphaela urgently made her way to the village square and looked around, hoping to find the young man. However, he was not where she had left him. Although this did not surprise her, since she had left him there hours before, it did disappoint her. She asked around, and everyone told her that he was not from the area. He was a traveler who passed through from time to time, and he was last seen leaving town, in the same direction that Raphaela and her mother had gone when they left.

Dejected, she returned to the tables where she met him and sat down hard on the stone seats, sobbing. She did not know why, but she just had to see him. She had to hear more about his story. Somehow, she felt it was important. She sat for a bit and rested up from running around as she searched for Tyberius before she decided that she must go to see Reyon. She stood and walked away from the bench before she turned, looking around one last time. It was then that she saw Tyberius, watching her from a nearby tree line. He smiled and walked toward her, with her scanning every curve of his face in desperation and hope of finding out who she was. Was she in fact an innocent foundling, as her parents claimed? Or could she have been abducted from her real family as a baby, like Tyberius’ story? What were the odds that his sister bore the same unique birthmark that she had or that his sister was kidnapped by an evil witch, like her mother? Somehow, she felt that he held the answers.

As he approached, he greeted her with a touch of what she took as relief, “M’ Lady. I did not think I would see you again.”

She smiled back and replied, “I had to come back. I had to find you. Your story… How does it end? Did you find your sister?”

He shook his head slowly, answering with a hint of suspicion, “No, I did not. She had green eyes, like yours, and a birthmark, similar to yours and in the same place. Was that your mother you were with?”

She nodded. “Yes. But not my real mother. I was adopted after being found abandoned… according to her anyway.”

Tyberius cocked his head at this, inquiring, “At what age were you adopted? And do you have reason to doubt her claim?”

She answered, “I was only a wee babe. My mother found me and took me home to my father and brother. She said I was abandoned in a basket. And yes, I have a reason to doubt her story about where I came from. Many reasons actually. She and my father are quite evil.”

“She took you home, you say? After finding you in this kingdom?”

She shrugged. “I do not know. She never told me where I was found exactly. I do not even know if it was in the realm where I grew up.”

He looked confused. “Realm?”

She nodded again, sighing, “I see no harm in telling you. My mother has magic. Powerful… dark magic. I have magic too, but not dark like hers. She is a sorceress… a realm jumper. She is the most powerful purveyor of dark magic in all the realms. My father too. They are…”

He interjected, “The Blood Sorcerers?”

She nodded, a bit surprised, and gasped, “You know of that name? I have only heard it used once in reference to them. Most people call them Lord and Lady Blackheart or King and Queen Blackheart… with many other more dire titles that are unique to various lands. I was going to say King and Queen Blackheart. You have heard of my parents then?”

He answered, “Aye. I have. They are quite feared in this realm. All kingdoms fear their wrath. All but the elves, who have sworn to kill them should they return to this realm. Lucia took quite a chance coming here… and with you, no less. They have been quite a problem for the elves, killing their brothers and sisters for sport, abducting children from this realm, which they know the elves protect, and claiming it was in payment of debts owed.”

Raphaela asked, “And what did they do with these children?”

Tyberius sighed, “No one knows for certain. But they are believed to have been sold into slavery or killed.”

Raphaela asked softly, “Your sister? She was one of the children?”

He nodded, smiling as he declared happily, “Aye. So, imagine my surprise when I saw you here.”

She nodded, and a tear rolled from her eye. “My mother? She stole me from this realm, didn’t she?” He looked at her but did not answer. He did not have to. “You believe me to be your sister, don’t you?”

He asserted, “No, I do not believe it. I know it. Your green eyes… Your birthmark… And your story… Those tell me that you are. What they do not tell me is why you are alive… why you are here… and how you have magic.” He smiled. “But, you are my Easter. That was my sister’s name. She was stolen from our mother’s arms… by Lucia. My mother and I pursued the evil villainess, but she disappeared in a cloud of red and black smoke… Just as you and Lucia did earlier at one point… when you two transported from one place in the woods to another as you practiced your magic. I confess that I had been following you for quite some time before approaching you, as I believed that I recognized Lucia. When I saw you two transport between locations shortly after first seeing you, I recognized her unusual smoke as well. After speaking with you, I was certain that you were my Easter. I followed you into the woods, just to be sure. Now, I am. By the time I was certain, it was too late. You had gone.” Tears filled his eyes. “While I wonder why she was so foolish as to bring you here with her, I am so thankful that you came back.”

Raphaela began to cry, and she threw her arms around the young man’s neck. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly. She now knew. She knew where she came from. After their embrace, he led her to a seat, and he continued to tell her the tale.

“My father died when I was merely a wee babe. I was prince of a far-off kingdom called Glenwood. Although my father had been king, my mother knew nothing of running a kingdom. So, she turned the throne over to Lord Montegue the First, my father’s most trusted advisor. He is not the rightful king, nor are his heirs. Still, deciding that he liked the taste of ruling, Lord Montague the Third sent his eldest son to take my head. I returned his son to him… minus his.” Raphaela snickered, and he smiled with a wink. “He also wished to murder our mother to prevent her or her offspring from reclaiming the throne. My mother and I sought refuge with a woodland kingdom of elves in a place called Havensglen. It was far from my kingdom but known to its people. My mother often traveled there before my father’s death, and I along with her after his death. We traveled much together, to all forms of kingdoms: man, elf, dwarf, centaur… even dragon. We made many friends, and she often traveled without me as well, while I stayed with our newly acquired Elvin kin, as they came to call us. She was a wanderer, and from what I heard, my father loved that about her. He loved to hear her tales upon her return. One day, long after my father’s death, she confessed that she was with child. She told me that she had married, but she did not tell me whom she had wed. She was torn. She truly loved her new husband, but she was fearful. I never knew why. She went deeper into hiding after that. I was already grown, but I stayed in Havensglen when not traveling, as I was raised by the elves and saw that as my home. Growing up, the elves protected me from harm, taught me to fight, and raised me to treasure nature. My mother returned often to visit, and one evening, while visiting, she gave birth to my little sister… to you.” He smiled lovingly. “You were a beautiful baby. You were beloved by all of Havensglen… and by your family. You were a princess, and the rightful heir to the throne of Glenwood, simply by being my sister and my mother’s daughter, who remained the rightful queen even after my father’s death. That is the way it works in Glenwood.”

Raphaela was dumbfounded. Mere minutes ago, she was just a girl… a nobody… and the daughter of the two most evil souls in any realm. Now, she was hearing that she was born a princess in hiding. And even more… She noticed an odd timeline in his story.

She noted, “Your story… It jumped from Lord Montegue the First to the Third, and you stated that you were ‘already grown…’ Yet you are only a young man of, seemingly, seventeen. How is that possible?”

He breathed a laugh and explained, “My father was a descendant of a race with long life, called the Scorilium. This race of man is said to have elf blood within them. I am much older than I appear. I was twenty when you were born. Our mother was but a girl of sixteen when she fell in love with, and married, my father. Nevertheless, you were born to be a princess among men in this realm.”

She considered telling him that she too was older than she appeared, having lived in various realms where time worked differently, but instead, she asked, “Is that why Lucia took me? Because I was a princess?”

He shook his head. “This, I do not know. I believe you lived because you were a princess. Perhaps Lucia and Rolan kept you alive intending to use you for something. Perhaps you were leverage that never was used.”

She nodded. “They never found something they wanted badly enough, so they just kept me? Or maybe they intended to use my magic to their advantage?”

He shrugged. “Or they intended to return you at an older age for some reason. The only way to know for certain is to ask them.”

She shook her head. “No. I cannot do that. My mother would kill me if she discovered I left the castle. She is quite vengeful.”

Tyberius took his sister’s hand on the table, pleading, “You need not return, my beloved Easter. Stay. I will protect you. My family among the Havensglen elves will protect you. All of the elves will band together to protect you.”

She shook her head again, sadly explaining, “I cannot. I have a brother… another brother, who will suffer if I stay. If I try to bring him here as well, they will only seek vengeance against innocents within this realm until we return to them… likely to our own torture and deaths. However, I wish to know you. So, I will return. For now, I must go to my other brother. My mother is away for a few days, and it is my only chance to go see him. My travels with my mother have prevented me from seeing him for quite some time.”

Raphaela told him her own tale of woe and being separated from her dear brother. She told her new brother all about the strength of her magic, and of the gift she shared with Reyon. She told him how she and Reyon now had to visit in private and how, if their parents found out, the punishment would likely be torture and death for disobeying them. She told him of the beatings, the scourging, and more. The more she spoke, the more heartbroken Tyberius looked. He could see their mother in her face, and he could hear his Easter’s cries as a baby in her voice. And when he heard her now, when he saw the pain in her eyes, he wanted to protect her and keep her safe.

When she finished, he wiped a tear from his face and asked, “Are you safe?”

She shook her head. “No. But that is why I must go. Should I leave, my brother will pay the price. Should he leave our father, I will pay the price. Should either of us disobey, we will both suffer dearly. They are using us each against the other in order to maintain control over us both. As I mentioned before, we feel each other’s pain as though it is happening to both of us.”

He thought for a moment and said, “I am friends with the most powerful in this realm… a group of wizards, as well as many Elf Lords. Together they might…”

“No,” she interrupted. “My parents are the strongest in all the realms. Your friends would be slaughtered. I must walk this path carefully. I must return home before my mother returns from her journey, and I must get to my brother today. But you will see me again. Soon.”

He rose and embraced his sister. Then, he held her face within his hands and smiled.

“You are the spitting image of our mother. I shall tell you more of her when we see each other again. Until then, be well.”

She nodded, and he walked her to the woods that surrounded the courtyard. Once away from prying eyes, she opened the portal, and as she was about to step through, she stopped and turned back to her brother.

“What was our mother’s name? And was she elfkind?”

He answered, “Her name was Talia. And no. She was of man. Why do you ask?”

She shrugged. “I hoped it would explain my unique magic. It seems quite elf-like to me. That is all, really.”

With that, Raphaela said goodbye and stepped through the portal, leaving Tyberius to wonder about her statement, and therefore, who her father could be.

***

Lord Winterlore felt something twice on this day that reminded him of his Easter. But it only lasted a moment, and before he could focus on familiar energies that met his senses, they were gone.

***

After leaving Avenglen, Raphaela emerged from her portal at the stream where Reyon awaited. Their father had also left for his own journey before he was to meet with their mother. She told Reyon all about Tyberius, and she warned him about their mother’s lie which Rolan would be bringing back to Reyon, claiming Raphaela was happy to be away from him. She wanted him to know about it before hearing it so that it would not hurt so much to hear it. Likewise, she wanted to make sure he knew it was not true, and he assured her that he would never believe such a thing.

Her gift of foresight revealed to Raphaela that she would take Reyon with her to see Tyberius, and the two young men would like each other from the start, growing close to one another quickly and becoming brothers.

Raphaela’s journeys would remain secret. However, she no longer cared about that. She was one step closer to finding out about where, and who, she came from. That was all she needed to regain her courage and endure anything her parents threw at her… until she and her brother would finally escape.

***

Coming Soon:

Of Beastly Beauty (Part IV)

The tide turns for the siblings in unexpected ways.



Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Young Adult (YA)

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