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Part 1

Cara stared blankly out her window, her eyes full of grief. The night air blew in her window softly, rustling her long black hair. She hated arguing with Xerath. Everything had fallen apart when Asar was killed. Xerath had nearly died protecting her and she knew the love he had for her was still there.

She had left Xerixes five months after the assassination attempt on her life. To this day, eight months later, the identity of the hooded man was unknown. Cara regretted leaving Xerath in Xerixes to live here. He must have felt abandoned and betrayed when she left to be alone. It had been three months since the last they had spoken or seen each other and a twinge of guilt hit her every time he saw the look on his face.

She still felt aches and sharp pains whenever thinking of her son, lying in the crib, motionless. Cara feared she would never heal and Xerath would suffer from it which made her even more grieved.

Cara had left the meeting room in a huff and in her anger hurt him once again. The look on his face when she suggested that she never loved him repeated over and over. Guilt hit her again and she sat in her chair. She treated him terribly and for no reason other than taking her anger out on him. Cara had secretly hoped he followed after her but she quickly realized he wouldn’t come running after her right after she had wounded him.

Neither of them could bring themselves to speak of that day. Any and all feelings were shoved down and ignored to the point of stupidity. Cara wished she could find the words to express her feelings to him like she used to. When Asar was born, it was the happiest time of her life, Xerath was a wonderful, caring, and loving husband but it had all been destroyed in a matter of minutes.

In a way, the assassin not only killed their son but also killed their marriage and it brought a rage from her stomach like no other.

A knock on the door jolted her from her thoughts. “Who is it?” she called.

“It’s me.” Xerath’s calm deep voice came from behind the door.

Cara’s heart fluttered and a flicker of hope sparked inside her. “Come in,” she told him.

Xerath slowly opened the door, looked at her with his piercing blue eyes then closed the door behind him. He took several steps toward her but stopped, hesitating, unsure to approach her or give her space.

The gesture nearly killed her, knowing that he had to think before approaching her in order to not offend or upset her. “What had she done?” she wracked her brain. She felt sick at the thought but kept herself composed.

“I know you didn’t mean it.” Xerath started. “What you said earlier. You know I would die for you in an instant.”

A tear escaped Cara’s purple eyes, overwhelmed by emotions. She sunk into her chair, unable to look at him.

“I know I can’t change the past, but I want to move on,” Xerath said, his voice was low and steady. “With you...together. I know you still love me but I don’t understand you either. I’ve tried to give you space and give you time to deal with…” he hesitated, “Asar.”

That was the first time his name was mentioned aloud in the presence of them both and Cara started crying.

“If you need more time, please... just tell me. I’ll wait for you. Always.” Xerath stammered, his steady voice threatening to break. “If you need me, I’ll be by your side in an instant.”

Xerath stood before her for a full minute without speaking, waiting for a response from her. Cara screamed inside to answer him and beg for his forgiveness but couldn’t bring herself to move.

He gave a heavy sigh and his face turned into a frown, full of pain and anguish. “I died that day too.” Xerath turned to leave, ending with that.

“Wait.” Cara burst into sobbing, jumping to her feet and lunging toward him.

His warm embrace comforted her and she melted into his arms. His steady breathing on her neck sent chills down her spine, she had missed his hugs.

“I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.” Cara cried. “I blamed you for Asar’s death. I know it’s stupid and I know it wasn’t your fault, I can’t explain it. I blamed you knowing you nearly died trying to save Asar and saving me.” she continued to sob, her words barely coherent. “Then I blamed myself, I was asleep while he was smothered to death by that man. I could have saved him if I were only paying attention.”

Xerath tightened his arms around her, holding her closer, wishing her pain away.

“I couldn’t stop blaming everyone, but him.” Cara pulled her wet face from Xerath’s chest and looked into his eyes. “He killed our son.”

“I know,” Xerath said, his face blank but his eyes teared up.

“I didn’t know how to grieve, so I took it out on everyone. I took it out on the one person who loved me more than life. You were my rock, and I pounded you down.” Cara sobbed more. “Please forgive me, Xerath. Can we start over?”

Xerth gently grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her to arm's length and stared into her eyes. “Don’t be sorry. I understand your pain.” he almost laughed in joy and grinned at her. “Of course we can start over.”

Cara lunged back into his chest and held him tight, feeling like a small girl again but she didn’t care. Her husband was the kindest man she knew and she didn’t deserve his love.

Xerath pulled her chin up and kissed her lightly on the lips. His touch sent shockwaves of emotions shooting through her. She kissed him back, not giving him a chance to say more.

He picked her up, still kissing her, and lay her on the bed, gently setting her down. He joined her and snuggled up next to her. Cara rested her chin on his chest and closed her eyes. Xerath lay motionless except for brushing her long black hair with his fingers.

They lay there together for several minutes before falling asleep next to each other.



Part 2

Henry looked over one of his books that Mrs. Kebin had given him back in Zulin. It felt like a lifetime ago already. He thought of Sasha and longed to see her again.

Henry had been given a small but comfortable room while in Calchester. It was well lit which gave Henry plenty of light for reading. He was reading late into the night, consuming information from the small library in the castle’s lower floors. A large stack of history books lay at the foot of his bed, waiting to be read.

Setting the book in his hands, he replaced his attention with a book about Xer’s history. He was immediately entranced in a story two hundred years ago of Xerixes, the king of Xer, Xerath’s great grandfather. Xerixes the capital had been named after him in his honor. He joined the lands and created the kingdom of Xer through blood sweat and tears. Stories of his accomplishments and failures, betrayal, love, and much more, all were contained in these books. Henry lost all track of time as he read the life of the great king.

While he flipped page after page, Henry looked up and noticed the time. It was well into the morning which shocked him. He quickly jumped out of bed to change into his sleeping clothes when he heard footsteps coming down the hall outside his room. He froze with his clothes in his hands then quietly slipped over to the door, placing his ear up against it.

Clanking armor could be heard from whoever approached. Henry counted two footsteps, one lighter and quieter than the other. They paused outside his door and he threw his clothes back into a drawer and waited by his bed, not sure what to expect but his heart rate accelerated. Three light knocks on the door, followed by a voice calling out to him, revealed to Henry that it was Kyburn and probably a guard outside his door.

“Henry? It’s Kyburn. I hope I didn’t disturb you but I see your lanterns are still lit. Please open up, news from Vulkira just arrived.”

Jumping out of bed, Henry dashed over to the door, pulling the latch up and twisting opening the wooden door, revealing an exhausted Kyburn.

“Kyburn, sir. Please come in.” Henry said politely. “You look very tired sir, did you not sleep?”

“Thank you,” Kyburn said as he stepped into his room. “Sleep has evaded us all lately. Something terrible has happened.”

He closed the door, leaving the guard waiting outside, then walked over to a chair and sat down with a heavy sigh.

“We have gotten word just three hours ago that General Brynd did indeed invade Vulkira as Erik predicted.” Kyburn began to explain immediately. “King Darius has yet to respond but we believe he acted alone.”

Henry sat down on his bed, thinking. “The entire army? Gone?”

“As far as we know, the entire army was wiped out completely, yes.” Kyburn looked at the floor solemnly. “I thought you should know. Xerath has called for another meeting in the morning. You will be expected to attend.”

“Erik knows of the ruins in Riqun.” Kyburn continued. “Xerath’s plan from before is being discussed at this meeting.”

“Sir.” Henry hesitated. “If I am to go to Kligira, I wish to be trained in combat.”

“Really? It’s about time. I didn’t wish to force it upon you but I’ve been wanting to train you for some time now.”

Henry smiled in excitement, “Can we start tomorrow?”

“Ha. Not tomorrow, I’m afraid I will not have the energy, perhaps the day after.” Kyburn suggested.

“Of course, I didn’t mean to rush you.” Henry shrugged. “Whenever you have the time and energy, I’ll be willing and ready.”

“Good man.” Kyburn smiled. “Now, I must be going. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Kyburn stood and sighed looking exhausted. From his chair, he walked over to the door, “I wanted to let you know tonight, so you wouldn’t be taken by surprise in the morning. Good night, Henry.” Kyburn said, closing the door behind him.

“Thank you, sir!” Henry called after him, feeling guilty for asking him when he had so much on his plate already.

He doused his candles and slipped into bed, his mind racing from the expectations of what would come tomorrow. It took him an hour to fall asleep, his mind was at peace and unaware of what the next few days would hold in store.



Part 3

Henry entered the meeting room, yawning, and half asleep. Kyburn was sitting at the table and he wondered how long his lord had been waiting there.

“Morning, sir.” Henry greeted him. “Did you sleep?”

“I did,” Kyburn said, yawning after Henry. “Not much though.”

“Now that we know that, Erik told the truth, what is our next move?” Henry asked.

“Arrangements will be made to section off the population into groups and find places for them to stay until…” Kyburn trailed off. “We can’t flood the cities with thousands of people, otherwise we won’t be able to support that number of civilians, which is why we must proceed with care and calculation.”

“If-” Henry cut short as footsteps made him aware of approaching members were around the corner.

Xerath and Cara simultaneously walked around the corner and into the room where Kyburn smiled faintly. There was a change between them, Henry knew, but couldn’t tell exactly what. Cara looked… happier. As did Xerath, his hair was combed and clean-shaven. Then Henry guessed and he almost blushed but forced himself to greet them properly.

“My, lord. My lady.” Henry nodded his head and slightly bending his back in respect.

“Henry.” Xerath acknowledged. “Kyburn do you know the whereabouts of Erik?”

“Last I heard he was in his chamber. I sent word to him of this meeting. He should-” Kyburn stopped abruptly as his eyes flicked to behind Xerath.

Erik stood behind them smiling. “You too look auspicious.” he grinned stupidly at them.

“Stop,” Cara said forcefully.

“Alright. Alright. I was only jesting.” he put his hands up in defeat and passed them, sitting in one of the chairs near Henry.

“Erik. I owe you an apology.” the room grew silent as a mouse, the sudden seriousness stuffed the room.

Even Erik was taken aback. “That’s… alright, Xerath. No need.”

“No. You were telling us the truth and we didn’t take you seriously. For that I am sorry.” Xerath cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable.

“Thank you,” Erik said.

“What actions will we take against Tykin for this attack?” Kyburn asked.

“Nothing. Yet.” Xerath said. “We have Vulkira to deal with at the moment and then we will decide what to do.”

“Now.” Xerath led Cara to the table and they sat down side by side. “I’ve already made preparations to allow your people to have safe haven in Qutreth. You will have the entire city to yourself.”

Cara looked unphased by the information, whereas Erik nearly popping his eyes out in shock, his jaw dropping wide. Kyburn slightly cringed but kept his demeanor in check. Henry didn’t fully understand the ramifications giving an entire city to a foreign nation would bring but he too was surprised by the news.

“What of the people living there? Lord Kelmin?” Erik asked.

“Lord Kelmin will do what he is told. As for the citizens, they will be moved elsewhere. Either Yegon or Ipoth and perhaps Zulin will take more on.”

“Absolutely, sire,” Kyburn said instantly in his support.

“Most of it will be voluntary. Some will resist of course but we will not abandon an ally in need.” Xerath said. “It will be difficult as Qutreth will not fully house everyone but you will have to make due.”

“That is more than I would have asked for,” Erik said, still shocked. “Thank you, Xerath. Truly. And you sister.”

“It was Xerath’s idea.” Cara chimed in.

“Onto more important business. Henry is here to help us with our language barrier.” Xerath gestured to Henry. “He will be deciphering the codes in the ruins.”

“You truly mean to awaken them then?” Erik asked, still unsure.

“Yes. If we are to defeat the Vog, we will need their help.” Xerath stated.

“Firstly, what makes you say they will help us? Secondly, the Vog are not our true enemies.” Erik asked. “There is something of far greater threat to us out there.”

“What threat? What makes you say the Vog isn't that threat.” Cara asked.

Erik paused, pondering something, unsure, and uneasy. “I’ve seen… other things. Nothing clear, only… feelings. The Vog came from somewhere else, they aren’t from Isulia originally.”

“And what does that mean?” Henry jumped into the conversation. “Are they from outer space?”

Xerath, Cara, and Kyburn looked at Henry like he was crazy. “What? I-” Henry started.

“Read it in a book.” all three finished for him.

“Actually, I believe he is right.” Erik defended him. “I saw a glimpse of their home, which was not in Isulia and it was bleak and dead.”

“Wonderful,” Kyburn said sarcastically. “Aliens have invaded Isulia.”

“I don’t think they had a choice,” Erik said. “Something destroyed their home so they came here. They probably had nowhere else to go and tried to find a home here.”

“That’s all well and good until they literally took your kingdom out from under you,” Cara noted out.

“Yes. There’s that.” Erik admitted. “They killed no human. They let every last one of us leave peacefully. What enemy would do that?” he countered.

“I see your point,” Kyburn said. “But we have to take Vulkira back. , friend or foe, the Vog must leave.”

Erik stayed silent, keeping something to himself. “Allow me to go to Riqun with you then.” he calmly out.

“Why would I allow that? What of your people?” Xerath asked. “Who will lead them?”

“Jebbin will lead them in my absence,” Erik said. “As for the reasoning, I believe I will be able to help.”

“Jebbin?” Cara asked, shifting in her seat. “Is he here?”

“He is camped near Nolvis as we speak,” Erik replied.

“How would you help?” Xerath asked. “You know nothing of the Ancient’s language.”

“Yes… but I have seen something no one else has,” Erik said. “I have a connection with someone who knows how to wake them up.”

“And who is that?” Henry asked, knowing the answer.

“Fel.”

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About the author

MorseCode

Bio: Hello, all. I am a new aspiring author and I'm extremely excited to share my stories. I've always loved writing and bringing the ideas in my head to life, though it was only recently that I began to write on a more serious level. I have many many books I wish to write and I hope I can share them with you all in the future. I have a lot to learn but I hope to grow into a more experienced and learned writer.

I don't shy away from gore, which will be present in all my books to come. I hate plot armor, and I do everything I can to make things as real as possible. Real decisions, consequences, logical outcomes, and making a darn good story are my main focus.

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