posted on 29-May-2002 12:46:34 PM
Chapter 4:

The large clock struck and Elena looked over in fear. It had been an hour. Would King Zan really be waiting by the gardens? She glanced over and saw him chatting with a beautiful blonde woman. She was smiling, obviously having a good time. Elena felt her blood boil as he leaned over and whispered into the woman's ear. Why was she so angry? It's not like he had made her any promises. He was simply making a pass at a lady. One who shouldn't have been there in the first place. She suppressed the sudden sting of tears in her eyes. She needed to get some air. She made her way through the crowds and stepped out into the night and the glow of Antar's moons on the royal garden.
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"I'm having quite a time your highness. Thank you for the cordial invitation." Ava smiled, a flirtatious and exposing smile. She had a sparkle in her eyes. She knew the king had been interested in her. Larek himself had gone to get her at Demeris Rock. Zan had personally invited her to this ball. They had kissed. She tried to contain the excitement she felt, but it was almost impossible. She would become queen of Antar. She looked over at Zan and he was busily looking through the crowds for someone.

"Is everything alright?" She suddenly felt ignored. She wanted his complete attention. He turned and suddenly smiled at her, a smile that caught her off guard and left her breathless.

"Just searching for Rath. He was supposed to be keeping Vilandra company this evening."

"She seems well accompanied." Ava pointed in Vilandra's direction and they saw her and a masked man dancing and laughing. She seemed well entertained. But Rath was missing. Zan smiled as he thought of the possibility of Rath having met a woman. He laughed to himself. Suddenly, his gaze shifted to the gardens. His breath caught when he saw her. Her long brown hair was teasing him as he wondered what it would be like to remove the pins and let it flow through his fingers. Suddenly Ava held no luster and his chest was aching for the strange girl. How was this possible? Just hours before he had been willing to ask Ava to marry him, she was the only woman he could see himself being with. Now, this strange woman whose eyes had touched his soul were burning in his mind. He was a romantic, but this was ridiculous.

"Ava, I'm sorry. I have some things to attend to. Please enjoy the remainder of your evening. Thank you for coming." He reached for her hand and kissed it. Then he simply walked away leaving Ava completely confused. He walked through the crowd and put his mask on to blend better with his guests. He walked into the cool night air and saw her looking up at the moons. It was only about three minutes before the predicted eclipses. For about a minute there would be complete darkness on the planet while the candles and lights lit up some of the ballroom.

"Noemi?" She stood still and slowly turned her face to the deep voice.

"Your Majesty...."

"No. Please, for tonight it is simply Zan." He sat next to her on the marble bench and took in her scent. It was something from another planet, a familiar, yet distant fragrance. She turned to face him, her golden mask sparkling in the moonlight.

"I just met you and it feels like I've known you my whole life." She laughed to herself, an almost sarcastic giggle and shrugged.

"Who knows? Perhaps we have met before."

"I'm sure I would remember."

"Maybe I looked different then."

"I could never forget those eyes." Her smile faded as she saw the dark passion in his eyes. This would lead nowhere. Why torture herself? But she would never get another chance. For once she was tired of being who she was. Elena, the unimportant servant girl. She'd served his family her whole life and he had never even looked into her eyes. Perhaps Mayala was right. Everyone should enjoy a chance at happiness. She saw Zan take off his mask, his honey eyes and tan skin looking almost like a dream in the moonlight. He reached for her face, his getting dangerously close. Suddenly the darkness began to surround them as his lips softly met hers and he took off her mask.

He kissed her softly at first, tasting the fruits of her gloss. He tried to see her face, but the darkness was complete. The eclipse was now in full session. At this, he kissed her harder, his big hands caressing her cheeks and his fingers in her hair. She seemed reluctant at first, but then she kissed him back, putting a passion into it he'd never experienced. Light softly began to come back around, only crescents of the moon exposed. She pulled away and turned quickly around. Zan stood still and confused. He had a headache. There were images floating through his mind he didn't recognize. A small brunette girl, crying as they carried her parents coffins. But why would he remember this? He looked at the woman in front of him, her back turned to him, looking like a magical fairy.

"Who are you?" His breath was still uneven, his passion coming out through his whisper.

"I must go." She placed her mask on and turned to kiss him quickly one last time. She ran back inside before he could understand that she'd left.

Chapter 5:

"Awaken! There are chores to do! Are you going to get up or lie there all day!?" The nagging voice of the head mistress was pounding into Elena's ears. She opened her eyes slowly and looked around. Could it all have been a dream? She closed her eyes again and for an instant felt the hot lips on hers. The memory was so vivid that it made her burn with passion. It was true! She'd kissed the King of Antar! Her head went all over the events of the night before. Suddenly she remembered. She had seen things when they'd kissed. Images of Zan and Vilandra as children, playing in the gardens when their mother walked in smiling. Rath would be living with them from then on. He would be Zan's second. Why had she seen that? It was as if she'd tapped into the back of his mind. She shivered and stood to wake Mayala.

"Mayala! Where are you?" She looked around and called to her friend. Mayala entered, already up and dressed, ready for work.

"My... you are up mighty early."

"Yes, well there was much work to be done. Besides, I couldn't sleep and I wanted to finish early so I can begin work on my potions." Mayala smiled wickedly as if she had something unspeakable in mind.

"Ladies enough chatter. We're working in the palace today. There was a party last night and we are on clean-up." Elena shot Mayala a look and they tried to supress their laughter. It had happened; it was real. The two girls fixed themselves up and made sure their faces were clean. They had a small breakfast and headed to the dance room for clean-up.

"So... we ran out of there last night. You almost got us discovered! Who told you to go off kissing the King?" Mayala whispered teasing Elena.

"You are one to talk."

"Hey, what I did was not all my choice. Rath is a very convincing, very stubborn man. Soleil was helpless against him." They laughed and began to pick up the leftover foods and plates from their tables. They kept joking about their evening all while scrubbing the floors and gathering the table cloths to wash.

"What do you mean you can't find her!? It is not that difficult! People do not just disappear!" The girls looked at each other and gasped. Someone was not happy.

"She is unreachable, Sire. She does not live in this kingdom, nor in our ally planets." Elena immediately recognized Alakiah's voice. Seems someone was missing and needed to be found. Mayala lessened the clatter of plates to hear the conversation better.

"Listen to me Alakiah. I've never asked much from you. Ever. But I need for you to find this woman. Finding her means the difference between following my heart or my duty. Do you understand the gravity of this situation?" Mayala's eyes widened in interest. She glanced at Elena who had frozen in place, her eyes also wide. She knew she recognized that voice. Mayala kept scrubbing floors and Elena took over with the dishes. They had been so interested in trying to listen, they didn't even notice the voices drawing nearer.

"Noemi. Her name was Noemi and she had the most incredible pair of brown eyes you could ever imagine." Zan's voice tenderly lowered as he said the last part and walked into the dance room. Elena froze and suddenly dropped to the floor. Her breathing was nervous and choppy and her hands were violently shaking.

"Your Majesty." He looked at the two bowed women and laughed.

"Elena please stand. You too Mayala." He helped Mayala to her feet and turned to help Elena. She had stood up and turned her back on him so that all he saw was her long silky hair fall down her back. He closed his eyes for an instant and it was as if he could envision her hair all pinned up, pieces falling in front of a golden mask. He quickly shook his head. No. That was not possible. However, he couldn't help but suddenly notice how pretty Elena was. It was strange how he had barely ever looked her in the face, and less the eyes.

"I could not help but overhear Milord. But are you searching for someone?" Mayala stated quickly hoping to pull the attention from her friend, knowing that the tension was building. She was truly interested however, and knew this search could lead to no good.

"I am. A woman who appeared at my feast yesterday evening and disappeared before it was over. Her name was Noemi and she came with a friend." Mayala opened her mouth to speak when Rath came storming in.

"Unbelievable! How does someone disappear off the face of our galaxy?" He stopped when he saw Zan, Alakiah, and two servant girls. He looved over at the woman standing next to Zan, her long blonde hair tied loosely to the back of her neck, and some loose strands on her face. Her blue-green eyes looked into his for a split second and he froze. He knew those eyes. She quickly lowered her head in respect and tugged at her apron nervously.

"Rath?" Zan knew that his friend was also going crazy searching for a mystery woman he had come across the night before. Even Vilandra seemed distracted, asking questions about a certain Malakiel, with deep blue eyes and an incredibly silly sense of humor. Seems they'd all had an interesting night.

Rath quickly looked back at Zan when he realized he'd been staring. It was not possible. But the eyes burned into his consciousness did not lie. He knew that glare. He knew those lips, even know completely uncolored. He knew that golden hair from the hours he spent with his fingers through it. His heart was beating quickly. He was feeling a mixture of anger, excitement, and pure lust.

"Rath?" Zan laughed as he saw Rath's face. He couldn't help but laugh knowing what was running through his friend's mind. He knew Rath. He had quick eyes. And no matter what position Mayala had, the gods had blessed her with incredible looks.

"Zan... I believe that Vilandra was calling for you." Rath tried to choke the words out, his breath being caught in his throat.

"Alakiah, we shall continue our search and conversation at a later time. Ladies, keep up the good work." Elena raised her head quickly, not sure if he had left. Zan's eyes were on her, he had been looking right at her face and for a second her eyes met his. She felt her heart stop. His eyes stared at her knowingly for a split second, and then he masked it and turned away. He is too proud to admit that he kissed a servant girl. He would never believe himself. Elena pushed the thoughts around in her mind and then sighed loudly. Maybe going last night had not been that great of an idea. She looked at Mayala who was still standing still, her head low as Rath stared openly at her. Alakiah panicked and looked at Elena for help.

"Mayala... it is obvious that you are not feeling well, give Alakiah the scrubber and head to the cabin. You must rest." Elena looked at Alakiah and he nodded, her excuse seemed viable. Mayala simply nodded and handed Alakiah the scrubber. She slowly dragged along and Elena excused herself to help her friend get some water. Rath stood, simply watching them leave, and held his gaze until she was out of sight.

"Are you alright, Milord?" Alakiah tried to break Rath's silence. He looked at him for a moment, nodded, then stepped out of the dancing room.

ENJOY!! Chapter 6 up soon!!!! *bounce*

[ edited 7 time(s), last at 1-Jul-2002 10:17:33 AM ]
posted on 29-May-2002 12:48:44 PM
By the way, will someone let me know if I'm doing this right? I'm not sure what I'm doing quite yet... still new to the board. But, any help I'd truly appreciate!!! email me!*happy*
posted on 30-May-2002 2:42:22 PM
Chapter 6:

"Are you going to be alright Mayala?" Elena held her friend as she tried to even out her breathing.

"He was doing something to me. He was... using some sort of death ray eyes...."

"Mayala... he was simply staring."

"Yes! Well, death ray eyes... same thing!"

"You are over-exaggerating."

"I am not! I am afraid he knows! Elena... if he finds out I can be killed! For not knowing my place!"

"I'd hate to say I told you so."

"Then don't!" Mayala held Elena by the arms tightly and stared at her with widened and frightened eyes.

"Listen Elena... you were right. Ok? You were completely and utterly correct about knowing my place. But for that one moment, for those minutes when I danced, when he spoke to me, when he held me in his arms... I felt... like I belonged just as much as he. You cannot tell me you did not feel the same."

"No, I cannot."

"Then you must agree that the gods have bigger plans for us. All of us. Our parents died Ellie... I feel quite strongly that we will be compensated for it." Mayala hugged her friend and walked out into the cabin. Elena shrugged and walked back to the dance room. Mayala went into the cabin and closed the door behind her. She turned around and felt strong hands on her arms, pinning her against the door. She gasped and was suddenly panicking at the eyes that met her own.

"Tell me it was not you whom I saw at last night's feast."

"It was not I."

"You lie?"

"I do not." Her eyes looked away and he pulled her even closer.

"My senses do not lie."

"Perhaps it is not your senses."

"You dare challenge me?"

"I do not appreciate your accusing me Sir. I had been here all evening, tending and cleaning the cabin along with Elena."

"You speak to me in such a condescending tone. I am not one to be made a mockery of."

"Then I suggest you do not go around attacking servant girls." The words had flown out of her mouth so quickly she had not even noticed she'd said them. His smile curled up in a wicked fashion. He knew.

"Soleil?"

"I do not know what you speak of."

"Or Mayala?"

"My name is and has always been Mayala sir." Rath let go of her arms and leaned up against the door on top of her.

"Even if you tried to lie your way out of this I could not forget the feel of her lips. And I am sure that you would agree that it would be quite an honor to aid me in my discovery." He leaned in and attacked her lips with his own, an obnoxious and demanding in his kiss, knowing now that he had an upper hand in the situation that he so desperately tried to control just the night before. She pushed away but he simply kissed harder and finally she gave in and wrapped her arms around his neck.

"Who is Soleil?"

"My perfume." He laughed, her bright personality making his heart melt in ways he never wanted it to.

"I need for you to know that this cannot happen. I've been hurt before and I do not intend to have you play with my heart."

"I do not intend for this to happen because I will not die on your account." They said these words as they kissed and finally they pulled away for several minutes.

"Meet me tonight. In the palace. After sunset." His words were cut short as he tried to control the passion raging inside of him. Who was this servant girl? Would he risk everything just to spend another night with her? He could always say that he was simply demanding her presence. But he knew it would be hard to hide his actual feelings for her. He was beginning to become attached.

"I cannot. We cannot...." Mayala pulled away for a moment, their eyes simply staring, their emotions completely out of control.

"I am second only to the King, I can do as I please."

"But I am but a servant. I cannot risk my life and your position. Not unless there is something I'm risking it for." She pulled away from him to be at perfect eye level, and his knees went weak at the determination in her blue eyes.

"I cannot make promises because I am not good at keeping them."

"I'm afraid that nights of passion sound nice, however, I have to preserve my heart. I do not want to get attached and then dropped."

"You cannot demand any sort of commitment on my part. We shouldn't even be speaking."

"Then perhaps you should leave."

"Goodbye." He pulled out of her warm grasp and walked out the door in a rage. She closed the door and seconds later she felt the knock. Her anger was flaring and she tried to control herself. Who did he think he was? She was not some object! She opened the door and he rammed in and slammed it closed behind him.

"You are really something making demands when just seconds ago you were denying to even be the woman I searched for!"

"I am not making demands! Simply suggestions! I cannot get involved unless I know it is worth something!"

"I am royalty! Of course it would be worth something!"

"It is not that simple!"

"You are so aggravating!"

"And you are an obnoxious tyrant!" They stood in complete silence for a second and the chemical attraction took over so quickly that he didn't even notice how they ended up on the couch. This woman was dangerous in every sense. He needed to be careful not to let himself get too involved. But inside he knew it was too late.

Chapter 7:

The sun was high as Vilandra walked the gardens. It was a warm day and she wanted to see if she could gather some flowers for her chamber. She walked aimlessly, enjoying the sunshine and smiling to herself. This would be a nice day for another dance. Perhaps she'd bring it up to Zan. Besides... maybe she'd meet Lord Malakiel again. She tried not to giggle. He was a funny character. He had the most incredible stories to tell. She noticed immediately that he was very educated, however she couldn't understand how he was of royal blood. He was tall... he had incredible eyes, full of compassion and understanding. Perhaps she was wrong about him. He would make an incredible royal. The more she thought about it, the more she enjoyed the idea of another ball. She turned around and bumped into the man behind her.

"Oh, excuse me." She looked up into a pair of deep blue eyes and felt her heart stop.

"Alakiah." She tried not to sound disappointed, but it was impossible to hide her feelings.

"Your Majesty." He bowed softly and smiled at her. She smiled back, suddenly enjoying his company and noticing how attractive his smile was. It was not fair. Sometimes she wondered why their world functioned the way it did. Why there had to be people who were better than others. Not that she didn't deserve to be royal. She knew she was destined for royalty. But perhaps others were cheated in their destinies. Perhaps there was more intended for some by the gods. She was still staring into his eyes and grabbing on to his shoulders as if for life when he smiled again.

"A penny for your thoughts." She smiled back, finally realising she'd lost herself in thought.

"Oh... forgive me."

"You need not apologize to me."

"Thank you." She stood up straight and brushed herself off. "So Alakiah, what brings you to the gardens?"

"Well, his Majesty the King, Zan requested your presence in his chamber. Seems he is having problems with a Miss Ava because of a certain mystery woman he met at yesterday's ball. Seems everyone enjoyed themselves last evening." He smirked, the invitation was open for her to speak her mind.

"You know Alakiah... I trust you will speak to no one else of this... however, I do believe there were several mysterious characters at the dance. It's gotten me thinking about what the gods have in store for us. Does this mean that there is a new destiny planned for us?" She looked away into the distance and turned back around as she saw him staring. He quickly lowered his gaze, but she had not been insulted by his admiration. She was used to men staring... usually it bothered her a bit. But she had grown up with Alakiah, and his presence had always given her a feeling of home. However, now his eyes held something that stirred her soul.

"If you'll allow me to speak, Miss Vilandra, I'd like to answer your question." She nodded and he continued on respectfully. "I do strongly believe that everyone has a destiny. There is one person meant for each person, at least my best friend likes to think so. She's very philosophical, however, many times she is correct. Sometimes, we do not want to accept our destinies in fear of what they might lead us to, or other times, our destiny doesn't seem possible. It seems as if there were no way it could happen. But the gods have a way of working. When they hand you a miracle... who are you to deny it? Even a royal cannot deny a god's blessing. Whether it is where one expects or not." She stared at him, her eyes searching his earnest face. He was incredible. She had never carried on too long a conversation with him, but he truly was a pleasure. He smiled again, his incredible shine lighting up her eyes more than the very sun, and then nodded.

"Come. His Majesty is expecting you."

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Zan paced his chamber angrily. She was such a nuisance! He thought back to several days ago and looked into his top drawer. There sat the ring... the promise ring he was ready to give her the night of the ball. But something had happened. He had fallen in love. For the first time he had felt this completeness in his soul at touching someone's lips. At looking into someone's eyes. How was that possible? To be so ready to follow a set course, and then diverting completely from it? He knew the gods liked to play tricks on him. They had done that for years. He thought back to when he was a child. He had met a beautiful young girl... but time would prove it was not meant to be.

FLASHBACK~

"Zan! Zan come on! Father is at the door!" Vilandra ran into Zan's room, her long dress flowing behind her, her long blonde hair flowing even more. He got out from under the bed and Rath came crashing out of the closet.

"AH! Vanguard!" Rath yelled and charged at Vilandra.

"Get a hold of yourself!" She pushed him hard and he fell to the floor. He rubbed his behind and glared up at Vilandra.

"That's not fair. You're a girl." She rolled her eyes annoyed and Zan smiled.

"We will go now." She stepped out and walked away demandingly. Rath raised his hand and with a swift move slammed the door behind her. He got up from the floor and Zan looked in the mirror. He always had to look presentable for his father. It was what he always wanted... to see his son turn into the future king. Zan smiled at his reflection and walked out with Rath.

"What do you think is the big deal?" Rath was annoyed that his play time was being interrupted.

"I'm not sure. But it seems they're sounding the trumpets the way they do when we receive visitors." They both shurgged and made their way to the throne room. His father sat, his golden throne sparkling and revealing his glory. His beautiful mother smiled at seeing her son, neat and groomed, and then smiled again at seeing his second in command. His hair was a mess, his clothes were a bit wrinkled, but his presence was incredibly royal. He stood tall and proud, more so than Zan. Zan was too quiet and shy at his age, and she was beginning to worry.

"Son... Rath. My children. I have two special people I'd like to present to you." He smiled at his son, a rather strange act from his father, done only in moments of privacy. From the side entered two young girls. They were about the same age as the royal children and the excitement was evident in their faces. Would they stay there with them like Rath did?

"Elena, Mayala meet Prince Zan, Prince Rath, and Princess Vilandra." The two girls bowed and the three children nodded their heads.

"Elena and Mayala will be living with us. They will be staying with Madeline and young Alakiah in the back." At this they knew that the girls were to serve them. Alakiah was the son of the head servant, and the two new girls would be trained. Zan breathed in disappointment. The brunette looked up, her brown eyes sad and teary and he felt his heart stop. She was beautiful and he just wanted to make her smile.

REALITY~

Even now Elena had a way of making Zan feel like he was missing out on something. He was tired of living the life planned out for him. He didn't want to be told who to marry, or how to rule. He had his own ideas of how he wanted his planet ruled. Unfortunately, the rest of the kingdom didn't agree with him. Ever since he had met Elena, he had told himself he wanted to make a society where it was ok to be equal. A society that didn't seperate the royals from the servants or the peasants. He had fallen in love with her as young teenagers... she had been everything his heart desired. Then, at the request of his father, Larek introduced him to Ava. In some sort of magical way, she diverted his attention, and he was sure he was in love. He hadn't even looked Elena's way in almost six years. She had simply become the servant she was. But suddenly... today as he looked in her eyes, he saw something. Something familiar. Something he missed. Was she the girl from last night? Or were these just childhood memories resurfacing?

"Zan?" The voice interrupted his deep thoughts, and he turned to face Vilandra who was almost glowing with happiness.

"Well, you look beautiful."

"Thank you." She smiled and he kissed her cheek.

"What are you so happy about?"

"I do not know. I simply took a walk down the gardens and had an enlightening conversation that got me thinking."

"About?"

"About the way we live our lives. About how perhaps we are meant for so much more than we assume. We are royalty Zan. We can make a true difference. We can change our planet for the better, the way no one has done before."

"You read my mind."

"Really?" She smiled, her eyes shining with happiness.

"I've been thinking that for a long time now, but I was afraid no one would agree. But I'm glad I have your backing. We shall get Rath to see what his thoughts are on the matter." Almost as if on cue, Rath came storming in, a look of thought on his face.

"You know... I've been thinking."

"Oh no."

"This usually involves something illegal."

"Funny." Rath smiled and sat them down. He stated his idea for an equal society. He smiled to himself knowing that he sounded just like Mayala. Just her name in his mind made him crazy with want. He couldn't wait to see her later that evening. After all, he was doing this all for her. When they finished their conversation, they all agreed they'd try to pursue the matter. They also agreed on another ball. Vilandra walked out happily to get the preparations ready for the ball the next evening. She wanted to look perfect. Something told her, Lord Malakiel would arrive and sweep her off her feet. As Zan went to walk out, Rath grabbed his arm. He deserved to know the truth about the woman he loved. If he didn't like it, he didn't really love her.

"Zan, could I speak to you?"

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-May-2002 2:43:36 PM ]
posted on 31-May-2002 7:26:43 PM
Chapter 8:

Zan turned to face his friend, his trusted second, seeing the frustration and the inner battle written all over his face. He knew that Rath was stressed about finding the woman he'd met. She had put some sort of spell on him. Rath was not one to fall in love easily. But whatever physical connection had previously existed between he and Vilandra, it was gone, and now his mind was completely on the young woman with blonde hair and blue eyes.

"There is something very important I must say to you."

"Go ahead." Zan tried to read the expression in Rath's eyes. Was it fear? Anguish?

"I found her." Zan felt his head spin with excitement.

"Who?" Rath didn't want to jump into anything too quickly. It would break his heart if he were unwilling to deal with her and her position.

"Zan, last night I met an incredible woman. She said her name was Soleil. We spoke for several minutes, and then we met up several times during the evening. She was absolutely beautiful, but she was completely insane. She has these crazy ideas and this philosophy on life that made me question myself, and for several seconds I hated that. But now, now I see that she is exactly what I need. Someone to challenge me, to be just as strong, if not stronger in will and in power. I knew from the second that I kissed her that I would not be the same."

"Those are fancy words for a man who refused just days ago to believe in true love." Zan smiled, pleased that Rath had found his match in an enchanting woman.

"However, she isn't all that I thought she would be. But love works like that sometimes. You don't always get what you expect. Just like I thought I'd loved Vilandra. She was all I'd known. But time has shown that there was something else in store for me... and now I cannot fight where fate has led me." Rath breathed in deeply and looked at Zan's smiling face. How would he tell him that the woman he was desperately searching for, he would never find? She did not exist as he knew her, but in another form.

"Rath?"

"Zan, I just need you to trust your instincts. Trust that if your heart tells you something about someone, it's right. The woman you met last night... this woman changed your entire life in just hours. She made you question your position in this world, made you believe in a passionate romance...." Zan raised his eyebrows and smirked and Rath just frowned at him.

"Ok, so maybe I was thinking of the passionate romance, but you know what I mean."

"Rath, did you find Noemi?" Zan finally spit out, hoping that the nervous tingle in his veins would be for a good cause.

"I did."

"Where can I locate her?" Rath sighed and as he went to speak, Alakiah came into the room.

"Milord."

"Alakiah, please excuse us for a second." Zan turned back to Rath, urging him to hurry.

"Leave! I am trying to speak to Zan in private!" Rath was now nervous and anxious. He would never get it out without sounding like an idiot.

"I'm afraid that's not possible milord." Alakiah looked over at Zan desperately.

"What is it Alakiah?"

"There is a woman expecting you in the throne room milord. Miss Ava from Danartia is requesting your appearance." Zan's eyes widened in horror.

"I'm not here! I've stepped out."

"I'm afraid she already knows you're here sire." Alakiah tried not to laugh at the look of complete horror on Zan's face.

"You know what! This is ridiculous! Zan go, I'll speak to her."

"Thank you so much. We'll finish this conversation later." He ran towards the back of the palace and Rath suddenly got an idea.

"Alakiah, go after Zan and hide him. Keep him in the cabin, have Elena tend on him. Send Mayala over as soon as Zan settles in. I will take care of Ava." Alakiah's eyes were completely panicked. Elena and Zan? Mayala and Rath?! They couldn't! It would be wrong... to torture them in that way.

"Then when you're done, go and help Vilandra with the preparations for tomorrow night's feast." As soon as he heard her name all thoughts of everything else faded. He'd help her set up. He'd be close to her. A slow smile crept up his face. This was working out rather well.

Alakiah ran after Zan and dragged him to the cabin.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I KNOW IT WASNT quite what you were all expecting!!! =P but don't worry... it gets good. *tongue*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 31-May-2002 7:27:31 PM ]
posted on 2-Jun-2002 12:47:52 PM
Chapter 9:

"We should be ok in here for a while." Alakiah closed the door behind them and began to scream out to see if anyone was there. Zan looked around the cabin and smiled. It was warm and bright and it smelled of flowers and perfumes.

"Mayala! Maya!" Alakiah looked around impatiently and heard the female voice yell back at him.

"I'm coming! I'm coming! Alakiah, I can hear you! No need to scream...." Her annoyed face completely fell from shock. There was the King standing in front of her door. She quickly lowered herself to one knee and kept her head bowed.

"Your Highness." Zan smiled and shook his head.

"Mayala please. There in no one around. There really is no need for you to do that." He reached out his hand and helped her up. She kept her head lowered and listened to Alakiah's orders.

"Call Elena and have her fix King Zan a meal and a comfortable place to stay for a while. Then get yourself together, Rath is expecting you at the palace." He winked at his last comment, knowing she would enjoy the thought of Rath personally requesting her. But her eyes were worried and remained upset.

"Elena is ill. If it is necessary I will tend for his Highness... you would have to tell Rath I am unavailable." Both Alakiah and Zan quickly looked up at Mayala.

"Elena is ill?" Zan remembered the few times Elena had actually fallen ill. One time had been so bad, they all thought she would die.

"She is running a high fever and is very weak." Zan nodded and looked over at Alakiah.

"Alright, this is what we are going to do. Alakiah, you can go and do what is necessary for the rest of the evening. Mayala, go tend to Rath, I will stay here with Elena." Her head shot up at his comment and her eyes were inquiring his real purpose.

"Yes, your Highness." Alakiah quickly answered and grabbed Mayala's hand as he pulled her out the door. She turned to close the door behind her and saw something in Zan's eyes that made her heart ache. There was a longing... a sadness and loneliness she had never seen before in his eyes. She closed the door and prayed to the gods that all would turn out well.

Zan made his way down the hallway and found Elena in the last room. She was lying on a small bed, her eyes peacefully closed in sleep, her forehead glistening with sweat, her long brown hair loosely beside her on the pillow, some wet against her face. He watched her tenderly, his mind drifting. He had been in love with her for so long. She had been his best friend throughout his childhood. He thought back to the day his father died.

FLASHBACK~

"Zan, you are now the King of Antar." He heard the distant voice in his head. He knew what she was saying, but he couldn't belive it. It was impossible. His father could not be dead, there was still too much for him to learn to become King.

"Zan, honey. Are you listening to me?" He shook his head, refusing to listen to his mother's words. He got up and began to run out of the room.

"Zan! ZAN!" He could hear Vilandra's crying words screaming after him. But he couldn't stop. He needed to see her. He needed to touch her. He ran down the corridors and through the rooms out to the gardens. He stopped to catch his breath and looked over at the cabin. There was only one person he wanted to see. One person he wanted to talk to. Almost as if willed to appear, she stood, outside the cabin door, the saddest expression in her eyes as they met his own. He simply let himself enjoy the depth in her eyes for several seconds. He looked at her, the way she mourned for him and he felt his heart tug in his chest. It was at that moment that he knew he loved her. There she stood, her beautiful face simply looking back at him as Zan, the person he was inside, rather than the King he would now have to be. He began to walk over to the cabin and felt the thick drops of rain in his hair. It began to come down hard as he stood in front of her, silence embracing them.

"I'm sorry." It was all she said, but it was enough. It was always enough. Just her being there made him feel like it was real. Like it wasn't some sort of nightmare. He reached up and placed his hand on her cheek and his fingers in her hair. He felt his tears come down slowly, and soon he could not tell what was the rain and what were his tears. She went to say something else and he took his left hand and placed it on her lips to silence her.

"Don't. Please." She nodded softly, completely understanding, and he grabbed her in close to him as he hugged her for dear life. She was his salvation as they stood simply embracing each other out in the rain.

REALITY~

Zan stared at her as he shook out of his reverie. It was the last time they'd been together that way. His mother had been watching them and was completely determined to forbid it. He was thrown into the Kingship with work, treaties, events, parties, people, travels. It wasn't until he began to slow down that he'd realized that almost four years had passed and he had barely looked her way. Before he could think too much about it, Larek had introduced him to Ava. Now, here he stood, twenty one years old, and standing next to the woman he had loved as a boy. The woman who had made him feel... completely normal.

He reached out and placed his hands on the side of her face, softly caressing her cheeks. He sighed loudly and whispered.

"Elena. Elena you have to look at me." He heard her moan softly and her eyes slowly fluttered open. The instant their eyes met, he felt the energy leave his body and saw the flashes. The images ran through his head and he felt the familiar tingle in his blood. He concentrated on her eyes and saw the the gardens. It was dark and he realized it was because there was no moonlight. He felt excitement and then saw the kiss. The kiss that changed his life. She was wearing a burgundy dress and a golden mask but her eyes were unmistakable. He pulled away from Elena and she was now fully awake and simply staring at him with her huge brown eyes in complete awe.

"Your Majesty." It came out as a strangled whisper but he smiled and shook his head.

"Elena... please. Just call me Zan." He smiled at her and she tried to get up.

"No. You have to stay lying down. You won't completely recover for several hours, but you should be feeling better in no time."

"But I must tend to you, your Highne... Zan." He pushed her shoulders softly back down and shook his head.

"Don't worry about me. I'm fine... it is my heart I'm worried about." Her eyes quickly looked up into his and she felt herself get dizzy. It was too much to be around him. To be alone with him.

"Noemi?" She looked away at the as he said it, suddenly feeling exposed and ridiculous for lying to him.

"Why didn't you just tell me it was you?"

"I was afraid. Had someone recognized us, we couldv'e been killed." He sat next to her on the bed and looked down into her eyes.

"My God... I hadn't looked into your eyes for so long I almost didn't recognize them. But I knew there was a reason that I was immediately attracted to you. Because the heart never lies Elena. It has brought us back together, just as I was losing myself. Because it is in the gods plans to keep us together somehow. You're my destiny Elena." He whispered into her ears and looked at her face, their noses close enough to touch.

"Zan... we can't."

"I know." He leaned in and kissed her, his lips enjoying the familiar feel of hers, his heart melting at her tenderness.

"Zan...."

"Elena. For all the times I never got to tell you... I love you." Her eyes widened at his comment and she knew then that she could not resist him.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 2-Jun-2002 1:54:21 PM ]
posted on 2-Jun-2002 2:50:15 PM
thanks for the feedback guys... DarthMaul... I posted on the main board! I hope people like my stories as much as you did! so... next chapter... I was thinking maybe a little m&m? what do you think?
posted on 3-Jun-2002 7:44:32 PM
Chapter 10:

Rath walked into the throne room and saw Ava smiling and laughing with some of Zan's advisors. He cleared his throat and they dispersed quickly, leaving he and Ava alone and Alakiah at the door.

"Miss Ava."

"Hello your Majesty. I am here to see his Highness, King Zan."

"I'm afraid that will be impossible." Her smile slowly faded and she stood up from her seat.

"Several minutes ago I was informed that he was in. Has something happened?" Rath's face expressed his boredom and he looked like he could be anywhere else, like blowing up a planet for example.

"He will be involved in an important conference all day. However, if you really need to see him, you can make an appointment or you can wait to see him at tomorrow night's ball. You are more than welcome to attend." He smiled, an arrogant smile that made her blood boil.

"Can I see you out?" He walked her to the doors and she reluctantly walked out. Alakiah nodded and walked down to the gardens to find Vilandra. Mayala walked in and it was just Rath and herself in the room. The tension was thick as she looked up into his heated glare.

"Follow me." He seemed to demand it more than request it and she quietly walked after him towards the upper chambers. She walked in and he closed the doors behind them. She turned to face him and before she could speak, he had her against his door as he attacked her lips.

"Wait... wait shouldn't we speak?" She tried to get the words out, but he kept kissing her, refusing to allow too many words to come between them.

"I don't believe in words. They mean nothing." They kept kissing and in between breaths she'd think of something clever to say.

"So you are an action kind of man?"

"Please... shut up." He kissed her even harder and as much as she was enjoying it, she found herself pulling away.

"What now?"

"I just think that perhaps we should think about this."

"You think too much!"

"You don't think at all! You simply act on all your instincts! That may be okay for you, but you forget that I am not in a position to make those types of decisions!" She was furious by now, her blue eyes glaring up at his own threateningly, her messy hair falling all over the place.

"Why do you have to make things so complicated!?"

"Because that is my life! It is complicated! You take me whole or you don't take me at all!"

"You can make this simple Mayala. You can just enjoy yourself for once."

"No. I refuse to believe that the gods' only plan for me was to be the concubine of Antar's second in command. I am smart and I am talented and I... somewhere in this body I am beautiful. I got your attention didn't I? I deserve more than a run around. I'm sorry. I simply can't give you what you're asking for." She walked away from him and sat herself on his bed as she sighed loudly. This was much harder than she thought.

"So you are saying you don't want to be with me?" Rath shook his head in confusion and scratched his eyebrow in frustration. He went to her and kneeled to be at eye level with her sad face.

"Mayala? What is it that you want?" By now he seemed to be pleading and he didn't even recognize his own voice. What was she doing to him? Why would he have to subject to her? To her insane ideas of equality and passion?

"I do not know." She felt the tears begin to compile in her eyes and she refused to let them fall.

"You know what? If you don't know what you want, how do you expect me to know what you want!? I can't read your mind Maya! I can only go by what I feel. What I feel right now is... I don't know! It's crazy, it's wild, it's new! I want to breathe you and feel you twenty four hours a day. I dream of your kisses and yet I dread seeing you. I imagine your touch and prepare for our battles. Is that even normal?"

"I do not know. I am afraid I do not know anything right now. I'm sorry." She walked to the door and he ran after her getting in her way.

"You're not leaving."

"I must go."

"I will not allow for you to leave until I understand what the problem is."

"There is no problem."

"There is because you are quiet and drawn! You are angry at me?" He said the last part with a sudden realization. She was upset and he didn't even know why.

"YES! Of course I am upset! We meet at this magical ball where you're whispering all sort of sweet promises in my ear and you kiss me and you touch me and I am playing along just as well. Then you find out who I am and you act like suddenly, it is to your benefit because you owe me nothing! Well, I owe you nothing!! All I ask is a promise from you... your word as a royal of this household that you will not use me and throw me out. Because I refuse to be your slave. I get enough of that from everyone else!" Rath stared at her, his eyes wide in amazement. This woman had no boundaries.

"Well, if you feel so strongly about it, then leave." His mind was fighting his very own thoughts. He didn't want her to leave. But his pride was too strong. He would not let her speak to him that way. And yet, in some sick way, he enjoyed her anger and what it did to his system. It made him want to hold her and never let go. But he knew how treacherous his heart had been before. He would not allow some woman's wiles to disrupt his perception. How foolish he'd been. All women were the same. Incapable of returning the simplest of feelings.

"Fine." With one word she was out of the door and out of sight. But his heart was hurting in his chest and he felt like he'd kill the first person he saw. He slammed the door behind her and in anger caused the windows to fly open and then break, his mind was now working over time and his emotions were out of control. How dare she? He followed quickly after her. She would not have the last word. He rushed down the main corridor and saw her headed past the library. He rushed up to her and grabbed her arms as he pushed her into the library and locked shut the double doors with his mind.

"What...?!"

"What do you think? That this is some democracy? That you have some sort of say?"

"I am through discussing this with you!"

"Well I am not finished!"

"FINE! WHAT? What is it that you have to say?!" They stared into each other's eyes angrily for a couple of seconds and his body did what came naturally. His hands reached up to her face and he grabbed her in to kiss her, all of his frustration and anger as well as his heartbreak and loneliness were expressed when she suddenly felt the saddest feeling in the pit of her stomach. She broke away and looked into his eyes, suddenly seeing the feeling lying there, staring right back at her. She had felt it. She had felt his loneliness.

"Mayala... I...." He tried to search for words to describe what he wanted to say. She reached up and placed her fingers on his lips.

"It's ok. You don't have to tell me." And suddenly words didn't seem to matter in comparison to the feeling still lingering inside of her heart.

Chapter 11:

Ava made her way out of her ship. She had finally landed home. She looked around and sighed loudly. There was nothing that could lighten her mood after this afternoon. Zan was avoiding her. But why? What had she done to deserve that kind of treatment? She thought for a moment that Zan had loved her. Perhaps she had read too much into it. But her feelings didn't lie. She knew that the way she felt around him was no lie. All she needed to do was figure out what was going on. She stepped into the palace, everything seemed to be running normally. Well, she might as well prepare for the event the next evening. She made her way up to her bed chamber and closed the door behind her.

"Ava." She spun her head around in fear at the deep sound of someone's voice in the darkness.

"Who are you?" She leaned back against the door and reached for the handle.

"I am your savior." His voice rung familiar chords and she tried to look harder.

"Show yourself." A shadow came out of the darkness and stood in the light of the sun from her window. His tall figure shadowed over her, his long dark shaul covering his features. She looked around and closed her eyes. The lights turned on and the window was open. He stood, then slowly he removed the hood covering his face.

"Kivar..." The word almost seemed choked in her throat. Why was he here?

"Surprise." The grin he held never changed. She felt herself drift back to the days of the old moons, when Zan's father was still King. It had been Kivar who had killed him. He had been exiled and then imprisoned. Especially after they had found out about his relationship to the princess, Vilandra. He was never to return and so he became the leader of the Rebel Alliance. His charming looks and demanding ways got him to places no one had dreamed of.

"What are you doing here?" She tried to keep her calm as his dark green eyes penetrated into her own. He was dangerous and relentless but he was gorgeous. It was a sin.

"I decided I've lived in the darkness long enough. I need your help Ava. We are both in the same situation here. I can get you what you want. I can give you Zan. But I need your help in return." Ava listened carefully to the rich voice coming from the handsome man before her. Part of her knew that there was something wrong with that. That she was afraid of his demands. She truly loved Zan and never wanted to do anything to hurt him. But she felt that there was someone in her way, and she was willing to do whatever it took to get them out.

"What do you propose?"

"I want to see Vilandra again. I have to see her again. It is the basis of my existence. I have gone too long without seeing her... touching her. You know what it's like don't you? To need someone so badly." He took a step closer and she felt his scent embrace her helplessly.

"If you want to see her so badly why don't you just contact her?"

"I would be killed if anyone even suspected I was near Antarian ground. But you can help me. You can help me get in touch with her. To see her. All I need are a few moments with her. Ava please, for all the times I helped you as a child, I cared for you as my own sister. I am being haunted by her. I dream of Antar... of Vilandra's face."

"Of how you'd rule with her in your hands?" Ava felt some anger build up in her. She would not be used to tear down a kingdom. She would not be accomplice in breaking apart a royal family that was doing good for all of humanity. She simply refused.

"Of course, everyone has dreams of becoming something meaningful. But what is a man without a beautiful lady by his side?" He stepped up closer and finally she felt his body upon hers, his warm breath and green eyes too close for comfort.

"I do not think I can Kivar. It is treason to go against the orders of the King."

"I would have married you, had you not been desperately in love with Zan. I would make you mine and appreciate you like he never could. He has barely looked twice at you since the ball." Her eyes widened at his comment and a shiver of fear went down her spine.

"How do you...?"

"I know everything Ava. Everything." She closed her eyes in thought and turned away.

"Is it a woman?" She was reluctant to ask but she felt her stomach twist at the thought.

"Yes." She lowered her head in anguish at the sudden heart wrenching thought of losing the man that she loved. The man she always felt treated her as second best. He had been distracted by a woman long enough.

"Do you know who she is?"

"No. But I can easily find out." His eyes were jumping with excitement. He could see Ava slowly crumbling through her blue eyes.

"What must I do?"

"Take me to her. And I will find out all you need. Then, I will get you Zan." He seemed so sure. Everything he said about Vilandra convinced Ava that he wanted to see her. Her heart was screaming she was right, but her head was screaming how wrong she would be to do this.

"There is a ball, tomorrow evening. I will take you there, then you are on your own. It is as much as I can do now." She breathed loudly and felt the butterflies in her stomach increase.

"That is enough." He smiled and kissed her cheek. "Good night, sweet Ava." He put on his dark hood and headed out of the window into the dusk.


posted on 5-Jun-2002 5:55:01 PM
Chapter 12:

The light was shining brightly on the young woman in the meeting room. Alakiah stood at the door for a second as he admired her beauty. He was so close to her... so close to being what she wanted, and yet he was too far. He was not Lord Malakiel, he was Alakiah. The servant she had grown up with and learned to get accustomed to. He didn't want to seem disappointed, however he couldn't help but feel like maybe, as Mayala always said, he was destined for so much more. She sensed his presence at the door and smiled as she turned to see him.

"You startled me."

"I am sorry, your Majesty... I didn't want to disturb you."

"Come in, please." He walked in and sat across from her at the table as he saw the pen and stationary spilled everywhere.

"Need help?"

"Please." She smiled, almost embarrassed to admit it, but he just smiled back at her.

"I'll take note... just tell me what you'd like to say." She stood up from her seat and began to pace back and forth as she thought out loud.

"Okay... umm... Esteemed Guests. Uhhh... You are cordially invited to visit the royal household of Antar for a magical evening of dinner and dancing. It will take place after sunset on the evening of the full moon." He smiled and jotted down the information on her flowery stationary.

"That sounds perfect."

"I personally wouldn't care to invite too many people. There are only certain people I want to see." She sat back down and looked over at him. His blue eyes were bravely staring into her own and a familiar feeling came over her. It had already been twice that she'd seen some of Malakiel's qualities in Alakiah. But she didn't want to believe it. Because she knew... she knew that if he was the man she was looking for, that her heart would break at not being able to have him. Princesses could not marry servants. No matter how amazing they may be.

"When you look at me... what do you see?" Her words came out as a surprise to him and he was caught off guard.

"Excuse me?"

"What do you see?"

"Well... I... I see a very talented and beautiful woman. A woman who is strong enough to rule the kingdom with wisdom and respect. A woman who has grown so much from when I first knew her. One who is afraid of herself because of the power she possesses. But I believe that you have not yet reached your full potential. You have so much more to offer if you'd just let yourself go a little bit. You are still afraid to live in your own skin. To feel... to truly feel." Their eyes were searching each other's thoughts, feelings, and souls. She wanted to just kiss him. To just run away from her obligation and love him for his honesty, for his humor, for his openness, for just being her friend so many years.

"Alakiah, I..."

"But I believe that in time you will make the right decisions. I have faith in you. And when you do... I will be here to support you." He smiled, a smile that spoke volumes to a lonely soul. He knew Vilandra. He knew the way she worked. He'd been silently worshipping her for years. But she was always so perfect and so completely unreachable. However, more than enough times he'd offered his friendship and she'd accepted with open arms. Now, they were grown, and she still relied heavily on him, for his opinion and support. Even if he could never have her love him, the way he loved her, he could at least be sure, he would never lose her.

"Thank you." She smiled and did something neither of them expected. She reached out and grabbed his hands across the table in her own. "Thank you more than I could say in words." He nodded submissively and she let go. He picked up the pen and proceeded to write. Suddenly she knew... this man that sat in front of her, he was her Lord Malakiel, and although she could never openly admit that she had wished he was, she would silently thank the gods for sending her a gift.


posted on 7-Jun-2002 5:45:11 PM
Chapter 13:
THE BALL:

The band played in the bright, golden ballroom as all the guest arrived, an array of colors of dresses, hair, and skin filling the dance floor. Vilandra sat on her throne, her auburn hair was pinned up in loose curls, her crown sparkling and making her look perfect in the light of the chandeliers. She had on a long black and gold gown, her eyes perfectly lined and her lips shimmering with gloss. This was her celebration. She had finally figured out something the day before... she was incredible. It wasn't her personal opinion, in fact, hers was far from that. But someone she knew thought she was the world... someone who she secretly wished could be there so she would dance with him. She smiled at the thought of his sweet eyes and looked over to see Rath and Zan standing at the double doors, the entrance to the ball, secretly conversing with each other.

"Are they coming?"

"I honestly wish I knew." Rath ran his fingers through his slicked back hair and sighed loudly. He had gotten himself completely dressed and groomed in hopes that Mayala would gain courage and show up as he told her to. But the smirk she had given him had him worried. That girl was up to no good and he knew it. He looked over at Zan who's eyes were wandering desperately.

"Just, don't think about it too much." Even as Rath said it, he knew it sounded ridiculous. It was a chore NOT to think about them. Zan looked at him sarcastically and Rath had to smile. Zan looked like a different man. His dark hair was wet and combed neatly back, his tuxedo was perfectly pressed and he looked like some Cassanova about to tear up the town.

"Excuse me, sir." A small woman walked in, a long maroon dress on, perfectly painted lips and eyes with golden shimmer. Her long blonde hair was completely loose, parted on one side to fall over her face. Rath felt his heart stop and his hormones flare.

"You came." His words came out a little more enthusiastic than he hoped. He didn't want to sound desperate but the look on her face was making him crazy.

"Yes." Her blue eyes looked like a cluster of stars with golden powder and they stared into his with a demand that made him furious with passion.

"You clean up nice."

"I was just going to say the same about you." She smiled then, a wicked grin that made him kiss her. He tasted the sweetness of the fruits and smiled to himself.

"There is something I want to show you." She pulled away and took his hand as she dragged him away from the room and out into the gardens. Zan turned to see Elena, a white dress embracing her tan skin, her hair in a french braid, white roses surrounding her ears. He stood up straight, his breathing was suddenly uneven and his stomach was spinning wildly. He met her eyes and saw the brown depths lined with black and shadowed lightly with gold.

"You look absolutely incredible." She looked down shyly and then smiled, her shimmering lips catching his eyes.

"Thank you." She kept her eyes low and he reached for her chin. He softly lifted her head to face him and he locked his eyes on hers enjoying the rumble from within his chest.

"You look down to no one." She softly nodded and they stood there in silence for several seconds.

"Your Highness, I...."

"Zan. It's Zan."

"Zan... I... about yesterday...."

"Elena, there is no mistaking how I feel about you. What I would do to be with you. Anything."

"That's why I am here." He looked at her beautiful face with curiosity, unsure of what she spoke of.

"I am sorry, truly I am. But we cannot do this. We cannot get ourselves involved in something that will end in catastrophe. I do not want to allow myself to love you and then end up losing you. It hurt too much to lose you the first time." Her eyes watered as she spoke and he placed his hands on the sides of her face, craddling her face in his hands, as he moved in close enough to whisper.

"You never lost me. I lost myself. I need you Ellie. I need you like I've always needed you. And even if I didn't... I want you. Don't deny me that." His eyes searched her face for some sort expression and saw the tear fall from her eyes.

"Shhh... don't cry." He passed his thumb across her cheek and wiped the tear away. The music played softly in the background and he whispered softly in her ear. He kissed the side of her mouth tenderly, then he kissed her lips, the smell of strawberries enticing him. In between kisses, she'd try to speak, tried to change his mind, but there was no turning back. He had given his heart to her, finally realizing that she was the reason it had been so difficult to marry. He simply kissed her harder as they danced, his hands now wrapped around her waist. He pulled away to look at her and he felt himself get lost in her eyes. He was in heaven. He grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the room and into the foyer and kissed her harder, his lips were on fire, something about her igniting his chemistry.

"Elena...."

"Yes."

"The gods had greater plans for you when you were born."

"Possibly...." He stopped and ran his fingers through his hair, not getting enough of touching her.

"You have yet to tell me what you're thinking." He tried to calm his breathing to speak with her. He wanted her to be his alone, but he could not force her. She seemed amazingly quiet and he worried that he was being too aggressive.

"I cannot milord."

"Elena...."

"Zan..." She looked up into his eyes as she said his name and he smiled. It was the same tone she had used years before when they were children.

"Talk to me."

"I cannot spill my heart to you in fear that you may use it against me."

"I would never."

"And still I cannot tell you what I am thinking, for my thoughts would only worsen our situation."

"How?"

"Because then you'd know that my heart is betraying my common sense. That my heart is assured about its feeling for you, but my mind is still battling my conscience. There is so much for us to lose in doing this, and only one thing to gain. Is it really worth it? Do we even know what we are getting ourselves into?"

"No. But that is what falling in love is. You fall Elena... you don't slowly stumble upon it. It's crazy, it's intense, it's passionate. You see me Elena, the way no one else has ever seen me. You see past the crown and past my skin into my soul. I need you to complete me. I can see you everyday in secret until I can get the law passed. It would not be long, the new decree will allow us all to be together, to forget position and royalty. It will allow me to rule with compassion as well as strenght and it will allow me to love you freely."

"I would do anything if it means being with you."

"Then promise me this... by the light of Antar's three moons on the day of the red sun, you will meet me here in secret."

"That is but three nights away."

"I will be here waiting for you, my most trusted men with me, to perform the bonding ceremony and be married." Her eyes widened at the comment and she looked up into his smiling eyes.

"I love you." It was the first time she'd said it openly but he had known. She had loved him just as he had loved her and he was sure that nothing could stand in the way of him being with the love of his life.


Chapter 14:

Vilandra looked around disappointed. It was getting late and Rath and Zan had disappeared almost half an hour ago. She sighed loudly knowing that she should never had let her feelings take control. She looked up and saw a hand extended for a dance. The man before her was bowed down, black hair shiny as he looked up and smiled with his blue eyes.

"Would you dance with me your Highness?" She put her hand in Alakiah's gloved one and he spun her onto the floor. She giggled with excitement and suddenly felt all emotions melt away as she let herself feel the warmth of his arms.

"I waited all evening."

"I am sorry... the magic of the full moon took longer to work on me than on the rest of the magic seekers this evening." She smiled at his comment, and looked into his face suddenly seeing a man she had never recognized was there. He was perhaps the most handsome gentlemen in the room, his perfect poise and grace a complete amazement to her.

"Unfortunately, I cannot stay long... I do turn into a pumpkin." She laughed at this, his silly humor making her forget the rest of the crowd.

"In reality, I have work to finish and thought that I'd come and have one dance. I hope that you did not miss your Prince Charming." He smirked, an almost sad look on his face as he spoke to her. She saw him look down and she lowered her head to bring his eyes back up to hers.

"Prince Charming is not real... you are." She smiled and he felt himself lose air. She knew. She kenw and she was still dancing with him, speaking with him. She didn't promise anything, but she wasn't pushing him away. He looked at her beautiful face and felt himself fall into some dark and empty place, where he would spend his time alone, knowing things could never work between them. But his heart was refusing to let him give up so quickly.

"I may kiss you." His warning made her eyes shoot up and widen. She was not sure she was ready for that. He got closer, his scent embracing her senses and when she felt his lips on hers she felt a shiver down her spine that gave her goosebumps. It was almost magical, that moment there with him as if they were the only two on the planet. It was a soft kiss, but full of meaning and hidden passion. The music slowed and came to a stop. It was the end of their dance. He pulled away softly, letting her linger for several seconds and then pecked her lightly one last time.

"Goodnight." He whispered the words that sent her into a frenzy. He was leaving. She did not want him to leave. But she was frozen could simply nod and respond.

"Goodnight." He walked away from her and out the double doors as she stared after him. She was lost in her reverie when she felt a hand grab her wrist and turn her into a pair of strong arms. The arm wrapped itself around her waist and she was pressed tightly against his chest as they danced to the new song. She squealed at the sudden movement and then laughed until she felt the warmth against her ear.

"Vilandra...." It was a whisper that sent shivers down her whole body. She knew that voice. She'd never forget that voice. She pulled back a bit and looked into a pair of familiar green eyes. Her body stiffened and she gasped.

"Kivar." Her eyes were exploring his features, her head spinning wildly in panic.

"I came for you." His eyes were full of promises and his voice was soft and inviting. No... she would not allow herself to get caught up again. This man had killed her father. He had betrayed her trust and had caused a rift between her and her brother that took years to mend. But his eyes called back memories and feeling she'd left behind with her teenagehood.

"What are you doing here? You're supposed to be locked away...." She could barely get the words out, the lump in her throat was thickening and she was feeling like she'd pass out.

"I had to see you. I miss you Lonnie." She hadn't been called that in years and the name made her stomach flip.

"No... no! You shouldn't be here." She tried to pull away but his strong arms were embracing her and his eyes were drawing her in.

"Stop it!"

"You want me here... you have just been misled. Don't you remember how much you loved me? I gave up my life for you Lonnie. I let them capture me and take me away so that I could save you. They don't know that you allowed me into the city that night, do they? That after you and I drank our fill of love I went in and killed your father. For you. Because he wouldn't let us be. I love you." His words were like a drug. She felt herself go limp and her mind was dizzy with all sorts of thoughts.

"It was no reason to kill him. He was my father!" He placed his finger on her lips and softly followed them as he kissed her. She felt her stomach drop. This could not be happening.

"Sh. Just let me enjoy the feel of you again. Just for tonight." He knew that once she was in his arms again, she would not be able to resist him. He had seen the servant, Alakiah, the one he himself had grown up with. He would not steal her away. Alakiah was young and inexperienced. He did not have an ultimate plan. But Kivar knew exactly what he wanted and how to get it. They danced together for the rest of the night as he formulated a plan.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ava closed the door to her room and turned to close the window when she bumped into the man standing before her.

"OH! You scared me! Don't ever do that again!" She brought her hand to her chest and sat on her bed to catch her breath. He smiled and looked down at her.

"Why did you leave early?"

"I did not want to stay." She looked up suddenly, a look of jealousy in her eyes that not even she could mask.

"You saw him." It was more a statement than a question.

"He was kissing a brunette girl... a beautiful woman whom I've never seen before. His eyes were... adoring her." She looked down as her eyes filled with tears. It wasn't fair. She wanted so badly to be with Zan, to love him. But he was now head over heels for some woman she had never even seen before.

"I saw her. I've seen her before." He looked down at her, urging her to ask him with his eyes.

"You know her?" Her eyes were now full of curiosity and she stood up to be at better distance from him.

"Yes."

"Who is she?" She was in his face, her eyes were pleading for the answer to her question.

"I can get him back to you, but you must do exactly as I say."

"What is it you want me to do?"

"I need to get to Vilandra tomorrow evening. Then I need you to get someone out of the city. Can you do that?"

"Get them out? And put them where?"

"Hold them until I finish." His voice was suddenly cold and frightening. She looked down and then turned with her back to him. She was no longer sure this was a good idea.

"Ava... give me five days. All I need is five days, from now until the Moon Festival, and I can promise you a husband. But first I must get my bride." He was behind her now, his breath warm on her neck as he whispered into her ear.

"What makes you so sure he will marry me?" She didn't want to go through with his plan, but something about his comment was interesting.

"Because you will know as I do, something that may destroy him. And then you will be able to rid yourself of her, once and for all." She turned to face him then, her eyes penetrating through his own with a determination that actually turned him on.

"I can get you to Vilandra... and I can get rid of whoever is necessary. I just need to know everything. I want Zan, Kivar. And I will do anything in my power to get him."

"Don't worry. I have a plan."
posted on 15-Jun-2002 8:45:58 PM
Chapter 15:

He stared at her as she stirred the thick brew in the kettle. The steam surrounded the kitchen, the light was dim, her hair up, with strands falling and curling with the humididty. She was strangely quiet, normally he'd hear her hum to herself, or perhaps sing to herself. She had a beautiful voice. She stirred faster and faster until a thick cloud of smoke grew and exploded out of the pot. She stood away from the kettle and slammed down the large wooden spoon.

"No... no! NO NO NO!" She moved further and further away until she fell into his arms.

"Shh... Maya..."

"AH! Oh... Rath, you frightened me." She looked up at him, her blue eyes wide with terror.

"What's the matter?"

"You startled me. I wasn't expecting you, that's all." She lowered her eyes for a second, looked around and then wiped away the sweat from her forehead.

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing. What are you doing here?"

"I came to say thank you. For coming the other night, of the ball. For spending the night with me." She smiled and sighed loudly. Rath met her eyes trying to decode what the emotion was hiding behind her eyes.

"It was a pleasure. Thank you." She got on her toes and kissed his lips softly as he felt his heart break. He had come to find out once and for all what he had with her. He just couldn't get her out of his mind. During the day he saw her and they met constantly in the late afternoons. He dreamt with her at night and now that he felt her near him, he could feel himself losing his common sense. He was doing exactly what he promised himself not to. He was falling for her.

"Mayala... I... I have to tell you something. I've been thinking."

"Oh great." He gave her a look and she laughed, a laugh that made him want to listen to her forever. "I am just kidding. Go ahead."

"I love you Mayala. I know that I can't and that makes me love you even more. But this whole thing... this whole screwed up situation, it could never work. You and I are just too... different. I'm afraid for us... for me. For what I might feel. Because I know whenever I'm around you... I lose myself. I become this man that I've always wanted to be and it's really scary." She pulled away and looked into his eyes, the laughter suddenly gone from her own.

"Please... Rath, whatever you are going to say, whether it be good or it be bad, don't say it."

"Just hear me out Maya..."

"No! Just don't say it. It will make it less painful if you don't say it. It's happening. I knew it would and it is."

"What are you talking about?"

"The dream."

"Mayala?" Rath's eyes mirrored the confusion she held in her own. She went into a drawer and pulled out a glimmering blue and purple bottle that was cold despite the steam.

"This is a mixture Alakiah brought for me from one of his trips. It was intented to be used for fun, to experiment with. I was mixing them last night after we'd met in the garden. Once I had gotten it to what I thought was perfect, I tasted it." Her eyes watered and he suddenly felt a knot tie in his stomach. This could not be good.

"Maya, what happened?"

"I'm clairvoyant Rath. And I saw things... things that really scared me."

"Maybe it was just a nightmare."

"No. No, Rath it felt real."

"What did you see?" She looked away and her tears began to fall. His adrenaline was pumping too fast now, his mind racing madly with thoughts of what could have gone wrong. She could have poisoned herself, or worse. "Mayala... what did you see?" He grabbed her arm and turned her to face him. Her eyes were red with tears and pained with agony.

"I saw the end."

"What?"

"I don't want to say it."

"Just say it."

"No... no please." He had her by both elbows now, shaking her back to sanity.

"Mayala! Speak to me!"

"In approximately twelve days, after the celebration of the Moon Festival and the crowning of the royal court for the Golden moon, you will all die." She erupted into tears as his face fell in shock. "An all out war will break on Antar beginning with the betrayal of one of the royal family. Then we will all be killed. ALL of us. Including Alakiah, Elena, and myself."

"No." He stepped back, not wanting to believe what she was saying.

"I want to forget! To pretend that I don't know! I keep trying to undo the spell... but I can't! It won't go away! It's haunting me Rath! I close my eyes to sleep and I see it!" Her eyes were wild as her hair flew all over her face. It was driving her crazy. He slowly stepped up to her and she collapsed into his arms. Her small body was trembling in his arms and he held her tightly trying to assure her of something he himself did not know.

"It won't... it won't happen. We won't let it happen. Look at me." He raised her head so that their eyes could meet. "I promise you that nothing bad will happen to us. I won't let it. Now come on, I know someone who could help you release those bad thoughts." He wiped away her tears as she nodded in agreement and he raised his hand over the kettle to wipe out the flames.

Chapter 16:

Zan paced the floor nervously. Rath's news about Mayala's predictions, and the few things he saw as he tried to erase her memories troubled him. Could it be true? He remembered how they felt. Mayala had been terrified. The images too vivid to ignore. But with everything going so well, he could not bring himself to believe it was true. He was torn between what he saw and what he felt, and he knew that battle all too well. He also knew that sometimes it was what you didn't see that could take you by surprise. A war would not do Antar well, especially now, with the law going through. Equality was making its way through the galaxy and Antar was no exeption. Then soon enough, he could make his relationship with Elena public. Elena. Just the thought of her sent him into another nervous frenzy. He looked in the mirror and fixed his tie. He made sure his hair was back and that he looked neat. He turned around and was faced with Vilandra in an elegant red gown.

"You look beautiful as always." He smiled and she smiled back, a smile that seemed to be missing her general glow.

"Are you feeling alright?"

"Yes. Just a little tired."

"You have not slept well in almost three nights, Vilandra. Are you falling ill?"

"No. Well, perhaps. I've just been a little troubled that's all. I mean, I am losing my brother." She looked down and then back up into his eyes. He gave her a reassuring look and got closer.

"I promise you, there is no way you could ever lose me. You're family. You're all I have, and I am here for you no matter what. I may be younger, but I am King... it must serve to know something." He raised her chin so that their eyes could meet and she laughed, knowing what he meant.

"Actually, Zan... there is something that I want to tell you..." She looked up into his eyes and stared into them, an uncertain expression in her eyes.

"Zan... at the ball..."

"She is ready your Majesty." Alakiah walked in, his hair slicked back, his blue eyes shimmering in the moonlight. Zan breathed in nervously. He looked at Alakiah and then back at Vilandra.

"Give me a moment Alakiah, tell her I will be there. Are Rath and Mayala ready?"

"Yes sir. Everything is in order."

"Thank you." Zan smiled and Alakiah nodded and looked up at Vilandra before he turned to make his way out. She felt her heart begin to ache from the look. He loved her, she knew it and she knew she loved him back. But now things were complicated. Even if the law was passed and went through, now there was another factor. Now there was a third person who could make it impossible to feel anything but fear. Zan was awaiting some sort of response from her as she watched Alakiah walk out. But she no longer remembered her words. She could not say them.

"Vilandra."

"It is your wedding night. Let us not fret about little things." She put on her best smile and placed her arm in between her brother's. (Begin listening to Everything by Lifehouse - it enhances the moment! =] ) They walked out of the changing rooms and into the gardens in the dim lights of midnight. The candles were surrounding the path that was already lined with white roses. Zan smiled as he stood next to the Royal Ambassador/Justice.

"I could not thank you enough Serena."

"But the honor is mine, Your Majesty." She smiled and with a nod of her head, the ceremony began. Alakiah's cousin played the violin softly as Alakiah and Vilandra made their way down the aisle. She placed her arm through his and smiled up at him as he looked down adoringly at her. They reached Serena, and Alakiah bent down to kiss her hand as they went seperate ways. Mayala and Rath appeared next, Mayala in a blue gown that made her look like fairy from the night sky. They walked slowly, each step perfectly synchronized as Rath stared at her passionately. As he bent down, he kissed her hand and on his way up could not resist to kiss her lips softly as well, as if a simple second apart would drive him to insanity. Zan looked away from them smiling and looked back up to the garden entrance. His smile slowly faded as he saw his young bride, her dress long and white at the doorway. He knew at that moment that his heart had stopped beating. She looked down shyly, then back up at him, her dark eyes shining, framed by dark curls and white flowers. She looked like an angel dressed all in white in the dark night. She slowly walked up to him and he tried to control his breathing. There would never be a more perfect moment. His eyes never left hers as his adoration grew for her with every second she was near. Finally, she stood before him and he could do nothing else but reach out for both of her hands.

"The moon is your strongest witness. Tonight, you will declare your love for each other, and bond in a way that the gods gifted only to Antarians. The bonding ceremony is holy to our people, a ceremony that unites two souls across time and space. A love that does not see race, or people, or social class. It is a love that is pure and honest. A love that can live on eternally. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." Elena smiled as she looked into Zan's eyes. Everything she had always felt was expressed in the depths of his eyes and their future was now written in the stars. They were bonded. He lifted her hand and kissed it, then he slowly placed his ring on her finger. He looked into her eyes, the golden flame of the candles enhancing his honey colored ones.

"From now until forever I am yours. In body, mind, heart, and soul." She tore her eyes away from him, a feeling of completion reaching her, and she kneeled, kissing his hands.

"From now until forever I am yours. In body, mind, heart, and soul." She stood up and Serena smiled.

"You have now completed the bonding ceremony. You must kiss to complete the pact." Zan smiled and Elena looked up shyly. The moment his lips touched hers, they began to glow with a bright light that seemed to have shot out from the moon into him and then from his lips, into her. Everyone looked on in awe at the magic before them and Serena's eyes widened. This was not just magic, but it was prophecy.

"It is not often that one finds someone they can love for an eternity. But for one to find their destined one, their soulmate, is even more unlikely. Tonight, we have witnessed the bonding of two souls that have bonded before, in another time, in another life; and that will no doubt bond again. I wish you luck."

Zan smiled and thanked everyone for being there, then they quietly made their way back into the palace. Mayala hugged Elena tightly and cried.

"I love you. You know that. And I am so proud of you." She kissed her friend goodnight, and bid goodbye. Rath hugged Zan and congratulated him before he made his way upstairs with Mayala. He would not leave her alone for the night. Alakiah also hugged and congratulated Elena and bowed in honor and respect.

"We are but brothers Alakiah, you need not bow anymore." Zan smiled and brought Alakiah in for a hug. Finally, Vilandra hugged her brother tightly, her tears streaming down her face.

"I love you Zan."

"I love you too." He smiled, and hugged his sister tightly, letting his arms comfort her. "I must go. I shall see you first thing in the morning." He smiled and kissed her forehead. He reached out for Elena's hand and picked her up as he headed to his private chamber. Vilandra stood in the empty foyer and looked around sadly.

"That's it. I'm all alone."

"I'm still here." She turned to see Alakiah behind her, his honest eyes searching hers, as if he knew something he shouldn't.

"For how long?"

"For as long as you need me." He wrapped his hand around her waist and walked her to her bed chamber. He helped her into bed and covered her with the blanket. He kissed her forehead softly and looked into her eyes.

"You're beautiful, you know that?" He got up to walk out and turned off the light at the door.

"Wait! Please, don't leave yet. Just wait until I fall asleep." He turned back around and closed the door behind him. He pulled up a chair and sat in front of her bed, and he ran his fingers through her hair as she slowly drifted off to sleep for the first time in days.

posted on 25-Jun-2002 7:59:46 AM
Chapter 17:

"I must go." The pair of dark brown eyes held a shine of pure happiness. She had never felt more...loved.

"Now? But the sun has not come up to allow me the pleasure of looking upon your beautiful face." She lowered her eyes shyly as he raised her chin to meet his eyes. She would never get used to his comments. He treated her with a tenderness she'd only dreamed of. His soft voice against her ear, and his delicate kisses against her jaw line were reinforcing her second option, to simply stay and forget any consequences.

"If they find me, they will murder me."

"I cannot see them finding you, for it is not even light out and the King's chambers are off limits until the late morning." His eyes held a playfulness that reminded her so much of their youth and of the passion they'd always held for each other.

"If I leave now, then it will be ever sooner when I will find myself in your arms again."

"If you don't leave at all, we would not have to wait." She smiled at him, her eyebrows raised as if laughing at a persistant child. He laughed out loud, a rich, deep laugh that made her body tingle. The sound of sheer happiness that radiated from him sent her into a different reality. It was not possible that she was there. That they had been married and had enjoyed a honeymoon. That he looked at her so passionately, desire obvious in his body language, all because of her, a servant girl.

"I love you." It was so random, and yet his timing was perfect. Her expression grew serious as she saw him prop himself up on his elbow to look down at her on the bed. She held the sheets up to her shoulders, but he was lying before her, his chest chiseled and muscular in all its glory. He reached his spare hand over to her and placed her loose hair behind her ear to see her face clearly. He loved her face. It held so much promise, safety, comfort, and love. Her eyes looked at him in a way he never thought anyone would look at him. He leaned in closer and kissed her lips softly to reinforce his words.

"And I love you..." She whispered to him and kissed him again, the taste of him now seeming familiar and desirable to her senses. "And yet I must leave you." She turned to get up and suddenly she found herself face to face with honey colored eyes. He had grabbed her waist and dragged her so that she was directly next to him, their eyes now looking into each other, neither wanting to back down.

"I cannot bear to wake up without your warmth beside me." He had this way with words that made her stomach flutter. The butterflies just didn't seem to go away and she felt like a school girl.

"It is the strong desire to be near you that will allow me to finish my chores quickly, in order to catch even a glimpse of his royal highness."

"You need to learn to call me Zan."

"Ok... Zan." She smiled, that sweet and vivrant smile he loved so much about her and finally she stood up, blanket wrapped around her small frame as she made her way to the bathing room. He watched her leave and sighed loudly as he dropped his head on his pillow. He closed his eyes as images of her face filled his mind, his senses suddenly alive, memories of her touch flooding his system. God, he loved her. When he reopened his eyes, she stood before him, a simple maid's dress on. Even with that, a glow seemed to be radiating from her. She held a look in her eyes and she quickly hid it as she saw his eyes fly open.

"What is it?" He looked up at her, unsure, and she leaned down to kiss him quickly, but softly on the lips. She pulled away and he looked into her sad eyes. "Elena?"

"I fear that this may not work out for us." Suddenly, his face changed and he sat up. She sat next to him on the bed and played nervously with the hunter green silk sheets.

"There is nothing that could keep us apart."

"Except our entire system."

"Love is blind... it sees nothing but the emotions of the heart."

"If anyone were to find out... things could go very, very wrong."

"I would not let anyone lay a hand on you."

"It is not that, that I am afraid of." She looked down and then she looked back up into his eyes. He was so concerned, the look on his face serious and comforting. He knew she loved him as much as he loved her, but he would not have regrets or doubts about their perfect union the night after their wedding.

"Then what is it, my love?"

"I am afraid of being deprived of seeing you again. Touching you, kissing you. Speaking with you, and understanding you without a word. I am afraid of losing all that I hold dear in this meaningless life of mine. If I lose you..."

"Shh... speak no more of this. You cannot lose a person who's soul is tied with your own and who's heart is in your hand. It is simply impossible." He kissed her softly again and she got up to walk out. As she reached the doors she looked back one more time and smiled, the look of her King at that early hour of the morning made her want to giggle with contentment. She closed the door behind her and quietly tiptoed down the hallway. She went to turn into the ballroom when she felt a strong hand grab hold of her wrist and place a hand over her mouth.

"We have to get out of here now. Don't scream." Elena turned to see Mayala, a terrified look in her eyes, demanding that they leave.

"Maya... what are you...?"

"Sh!! They can hear us!" Mayala was trembling now, a fear was in her eyes that Elena had never seen before, a look that purely screamed tht something was wrong. She ran after her friend down the ballroom floor and into the open air of the morning. The light of the sun was just beginning to appear over the horizon and Elena was enjoying the scent of the morning dew, if Mayala would just slow down and calm herself. They reached the front door of the cabin and suddenly the door flew open as Alakiah held out three suitcases and closed the door behind him.

"WHAT is going on?!?" Elena felt her head begin to spin and was frustrated with her friends for their strange behavior.

"Ask questions later Ellie... we must go!" Alakiah picked up the bags and looked ahead and suddenly his face dropped. Mayala recognized his expression too clearly as she and Elena turned to see what he was staring at. In front of them stood a beautiful blonde, her eyes icy and cold, two huge men beside her.

"And where did you think you were going?" There was a mock in her voice and Elena felt a sense of familiarity. She had seen her before... but where?

"Grab them." The two men grabbed the three of them with a small fight, and soon they found themselves tied up inside of a royal transporter.

"What could you possibly want with us? We are simply servants." Alakiah tried to reason with the woman, figuring that if she was as smart as she was beautiful, she would rethink the situation. She looked at them and for a second there was a strange expression in her eyes. It was something along the lines of pain and regret. Just as quickly it was gone, replaced again with the icy stare.

"My orders are to kill you, for treason against the Antarian government."

"WHAT!?" Alakiah could not believe what she was saying... she wasn't even an Antarian, why would she care?

"And you... you are to be kept alive for intense questioning and then... imprisoned. Permanently." Her eyes held a look that frightened them as she spoke in particular to Elena. Suddenly, she had an image in her mind, and she remembered. She had seen this woman at the ball the first night. She had been with Zan... all over Zan actually.

"Whatever I have done to offend you milady, I am sure it can be undone." Her head spun around and her eyes seemed to hold a death threat for Elena.

"You turned his heart against me. There is no way that can be undone. Now I must play by my own rules... and unfortunately, my rules are not always fair." Mayala gasped loudly and both Alakiah and Elena couldn't help but look at her terrified expression. She looked like she'd seen a ghost. Alakiah tried to calm her down but to no avail.

"Mayala...?" She turned to look at Elena, tears suddenly in her eyes.

"It has begun." Her voice was trembling and Elena was beginning to feel her stomach rise to her throat.

"What has begun?" She tried to meet eyes with her friend and when she finally did, she wished she hadn't. The angst in her stare was enough to kill a person. She shed a tear and then looked at Elena head on.

"The fall...."
posted on 26-Jun-2002 11:57:15 AM
Chapter 18:

"WHERE IS SHE!?" Rath's temper was flaring, more so than usual, and the entire castle seemed to be in an uproar.

"I do not know milord! We have been searching for her for almost an hour." Some servants passed and walked around as things were being carried and calls were being made. Vilandra suddenly came in from her chamber, her eyes still groggy from sleep, her heart empty at waking up without Alakiah. She missed him the way she missed sleep and it was strange to feel like she needed him around her in order to wake up or sleep soundly. She walked into the chaos, her mind spinning in confusion, and she saw Rath throwing out orders.

"Everything alright?"

"They're gone." His distraught eyes betrayed his calm and demanding stance. Something serious was up, and Rath was beginning to lose it. She stepped up closer to him and put her arm on his shoulder.

"Who's gone?"

"Alakiah, Mayala, and Elena. They all disappeared sometime this morning. No one has seen or heard from them." Vilandra's eyebrows furrowed in deep thought and she looked at Rath with an interested face.

"Perhaps they just went to spend the day together elsewhere." Vilandra felt she was trying to convince herself she was right. But something was wrong, and she knew it.

"What is going on?" Zan stepped into the room, his eyes looking troubled, matching Vilandra's sudden worry.

"Something is wrong... very wrong."

"What do you mean?" Zan looked at Rath's expression and felt his heart drop into his chest. This couldn't be good. He felt the sudden urge to be with Elena, to be comforted by her eyes.

"Do you remember what we spoke about yesterday? What Mayala had come to you for?" Rath's eyes were burning into Zan's and Vilandra watched in confused interest.

"Gentlemen, what are we talking about? And don't I get any say in what's going on? I have someone I care about missing too, remember?" She was beginning to get frustrated. They seemed to be keeping secrets and she hated feeling left out.

"Where is Elena?" Rath looked at Vilandra and then they looked back at Zan. How were they supposed to tell him that his new wife was now missing? Rath opened his mouth to speak when suddenly an unfamiliar voice broke in.

"Your Highness Zan, Rath, and milady Vilandra." They turned to see a small blonde, her curly hair bouncing as she curtsied and then got back up to meet them with big blue eyes.

"Ava?" Zan was now confused, not exactly sure how he lost control so quickly in the morning.

"I am here with news." She had on a bright smile, but it was a smile that made Vilandra uncomfortable. It seemed to be holding secrets. She smiled at her as if she knew something she shouldn't. And at this point, feeling vulnerable was not on her to do list.

"Speak."

"The law that you requested was turned down by the court of high priests and judges. Overall, all of our planets agreed that it would not work and that the idea is too rebellious." Zan felt his blood begin to boil. They would NOT turn him down. They couldn't! He was married to the woman he loved. So what if she was not royalty? He felt everyone deserved the love of their life regardless of position.

"How do you know this?" Zan stepped up close to Ava and she looked up at him with her strong eyes.

"I have a distant uncle on the committee who told me the idea was shut out even before it was considered. They said your ideas were too... youthful. That you did not have the best interest of the planet at heart, but perhaps your own." She could see his jaw tighten and his eyes were beginning to cloud over in anger.

"Your Highness... if I may say so, I believe your idea was a genius idea. Imagine what we could accomplish, the peace we could have were the whole planet treated as equals! It would change the universe! Your name would go down in history..."

"I am not in it for those reasons."

"Oh?"

"It is my heart that tells me that all people have been created equal. The gods are not merciless. They grant wishes to even those most undeserving. Any person that can breathe and feel as the King does, is equal to the King." Zan saw a hint of an emotion he couldn't recognize in her eyes. It looked like anger, but he could not be sure. Had he offended her?

"Thank you Ava, for your information. It is appreciated more than I could say." She curled her lips in a wider smile and her eyes seemed to be smiling at him as well.

"As a thank you..."

"Your Highness!" Zan turned to see one of his servants handing him a cloth. It was a shimmering white cloth, no bigger than his hand, but it was obviously ripped off with great force. He closed his fingers against it and suddenly felt a flash of images in his mind. He saw Elena struggling against someone and then saw her fall to the floor with the force of a blue light. Two strong male hands picked her up brutely and as she was dragged along, her wedding dress ripped. His eyes shot open wide and he looked back at Rath and Vilandra. He looked back at Ava and his eyes seemed suddenly panicked.

"I am sorry Miss Ava, I must excuse myself. I seem to have a serious conflict in the castle this morning, and you seem to have caught me at a bad moment. Please, keep in touch, I would like to continue conversation on the hearings." He turned quickly around and with Rath and Vilandra they quickly and mysteriously walked away to the hallway.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"So what you are saying is you saw what happened to them?"

"Yes."

"They were taken? By who? Who would want to do that?" Vilandra was visibly panicked, more so than they had to be, and Zan was worrying about her sanity.

"I do not know. We must split up, and spend the day doing our own research. Whatever is necessary to find them, must be done. Do not let anyone find out why you are there or asking questions, simply find your way around it. Be careful, we don't know if they took them, trying to get to us. And Rath, please don't lose your head. If you think you are on to something or someone, find a way to contact me." Zan looked over at Rath who was shaking his head.

"Rath, I am serious."

"I know! Let's just get on with this!" They decided on a meeting time, about four hours later and then they split up. Vilandra made her way to her bed chamber to see if Alakiah left any belongings behind. She walked in and closed the door and suddenly felt a strong hand pull her to a shadowy figure. She gasped and was suddenly being crushed with a kiss. When she pulled away, she was met with bright green eyes that made her nervous.

"Oh my... what... what are you doing here? You aren't supposed to be here? How did you manage to get in to the city gate?"

"I have love's cloak to hide me from their eyes."

"Shakespeare."

"Vilandra... I have not been able to sleep since I last saw you." She felt his hands all over her, on her back, in her hair, on her face. His eyes were fiery and passionate and his kisses were distracting any thought that made sense.

"What are you doing here?"

"I need you to help me."

"No... no I can't."

"I know where they are." Suddenly, Vilandra's brown eyes looked up in a panic. The bad feeling she had before was now confirmed. But it was worse than she expected.

"No... please tell me you didn't."

"Oh Vilandra... you should know better than that. When I need something, I work any means I have to, to get it. And no one would listen to me. No one takes me seriously. Is it because I just escaped from prison? Do they think I'm crazy Lonnie? I don't want to have to kill them. I know how broken your brother would be if I killed the small brunette. I know everything Lonnie. Everything." By now, he was grabbing her strongly by the shoulders and her breathing was completely broken and ragged in fear.

"You can join me. You can give up on this ridiculous lifestyle and become my wife. And together, we can rule Antar the way we want. But we'd have to get rid of your brother."

"YOU CANNOT MAKE ME KILL MY BROTHER!" Her whole body was shaking, memories of her father's death surfacing, the guilt and nightmares she dealt with suddenly flowing back.

"I knew you would be difficult. But I know you Lonnie. I know your heart belongs to no one but me. I know how your brother has never expressed any kind of care for you. He's always too involved in himself. But this is your chance to shine. To be the woman the gods intended. The strong leader who will lead this planet to a revolution." He put his hands on her face and wiped away her tears.

"Please leave me alone."

"Close your eyes Lonnie." She was shaking so violently, her eyes were already closed. Suddenly, Ava stepped out from the dark depths and closed her eyes. Vilandra began to scream and the strong male hand covered her mouth tightly. Finally her eyes rolled back and she opened them to reveal large black depths.

"You will help us."

"Yes."

"Why Lonnie?"

"Because I love you."

"And Miss Ava here will be your new best friend. She will be your guardian and protector. But what must you do?"

"Keep the abduction a secret. I do not know who did it."

"And what else?"

"Kill Zan."

"Perfect." Kivar stepped up to Vilandra and kissed her long and hard.

"Kill him?" Ava felt her heart stop.

"It is the only way."

"NO! No... I will marry him! I will make him change his ways!"

"How do you intend to do that?"

"I'll threaten him! I'll tell him that I know where they are! That it's all my fault! That my jealousy got away with me! They will be left unharmed as long as he gives himself completely to me! But DO NOT kill him Kivar!" He walked up to Ava and placed his arms comfortingly around her.

"Shhh... it will all work out. If you can get him to listen to you, then good. But if not, then he is not a risk I am willing to take." He leaned down and kissed Ava, as Vilandra stood straight in the room in a trance. Kivar snapped and Vilandra awoke from her trance as he was walking towards her.

"Hey baby."

"Lonnie?"

"Oh God, I missed you." She threw herself on him and their kisses were passionate and full of desire. Ava watched amazed as the normally in control Vilandra turned into a completely different person.

"It sure is nice to have my Lonnie back."

"Yea, well it sure is nice to be back." She pulled his neck in for a hard kiss and felt the rush of evil in her veins. Finally, Vilandra was back.

posted on 27-Jun-2002 7:30:12 AM
Chapter 19:

"We have to get out of here. We have to warn them. I can only imagine the horrible things they have planned! It isn't just her you know! It's Kivar! He is the mastermind behind all this! I can assure you that she got roped into this, regardless of how much we may not be able to stand her, she isn't a mean person!" Elena was pacing nervously around the cell they were in, and Alakiah and Mayala sat off on the floor. Alakiah was covering his face with his hands and Mayala sat biting her nails in nervousness.

"Maybe... maybe I could contact Zan. We have this connection now, I mean we bonded, remember?"

"Elena, you're babbling. And I don't think that talking about your bonding ceremony is going to help us any here, considering it is a large part of the reason we are here." Alakiah got up and went over to Elena and wrapped his arms around her. "Come on, just sit with us. Maybe if we think hard enough, we can think of something." He brought her back with him to where he and Mayala sat and the look on her face scared them.

"Maya? Are you alright?" Elena leaned down suddenly concerned with her friend. "Maya? Please talk to me." Mayala's deep blue eyes looked up, a confused and empty expression lying there. She was biting on her nails nervously rocking slowly back and forth.

"Mayala? Come on, you have not said a word since we were taken. Please, say something so that we know that you are not in shock or brain dead in there." He expected her normal smile, that smile that lit up the room, but instead her empty eyes looked into his own blue ones, a flash of fear ripping through them making him shiver.

"I didn't stop it." The words were dry and seemed to be coming from a different person. Her normal singsong voice was gone, replaced by a tired voice that trembled in fear.

"Stop what?"

"Do not blame yourself! It is NOT your fault!" Elena got on her knees to be at eye level with the woman she considered a sister. Suddenly her eyes began water as she saw Mayala break out in tears.

"I didn't know when it was supposed to happen! I tried to warn them, I did! But they didn't believe me! Now we're here and the situation is probably worse than I could've imagined. It is ALL my fault! Don't you get it? This is it! The fall of the house of Antar! The royal family's destruction is at hand and it all started with us! If I had not suggested we go to the idiotic ball, none of this would have happened! If I had not been so persistent... or maybe if I would have just left it at that one night, rather than trying to pursue something that should never have happened in the first place!" Mayala was hysterical now, the walls she'd built up were quickly crumbling in front of them as they saw the guilt and pain she was enduring on her own. Elena hugged her friend tightly and Alakiah was sitting back in awe, the true meaning of her words hanging in the air.

"You cannot blame yourself for something that was inevitable." Elena pulled away from Mayala, her hands on her shoulders, so they could look into each other's eyes.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that I do not think you had anything to do with what is happening. This is it Mayala. Our purpose. The gods had a plan for us and it is up to us to fulfill that. You were right all along. We were not meant to be slaves, but perhaps soldiers. Maybe we can save the house of Antar."

"Woah, woah, wait a second. We are not going to run out of here! Elena, I think you are losing your mind. Even if we did get out of here alive, what could we possibly do to save the revolution that is uprising? Nothing! We are but three slaves who happened to get ourselves a little too involved with the royal family. In public they would never admit to knowing us! They can't! So what exactly do you suppose we do?" Alakiah was now in the small circle the girls had formed and was trying to make sense of what seemed to be an illogical situation.

"Do you trust me?" Her face was stern and determined. He had not seen Elena like this since her parents had died years before. She had been determined to get Mayala to stop crying, much like now. He sighed loudly and nodded.

"Of course."

"Well then, just listen. I have a plan."

"A plan?"

"Yes. Don't worry Maya... we're getting out of here."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zan had made several rounds of the castle, the cabin, the gardens, the expanse of the castle and even once or twice in the main city in disguise. He had seen no trace of them anywhere. It was as if they had fallen off the face of the planet. But he could feel Elena. He couldn't quite explain how, but he felt a presence in the back of his mind, like a distant voice calling to him, assuring him she was fine. He was amazed at how strong his heart beat whenever he thought he had found something. He had always loved Elena. Had adored her from afar knowing that it was forbidden to be with her. But he had never imagined she returned the emotions. As he thought, he made his way back to his chambers. He'd been searching for three hours and his body was beginning to fail him. He desperately felt like he needed a nap. He looked at his bed and his heart broke. Just hours ago, she'd been lying on his bed, in all her beauty, looking lovingly at him. She had promised to see him just hours later. But it was the last time they'd seen each other. He shouldn't have let her leave.

He walked over to the bed and sat, running his hand across the silk sheets. Suddenly, he closed his eyes in pain as he felt a strange feeling take over his mind. He looked up, shaking the sudden jolt out of his head and felt his breath catch in his throat.

"Elena?"

"Zan!" He looked around the room to make sure he wasn't going crazy. He looked back at her and she was closer, her deep brown eyes looking into his pleadingly.

"What... I mean where are you?"

"We were kidnapped! Zan listen to me carefully ok? Be careful. They are out to get you!"

"Who?"

"Just listen! Please. I can't hold on to this much longer."

"This?" She walked up closer to him and cupped his face in her hands. She kissed him softly on the lips, but it felt strange, almost ghostly.

"I am not really here. We're communicating through astral projection."

"That's impossible."

"No. No, Zan our bond is so strong that I can tap into your mind. You could do the same to me, which is why I felt you earlier. You were frantic... you were searching." She gave him half a smile and he kissed her harder.

"So where are you?"

"We're not on the planet."

"WHAT!?"

"We've been transported somewhere else, I'm not exactly sure where, but I know that it's her planet."

"Who's?" His eyes were full of curiousity and suddenly she began to fade. He felt panic rising in his chest.

"Wait! Wait, Elena who?"

"She's... princess... you... ball... Av..." She sounded like she was being cut off by another voice in his subconscious. He tried to fight it, but he couldn't understand her, only certain words came through. He felt his eyes flutter open and someone was shaking him awake, talking to him.

"Zan." He looked up at saw Rath staring at him with an unbelievable face.

"I thought you were searching!?" Zan felt himself coming back to reality and shook his head. He had not even noticed he'd fallen asleep. Was that all a dream? No, he could still feel the strange ghostly kisses on his lips. She had been there and had tried to tell him where they were. But she herself did not know. He looked at Rath and his eyes were wide.

"I think she tried to give me a hint."

"What?" Rath looked like he was bored and frustrated with Zan and about ready to walk out mid-conversation.

"We connected. Rath, it's the bonding ceremony. It does something to your bodies. It allows us to be literally like one. I can feel her emotions, which is why I was so troubled this morning. I can sense her presence in my mind. She can see things when we kiss, as can I. She can project her image in my brain when I am sleeping, and actually speak to me! It's amazing!" Rath was suddenly curious about such a connection.

"Can that help us find them?"

"She told me they're not on the planet. They are all still alive, but being held prisoners on the captivator's planet. She tried to tell me who it was, but you managed to wake me up!"

"So now it's my fault?!" Rath's eyes were jumping in fury. He was too riled up and needed to calm down.

"No! No, and we are not going to argue. Come on, I think I may know where to begin." He and Rath walked out of the room in a rush and into the main hallway. They walked into the main foyer of the castle, where the chaos had been earlier. The activity had dwindled slightly but there were still a number of people trying to get things done quickly. They reached the other end of the castle and went into the ballroom that lead out to the gardens. They were talking to each other when suddenly a voice interrupted them.

"Your Highness, King Zan. May I have a word with you?" Ava stood, her dress shaping her petite body, her curly blonde hair falling in loose cascades over her shoulder. They stopped to look back at her and Zan sighed loudly.

"Miss Ava, I am very sorry, but I told you that I have a situation of desperate measure that needs to be dealt with...."

"It is very important."

"Look, he said that..." Rath began to raise his voice as she reached her hand out.

"I was not speaking to you." Rath's body went flying across the room and out the door and then the door slammed closed and bolted shut. She turned back to Zan, her eyes suddenly looking a bit psychotic. She was losing her mind.

"Ava... what...?"

"I told you we needed to speak. You have been ignoring me since the night of the ball and I don't like it!"

"That's no reason for you to lose your head! I can have you killed for that little act you just pulled!" His eyes were narrowing in anger and he felt his hands come up in fists at his side.

"You wouldn't kill me." His eyes widened at her confidence. Obviously poorly spent, or so he thought.

"I wouldn't?"

"No. Not if you want to see your little wife again." He felt his back tense and his head began to spin. Had she just said that?

"What are you talking about?"

"I have them. All three of them. If you ever want to see them alive... her alive, I have a couple of things that I want first." He walked up to her, his rage was fuming and rushing through his blood stream. His jaw was clenched tight and he was standing face to face with Ava, his dark eyes looking down at her own blue ones with a look of hatred. He saw her flinch once, but then her eyes held a defiance in them and she didn't back down. He grabbed her neck and held her up in the air.

"Do you know I could kill you right now? Then what?"

"I have someone who is expecting me this afternoon at seven. If I am not there, they will kill them. So go ahead, but I doubt you would want to do that." She spit the words out with little breath as her face began to redden and suddenly he understood Elena's words. She was the princess he had been with at the ball the first night they'd seen each other. She had tried to say Ava but had been cut off. He tried to keep himself under control and set her down, letting go of her and she rubbed on her neck as he left red finger marks.

"What do you want?" He practically had a growl in his voice and she suddenly held no allure whatsoever. Her blue eyes simply looked icy, her blonde hair a betrayal to any observer. He could not imagine how he had ever felt anything for this woman, this woman who was willing to kill in order to get what she wanted.

"I want you Zan. I want you to fulfill that promise you made me. We were supposed to get married! And then you find this... this slave! And you think she's better than me! Please! I loved you! So now, you will marry me regardless. And I want it to happen tomorrow night."

"Or else."

"Or else you'll be killed."

"By you?" He held almost a mockery in his voice and she felt her blood boil with anger.

"No. By Kivar." His eyes shot open and he felt his heart stop. That name had not been mentioned in his presence since his father had passed, but it still sent shivers down his spine.

"Kivar is in prison." She smiled, a smile that was wicked and uncaring and made his stomach turn.

"That is what you would want to think. But he isn't. He is very much out and free. And we have made a bargain I could not refuse. So what do you say? You either die in the hands of your father's killer... or you marry me. Of course, if you deny me the privilege, your friends all die too. Except perhaps Elena. She'd probably spend the rest of her life as a tortured prisoner. It's a lot more fun than just killing her, don't you think? SO... what do you say?" She raised her eyebrows questioningly and heard his groan.

"I will begin the preparations this afternoon. But you have to let them go. Tonight! Do you undertsand?! Ava... I said do you understand!?" He grabbed her shoulders and shook her for emphasis and she nodded.

"Of course. But she is banned from Antar. So you will not be able to see her. I will send her to one of the distant planets... and you are never to see her again." She kissed his lips suddenly and he pulled away at the disgust he felt. She walked away and reached her hand out so that the door she had bolted flew open and Rath came flying in, his previous attempts to break through obviously not working. Rath stood himself up and went after her when Zan stopped him.

"Let go of me! I'm going to KILL her!"

"Rath! STOP! She had them!" Rath slowed down and looked at Zan incredulously.

"What?"

"She is releasing them this afternoon, but we may never see them again."

"Even more reason to kill her!"

"If she's not back at a certain time, they will kill them regardless. Now you have to calm down. This is what we'll do. We'll get some of our soldiers to go to all the planets in our system. They will keep watch out for them. I'm sure she won't keep them together, an attempt to return would be too simple."

"Return here?"

"Yes. They're banned. You and I have to keep our army on look out."

"She's planning an attack?"

"No. But Kivar is."

"Kivar?!! I thought that he was in jail?"

"Not anymore. Come on, I have to plan a wedding." Rath stopped in his tracks.

"WHAT? You JUST got married like last night! That's part of the problem remember?"

"It will give us time to find them and bring them back and get rid of Ava and Kivar. Then we can get Alakiah back to Vilan..." Zan felt his stomach turn and his eyes widened in panic.

"Vilandra!" Rath and Zan both knew about Vilandra's earlier enfatuation with Kivar and the consequences it lead to. They never spoke of it, honestly they didn't blame her, however, they knew Kivar had his ways with women, and Vilandra was especially vulnerable now. Zan broke out running and Rath followed close behind. They charged into her bed chamber to call out and warn her. They stopped to catch their breath and looked around the dark room. She was gone and all that was left was a small note she'd left on the bed.

Hey Zan... I'm back!
~Lonnie.


Rath felt himself get sick. He had loved her years and years ago, when he had promised he'd marry her. Then she had met Kivar and turned into a completely different person. That person was dangerous. That person was capable of anything. That person was called Lonnie.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 27-Jun-2002 11:40:43 AM ]
posted on 1-Jul-2002 10:16:27 AM
Chapter 20:

Zan could feel the beginnings of a headache aching in his temples. It had been several hours since he and Rath had split ways. They had a plan, but whether or not it would work was still unclear. Rath was in charge of finding Vilandra or at least Kivar and reporting back to Zan so they could go to her rescue. Zan was in charge of finding Alakiah, Mayala and Elena. He sighed loudly to himself as he walked over towards the back of the castle. He had been making calls and asking favors of most of the leaders of the other planets in his system. He had even tried contacting Elena through their connection, but he felt it impossible. At least he could still feel her. The assurance that she was alive was what kept him going enough to keep looking. He reached the large indoor pool and took off his robe. He needed to destress in order to think clearly. The sparkling red water looked inviting as he dived in. It circled him in thick waves as he struggled to swim against it. He did about three laps when he felt his arms begin to tire. He did one more lap and leaned his back against the edge of the pool. He was floating, but in a sitting position. He closed his eyes and felt the water form around his body.

Suddenly, he was feeling a strong force pull him into the pool. He didn't get a chance to breathe, but as soon as he went in, he was met with lips that breathed the air into him. Together they splashed up out of the water and he shook his head to remove the excess water. In front of him stood Elena, her hair dripping wet, small drops of water falling down her face and dripping off her nose. She smiled, that sweet smile that he adored about her and then moved closer to him and kissed his lips softly to assure him that she was there.

"Elena...."

"You called?" She smiled, obviously teasing him at his inability to contact her as easily as she could him.

"God, I miss you." His eyes lowered as he tried to hide his disappointment.

"Hey... don't. We are all fine."

"Do you know where you are?"

"She has taken us to Ceres. We are in the dungeon of a castle under the orders of Kivar. You have already seen her, haven't you?" Her voice softened as if regret were beginning to climb upon her.

"Yes." He managed to choke out the word despite the bile he felt rising in his chest. The option he was given was not a good one, but even pretending to marry Ava was something that made him physically sick.

"Do it." She looked up at him with sad eyes and he sat confused.

"What?"

"Marry her Zan. It is quite possible that you will be happier that way. Things with us could never work..." Immediately, Zan picked himself up and walked several steps to Elena. He placed both of his hands on her cheeks and brought her eyes to meet his.

"Do not even suggest what you are thinking. I refuse to even consider the option. Do you understand? I love you, Elena. YOU. To marry her would be a betrayal to myself and to you. I could never."

"Not even to save our lives?" She closed her eyes for an instant after she said it. Who was she fooling? Even she knew that no matter what happened, Ava was not planning to let them live. That had been made clear the moment they'd been moved. It was a move she was not happy about.

"Elena... please do not put that upon my shoulders."

"Zan, I am not right for you. I never have been. That is the reason we stopped speaking to each other years ago, remember? Because it didn't work then, it will not work now. I tried Zan, but I let myself get carried away with the idea that we could live that way. It can never happen. I love you, but our love is forbidden."

"Then let me have of the forbidden fruit and I will die a happy man." She smiled sadly and kissed his lips.

"I must go."

"No, wait! I can't stand being away from you. I miss you... your touch, your kiss, your eyes. Just knowing you were near was comfort enough. Now, when I need you the most, I feel like I am completely alone." She pulled his face close to hers and looked deep into his eyes.

"I have never left you alone. What would make you think I will now?" She slowly pulled in for a kiss and it calmed him from his lips to the core of his heart. He felt himself get dizzy and suddenly splashed loudly out of the water. He had fallen asleep and slipped slowly into the water as he had seen the vision of Elena so clearly in his head. She had contacted him. She was on Ceres. He quickly got himself out of the water and tied the towel around his wet, muscular frame. He passed his fingers quickly through his hair and sped up until he reached the changing room. Thank goodness, finally he had an idea where to start.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was dark when he reached the gates, but even in the light there would have been no way for anyone to recognize him. He held the hood over his head to make sure he was kept in the shadows. He gazed around and seeing no one in sight, he reached out his hand and as the blue light began to project, the gate began to be pulled slowly open until there was enough space for him to walk through. It closed softly behind him as he kept on walking past the sleeping guard and into the dark and dingy dungeon. The only light there was that of several lanterns and he could smell sweat and humidity as he proceeded to descend the stairs. Finally, he reached the main entrance to the prisoners' lair. He looked at the guard and slowly removed his cloak.

"Your... your highness!" The guard jumped to his feet and bowed quickly in reverence as he saw the man standing before him.

"Please, open the gate." The man nodded quickly, picking up his keys and nervoulsy opening the doorway. He walked in and the guard closed the door behind him. He began to walk down the line of cells, his eyes were wandering frantically searching for the right one. He felt his heart skip a beat and looked over to his right at the cell. Inside were three sleeping bodies, sprawled on the floor looking obviously uncomfortable and starved. His eyes softened and then he reminded himself of his mission. He could not express his emotions.

"Open it." The guard stood nervously and looked down quickly and then back up at the tall man in front of him. His heavy appearance was almost comic and now the look of panic in his eyes was enough to almost make him break out laughing.

"Umm... umm Sir, your Majesty Sir... this cell is under orders to remain closed at all times."

"I said OPEN IT!" His voice boomed in the dark hallway as it bounced off the rocky walls. The little man quickly jumped up and got his keys out of his pocket to open the cell. As he did, the faces in the cell began to look up, their eyes still heavy and groggy with sleep and suddenly he saw the eyes that made his heart stop. They were red and slightly watery, obviously she'd been crying, but he could still see her beautiful and hopeful soul.

She looked at him and wasn't quite sure why he was staring at her in that way. He was tall and had very dark skin and curly blonde hair. His eyes were bright green and he had a small curve of a smile on his lips. There was something oddly familiar about him and something comforting about his eyes. He came into the cell and he bent down onto his knees. His eyes looked into hers in a way that she had only seen one person do and she felt her heart sink.

"Come with me." His voice was soft as he spoke to her as if she were the only person in the room. She nodded her head in silent obedience and felt her mouth drop open a little bit as she stared into his eyes. "Wake them up and bring them with you. We don't have much time." She nodded and quickly scrambled over to the side to wake up her two friends. They woke up hesitantly and then saw the tall dark man in front of them, demanding that they follow him. It was obvious through her eyes that Mayala was about to freak out and Alakiah was trying to put his arm around her comfortingly. Elena simply stared behind her at the man that was know speaking to the guard.

"You will speak to no one about this." He handed the guard a sack and patted him on the shoulder as if shaking on a deal.

"Leave here. Your family deserves better. You never saw me or us. These people do not exist. Set fire to the cell and then report the three as dead." The man nodded in shock as he looked into the bag to see money and all sorts of riches. The three looked over at the exchange and finally, they were ready to depart. They left the dark dungeon and when they reached the darkness of night, Alakiah finally found his breath to speak.

"Your Majesty, just out of shear curiosity, why did you remove us from the dungeon?" They reached the gate of the city and the group seemed to be traveling in complete confusion. The tall man turned to face them and they simply stared at him, unsure of what his next move would be.

"I am not the King of Ceres as you all suspect." He saw Mayala's eyes widen and begin to panic and he saw Alakiah take a small step back. But Elena was staring at him head on, knowledge in her eyes. He smiled at her, obviously their connection was the explanation for her wisdom, but his eyes could not lie to her, regardless of color. He passed his hand over his face and suddenly he was transformed into the tan dark haired boy they all knew. His honey colored eyes stared at Elena as she smiled, her feelings confirmed and she jumped on him to hug him. Mayala's eyes were wide in shock and even she couldn't resist to jump on him in happiness.

"You came for me, for us."

"Ye of little faith." He smiled at them and motioned for them to follow him. They walked out of the gate and beyond the darkness into an awaiting craft. Once inside, Elena kissed Zan passionately, the distance between them having been like a wall that was now crumbling.

"Where are Rath and Vilandra?" Mayala was asking as she began to put on her new appointed clothes.

"Rath is out looking for Vilandra. There is a plan, but we will need all of your help."

"A plan?"

"Kivar is out for more than just me... he is out for the throne of Antar. He is using my sister as his key." He could see Alakiah shaking his head in disagreement.

"No, Vilandra wants nothing to do with that. She is desperately seeking your approval Zan and she was on her way to discovering her endless potential. I cannot believe she would throw that all away for... for the man who killed her father! Your father!" His eyes were in anguish and confusion and Zan let go of Elena and walked over to Alakiah.

"Vilandra and Kivar have history. He has this ability to turn her into this person, her alter ego, this dangerous person that is willing to do anything he demands in order to keep him. But she can only be Vilandra around you. Perhaps, in a moment of weakness, you can turn Lonnie back into Vilandra with your words. She cares deeply for you Alakiah, although she barely says it. You are like her only true friend. I need you to tell me that you will get through to her. Without you, I think I may have lost her." Zan was sad and Alakiah nodded. Anything to fix the horrible situation they were in. Mayala looked at Zan expectantly, as if awaiting some horrible news from Rath. Instead, Zan handed her a letter, neatly written and folded up.

My Dearest Mayala,
In case I am never to see you again I tell you that you are and always will be the woman that I love. You are the most trouble I've ever had, but the most enjoyable challenge I've ever had to face. We are completely wrong for each other, both you and I have known that from the beginning. But the passion that brings us together is undeniable. I shall never forget the way that you feel in my arms. And I pray for the moment I can see you again, those blue eyes of yours raging in anger, your hair flying madly as you speak to me in your melodic voice. It is how I will always remember you. Pray for me. ~Rath

She looked over at Zan in confusion. What was he saying? Was he dead? Was he going to die? Where was he? Why did he sound so meloncholy?

"I do not understand..." Mayala lifted her eyes off the paper and questioned him.

"To find Vilandra, he must first find Kivar."

"Yes and...?"

"He and Kivar are sworn enemies."

"But I thought you and Kivar...."

"They are brothers. Kivar is still bitter about having lost Lonnie to Vilandra when Rath fell in love with her. He cannot understand why Rath was chosen as my second rather than himself and all of his life he has had the hatred for him growing in his heart. Now, Rath goes to find Vilandra because she is like a sister to him, however he feels he may not make it back." Mayala felt her eyes begin to burn with tears. This could not be happening this way.

"What do we do know Zan?" He looked down at Elena who had made her way to his chest seeking comfort. Her eyes were begging him for some sort of solace. He put his arm around her and kissed her hair.

"I think I know a place where you will be safe for now." They began to walk when suddenly Mayala's comment stopped them.

"Are we all going to die?" He looked back at her, her eyes now red with tears and he felt his heart break.

"I wish I knew." She nodded and turned around just to find herself hysterical in Alakiah's arms. He held her tightly, his arms resting around her waist, trying to comfort the woman he'd loved as a sister for more years than he could remember. He looked over at Zan questioningly.

"Do you have any sort of escape?"

"Well, actually, there is a plan that is to take effect in case the Revolution does break out. Serena is working on it at the moment and I was wondering if you could help her. It is only in case of an emergency, if there is no other choice. Larek will be aiding her starting tomorrow afternoon, when he finds out about us. All of us. And when I break off the wedding with Ava." Even knowing it, Elena flinched at his words. Having him say it only made it more real, more frightening. He kissed her forehead and made his way to the front to begin to fly the craft.

"Everyone just rest up. We have a long day tomorrow."