The ground shakes beneath my leather boots. The soft thump a rhythm that carries out softly through the night. It whispers in your ear, calling out to you. The trees shake with it, the sky silent, allowing the ground to speak.
*Thump, Thump, Thump*
“This is it,” I can feel it coming. War feels so close. The impact of the blast was not lost on me and though I want to open my eyes something is keeping me here.
“Am I dead?” I ask no one in particular. The grass is wet, I’m standing under that single tree once more. The leaves blow to a soft whisper and the call of war seizes. She laughs. Her laughter soft, mischievous even.
“Up here Parker.” Angel sits barefoot, her hair in tight curls as she smiles down.
“Lyric.”“Is alright.” She interrupts.
“You’re safe and so is she.” “Now come on,” Angel speaks, patting the thick branch she has decided to sit on.
“Well?” She questions. With a sigh and realizing that there is no other option I climb up the tree easily and sit myself down beside her.
Angel doesn’t say much, instead, she gazes out, where there once was a large river. The tree seems to grow higher and higher until we’re practically in the sky once again. Below us, there is nothing but beautiful sceneries of mountains, green grass, clean air, and a beautiful lake.
“This place is beautiful isn’t it?” She asks quietly.“Yeah.”
“I want to bring him here one day Parker. I want to be with him soon.” Angel whispers. There’s so much pain in her eyes and without her truly saying it I know who she’s waiting for. Her soulmate.
The quiet lingers crisply over the air, a gentle breeze has begun to whisper around us gently, swaying the motion of the trees to a soft dance.
“How does it feel… To die?” I find myself asking her and she laughs.
“No one experience is the same Parker. Mine was… different. It was dark and the lowest moment in my life.”“I can see so much now, I can experience different lifetimes and. There should have been another way for me. And now, I’ve caused him pain and I’ll cause his..” She doesn’t finish. Instead, her eyes begin to look beyond and she smiles while tears run down her cheeks.
“Some things are out of reach for some of us. But not for you and Lyric. When the time comes Parker, you have to keep your head right.”“There are some secrets that were meant to be kept until this point, so that the story may keep itself on the right course.” Angel cryptically spoke.
“I don’t under-”
“You’re not supposed to understand Parker,” Angel says with a watery smile and a shake of the head.
“I’ve told you before. I was made to guide you and Lyric. But there’s only so much I can say.”“Maxwell won’t stop. War is sure to come and then-”
“The people will understand. This had been a war that’s been prolonged too long. When the time comes, and it will be soon. You have to be ready.”
There’s a weight on my shoulder as I waken. The night is shining and as I stir and look down. Lyric is startled awake. The look in her eyes was filled with so much worry. As soon as her eyes meet my own they flicker first with relief and then sadness fills her eyes and tears stream down her cheeks.
“Lyric,” I whisper, my voice groggy as I reach for her cheek to wipe away her tears.
“I’m alright,” I reassure her.
“I know.” She whispers back closing her eyes and leaning into my touch. The gesture itself causing a small thump on my heart. We’d made so much progress in so little time and yet, there was much more to go.
“You’ve been out for two days. I thought.”
“Wolves heal faster than any other Nova.”
“I know.” She whispered. Though as she spoke my eyes caught sight of her neck. Angry purple bruises had settled on her neck and as I reached to touch her gently she remained still.
“It’s going to happen isn’t it?” She questioned. The look in her eyes told me the words she didn’t want to speak.
“This isn’t your fault”
“It is.” She interrupts her eyes lingering with sadness.
“He wants me Parker. And he won’t stop until he has what he wants.”
“Your father is trying to control the panic that is going through the people right now but it won’t be long before things unravel.”
“What happened to your mother?”
The question comes at random and I find myself unable to answer. The look in her eyes concerned as she continues.
“When the doctor came to look at you. I was outside waiting. The doctor. He mentioned to your father about. Your mother how she disappeared and.”
“Cray didn’t take her,” I assure her thinking back to when I was a child.
“My mother left us on her own accord. Where she went I don’t know, but she did it to seek her own happiness.” I tell her not wanting to relive that painful past anymore.
“I know you’re afraid but you don’t need to be.”
“I’m not afraid for myself.” Lyric speaks, her eyes filled with more tears.
“That little girl and her father.” She whispers.
“That wasn’t your fault.”
“Wasn’t it?” She questions.
“All of this is escalating because of me and that little girl lost someone because I was there.” There was nothing more that I could say to offer her comfort except embrace her in my arms. She sobbed silently as she clung to me.
“I don’t think I’m strong enough to take this Parker. I wasn’t meant to be here as-,”
“No,” I tell her.
“You can’t give up.”
“Giving up means you allow other people to have power over you. Giving up means that you allow Cray to win.”
“You’re right.” She whispers wiping her tears.
“There are moments when I feel I can do this.” She explains.
“Other times. I’m so afraid and I feel weak and inadequate for anything.”
“It’s normal to doubt yourself. Everyone does that. But you can’t give up at the sight of trouble or fear.” I tell her.
“I’m sorry.” She says looking down.
“Maybe if you’d gotten a different soulmate, this wouldn’t be happening.
“Listen to me Lyric,” I tell her grabbing her face in my hands.
“This was inevitable. Even if you weren’t my soulmate. It changes nothing about who the Cray’s are or this war that will come sooner or later.”
“I would never want anyone but you. I love you and as selfish as it is for me to do so I need you.”
“I love you too Parker.” She whispers back in tears. Her words causing my heart to thump erratically. Hearing those words from her lips felt surreal. It was something I had wanted to hear from Lyric for so long and never thought I’d hear her speak to me.
“I was so afraid that something really bad happened to you and I didn’t have the courage to tell you what I was feeling.”
“I don’t want to have any more regrets than the ones I do have.”
“You aren’t the only one that has regrets,” I whisper to her pressing her forehead against my own.
“But you can’t live your life with that feeling forever. You have to keep moving forward.”
“You said you wanted to be happy. And I want to be the one that can give you that happiness Lyric. Will you let me be that for you?” I asked her, not wanting this moment to leave us anytime soon.
“Yes.” She spoke breathlessly and with that, I brought our lips together. Her soft, timid lips leaving prickles all over my skin and my heart racing. A soft whimper escaping her lips as I brought her closer to me wrapping my arms around her tightly. A pink hue on her cheeks, even so, this moment was just for us and no one else.
Sparkles. There was a glow to the earth and the sky. The stars themselves lit the night sky as I stood under wet grass that appeared to glistened ever so slightly with small water drops. There was no rain, only a beautiful calm that appeared around me. Fireflies. Their soft lights lighting the night sky more and bringing a smile to my face at the beauty around me. Only green grass and beautiful pastures. My feet though wet from the wet sparkling grass could only dig themselves deeper into the earth. It felt like home. Just for a second, I could see myself here. The aftermath of something yet to come and what awaited a great adversity.
*Dun*A note to stop the silence. *Dun* Another accompanied it. *Dun* Music, Notes, Peace. The wind seemed to whisper gently bringing with it the sound of a piano. The tune felt so near to my heart as if it was embracing this love that had been given to me. Closing my eyes, I could hear the sounds calling out to the flowers, the grass, and the wind. In turn the flowers, grass, and wind singing along with the music. This beautiful music that seemed to tickle my ear and tell me that I had found something I never thought I could have.
I was grateful. Small droplets of water began to fall from the sky. Anyone else would think the sky was crying. That it wept with sadness, a sadness that to this day still makes me weep. Lost hope that the world will remain as it is in its darkness. Failed love that has never reached the hearts of the coldest human beings in the world. But not me.
To me this rain represents beginnings. A cleansing of the bad that is being washed away with the water. Cleansing the earth of its sins and relieving me of past sorrows. When it leaves I know a weight off my shoulders shall be lifted. The floral dress I’ve been wearing begins to stick to my skin as I reach my hands out to feel each and every drop fall. The smile on my lips infects the world around that I’ve created in this dream as it glows with radiance. *Dun* “Dance.” The wind whispers and I do. Spreading my arms wide I can only circle gently as the rain droplets fall. And then. It stops.
The glow around me of the grass, the flowers, the earth and the sky have only grown more beautiful. The music still plays and all I can do is follow it. When it stops I am faced with a beautiful classical piano. The rain has not harmed it but there are small droplets which linger on the keys. My fingers itch to make them bounce with the soft tune I had previously heard.
Making my way to the small bench behind the piano I sit and place my fingers on the keys. It’s been so long since I’ve played, or written any sort of song, or poem. This itself feels like both. I close my eyes and smile. There’s a song which has now filled my heart that I cannot seem to forget. It speaks about acceptance and joy and tonight has made me feel this way.
I look up at the sky once again and this time that familiar pink orb floats towards me and sits on top of the piano.
“Being in love makes things better,” Angel speaks, having left her orb-like form and offering a kind gentle smile.
“Does it?” I ask and she can only give another warm smile.
“Love is something that many people lack.”“You can find pain in every single person’s heart but love is a rarity which only some get to feel.” She speaks with a lingering sadness in both her eyes and voice.
“I know,” I answer her softly.
“But you must not feel guilty for being happy or being in love,” Angel assures, reaching to place her hand on my own.
“The world’s problems won’t be solved in a day. And you are human. You’re allowed to be selfish once in a while and forget about everyone else but you.” Angel says.
“Can I?”“Just once,” Angel exclaims.
She smiles again though her eyes seem to linger with sadness and a hint of regret as she looks off into the beautiful night.
“The world is about to crack.” She whispers.
“You have to cling on to these feelings of hope and love in order to survive it Lyric.”“The weak won’t make it and in this time they’ll need you to protect them.”
“How can I when I myself-”
“You’re not,” Angel assures.
“Someone who is weak gives up and stops living. You can’t afford to be that way or you’ll drag down the people you love the most.”
“Right now you need each other more than ever. Stick with that. Stick with him.”
The morning light begins to hit the empty hall desperately trying to bring warmth from the cold night. The painting on the wall and its eyes leave questions to me once again. She stares at me with an empty expression and I wonder what exactly she is hiding. Where is she hiding?
I can remember the old tales of what happened to her. Her disappearance. I had wondered the same from time to time, more so when I arrived in this place. Now… Now I wondered what had been of a queen that had been silent for most of her reign. If there ever was a time of dispute inside Archer, it was when Lady Annabelle was queen. There wasn’t much she did when she was beside King Thomas. Mainly, she attended parties and events that were for the people but she was known as the Silent Queen.
Archer hated her. While King Thomas has always been a kind ruler, Lady Anabelle’s voice was mute and earned the hatred of the people. She was often described as uncaring, and was known to be a person of vanity. She did not care about her children and cared less about her kingdom. As beautiful as she was, beauty was not what this world needed in a time of turbulence. Was it passiveness?... As much as the King had made sure that people were not hurt when it came to Cray’s constant attacks most of the time people did die. In the end, the King could only offer comfort by sending more soldiers to be on the defense. What was the right answer? Was it war? Was it peace?
Human beings have fought for centuries and there were wars from the worlds past era that spoke of this. Many speak of the Nova entities to be supreme beings above the old humans but were we? The truth is no man is meant to rule a world that is filled with selfishness and a craving for power. Only one being in this world can rule with a selfless hand. God. Even then, I realized not everyone has the same beliefs. With nostalgia, I realized that the world would forever be imperfect as long as man was greedy for power and control.
His hands squeeze my shoulders gently before sliding down my arms and slowly he wraps his own around my waist, pressing my back against his chest. The soft feelings that have come with him these past few months carry breathless kisses and a sense of overwhelming feelings that escape with a sigh.
“What are you doing up so early in the morning?” Parker questions. His voice calming and yet the thoughts that linger in my heart can only remain a secret. I believed in Parker but there was only so much he could do as of now as Prince and later on as King. Then the question came what could I do as a future Queen.
“Lyric?” It’s hard to say much and all I can do now is hide my own expression and offer my own smile.
“Nothing. I couldn’t sleep anymore.” I say to him.
“Don’t worry too much about it alright. Things will work out.” Parker spoke.
“Will they?” I wondered as Parker turned to embrace me. But as I gazed at the eyes of Lady Annabelle, I feared that I too would become a silent queen. If the world would continue to spiral downward, how long would I struggle to keep afloat?
Defense. It was the only strategy that was ever really run by my father. Defending our people. Defending our Kingdom. Defense. While Spencer and I listened to our father, give orders of peace to Oliver it was hard not to speak. And yet… I found myself unable to speak up. This was a fight with my father that I’d had countless times and yet his answers were always the same.
“We cannot be selfish.”
“We must not be irrational,”
“We must think of the overall people.”
Our father’s study was once again hectic. There were dozens of books that he kept around him, mainly from the old age. Scriptures of passive leaders in whatever war or fight they had been in before Nova times. I could understand that he cared for the well-being of the people of Archer. Often times, he too cared for the people of Cray but was it really help he was offering them or pity? Spencer who had always been the calm and collected Nova Prince seemed to be cut out for the same rule as my father. What of me? While I did believe the people of Archer deserved safety, I couldn’t help but feel the same want of peace for the Kingdom of Cray. When it came to beliefs my own where stemmed from my father who in turn followed the ways of our first Nova leader Alexander Archer. It was Alexander Archer who chose peace but in turn gave up half his people in order to stop all bloodshed.
Time and time again I wondered if that was the best choice for the world. It was the start of an era of division and where people were left with no choice but to settle for unfair circumstances. It was still the path we seemed to be on at this point in time. As the future Archer Leader would I have the courage to push further to free those under Cray’s totalitarianism?
“They won’t be able to get past the guards again.” My father continued while Oliver nodded in agreement. Whether he really agreed or not orders were orders for him.
“Parker.” My father spoke wanting me to chime in. But the moment my father to looked at my expression I knew he understood what it was I was thinking.
There was disappointment and disapproval in his gaze that turned into sadness. While that in itself hurt I could not help but speak.
“What then?” I questioned earning Spencer’s attention.
“They’ve gotten past our guards. They use weapons of the old age instead of relying on Nova strength. You refuse to do the same.”
“War won’t help solve this. I understand you’re still upset with what happened with Lyric that being said.”
“This isn’t just about Lyric,” I spoke my voice calm.
“This is about our people. Their safety, the way that you wish to portray peace is a lie. You can only close people’s eyes to their surrounding for so long.”
“I want to protect our people from seeing war and fearing for their loved ones.” My father spoke.
“What about the people of Cray?”
“You wish for power, not peace son.”
“No. I want true peace. Covering peoples’ eyes won’t take away the sound if they can still hear.” With these words the room becomes silent and my father can only look back at me with disapproval.
“Father.” Spencer begins and I can tell he’s struggling with this but the hand of support he lends to my father says he too agrees with him.
Oliver who has quietly retreated behind us tries his best to remain invisible. Once again, he is simply becoming his position and ignoring his own will to fight. His arms are at his side as he looks down and bows politely to give privacy. His posture appears relaxed yet his hands are made into fists. If there is anyone who can understand the impotence and rage I feel at the moment I know it is Oliver. Oliver who lost his own father for so called ‘peace’.
“People are already questioning us. Questioning your rule. How much longer will you pretend to be okay with this way of rule that can only prolong the inevitable?”
“Things have calmed Parker. It’s been a month since Cray attacked us at sea.” Spencer chimes in.
“That says nothing about the future.”
“We’re living in fear and dragging our people into it.”
“Then is it not your mate that dragged this war to us.”
Father’s words bring me to silence. Spencer who is beside him has frozen and surprise is on his face.
“She is the one that has garnered attention from Maxwell Cray.”
“Then would you want me to give up my mate? Would you have chosen to give her no option but to become a sacrificial offering to Cray for just a few more moments of fake peace?” My voice has risen in anger while my father remains calm.
“That isn’t peace. It’s settling to live in fear and to have our people do the same. Lives have already been lost in our kingdom because of the Cray’s and you refuse to acknowledge this.” Father’s eyes land on Oliver who still remains quiet though his knuckles have turned white.
“Parker,” Spencer speaks up.
“Things won’t be fixed so easily.”
“Would you be saying the same if it had been Crystal?”
“Or if father was the one lost to a Cray attack?”
“That’s enough Parker until you are king you fall under my own rule do you understand. All you’ve shown me today is the fact that you are not ready to be king.”
“Father,” Spencer speaks.
“Is that all?” I question feeling hurt at his words. The anger which was building inside me temporarily floating away to a pressure in my chest.
Again, there is no anger in his words but that does not mean he is not feeling it. Without much more I walk out of the study with Oliver who is following behind.
“They plan to go forth with your brother’s wedding,” Oliver speaks, once both of us are out of the study and heading towards the empty courtyard.
“You should not be so rash and judge your father. He is a good king.”
“I’ve never doubted that.”
“Haven’t you?” Oliver questions.
“I wasn’t questioning his rule just..”
“He knows what he’s doing you shouldn’t be so harsh on him.”
“Can you really say that?” I ask a silent meaning in this question which I regret asking immediately.
“I apologize.” Oliver shakes his head and offers a smile his posture relaxes and he’s back to being a friend, not an officer.
“My father believed in him. He gave his life for that trust knowing one day he could leave mother and I. I wish to do the same for your father and his family.” His words are serene. Washing over with the night that has no doubt come down upon the earth.
“Ms. Lyric will be wondering where you are.”
“She’s kept up with her defense classes and we are moving to offense tactics.”
“You should not worry too much about her. She is strong and held on as best she could until we were able to save her.”
“Thank you for that. I know you care about her too.” My words were meant as a statement and I held no hostility for Oliver. I’d come to terms with the fact that he too cared for and loved Lyric.
“I would never overstep,” Oliver speaks.
“I ask you not to say anything to the Princess. I only wish to protect her. She reminds me of someone whom I love dearly that is all.” Oliver responds. I can feel the sincerity in his voice as he speaks and I find myself nodding.
“You would be better for her than I.”
“I have my own mate,” Oliver responds and I find myself nodding beside him in agreement. And yet… the question remained. Who was she?
“Your father will forgive you for this sire. Your heart is in the right place.” Oliver speaks returning to the previous subject. The tone of his voice reverting once again to that of a Nova officer. Right. Yet, I can only picture a calm before a storm and that things were heading downwards again. I realized that people were blind to what was ahead and when these blind people would scream, their deaf king would only watch. This was Archer. Silent.