A Moment of Peace
A moment of Peace
Strength. It was a word which I had learned I lacked from the moment I could understand what the word meant. Just one single word which meant power, might, force, vigor, depth, potency. This one word, this one feeling, and action which I had not been given. The word weak had been embedded deep within me for so long I’d forgotten what it meant to fight against my own weakness and find my strength.
Life had certainly changed in a way that I had not anticipated. While I still feared the unknown and while I myself knew nothing of my future and what it would bring I hoped that time would fix what was needed. This life and this crown which I would one day now inherit would not come easy. There were so many things that required fighting and required a clear head. All of this required strength and a level of optimism I lacked and yet… I had to find it.
The air that surrounded me at the moment as I sat by my bedroom window to gaze out certainly spoke of tranquility. The courtyard was busy. The servants and a few of our friends were happily arranging it all for the great banquet that would take place in Archer a few hours away. There was laughter, people smiling and children playing. So many people waiting for the joyous moment when Crystal and Spencer finally married.
While the breeze tickled the air and the sun just as gently whispered back they seemed to have a silent understanding that today the world would be calm. It was a peace such as this that I wished for. A time where the world would stay in its gentle rocking and make everyone feel happy. And yet, I knew otherwise. Guards lingered outside the kingdom and this castle. The people walked freely while ignoring danger because the king had sworn safety. It was a feeling inside the heart that caused me to shut my eyes and pray each night that the darkness would not come. I prayed for strength. It felt reassuring when the wind whispered in my ear and as I took in the sun and soft breeze, I could only close my eyes once more.
“You always were such a quiet child.”
It was instinct to turn and to smile at the woman that stood before me. Her eyes wrinkled at the corners and her chocolate orbs sparkled with glee in a way only a mother can smile at her child. Her arms open automatically as I run toward her hugging her tightly. It feels different. Her arms tighten around my body and I can feel tears sting her eyes now. There’s a feeling that I can’t describe and yet we both know that this is our first real hug in so many years.
“It’s been so long.” My mom whispers her voice warm and relieved.
“Let me look at you.” She speaks, pulling away gently and putting me at arm’s length. It gives me time to do the same.
While painful memories feel like yesterday there are the rare few happy memories of joy which are embedded in my mind. Times of the two of us jumping rope together while the sun is out. Times of her singing me to sleep where demons of darkness cannot touch us. Times where bits of happiness touched our hearts and her soft tinkered melodic laugh brought comfort to my world. Those rare times when the world felt like this were rare and though we had escaped that dark life after so much of it we’d both forgotten to smile. While time had continued on and age could be seen on her face, that spark in her eyes which I had never seen had come back. The smile which brought rare comfort had grown and life was now good to her.
“I read your letter.” She says with a smile. Her hair which had always been worn in a messy braid was now styled up. A beautiful hair clip encrusted with diamonds contained her hair while she wore a silk red dress. Her makeup was light and her heels high.
“You look young.”
“And very beautiful,” I added causing her to laugh lightly while raising her hand to her mouth in a very bashful way.
“King Thomas had a dress made for me and he had a woman come and fix me up.” She replied softly.
“You look great,” I assured her.
“Well. I suppose I do.” She answers with a smile.
“The wedding should be in a few hours but why aren’t you ready?” My mother asked.
“There’s time. Parker brought my dress to me last night. I should be helping Crystal but her mother insisted on it so I’ll stay here.” I said to her with a smile remembering how happy Crystal was when her mother arrived at Archer grounds.
“Well, then how about I help you get ready?” She asks. With a nod to her, she offers back a smile at me and I proceed to get ready.
Less than a few hours later I’m standing beside her in a long baby pink bridesmaid dress. While the bridal store we had entered almost three months ago had left a bitter taste in all our mouths. The shop had been kind enough once the king had paid for damages to send the bridesmaid dress chosen by Crystal for me.
“I’ll remember this time.” Crystal had said a few nights before Parker himself had brought the dress.
While the baby pink skirt of the dress fell to the floor elegantly what made the dress beautiful was the contrast the top of the dress. A light pink veil covered the upper part of the dress. The sleeves just below the elbow and an A-line swoop style neckline. A beautiful gray flowered silk chiffon covered the entire top of the dress and slightly dripped just below the waistline. Encrusted with diamonds for each of the flowers centers while a small pink lace wrapped around the dress’s waistline entirely. My hair which had always remained cascading down freely was now up in an elegant bun with just a few pieces of hair falling down my face. My makeup felt so light and my cheeks a soft rosy pink. Lips painted with the utmost lightest.
As I stood beside my mother looking at myself part of me couldn’t help but imagine this being my own wedding day. The hope of having her beside me on such a day made me smile. Taking my hand while she stood beside me and leaning her head on my own she smiled. The look in her eyes telling me she too wished for that day to come.
“Do you remember my fifth birthday?” I questioned.
“Of course.” She spoke.
“I didn’t take you to school that day. Your father was out, and I took you out window shopping.” She spoke with a smile.
“That was one of the happiest birthdays,” I tell her with a smile.
“We passed by so many stores and I really wished I could buy you anything. But all you asked for was an ice cream that day.” She spoke her eyes sad.
“I understood,” I tell her.
“You shouldn’t have. Not at your age. Not ever. I could have-”
“You couldn’t and I knew,” I tell her not wanting to bring sadness in her eyes.
I smile anyways at the memory.
“Even so that dress made my day,” I tell her.
“I knew we couldn’t afford it. But when we walked passed that white dress that was on display I could see your eyes light up and I just wanted to see you smile.”
“I did smile.” I reminded her.
“You’ve done and given me everything you could and I thank you for that. I love you for that mom.” Tears well up in her eyes and she smiles wiping at her tears she hugs me pressing her cheek to my own.
“You’ll be happy now. I know it.” She says.
With the sun about to set people begin to appear. The courtyard which had been empty has been filled with seats. Rows of people all waiting to see Crystal and Spencer marry. Oliver Brad and I stood inside Spencer’s quarters. Meanwhile Specener nervously paced back and forth in his back tux. While the three of us stand in metallic gray single-breasted style two button suits. All three of us look at Spencer as he continues to fuss over himself. He fixes his bowtie once again only to cause it to slant to the side again.
There’s a look of terror in his eyes while he tries to fix it once more. Spencer continues to panic and tries to run his hands though his hair in frustation. It is Oliver that has to reminds him once again to not touch his hair which has been neatly side parted.
“I don’t think Crystal is as nervous as you are.” I joke causing Brad to snicker.
“Come on man. Why are you so nervous?” Brad questions.
“I’m marrying my best friend.”
“You can still bail, I mean you’re not married yet.” There’s a glare that is thrown Brad’s way and Spencer finally stops his pacing.
“I love her. I wouldn’t be marrying her if I didn’t.”
“You sure it’s got nothing to do with DNA.” Brad begins.
“How are you sure? You’ve only ever been with her how do you know you love her and this isn’t just routine.”
“I don’t need a DNA test to tell me I love her. I was ready to throw all that away and fight for her when I didn’t know she was my soulmate. I can feel it. I don’t want to live without her and I want to spend the life that I do have with her.” Spencer tells him.
“Great. Then stop worrying.” Brad answers with a smile.
“Since when are you good at giving advice?” I question. Brad doesn’t answer and instead shrugs.
There’s a knock on the door and Jane walks in her bridesmaid dress the same as Lyric. Her jet black hair is down and her eyes convey a hint of sadness and longing as she glances at Brad. Had Jane not turned to look at Spencer she would have realized Brad had the same look in his eyes as she did.
“Crystal will be down in a few minutes. You guys might want to go downstairs.” Jane speaks, her voice soft and has lost its normal edge. She no longer speaks much, including to Andrew nor does she try to speak to Lyric whom she has yet to clear the air with. Though it’s clear, she remains here for her and at the same time wishes to avoid Brad, who in turn stays with her.
“Alright,” Spencer answers, offering a kind smile to Jane, who bows her head respectfully and quietly leaves closing the door behind her.
“You should fix that,” Spencer speaks to Brad.
“The last thing you want is to keep treating her like this just because you believe she’ll always be there. Love always has its breaking point and I think she’s almost at hers.” Spencer tells Brad. Once again Brad does not answer but there is a pensive look in his eyes that briefly flickers as we all head downstairs and meet Jane and Lyric.
Lyric who looks so beautiful in her pink bridesmaid dress smiles sweetly and reaches to briefly pat my cheek. Catching her hand in my own I press a kiss to her palm which causes her to look down and blush.
“You look beautiful,” I whisper to her causing her to smile.
Making her way to Spencer she offers a smile and fixes his bowtie causing Spencer to immediately relax his shoulder.
“How is she?” Spencer questioned causing Lyric to laugh lightly.
“Excited to marry you.” She tells him.
“She’s Crystal Mane. Spencer. She only ever knows how to be confident.”
“It’s who she is,” Spencer speaks while nodding.
“You better get out there soon. Crystal will be down any minute.” Jane speaks once again.
The crowd outside that awaits is filled with smiles. King Thomas stands in front of his people ready to marry his second son and one of the future Kings of Archer. There is hope and pride in his eyes as he gazes at his youngest son. The music starts and a beautiful ensemble of violinists have begun to play the traditional wedding march song. The people around all rise awaiting Crystal to walk down the aisle. Spencer stands at the end of the altar with a smile and a look that tells everyone how happy he is.
With Parker at my side and our arms laced together we walk slowly towards the end of the aisle. We part once we reach the end and Parker walks toward Spencer’s side and I myself towards the left side. Jane and Brad come next, though they smile as they do so, there is a certain uncomfortable posture that is obvious to their discomfort in this situation. Oliver walks with a friend of Crystal’s making them the last of the bridesmaids and grooomsmen. It is only then that Crystal finally emerges.
There’s a serene look on her face though her eyes smile radiantly while she holds onto her father who has a woeful look in his eyes. Her dress an Ivory white chic long-sleeved dress. Her hair which has always been long and beautiful is cut short and styled in the softest of beach waves. The dress is so beautiful yet has a simple elegance. The lace column gown is covered with beautiful beads added on for detail. Both the front and back of her dress have an alluring V line and as she walks her dress beautifully flows to the bottom. Her path down the aisle is covered in the softest of pink rose petals. In her hand there is a bouquet or roses so red and velvet looking that can only be described as perfection.
All around the chapel people are smiling, there eyes light up. Some people whisper about the beautiful bride. Their voices are lost by the music but it is the smiles that give way to only pure happy wishes and an awe to Crystal’s beauty. There is no need for something so extravagant. Crystal herself is the embodiment of a model down a runway. Her lips are painted in a ruby red color and her ice blue eyes have been made to look more beautiful with her small cat eye winged liner.
Spencer, whose eyes have remained only on Crystal, smiles and sighs nervously once Crystal is at his side. Her father is calm and kisses Crystal’s forehead gently then places her hand on Spencer’s.
“You take care of my little girl.” Mr. Mane says his voice firm while he looks at both Spencer and Crystal.
“I will,” Spencer assures Mr. Mane who turns to Crystal one last time and finally let’s go of her.
Looking at one another with such an intense look of love in their eyes they both turn to King Thomas who is ready to marry them. The music stops and the people around all quiet. From across the room, Parker is looking back at me with a smile and that look in his eyes that always makes my heart tremble. There’s no need for words, no need for anything else but a look which I now understand as love.
“I love you.”“I love you too.” I wish to say and can only hope that my eyes are conveying the same feeling.
The people around us fade to the back all but King Thomas’s words linger inside my head as he speaks to Crystal and Spencer of unity, love, comprehension. Being there for one another until their last dying breath and it is as if those words are being spoken not only to them but form Parker and I.
“I do,” Spencer speaks and I can see Parker mouth the same words to me, my heart being squeezed with the feeling of love in Parker’s eyes.
“I do” Crystal speaks a few seconds after and with her, I find myself mouthing the words back to Parker, who smiles back at me.
Clapping is heard and around us a few of the Nova guards who have stood ground in their Nova forms celebrate. Roaring, screeching, praising both Spencer and Crystal as they kiss.
Further away more calls can be heard. People all around the Kingdom celebrate this union.
Just as both Crystal and Spencer both begin to make their walk together a large sparrow screeches up in the sky landing a bomb in the middle of the courtyard. Chaos ensues and my eyes look for my mother throughout the crowd of people that are now running in every direction trying to find a way out. The sounds of bombs falling all throughout Archer echo out into the night while the screams carry through the sky. King Thomas has now begun to call forth all Nova officers that are around. Nova men and women are on the floor some dead, others injured.
“Mom!” I call out to my mother who is trying to make her way towards me. I can hear Parker call out to me but my mind is only on my mother who is being pushed by the crowd. More Cray flyers fill the sky and Archer officers do the same. A few civilian flyers take flight out of fear only to be attacked by Cray flyers.
“Lyric!” My mother calls out to me.
“No!” I yell.
The force from which the earth is hit shakes the ground and I can feel a body cover my own as I land a few feet away from the impact.
“Lyric we have to go!” Parker speaks getting me up. There’s blood trickling down his forehead and down his left leg as he pushes past screaming people.
“My mother! I can’t just leave her behind!” I tell him.
“You can’t stay here either. You’re what he wants.” Parker tells me. People bump into us while Parker frantically searches the crowd.
“My mom I can’t,”
“My father has assigned her a few guards she’ll be alright. She’ll be taken to safe grounds.” Parker speaks.
“Princess” Oliver calls out. He’s covered in dirt and there are a few scratches on his face as he walks towards us.
“You need to go with him Lyric. I have to stay here and fight.” Parker says.
“No. You can’t you have to come with me. I can’t I.”
“Listen to me Lyric,” Parker speaks grabbing my shoulders tightly.
“I have to stay and fight. This is my kingdom. It’s my duty to stay.”
“You can’t die,” I tell him and he reaches to grab my face in his hands tightly.
“Promise me you won’t die,” I tell him, my voice leaking with desperation as my heart races and clings on to my chest with agony.
“I promise.” He speaks before turning to Oliver.
“Take her now. He won’t be far behind if his Army has gotten past our own.” Parker says, as Oliver shifts into his Nova eagle form.
“I love you,” Parker speaks before kissing me with desperation and fear as he helps me onto Oliver’s back. With no other words, Oliver takes off into the sky a few officers surrounding us.
There’s no time to plan. No time to waste and too much to lose. Oliver takes off with Lyric and though fighting around them continues the fight on the ground is worse. I can’t find Crystal and Spencer. As worried I am and as much as I want to look for them I freeze my heart and cool my head enough to shift into my wolf form. I run past people, Novas, and outside of Archer Castle grounds.
The kingdom is up in flames and the scene around it of people crying, a look of fear in their eyes. It all makes me think of my own words. The once blind people are now seeing the true danger that was hidden. I can see him in the distance emerging from the chaos. Maxwell Cray. His eyes blood red and his mouth salivating as his hyena runs towards me. My own rage increasing my speed as I rush to kill him. With a roar of anger from both of us, I charge at him only to be hit from the right side by a large black panther. I can feel the flesh off my ribcage is torn off and I scream out in pain. Still, I fight my way back kicking with my hind legs at the panther whom I recognize as Scott. He falls back though quickly and fiercely he growls and lunges back at me as we tumble biting, clawing, pawing at one another. I can feel blood oozing out of my wound though I ignore it as I lunge again for Scott. I claw at his face with my paw and sending him to the ground in pain. Turning to Cray his hyena appears to smirk while more of his Nova men appear from the shadows.
There were too many, much more people than my own father had ever anticipated. Almost a dozen Nova men all which I would not be able to defeat by myself as strong as I was.
“You didn’t think it would be that easy did you Archer?” Cray spoke shifting back to his human form. A screech from up above us allowed me to know that he was going after Lyric. As I tried to make my way towards him, his Nova men closed in on me.
“I told you she would be mine Archer,” Cray spoke as he took off on a Nova crow.
Growls were heard around me of angry Nova cats and wolves and though I tried to step back, there was nowhere to go. With no choice left all I could do was fight.
A strong yet powerful growl was heard before my own as my father ran at light speed to stand and fight with me. The growls of the Cray Novas only intensified as they moved closer, knowing exactly who the much larger wolf before them was.
“Go after him.” My father spoke to me.
“Now or he’ll take your mate.” He ordered.
“I can handle it at least until more Nova guards can make it.” My father spoke; though my paws remained glued to the floor. Fear and regret running through my head as I wondered and though of the worst fate for my father.
“Go!” He yelled snapping me out of my own thoughts as he head-butted my side fiercely to push me on my way.
With a growl of my own, I pushed myself to move faster. There was only one direction to go that much I knew. I could not allow Cray to go past me. Flyers were faster and it would take much less time than running to get to Cray. I trusted Oliver to guard her but there was no doubt in my mind that this was what Cray had been planning all along. My paws moved on their own accord with desperation. My mind screaming at me to be faster. In the distance, I could see Lyric in the air. Flyers fighting past her some trying to grab her while she fought them away with her hands frantically while trying to shield herself. There was not much room for Oliver to fight. I could tell there were more of Cray’s Army than our own. There were too many flyers surrounding Oliver and fighting him trying to tear him to pieces while he struggled to fight back and keep Lyric safe.
All this while Cray himself watched in satisfaction. My mind screaming to go faster. I was so close. So very close. All I needed was a few more minutes.
The call of war screamed out and with it a bomb landing close to me. I could feel my body give out and relax at the forceful impact which followed by immense pain and hopelessness. As I fell looking up at the sky I could see both Oliver and Lyric falling down. Oliver unconscious and Lyric free falling in fear.
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