Chapter 21: Chapter 2
Unlike before when the gardens were full of guests who came to attend the coronation, this day it wasnt empty but also it wasnt crowded. Few Lords and ladies who came to the palace for their own reasons were having a moment of break, sipping their tea and wine as they conversed. Few of them stole glances of the king and the mysterious woman he was with, but they couldnt see Auroras face since she covered her face and her hairs with a light white scarf.
The way Aurora always wore, totally took Artemis by surprise every single day even though Aurora would always complain at the fact that she wasnt wearing anything mesmerizing or pleasant to look at for Artemis to be so taken, yet Artemis would tell her she could even wear a sack of grain and still be the most beautiful woman in Maldonia.
“I waited for you...” Aurora complained when she saw Artemis approaching. Then she picked up a petal of an orchid and gave it to Artemis. She giggled like a little girl “Thats a token of my love for you” she continued to giggle and blush.
Artemis smelt it and closed his eyes “This is what my woman chooses for me, I say she could do better” he made a joke and kissed Aurora.
The kiss was abrupt, uncalled for and quickly Aurora stopped him. Just as she expected all eyes were on them, people were gawking and they desperately wanted to know who was the girl behind King Artemiss robe.
“You cant stop them from gawking. Have you seen yourself Anyone would die just to have a look” Artemis made a joke.
Aurora pushed him, Artemis laughed. “What is it They will know eventually when we get married. I dont understand why we need to keep hiding anymore” he said.
“Its not that -”
“What is it then”
Aurora sat on a chair and Artemis pulled the other chair for himself and sat down, they looked at each other.
Artemis was concerned “Aurora, what is it” he asked with a somber look on his face.
“I... I didnt tell you everything about Lord Balrus”
“What do you mean by not telling me everything Did he -”
Aurora quickly intervened “Hell no! The man in an eunuch for heaven sake”
“Well I dont trust him and I know my father wants me to trust him with everything... he says hes the most loyal to the throne but I just dont trust eunuchs” Artemis paused then he made a mockery of Lord Balrus “A man without scrotums” this sent both him and Aurora into a laughter.
“I couldnt trust him more that I could spit”
“He knows of my... powers” added Aurora, then she took a breather as if waiting to see what will Artemis say.
“You told him”
“No, he confronted me, he says he just knew”
“He just knew Whats that suppose to mean He is a witch detector or what”
Aurora pinched Artemiss chin “Im not a witch...” she had to remind him.
“Ouch! You do sure pinch like one”
Then just when Aurora wanted to pinch Artemis again, she was stopped by Artemis “You are in the presence of the king Lady Kholin. And your king asks you to behave” he said grinning from ear to ear. Artemis was indeed very happy whenever he was with Aurora, its like every hardship seems to go away when he was with him.
That smile on Artemiss face is what made Aurora change her mind, she wanted to tell him of the war to come, the total darkness which will leave kingdoms bleeding and burning, people homeless, fathers separated from their children, and mothers crying for their homes. But how could she tell Artemis all that while she had no clue which kingdom was actually in danger. Was it Maldonia, Prophis or it could also be another kingdom.
Hence they spent an entire day at the garden, Aurora was excused from the cooking tasks and Artemis planned to move her to the palaces chambers after the engagement. Aurora accepted everything Artemis was telling her without hesitation, she knew they were destined to be married. Its a vision she has seen in her dreams – whats the worse that could happen
Lord Lancet who was the father of Sir Lancet arrived at the gardens while escorted with Lord Balrus. Probably he was there to talk to Artemis regarding his sons unfortunate accident. One of the major things Artemis was thankful about Lord Balrus is how he handled the Lancet situation.
He took the body from the grave and up to the well outside of the palace. This well was a place Lancet always met with his crush, and Lord Balrus was aware of everything, he was after all the master of spies in Maldonia. The well was in the midst of the woods, and there was a river flowing just near the wall, and lots of slippery stones. Boys usually jump from the top of the waterfall and down the river, most of them die by hitting the rocks.
What Lord Balruss men did was to make sure Lancets head was banged by a stone and left at the river to be found out, it was better than Auroras plan to make him disappear. Even though Lord Lancet was a very powerful man, he was made stupid by Lord Balrus – the power of persuasion and possibly spending too much time working for the royals made Lord Balrus a good middle man and agent for the crown.
Lord Lancet curtsied before Artemis “Your Grace” he said respectfully. He couldnt stop himself from looking at the girl beside Artemis, he couldnt get to see her face because she was covered but he wasnt a blind man to fully realize that it was Aurora.
“Lord Lancet” Artemis stood up. “My deepest condolences on the loss of your son my lord”
“We have both lost the most important person Your Grace. My wife, lady Lancet sends her good will to you, and your family”
Artemis sighed softly, he was putting on an act just like what lord Balrus told him to do, and he went on to be a good student who passed with good distinction at acting like he was sad. Artemis said of how much Lancet impacted his life and decisions as a king, he spoke of their friendship which he called the best thing to ever happen to him. “I have lost a brother, I fear I may not find another” and Lord Balrus smiled.
Artemis and Lord Balrus have been practicing that special quote for hours, and they all knew that will bring Lord Lancet to his soft side, he even shed a tear. They talked for another five minutes discussing where Lancet would be buried, Artemis offered everything that will be needed for the burial ceremony.
When Lord Lancet and Lord Balrus left, Aurora and Artemis resumed their conversations, “I saw him dead in my dreams, Lancet” said Aurora.
Artemis was startled “You did” he asked her.
“Yes” she paused and sighed “His dead body was laying on the river bank, head smashed and... I didnt know I will be the one to end his life. The images are blurry, and sometimes I dont see faces of the people I dream about”
“Aurora... dont feel guilty for Lancets death. His soul was dark you said so yourself, we did him a favor”
“He still didnt deserve to die” Aurora specified.
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“And you didnt deserve to be raped. How about that” Even though Artemis was trying to cheer up Aurora and taking her mind off things. Aurora seemed to be so confused by everything, especially her powers which were growing and that scared the ** out of her.
“When are you leaving for the royal tour” she asked.
“As soon as you and I are engaged. I have to secure you a spot in the palace before I depart, and guards to make sure you are safe. When I get back we shall get married”
“How long will it be”
Artemis sighed, he seemed to be so tired by the royal tour before it even began. “Five months maximum, my father took six months visiting all the great houses of Maldonia. Its tradition that I get to be welcomed by all the lords and ladies of my kingdom, they are the pillar of our strength and Lord Balrus was right. I need them to support me in case we ever have another war”
That was the time Aurora should have told Artemis there will be a war, but still she didnt want to pressure him. “King Taelin of Prophis is dead” said Artemis. “Did you see his death in your dreams”
“Yes” replied Aurora, then she took a moment “I saw a man slitting his throat in the dark, it could be anyone, a robber or a traitor”
Artemis was confused “The letter said he fell off a balcony. Maybe the murderer is trying to cover that up”
“Why would a murder cover up the kings death”
“If he has access to the people and can easily manipulate them... lets say his son, Prince Castellan” Artemis gasped, he took a moment to grasp everything and came to a conclusion it was indeed Castellan who slit his fathers throat.