Xiena had started to fall in love with the Star Palace. This was the place she always wanted to be. A place that was majestic and beautiful, and did not have too many people. Every morning she would take a walk around this small Star which had Star Palace as its sole patch of land. And every day she would come to like this place even more.
She would spend some of her time by the lake, and some of her time by walking in the Garden of Sculptures. She would daily observe all these sculptures and appreciate the Art. The library of the Palace was her heaven, and she spent the majority of her time there. She loved and enjoyed reading just as much as her father did.
Every place of the Palace was open to her, and she felt free here even though she knew that she had been caged. She had tried her best to not get along with the people of this place. It was because she didn’t want to rely on them or want them to help her. But she had failed.
Xeina had her pride. She was the oldest one here in the Palace other than the little dryad. Even Marylyn and Arthur were younger than her. And she was also the strongest one considering her mid False Origin strength.
She had disdained when the Empress of this palace had one day appeared before her and asked her to join her in the Battle Room. She wanted to refuse but the confident look on Viara’s face exuded pride that bothered her, and so she ended up accepting her offer.
It was only later when she found herself not gaining an upper hand, did she realize that her opponent was not to be looked down upon. Their speeds were the same even with the obvious gap between the realms of their strengths. Which meant that Viara was more skillful than her with her Light Element. And Viara had darkness element as well. Her wind element didn’t help much against it.
Xeina was forced to use her flight ability and was also forced to open her wings. Only then did she finally get an upper hand in the battle. She had won in the end, but she was not happy. Her opponent was several hundred years younger than her and merely 20 years old. Viara was already on the verge of stepping into the False Origin phase. This power, Xeina had to spend more than 200 years to achieve. She had always prided herself as an outstanding talent, but before Viara she felt ashamed.
More time was now spent by her in the Battle Room than anywhere else. An urge to get stronger had ignited in her heart. She would usually spar with Viara and sometimes with Lysaria. It was only after having a battle with Vienna did she conclude something. Every single one of these girls was freakishly talented. Vienna had been laughing all the while that they dueled. All Vienna did, was evade her attacks and run. Xeina couldn’t even match her speed. And the defensive cage of lightning Vienna always kept herself in, made her unapproachable. And so their duel had ended up in a draw. She felt bitter.
What made everything worse was that even Ayana laughed at how she couldn’t catch up with Vienna’s speed. She was quite depressed. but she just couldn’t stay in the state with Vienna and Meera teaming up with Ayana. The three of them would create mischief from time to time and they never stopped laughing. The Aura they exuded made everyone around them feel at peace and smile even if they tried not to.
Xiena had never seen Ayana enjoying herself so much. She was her Shadow, but Xeina had brought her up like she was her daughter. When Ayana had grown up a little, she had become her sister and the only person she truly laughed around with. Her fairy had always been afraid of harming others with her abilities and had never felt at ease around people. But things had changed now, and she was not sure if it was for the good.
Unbeknownst to her, she had at some point started taking interest in everyone that lived in the Star Palace. The only people that she talked with were the Trio. They were hard to resist. She seldom conversed with Viara and Lysaria but got along with them just fine. The only person that she hadn’t talked to was Aizen. And he hadn’t bothered her as well.
Two months ago, Liafina’s aura had made everyone on the table worry about her. And her heart ached as well. She had wanted to comfort the little dryad. However, the very next morning, the little dryad seemed to have changed. The feeling of doom had vanished and solemnness had taken its place. Liafina didn’t talk to anyone and only occasionally smiled at the trio’s enthusiasm. Her focus was all on accompanying Aizen in Battle Room and having him master his new elements.
Liafina did talk to Aizen, but their relationship seemed just like that of a Servant and her Master. And for some reason Xeina found herself being mad at him. She didn’t like how he wouldn’t even try to correct his Shadow’s behavior or make her feel more at ease with him. She didn’t like Shadows being treated in such a manner. They were the people closest to you and needed to be cared for.
Every day she would watch them practice their Elements, and intrigued as she was at how Aizen could use so many different elements, she couldn’t help but find him dangerous. The feeling she had, only got stronger with time. He seemed to be driven by an obsession that no one could see but only feel.
Xiena had read about the Morningstar and Ka’zaed Blood a lot in the Library of Star Palace as well as in The Castle. She was fascinated by their powers. But every single Morningstar had died a cruel death. It was as if they were not meant to exist or last in the world. And it was not always the world that led to their demise. Some paved their deaths. Every Morningstar was crazy in his meaning.
She tried to figure out where Aizen’s obsession lied or if it even existed and wasn’t just her misunderstanding. She observed him for days, but she couldn’t find it. He showed no signs of being obsessed with something. He acted in his manner, but nothing felt like an obsession. Of course, other than the fact that he wouldn’t hold back his unscrupulous gaze, nothing really about him made her uncomfortable.
“Is he truly the person he shows he is?” Xeina asked herself one day in the Battle Room.
“No, he’s not.”
She was surprised to find the person sitting by her side to answer her worries. It was Vienna who was still smiling and looking at Aizen training with Liafina.
It was for the first time Xiena had felt scared of someone. It was not Aizen but Vienna that scared her. She recalled her words at the Coronation ceremony and remembered the obsession they held.
“What will you do if he burns down the realm one day?” She asked her even though she already knew what she would answer.
Vienna turned to her and only smiled brightly. “I will help him burn it down if he truly wishes for it.”
Xiena felt very uncomfortable at her words and seemed to be lost in her thoughts. She couldn’t believe or imagine someone as cheerful as Vienna, kill people heartlessly. This scared her.
“Are you worried that he would burn down the Realm one day?” Vienna asked as she turned her attention back to Aizen.
“Yes.” Xiena voiced her fears subconsciously.
“He wouldn’t do so, as long as his family is safe.”
Xiena dazedly looked at her when she heard these words. She understood the meaning behind the words. Aizen was caged right now, and his family was responsible for making sure that he stayed in the cage. It was the Heart that was caged, and the purpose was not to imprison it but to protect it from falling in the abyss of no return. It did not matter what obsession he held in his heart. As long as the people that maintained the cage on his Heart were around, he would stay in it.
She couldn’t help but relate to how she too felt caged in this Palace and didn’t mind it. She felt at peace here and all the people here somehow had housed in her mind and heart. Had these people become her heart’s cage? She felt herself at a loss of what she should do.
Should she allow them to cage her heart? Should she run away?
Did she want to bear their responsibility and protect them?
The questions loomed in her mind but soon the laughing voice of Ayana and Meera entered her ears, and all her worries vanished. What mattered was the happiness, and if it asked for her to be caged and burdened with responsibilities, then so be it. At least she was enjoying this life.
A smile crept on her face and it was seen by Vienna who then laughed mischievously and suggestively winked to her. She watched as Vienna got up and vanished from her spot. On the field where Aizen stood tired of all the training, she appeared before him and threw herself in his arms.
“Elder Brother is staying with me tonight. Okay?” She ordered like a spoiled kid.
“Yes, my Princess.” And he nodded obediently before being caught by her in a passionate kiss.
Xiena’s heart thumped as she watched their unfazed intimacy in front of all those present here. She averted her gaze and saw Liafina have her head lowered and looking at the ground dazedly. It was not until Aizen had separated from Vienna that she lifted her head back up and stood as if awaiting his order.
Sure enough, Aizen gestured to her and she walked to him and held his drawn hand. He then led her and Vienna out of the Battle Room.
Meera had not gone after them and had stayed behind playing with Ayana with her Illusions. They seemed to be in a world of their own, not bothered by anything that went on around them. Xeina got up from her place and headed to the library. The day was not over yet, and there were still a couple of hours left at dinner time.
It was then that she saw Viara coming out of the core room with a grim face. Her expressions had soon recovered when she saw her, and she smiled at Xeina amiably before walking past her.
Xiena was quite curious as to what would make her have such a grim expression, and so she followed in the direction Viara had gone to. She arrived at the living room where Aizen was talking to Arthur about something. Vienna had glared at Viara, and the latter had lowered her head and not met her gaze. Something had happened and it was related to Viara. She went forward and stood by the side of Vienna.
“Is everything okay?” She asked.
“We don’t know yet. Some guests have come from Velrich.” Vienna lightly said.
“Fenris Lycan?” Xiena was quite surprised and asked.
Vienna nodded to her and then looked back to her sister.
Xiena couldn’t quite get as to why Fenris Lycan would make them so uncomfortable with his arrival, and her mind went to the girl that had called herself Aizen’s first love.
“Has that girl come as well?”
“She’s dead. She was killed at the night of the Coronation ceremony.” Vienna replied.
Xiena couldn’t help but look at Viara in shock. She finally understood what was going on here. And she couldn’t believe it.
The meeting room was adjoined to the Star Hall. Fenris and his Family waited here. Aizen had only brought Viara and Liafina with him. Unlike Viara, he seemed to be quite calm and patted her back assuredly before entering.
He glanced at the three women Fenris had brought along and his eyes stayed on the youngest one. She looked to be around 20 and she was truly beautiful. Her lustrous black eyes looked back at him with resentment, and she clenched her fists.
She didn’t resemble Elysa, and it made him wonder why she would resent him for having her killed if it was the reason behind it. He looked at Fenris who was all smiles and nodded to him before taking his seat on the couch.
Viara was back in the Empress persona and didn’t seem bothered at all. She didn’t smile at her guests nor did she show any displeasure. She took her time looking at the women that had come with Fenris.
Liafina just looked at the girl that had given Aizen the resentful look earlier. She observed the girl curiously and kept her eyes on her.
Fenris was quite surprised at her actions but didn’t keep his eyes on her for any longer than what would have been considered disrespectful.
“I hope the Morningstar has been well since our last meeting.” He smiled at Aizen and said.
“I have been well, and you seem to be doing fine as well, Lord Fenris,” Aizen replied with a smile. He had no plans on having pleasantries with this man and wanted to get to the subject as soon as possible. And he didn’t have to wait long for that.
“I may seem to be doing fine, Lord Aizen, but I lost my granddaughter on the night of your wives’ coronation ceremony,” Fenris said grimly and looked ardently at him.
“She was killed along with the Young Lord of the Leon Clan.” He added but felt disappointed at finding no change in their expressions.
However, he didn’t worry for he was sure that Elysa’s blood was on Aizen’s hand. At worst, he would have to pay the hefty price and prove it with the help of someone of Divination ability.
“Tell me Lord Aizen, was it done on your order?” He asked straightforwardly.
“Yes,” Aizen answered him and lightly smiled. “I don’t appreciate it when someone holds ill intentions towards me and my family.”
Fenris heard the answer he wanted and the grim expression on his face vanished. He laughed as he had never before.
♛ Author’s Note:
The Sky Moutain Arc will soon start. Buckle up!
To stay connected to me and my stories, do join my Discord. The link is on the ToC page. See you there!