A person can only stay calm for a while, and when it’s over, all the worries come crashing down at once. They had somehow managed to have breakfast, but by lunchtime, their restlessness had killed their appetite.
Viara was pacing back and forth around the Black Crystal. The room had housed only the sound of her steps in the last two hours. They were all present here, but not a word had been uttered by anyone since the early afternoon.
Ayana was sleeping on top of a Glass disc that floated in the air. Her head rested in Vienna’s lap who lightly stroked it. The only person who did not seem worried at all was her, as she innocently slept. Perhaps her not being worried was the influence of the person that lovingly stroked her crimson-haired head.
“It’s been more than 12 hours now,” Xeina said to the High Queen that sat by her side.
Her words snapped out Viara of whatever she had been thinking, and her steps halted. She looked up at the disc where Vienna and Xeina sat together and asked in almost a half-crying voice.
“Vienna, he hasn’t gotten in some trouble, right?”
The question she asked would sound stupid to anyone but not to the people present in this room. Aizen’s trace had vanished, and he had not provided them the access to see where he was. Even Vienna couldn’t possibly know where he was or if anything had happened to him. But no one doubted that the person who knew Aizen best was Vienna.
“You should have more faith in him, sister.” Vienna smiled warmly “He knows that if anything happens to him then the Star Palace will fall. He wouldn’t take a risk unless he is sure that he can escape in time.”
“I know. But why does he need to keep us from observing where he is?” Viara voiced what bothered her.
Vienna didn’t answer and only shook her head lightly. The smile never left her face. She understood that his safety wasn’t the only thing Viara was worried about. Her older sister feared that he would put his trust in the wrong people. It was only out of concern but still, some part of that fear stemmed from her jealousy, and the desire to have him belong only to her. And her sister was not the only one who felt so towards Aizen.
The Black Crystal resonated and everyone’s eyes locked on it. Viara wasted no time and placed her hand on the Crystal to open the space channel. The space behind the crystal ripped open and a Black Hole took its form.
Aizen walked out of the channel holding Liafina’s hand just like when he had left. None of them looked at Aizen but looked at the little dryad and observed her expressions. Only after she had nodded did relief wash over Viara, and she lunged in his embrace.
“It took longer than I had thought. My apologies.” He whispered in her ear and wrapped his arms around her and let her stay in his embrace. Feeling her warmth in his embrace eased his worries.
“Ahem. I don’t think we have time to be so affectionate.” A teasing voice called out.
Viara separated from his embrace and looked behind him where a cloaked figure stood. She could not see through the Mask’s illusion and the cloak, but from the charming voice she had just heard, it was a girl. A lady would be more appropriate. The flush on her cheeks vanished and a stern look adorned her face.
Aizen sighed as he saw her loveable expression. He nodded to the lady behind him and then looked around the room. They were all already present, and he now needed to decide who will come along with him. His eyes landed on Lysaria who looked sternly at him. He couldn’t understand what she was thinking, but he felt that it was related to the person standing behind him. Her intuition and her memory scared him. She was still wearing her battle suit from last night. It was the same for Yuliya and Viara.
“Sir Arthur, you will be coming along with us.” He told the man standing at the side of the entrance dressed in his battle suit. It was as if the people here had readied themselves to jump in a battle at any time. And he felt bad for letting them worry for so long. However, the situation demanded it, and it couldn’t be helped.
Aizen placed his hand on the Crystal and summoned a space channel.
“Can I come with you?” A sweet voice called out.
He hadn’t conversed much with her since she had started living with them, but he recognized her voice. It was not as arrogant as it once used to be.
“You will stay here, Xeina” He gently smiled to her “If the situation demands it then I will signal you to join in.”
She nodded to what he said and averted her gaze. It was the first time he had addressed her with her name without using any honorifics, and he had not treated her as a guest for the first time. Her heart pleasantly felt at ease.
Meera walked over and jumped in his embrace. He locked his arms around her waist and captured her lips in a deep sip.
“Be safe.” She said as their lips separated.
He put her down and kissed the tip of her nose.
“Watch and Observe.” He told her and then nodded to Vienna that sat on the floating disc. She had not come down for she didn’t want to disturb the sleep of the little fairy, but she blew him a kiss and playfully winked.
He had gotten the message. He had to stay the night with her after he returns.
Liafina, Viara, Lysaria, Yuliya, and Arthur followed Aizen and his cloaked fellow in the space channel. Their destination was The Sky Mountains.
The platform in front of the highest Mountain was holding its last assembly. All three hundred and thirty-three people of Azereus Bloodline had assembled here. The only one absent was their second Prime Alpha, Alyson Azereus.
Renera stood ahead of the 24 Alphas and faced the silent audience of her clan. Her heart ached, and her mind reminisced about the factors that had led to this day of destruction. It was the greed and lust for power that Alphas were cursed with, and this time it had proved to be their clan’s doom. The pack that had survived tens of thousands of years would fall today. And the destruction was brought on them by the very people that were supposed to protect the clan. But what’s done was done now. She finally managed to get herself ready.
“The enemies are upon us” She raised her voice and addressed her people. “They want our home. And they want us to submit to them.”
“The war that has loomed on us for 2 decades has finally arrived this day. The enemy alliance has asked us to surrender our home and to be their prisoners. But even they understand one thing clearly.”
“A wolf never submits its freedom!” Her words roused the blood of her pack. “It’s our pride. It’s our way of life!” Her voice was determined and her words were threatening. “And there will be a War!”
“Azereus will fight but never surrender!”
“We will fight but never hand over our Home!”
Her gaze ran over the crowd and seeing that their eyes were less fearful of death, she continued.
“I will tell you that we will certainly lose this war. And I want to let you know that I will die, fighting, this day.”
“The blood in my veins and my Alpha’s pride doesn’t allow me to bow down before my enemies!”
“I will die but never shame my Ancestors!” It was her resolve.
“I ask of you for your lives today. I ask you to fight and die with honor.”
“There’s no shame in losing a war!”
“But surrendering without a fight is an eternal Shame!”
“And, I would never stain the name of Azereus with this shame.”
The words she had wanted to convey had been said. Her purpose was to rouse her pack’s pride and seeing those determined eyes of her people, she felt content. There were some whose determination wavered and some who were scared for their lives more than anything. She did not say anything more to them, for fears could not be washed away by just words. What it took to get over your fears was your willingness to fight them.
“We will only defend in the 7 Mountains surrounding us. The aim is to let the enemy suffer losses worse than us. Don’t let a single Azereus life go to waste.” She turned around and told the 24 Alphas present before her.
All of them nodded their heads in compliance.
“Lady Renera, where’s my Mother?” Lyla inquired as she found it weird for her mother to not be present here.
“I don’t know. I just hope she doesn’t make the wrong decision.” Renera added and sighed.
Alyson was her little sister, and so she knew her psyche very well. She had admirable strength, but her fear of death was a shame. Renera looked at Lyla and couldn’t help but see her wavering determination to embrace death. Had the time presented itself, she would have raised her in her care and made her a remarkable Alpha. Her talent was only second to Akira and Zeros in the young Alphas of the clan. However, Akira belonged to the 2nd Line, and Zeros was, unfortunately, her son. Had it been a daughter with those capabilities, then she wouldn’t have worried all these years for the clan’s future. Zeros’ sister and her only daughter didn’t have an Alpha’s bloodline. Lost in her thoughts her gaze landed on the girl that stood by Lyla’s side.
Akira felt Renera looking at her curiously, and she couldn’t wrap her head around why she would do that. She just stood there with the rest of the young Alphas and awaited her to disperse them.
A voice called out, and her eyes finally left Akira.
It was Alyson that jumped on the summit in her wolf manifestation. She walked over to them and transformed back.
“Do you want to die?” She asked almost in a mocking tone.
All the Alphas frowned at her words. Renera had the wrong bells ringing in her head when she observed the expressions Alyson wore.
“What happened to you?” She inquired.
The expressions she wore on her face just didn’t seem real. If it was others then perhaps her façade would have fooled them, but not her. She only needed a look to know that Alyson was struggling with her emotions.
“Nothing happened to me.” Alyson lightly said and smiled. “I talked to the Stavros, and I have been informed that other than the Monster Race no one is allowed to participate in this war.”
“So, he can’t help us avoid the war. Well, it’s for the best. I never intended to seek his help anyway.” Renera had already received this news a while back. She turned around and faced the Alphas.
“All of you…” Her words hadn’t finished when Alyson interjected.
“However, if some people, willingly come under the authority of Stavros, then no one can do anything about it.”
“And what have you decided to do?” Renera didn’t turn around and asked lightly. “Become their slave?”
Alyson’s heart ached when she heard the question. But she had already chosen a path and had sacrificed all her pride for that.
“If you live you can achieve whatever you want.”
Renera scoffed at her words and turned around to look at her.
“An honorable death is better than a miserable life.”
“I have made my choice and I will follow my path. You want to embrace death then go ahead.” Her words held her irritation and her fuming rage spread in her eyes. “I will take those that are loyal to me and Live.”
Renera didn’t argue with her. She could see that Alyson could not be saved from the fate that she had chosen for herself. There was a sudden urge to end her miserable life before it begins. It was out of mercy, but when she thought of how her sister’s decision had stained the name of Azereus, she decided to let her live this miserable life she had chosen for herself.
“Those that are willing to desert us and go with this woman can leave.” She raised her voice.
The crowd was shocked at how she easily agreed to it. There was some restlessness in the hearts of those that were present. Who did not want to live? But could they live with the shame that they deserted their kin to save their own lives? But the next words of Renera made the decision easier for them.
“The only condition is to take the Blood Oath that you and your legacy would no longer be named Azereus.”
How could she allow the cowards still bear the name of her Family?
“It is not for you to decide what we will call ourselves.” Alyson raised her voice more than she should have.
The air around her froze as a blue glint appeared in Renera’s eyes. A sharp pain sprang from her uncovered neck as a shard of ice dug half an inch in it. Another half an inch and she would lose her life. The difference in their strength was not much, but the little there was, was more than enough to decide a clear winner.
“I am the matriarch of Azereus. I have the right to end the life of deserters or decide what their future would be.” Renera walked over to her as she said those words.
Alyson didn’t say a word more as she feared she would enrage her sister. She knew that Renera wouldn’t kill her. The last thing she would want is her pack fighting amongst each other amidst the crisis they were facing.
Renera pulled out the shard of ice from her neck and turned around to face the Alphas. Her eyes ran over them and observed their expressions.
“Those that willing to live in shame and slavery can go with her. I won’t stop you.” She told them.
The three mates of Alyson were already by her side. The people who had stayed loyal to her over the years parted from the crowd and stood behind her. But some had chosen to die than to go with her and be slaves. Of the 24 Alphas, only 4 walked over and stood behind Alyson.
However, she was not happy. Her face distorted when she saw some of her loyal people standing in the crowd and not willing to come with her. The people who stood behind her were not even 4 dozen. She saw the disdainful eyes of the crowd that looked at her and the people behind her. Those eyes that had until yesterday lowered in reverence now mocked her. But what bothered her most was none of these. Her pent up anger erupted when she saw Lyla still standing behind her sister.
“Lyla!” She growled. “Come here.”
Lyla’s heart struggled. The expressions she saw her mother wearing today scared her. There was madness in her eyes, and it felt like she would drown everyone around her in her wrath. She did not want to die. But some part of her heart screamed at her after she looked at the state of her mother that there was a fate even worse than death. Even if she couldn’t tell what had happened to her mother, she felt that she didn’t desire the same fate for herself.
“I am sorry.” She lowered her head and didn’t meet her mother’s gaze.
“Never knew you had that in you,” Renera commented. “I am proud of you.”
Tears slipped out her eyes as she still kept her head lowered, but her heart had no longer felt so restless. And along with the decision she had just made, her fear of death waned a little.
“So that’s all the men you have now. Make your Blood Vow and leave.” Renera said as she looked at the people that had just deserted the clan.
A sinister smile crept on Alyson’s face. Her gaze landed on Akira. “Come here, girl. You are standing on the wrong side.”
Coldness enveloped Akira’s heart when she heard these words. It was the first time in her life that she felt the touch of cold air on her skin. She shivered and a lump formed in her throat that blocked her from speaking. The grin on Alyson’s face had explained everything to her. She couldn’t even decide the way she would die.
Or perhaps she could? The thought of ripping the Collar on her neck appeared in her mind. Every breath she took fastened her resolve. Her shivering body stabilized as she looked sternly at the woman in front of her.
“I refuse to go with you.” Her words contained her determination.
Akira didn’t know that her reply had aroused waves of envy in the heart of Alyson. The envy had incited her wrath and she laughed maniacally. She hated her. She hated how the people in front of her chose to embrace their deaths just to hold onto their dignity. She hated her daughter for betraying her.
“You choose to die with the woman who was responsible for driving your sister away from the clan.” Alyson’s laughter stopped as she channeled her mana to her eyes and activated the Azereus Clan’s Frozen Glare.
Akira only saw a blue glint in Alyson’s eyes and the air around her body froze. The breath inside her lungs froze up and soon every muscle in her body was in an icy prison. She could not move and her mind hurt as her Spirit Manipulation couldn’t counter Alyson’s mental strength.
The ability was the same that Renera had a while ago used to imprison Alyson’s movements. This was Azereus’ special ability. It was a magic that froze the insides of the victim’s body. It was similar to Time magic, but the target suffered from an excruciating cold while he was frozen. And together with the spirit manipulation, it was a terror.
She wanted to scream in pain but she couldn’t. Her entire body was frozen inside, and only her mind was awake. It was awake to bear the burning pain. The pain suddenly doubled and just as she thought that her mind would burst if it continued, all the pain vanished and her body regained its freedom.
Akira looked at Renera and gratefully nodded to her.
“I would suggest you keep your madness at bay,” Renera warned Alyson.
“She’s my Slave. I can do whatever I want with her.” Alyson glared at her sister. Her threatening gaze made it clear that she wouldn’t think twice before ending Akira’s life.
“She’s not your slave,” Renera said lightly and it didn’t seem like she was ardent to fight over Akira with Alyson.
“How long do you plan to stay there?” Renera looked at the peak closest to the Platform where they stood. “Morningstar.”
Spears of ice grew out of the snow-covered peak and went flying onto a rock. The entire peak shivered as dozens of spears crashed on it and the snow avalanched its way down. The certain place where the spears had landed revealed a wall of rock that was not present there before.
Soon the wall of rock merged back into the peak, and 7 forms appeared before the Azereus. A tear the size of a pearl poured out of Akira’s eye and slid down her cheek. She was wrong about him. He was not sensible at all.
♛ Author’s Note:
It isn’t really his fault. He is just a pervert that wants to bed his aunt….
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