Golden Palace, Arkaya.
Saturday, May 7th, 2022.
The last helicopter carrying the Queen of Aryans, Prince Vikranth, Princess Kashish, and Princess Aradhana departed the Palace. Other than a few Guards and the few special guests, everyone else was gone.
“The Golden Birds are on the move.” She registered in the Radio device, and without waiting for any reply, she turned it off. “What are the Orders?” She asked expectedly.
“Arianna wants you to stay at Arkaya. Wait for him to contact you and tell you what to do.” Karen’s calm voice answered her.
“Alright.” She nodded her head and a determined look reflected in her grey eyes. “How’s everything on that side?”
“Everything is under control,” Karen assured her. “Mother, Mary, and Helen are at the House of Scarlet letters, and they will stay there with Lyla till everything is over. I have already deployed all Silverstein forces to form firewalls. Everything is set. The Palace is safe, and on Arianna’s request, the Moon Clan has sent its Elites to Guard the Empire…”
Karen gave her detailed accounts of everything that they had arranged, and only after listening to everything did she heave a sigh of relief.
“The only thing we are worried about is you…” Karen chuckled. “Now you must restrain Ilsa. That’s not an easy task. Unless…”
The reminder made her smile, and she helplessly shook her head. She glanced at the lady standing by her side and laughed lightly.
“I will handle things here… Be safe.” She replied to Karen and ended the call.
She carefully took off the earpiece and put it in the pocket of her jacket.
“Keira, what are the orders?” Ilsa asked nervously.
The only people this brave princess of Kalstark was afraid of were Arianna and Shazan. But she did not fear him as much as she feared the Silverstein Empress. She could disregard the orders of Shazan, but never even in a dream would Ilsa make the mistake of not listening to Arianna.
“We are to stay at Arkaya and wait for Shazan to tell us what to do,” Keira informed her with a gentle smile.
Those simple words were like a wave of fresh air for Ilsa to breathe. Her expressions brightened, and then a grin formed on her pink lips. She rubbed her fist in her palm and then nodded to herself.
“Don’t even think about it…”
Keira could see through Ilsa’s plans. She was never a hard person to read.
“Why not?” Ilsa grumbled. “It’s been a week since we arrived at Arkaya. And he has not even talked to us once!”
“Let’s go and check up on Ella.” Keira shook her head and turned to walk inside the Palace.
It was never a good idea to argue with Ilsa.
The Guards lowered their heads as they passed them, and busied themselves with their tasks.
Rani-Ma had left Maira in charge of the Golden Palace, but everyone present here knew that they were to follow Keira’s lead.
The Aryan Princess had locked herself in a room a day ago, and she was yet to come out.
Ilsa kept mumbling about how mad she was at Shazan, and Keira only smiled at her comments and did not say anything.
When they arrived in Ella’s room, they found her still fast asleep. The vermillion Aura emanating from her body mystified them, but it also made them a little worried.
“She didn’t wake up last night?” Ilsa went over to the bed and observed Ella before asking Isha.
“No…” Isha answered as she put away the book she was reading. “I stayed up all night to observe any changes, but she has not woken up.” She sighed and answered.
Keira looked at their anxious expressions and curbed the anxiety that was welling up in her heart. Someone had to stay sober to keep the others calm.
“Let’s give her another day.” She told them.
“But Ella said that it would take around five days. It is the seventh day.” Isha walked over to her and expressed her worries.
“Have faith in her…” She sighed and said.
“We don’t even know what she is going through…” Isha frowned and clenched her fists. “She did not even tell us anything about it. And now I feel like I shouldn’t have allowed her to do whatever this is.”
“But she said that Shazan knows about it…” Keira nodded, but then shook her head. “All I know is that Ella would never lie to us. And if you don’t have faith in her, then have faith in him. He would not have left her alone if she was in danger.”
“I have had enough of him!” Ilsa clenched her fist tightly. “We are all here worrying about so many things, and he is there fighting those creatures and gaining strength. He did not even leave us some words! How busy can he be?”
Isha depressedly lowered her head after hearing Ilsa’s words.
The way Ilsa had worded it sounded wrong, but everyone knew that Ilsa too understood the gravity of the situation. She just spouted whatever came to her mind when she got mad at someone.
Keira looked at the layers of expressions Ilsa was wearing. There was anger, disappointment, and then there was a fear that only keen people would find in her eyes. For some reason, Ilsa was scared of Shazan. And that fear was different than the one Keira had in her heart.
Her mind was not without worries. He was her master, husband, and father of her child. Before anything else, she was his Shadow, responsible for always sticking by his side, serving him, and protecting him. But here she was, in a Palace behind layers of security while he battled out there with unknown risks looming over his head.
Her heart ached and yearned to be by his side, but she had faith in him. And she would never doubt him.
“Everything will turn out fine in the end.” She smiled and consoled herself and the rest.
“Mhm..” Isha nodded with a light smile.
“Come…” Keira patted her head, and then looked at Ilsa. “I will train you two.”
Ilsa looked at her with a complicated gaze, but then she shook her head and smiled.
Since they had arrived at Arkaya, Keira had refused to train her. And now, she was allowing her to have it as she wanted.
“Alright…” Ilsa grinned and replied.
When they arrived at the back of the Palace, and in the lush green lawn, they found Maira there dancing with her sword.
Her elegance made them look at her in awe, and the determination by which she executed every move made their admiration rise even more.
“Keira…” Maira stopped her practice and lightly nodded to her when she saw them standing there.
“Took you a while to realize our presence…” Keira chuckled and walked over to her as she started taking off her jacket.
She threw the jacket on the bench on the other end of the lawn, and then stretched her right arm before she arrived in front of Maira.
“Are you feeling better now?” She gently asked.
Maira remained silent and lowered her head.
“Alright…” Keira sighed. “I am glad you are not shut inside your room now.” She patted her shoulder and turned to look back at Ilsa and Isha.
“Have you heard from him?” Maira suddenly asked.
“No..” She smiled and answered. “But everything will be fine.”
“I told him that I would come to join him once the people here have evacuated… But I felt weak when that time arrived. I feel weak…”
The words the Aryan princess spoke were desolate, but there was still a hint of unshakable determination in her eyes. A person who realized the reality, and did not allow their emotions to get in the way was not someone ordinary.
“We are all weak…” Keira smiled and then said the words Arianna had once said to her. “We may never be strong enough for everything, but we must always have the heart to stand our ground at all times.”
Her words made the princess frown, but she nodded in reply and smiled.
“Do you?” She question. “Good…” She giggled. “Now then…” She looked at Ilsa and Isha. “All three of you, come at me!”
She swiftly gained a safe distance away from Maira right after she finished her words.
The three of them looked at her with complicated gazes. Each of them had their thoughts, but all of them found it a little excessive.
“Don’t worry…” Keira folded her arms on her chest. “Even if you three come together… You are still too weak…” She mischievously said some words that contained hints of pride.
Maira had her pride, and Ilsa was the same. Being called out as weak, and so bluntly, made the two of them put away any caring thoughts. Isha was not a Zeros yet, she did not mind being called weak, but there was excitement in her eyes, anticipating how strong Keira was to proclaim Ilsa and Maira as weak.
In these years at the Silverstein Palace, Keira had only trained with Shazan. She was always by his side, and the rest of them had no idea how she trained, and they knew near to nothing about her fighting style.
About a year ago, on Roselyn’s request, other than Renesme, Karen, and Arianna, everyone in the Palace raced. Unsurprisingly, Shazan won that, and Ezio came second. But what shocked everyone was how close Keira was to coming second. Even the fourth-placed Rysar was shocked.
One thing they knew was that Keira was fast.
Maira sheathed her sword and then dropped it on the grass before rushing at her.
“Shouldn’t have dropped your weapon…” Keira palely smiled.
The figures of the girl in Black and the girl in golden clashed against each other. Fists and kicks were hurled and expertly blocked by them.
At the start, it seemed like a usual sparring session, but then Keira dropped the facade.
Maira could determine her every move before it was even executed. But what good would it be if you were too slow?
Keira landed a fist squarely on Maira’s stomach, and the Aryan princess was thrown in the air. There was no mercy in Keira’s eyes as she arrived right on top of Maira, and then crashed a heavy kick on her guarding arms.
The Princess crashed on the ground below and did not stand up. Her ragged breathing and closed eyes announced that she would need some time to recover.
“Asked you three to come together… Do listen to my words the next time.”
She elegantly landed on her feet and folded her arms back on her chest.
Isha was looking at her as if she was looking at a treasure. Her eyes sparkled with admiration and a little fear.
Ilsa, on the other hand, only glared at her as if she was her enemy.
“Scared?” Keira gently asked, but a dangerous glint flashed in her grey eyes.
Her senses were exceptionally strong, and she could hear the rhythms of their Hearts.
“No…” Ilsa flashed an excited grin and dashed at her. “You can never scare me…”
“I see… You still wouldn’t listen to me…” Keira welcomed her attack and evaded at the last second.
Her knee dug right in Ilsa’s abdomen, and a wave of pain burst inside her body. Next, she landed an elbow on Ilsa’s back, right on her spine, that made her blank out for a moment. When she finally regained her senses, she had fallen face down on the ground.
“Now you should understand that you need to listen to me…” Keira dusted her hands mockingly and then turned to look at Isha.
The little girl felt chills run down her spine, and her pretty face was suddenly drained of blood.
Keira arrived right on her in a fraction of time, not even giving her a chance to evade.
Isha closed her eyes, preparing herself to suffer the pain, but all she felt after a moment was a gentle pat on her head.
“You win the round,” Keira said.
“Why?” Isha opened her eyes and looked up at her.
“Because they did not listen to me, and lost.” Keira smiled at her. “You did not act, and since you are the one still standing, you win the round.”
No one had said that it was this sort of competition. But none of them dared to say anything to her about it.
Ilsa stubbornly got back up on her feet and gritted her teeth. She confusedly looked at Keira with questions running on her mind. The Kalstark Clan was naturally blessed with Monstrous strength and a tough body.
For Keira to have made Ilsa feel this much pain meant that her Realm of Strength far exceeded hers.
“So that’s why you never trained with anyone but him…” Ilsa concluded. “We are not good enough to help you get stronger.”
“He trains me because only he can…” Keira mystically said. “But yes… You two can not help me get stronger.”
The Princess of Kalstark was a few months older than her. And the realization that the difference between their strengths was too great, hammered on her pride ruthlessly.
“How strong are Karen and Arianna?” She narrowed her eyes and asked.
It was the question that was bothering her since the day she had seen Karen beat Shazan in the race.
Keira frowned at her expressions.
“I don’t know.” She simply replied. “She only trains with Arianna.”
Her mind recalled the day she first arrived at Shazan’s house. Everyone had happily welcomed her, but Arianna had not.
The eight-year-old princess had looked at her calmly, but Keira had felt as if her soul was being devoured by her.
“Are you strong?” Arianna suddenly smiled.
Keira was four years older than her and was trained by the best of the professionals in the arts of assassination. The fact that Lyanna had chosen her to become Shazan’s Shadow meant that she was capable, and so she had confidently nodded back to the little princess in reply.
She remembered witnessing an ethereal smile on the little girl’s face before blanking out in pain. A small fist was dug in her abdomen. The little girl was too fast for her.
“You are too weak to protect him…”
The words still reverberated in her mind, fresh as ever. A warning that would forever haunt her.
“All I can say for sure is that Arianna is stronger than me.” Keira smiled and told Ilsa. “Karen shouldn’t be weak as well since she always trains with her.”
The words made Ilsa’sface drain of color.
“It isn’t as if you had not expected Arianna to be Strong…” She giggled. “Or is it that you had not expected us to be so strong?”
Ilsa remained silent at her words. The veins on her hands started appearing as she clenched her fists a little too hard.
Keira let the girl take her time to clear her mind. She was in no rush to continue with their training.
“I am older than you… I am older than all of you.” Ilsa mumbled and then her complicated gaze landed on Keira. “I am trained since I was a little child. I have trained with all my heart. Why are you all still stronger than me?”
“Huh..” Ilsa scoffed. “Don’t give me the answer that Serafina once gave me. I know you all suffered the pain that tore your souls, but how can that have led you to gain this much strength…”
Keira stopped herself from saying what she was about to say. She closed her eyes and remained silent. After a moment, she took a deep breath before opening her eyes to look at Ilsa and Maira.
“It was not just the pain… It was the mark of death left on our souls that reminded us that we had to protect each other. We can not afford to lose someone again.” Keira palely smiled at the two of them. “Or… he will break… again…”
The three of them remained silent after hearing her words.
“Come…” Keira welcomed them. “And remember… If you are weak alone, you will be stronger together.”
Surprisingly, it was Isha who stepped forward first. Her eyes were misty but filled with determination.
Maira followed from the other end, and Isha did not lag.
Keira did not take them lightly. She had to make sure that she was pushing Isha without hurting her, and she had to make sure that she showed them their weaknesses. And no matter how strong she was, she knew that it was better to not let Ilsa land a hit on her.
Ilsa’s monstrous attacking power was not to be taken lightly.
Minutes passed and then an hour. The three of them took their time to get used to fighting together. They were still not in perfect sync, but they were no longer hindering each other.
Ilsa’s monstrous strength, and Maira agility and her ability to know her opponent’s next move turned the two of them in a capable duo. But it was still not enough for them to win against the Black-Beauty.
After the second hour, Isha fell first, and Maira was next. Ilsa kept up for a while, but then even her stamina was drained.
Keira looked at the three girls that were all on their knees, panting for breath, too tired to continue.
“You did well. That’s enough for today.” She gently said.
Her limit was still far away, but she too needed a little rest now. More than anything, she felt ridiculously hungry.
Keira was about to ask them to eat when she heard two horses trotting towards the Palace. She focused on her sense of hearing to figure out who they were. But surprisingly, the two people did not say a word as they approached the Palace.
Since the two of them were coming to the front of the Palace, she walked over to the bench to pick up her jacket and walked inside.
“Where are you going?” Ilsa got up on her feet and ran after her.
Keira remained silent for a while until she heard a familiar sound of steps.
“It is Ezio. He has come back with someone.”
By the time they arrived at the front of the Palace, Maira and Isha had caught up with them.
“Lady Keira…” Ezio smiled and bowed to her.
“Akash greets the first Queen and the Princess of Kalstark Clan.” The prince by Ezio’s side introduced himself.
“It’s a pleasure to see you, Prince.” She calmly smiled and nodded. “I won’t hold you back from taking rest.” She commented after she analyzed the situation of Akash.
“Brother, what happened to you?” Maira rushed forward after hearing Keira’s words.
“I am fine.” Akash smiled at her. “And I should be the one asking what’s up with you? Why are you so haggard?”
“I was training with them,” Maira replied.
The princess turned to look at Keira to ask her what was up with her brother. But Ezio answered her with a light laugh.
“Don’t worry, Princess. Your brother is only going through Krytis, and he needs to rest because of that.”
“That’s right.” Keira nodded. “I congratulate the Prince on advancing to the Fifth Realm.”
“Thank you!” Akash embarrassedly laughed and shook his head.
“Fifth?!” Maira looked at her brother with wide eyes.
“I forgot to tell you when you arrived here… I had already broken through the fourth Realm couple of months back.” Akash proudly told her.
His words shocked not just Maira, but Ilsa, Isha, and even Keira were shocked at those words.
Akash realized that they were not clear about things yet, and so he sighed.
“We will talk over Lunch.” He proposed.
All of them nodded to him and entered the Palace.
♛ Author’s Note:
The story was chosen to be the story of the month, but it was a tie. And therefore, there will be fewer chapters this month. The release schedule is set every Wednesday. This was the first of the four Public chapters this month. I hope you liked it. And yes! The PoV has been shifted to Keira, and it will be a few chapters before we return to Shazan.
To know the result, you can join my discord server. The link is on the ToC page. See you there!