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Two Shadows Went, Chapter 17

Updated: Apr 12, 2019

The morning rose with a red sun in the distance. Lance had watched as he dressed in his fine clothing, linking in silver cufflinks to match his silver circlet over his brow. He slipped the Blue Bayard in at his hips, planning on training later in the afternoon with Keith. In deep blues and accenting gold and silver, Lance had made his way to his father’s chambers.

It wasn’t till around mid-day that Lance realized — he wouldn’t be going to train with Keith that day.

“Retrieve my sister.” Lance said to a servant as lunch was served around them to his father and the gathered few that fleeted in and out.

It was more than usual. Servants were nearly frantic as they attended to the diminishing man in the white linens of the bed. The forlorn thought occurred that he doubted they had ever attended to the death of a king.

“Your highness,” The servant gave a deep bow before backing away.

Lance grabbed at the servant’s sleeve, stopping them before they could step away. “Tell her—she needs to come now. Not when her meetings are done. Her duties don’t matter right now, she needs to come as soon as she can.”

“Yes, Your Highness,” The servant gave another duck into a bow. Once freed, they fleeted past the armed guard and through the folds of draper.

Lance nodded before he turned back to his father.

He looked—frail, small, all the marks of a man slowly dwindling away, Lance had never imagined of this father. And his expression only fell further as his father erupted into another coughing fit. Servants huddled closer, but the clothes that came away were still brightly speckled with red.

“It will be an easy passing,” Coran stepped up to Lance.

Lance looked over at the loyal manservant. He’d attended to kings before them, his entire family had served the bloodline it seemed since the dawn of time.

Lance gave a nod, not sure what to say.

“Take lunch, your highness?” Coran offered.

Lance looked at the small lunch that was offered to him.

“You’ll be the one still here,” Coran spoke softly to Lance as he offered the small sandwich closer. “You will need your strength.”

He was right.

If Lance deprived himself now— Lance took half of the sandwich.

The small smile of victory on Coran’s face was payment enough as Coran set the plate down on a side table near Lance and returned to expertly conducting the servants around them.

The room was covered in drapery, keeping the room warm and secluded. Lance carefully stepped back forward.

Any other day — Lance looked at his father’s untouched soup near him. Another day and Lance would have urged his father into eating as well but— Lance looked at his sunken and pale face. He finished off his own half sandwich quickly. There wasn’t a lot of time left that he had to spend with his father.

It didn’t matter any longer, Lance mused as he moved back to his father’s bedside, shooing away a servant as he slid back into the small chair he placed at his father’s bedside earlier that day.

“I hope you will forgive me,”

Lance turned to his father with wide eyes. He hadn’t expected that as an opener.

His father’s voice was low, so very shallow and low. But his bright blue eyes were on Lance.

“I wish I could go back—It was just…” Alfor’s voice trailed off. “You will never understand what—what was at stake.”

Lance tipped his head as he drifted closer to his father. “It’s alright,” Lance urged. “I love Shiro.” He smiled, “I will never hold our union against you.”

When his father looked at him, Lance could barely see much of the man he’d grown up with. His smooth face was creased with wrinkles, his hair of silver-starlight had faded and dimmed. “My dear Lance,” he spoke so quiet.

Lance reached forward across the bed. “I’m here.” And he wouldn’t leave, not till the very end.

“I need to explain,” His father said desperately then, grasping across the covers to Lance’s hands. His grip was fierce like the last struggling grab from beyond the brink.

Lance nearly froze, the hair standing on end at his neck, but he sat there, grasping his father’s hands. “It’s alright—“ He adjusted then, sliding form the chair to the side of the bed, the mattress dipping as he sat a the expanse to better reaches father.

“It’s not.” His father cut him off. He struggled for breath. “The lions wouldn’t wake. We pleaded with the goddess, and they still wouldn’t wake.”

Lance cocked his head, unsure at his father’s words as he sat there.

“No matter what we did they wouldn’t wake,” Alfor shook his head. “And there was no way—“

They—What? Lance’s brow creased.

“Varr was picking a new Kon — they were forbidden from doing that, they knew. But they still lit the priers on Varr and made the call, they challenged the bloodline and raised the banners for a new Kon.” Alfor’s face went tense his jaw grinding away at his teeth. “They aren’t like us. They don’t have a blood right succession! They were never meant to rule. They know it, those dark marks are proof enough.” Suddenly Alfor broke into a coughing fit.

Servants, though a few were just as enraptured with the Kings words, pitched forward. Lance took an offered crisp handkerchief offered from a small servant. Lance nearly hesitated though as he saw the way she averted her eyes. Her eye markings—a deep dark fusia. She was Varrian. Lance blinked rapidly, this was no time to stall out and he offered the handkerchief to his father. As his father clutched the handkerchief to his mouth, coughing into it, Lance glanced at the servant again. Her eyes raised just slightly to Lance.

Lance didn’t look away. Shiro’s eye markings were just a shade or so darker, a deep purple at the tips of his cheeks. He nodded to her in dismissal and she quickly turned away.

“What are you saying?” Lance turned back to his father. He wasn’t sure he wanted to hear.

A part of him — there was a reason Shiro had always been sneered at when he entered a room. Varr was the harsh nation known for constant turmoil and rebellion.

Suddenly conscious of their situation, Lance looked around. A few guards men stood a few feet away and a group of acolytes were nearby but they were circled around out of earshot, talking amongst themselves in hushed tones. All wore dark black floor-length robes. The servants in the room were mostly looking away. Lance had no doubt they were listening. Everyone was always listening when one of the royal bloodline spoke. But they wouldn’t give a tell to it.

As his father dropped the handkerchief, he clutched forward to Lance’s hand. It started Lance’s gaze forward.

So close, his father spoke quieter. “They were going to usurp our family.” He shook his head. “and I couldn’t let it happen. We wouldn’t be forced into their war chants.”

Lance’s eyes shot across his father’s face. The room was so quiet. Lance felt fragile in that moment as he looked over his father. “What—“ Lance tipped his head away from his father just slightly. He couldn’t have kept the look of mixed disgust and disbelief from his face. “You should have let them go.” He whispered.

If history had proven anything it was that Varrians were not Alteans—and they didn’t want to be Alteans.

Alfor shook his head. “There is no way,” He looked very sad at that moment. “Varr is a moon of Altea. They could never operate without consequence on Altea, not so close—they understand, they know they must subjugate. Neither of our planets would survive without the other.”

Lance pressed his mouth together. Alfor was right, without either of the two moons holding Altea at such a distance from their sun, at the gravitational pull, neither would survive. They were bound together. Polar opposites and their fates were stitched together.

Alfor’s eyes on Lance were so tired. “The lions were all we had.”

Like rain, all trickling in to one collected drain it started to piece together for Lance. He tilted his head to his father.

“Why are they still awake?” Lance asked aloud, his face held as expressionless as he could. “Why are the lions no longer kept at that temple?”

“The lions—“ Alfor’s voice was stalled. His brow drawn in. It looked like it was possibly the first time—like he’d never had to say it before. “We knew—I knew there was a way to give them a life-force.”

His eyes grew wide as ever small droplet started to run together and he realized—