Two Shadows Went, Chapter 17

Updated: Apr 13, 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—


“The royal bloodline doesn’t just carry succession—“ Alfor’s head shook slowly. There was something distant in his eyes—something…


Lance sucked in breath as he realized—it was fear.


“The goddess blessed our line.” Alfor swallowed and his eyes shifted up to look at the silver circlet at Lances brow.


“Father,” Lance breathed.


“I never thought—“ Alfor shook his head. “There just—the line has so few true heirs left. The goddess blood only shows in so few of us now."


Lance swallowed thickly. “What are you saying?” He raised his chin, his back straightening.


“There was power in her veins." Alfor’s eyes searched over Lance. "She had the mark down her back."


Lance breathed slow and his hand came up to the silver and sapphire circlet on his brow.


“..father,” Lance managed again past the cloying in his throat.


“They made me put that on your head.” Alfor suddenly said, his voice rattled with each word, barely coming to his lips. “I begged them,” His head shook again, nearly frantic. “I’d already given one." He looked desperate. "and they already knew. I would have hidden it if I could have, if I had known it would have ever come to it — I would have done anything to hide it if I could. To claim the line had ended with her."


Lance saw his reflection in his father’s eyes then, as his eyes watered Lance could see himself. He could see his own fear shaking through him at that moment.


“There—“ Alfor’s breath was labored. “There must always be one set aside—if the time came.”


Lance found he couldn’t breathe at that moment.


His father was seized then by another coughing fit. Lance caught the glimpse of red this time across the handkerchief clutched in his father’s hand.


Lance still felt—frostbitten. Barely able to move he wasn’t sure what to do as his father sat back, resting back into the pillows.


His cheeks were so sunken in.


Frantic suddenly, Lance pivoted as best he could and caught Coran as he stood near.


“Get Allura,” He hissed to the man, his eyes boring into him.


Coran looked to the king before back at Lance before he gave a swift nod. Lance made sure to watch as Coran gave a last order to a servant, before fleeting out through the folds of drapery and out of the room.


Why wasn’t she already there? She had been sent for multiple times that morning. She needed to be there. Lance looked down at the floor as he tried to process. His mind felt numb as he slowly dragged his gaze back to the bed. Where was Allura?


The acolytes were taking notice at that point. Dark robes all drifted closer to the bed. Lance glanced at them. Whatever his father had left to say, Lance wished they were alone so he could simply say it.


“Lance,” Alfor’s voice was cracked this time as his words were carried on a low shallow breath.


“It’s alright,” Lance managed. He clutched at his father’s hand tighter than ever. He swallowed, unsure he was trying to calm himself more than his father.


A part of him—his father can’t leave. He couldn’t leave Lance like this. This couldn’t happen. There was still so much—a king’s life wasn’t supposed to end like this! Lance was still—his mind was so lost at that moment. And his father was —he was leaving Lance.


“I love you,” Lance gasped as he felt his eyes watering.


“My son,” Alfor breathed again. He shook his head. “Remember what I said to you,”


It was so labored. Each breath was like the great heave of a mountain before — an exhale so deep Lance nearly heard the rattle in his father’s chest.


Lance felt his eyes well as he nodded. Right what his father said. “The temple,” Lance mouthed to his father.


The slightest of nods was given.


Around them long willow black robes capped with long white masks seemed to close in around them.


Lance pushed in closer to his father, bringing his hand to his lips. “I forgive you,” Lance gasped.


He wasn’t sure if it was true. He couldn’t tell it was just—at that moment it felt like what his father needed to hear. And Lance would give anything his father needed in that moment. Even if it was simply on his last breath he was reaching out to Lance. Even if it was the last possible moment—he was till trying to save his son. Lance felt as tears streaked from his eyes. It was enough.


Time-stopped, as Alfor's tired eyes slowly closed. Those bright crystalline eyes watched Lance so steadily as slowly the lids lowered—and Lance nearly gasped out a cry as they finally sealed shut.


Lance gasped for air as his father stilled, his efforts to hold back tears in despair as he watched his father’s light slow dim before —


With one last exhale… he was gone.


Lance didn’t need to lift his finger to his father’s pulse or to feel for a breath, he knew as his father stilled over the pillows and his fingers in Lance’s hand went slack.


It was then more tears spilled across Lance’s face. Streaking down his face, Lance gasped for air as a sob shook through him. He clutched his father’s hand so close to his face, pressing a kiss multiple times over his father’s limp hand. He was gone. The one man Lance had always looked up to was gone.


An acolyte stepped up, with that white mask and long dark robes, there was an eerie stillness to them. It was as if the grim reaper were stooped over Lance’s father, dipping in to collect his soul and fairy it to the afterlife. Instead, they pressed a slender hand to the King’s neck. They straightened a moment later and looked back to the foot of the bed, before giving a nod.


“And so ends the reign of the tyrant.”


At the foot of the bed, Honerva stood proud as she looked over the dead king.


Lance lifted his head, the words from the acolyte rang in his ears. His head jerked then, the small servant still stood at the side of the bed.


“What is a Kon?” Lance suddenly said to her.


Her head jerked up. Dark hair, dark eyes in the same almond shape—the same almond shape of both Shiro and Keith. She seemed taken back.


“Tell me,” Lance pressed as he released his father’s hand for the first time, smoothing it over the bed.


“Your Highness,” the young girl whispered.


Around the bed, Acolytes were starting to arrange themselves. Lance stood and charged the girl. He was at the very least taller than her.


“What is a Kon?” Lance repeated.


The girl looked up at Lance with wide eyes.


A part of him—Lance already knew. But without—he needed to hear the words.


Lance grabbed out at her, taking her arm and stopping her from retreating from him. He needed an answer.


“King,” She suddenly breathed, so quiet, so small.


Lance’s eyes narrowed.


“They’ve chosen again.” Lance grit his teeth.


It wasn’t a question, but the small servant still ducked her head. “He was called the Champion.”


…they called me their blood-christened Champion.


Lance nearly lost his breath. He released the girl as the memory ran through his mind, the warm water, Shiro so close to him—he’d told him then. He’d told Lance—when there was still so much time, so much he could have done.


Had that been a thrill to him? Lance looked down at his empty hands. Had so much of this—been just…?


He could have stopped so much so long ago. Lance looked back to his father’s bed. The black-robed figures all circled him, casting her shadows over him.


The witch — Lance realized. The witch was smiling as she looked over the bed.


“He’s dead.” She repeated gleefully as she looked to Lance. Her golden eyes flicked to focus on him.


At that moment—the room in its entirety came into focus for Lance. Black, long robes all surrounded him. Long, white masks all looked on at the king and back to Lance — they’d been there for days. Lance’s head ticked to the door before his eyes widened.


It wasn’t the deep blue of royal guards standing there.


No.


There was more black, black armor and black, long cloaks hanging down from tall and broad men standing at the door.


“Honerva.” Lance spoke softly. His hand was already at his waist, already reaching of the Blue Bayard.


Honerva face turned to him. “My dear nephew,” She smiled as she looked to him.


That was— Lances chin raised. His eyes widened a fraction.


She could be lying. There was nothing this woman probably wouldn’t lie about.


Lance’s head ticked to the side.


“You are so very similar to my sister.” Honerva still smiled at him.


The nod Lance gave was slow.


Of course, his mother.


The room’s silence made Lance evermore uneasy. His bones felt stiff even as he looked around. The servants—they were all huddled and backing away.


“I need to send word,” Lance said very carefully as he stepped towards the door. Immediately he was blocked as a tall guard stepped forward, a long pike blocking his path. “My sister needs to be notified of her ascension.”


“I’m afraid you can’t,” Honerva spoke.


Lance considered as she spoke. Looking over the men blocking his path.


“It’s been requested that you remain here.” Honerva went on. “And I agree, it is what’s best for your safety, Your Highness. As your father has made clear, there has been a gift in your veins and there’s not—“


Lance’s hand on his Bayard struck out, the great broadsword flashed into striking across the black clad guard’s face. There was a scream from the servants, but Lance was already stealing forward.


The stunned moment in the room was perfect for Lance to side-step past the second guard and fight his way through the folds of drapery into his father’s vast chambers. They should have had a second set of guards posted at the double doors.


But they didn’t.


So wasting no time, Lance’s feet pound across the polished marble floors. He reached the double doors and slid though to—


Lance realized why no guards were inside the room.


The royal guard gave a deep groan as the black armored man over his pulled his pike out of his abdomen. Littering the floor was four other bodies and three deep black armored men stood.


Lance nearly froze.


“Your Highness—“ One of the black guard’s reached to Lance.


His father’s words flashed through his mind and Lance jerked away and was propelled back into action, sittering out of the way and flinging himself into a run down the hallway.


It was just then a few royal guards appeared at the end of the hall. “Your Highness!” Their long velvet blue cloaks embroidered with the seal of the Altean Royalty was like a beckon in the long hall.


There were only four men, but that would be enough.


Lance pivoted on his toes, turning the corner of the hallway and sprinted towards them.


“Get me to the hangers” Lance hissed as he ran.


Two guards nodded and broke off, close on Lance’s heels. Two stayed behind arming to fight those in pursuit.


Any pretense of calm left him as Lance’s feet pelted him down the hallways. His mind raced, but he tried to breath and push himself through every step. The two thudding footsteps next to him was a small comfort. He had a small share of men with him. He spotted the grand court room — and Lance skidded to a halt. No. he couldn’t go that way. The guards skidded to halt as well only as Lance made up his mind and stole down a corridor that led through the very center of the palace grounds. Light poured in over Lance as he flew over the railing into the courtyard, both guards vaulting on either side as well. and sped up through the center courtyard, lush greener around him and bright white marble underfoot.


He had to get to his lion. He needed there a quickly as possible. And this time he wasn’t going to let a single guard stand in his way.


“Your highness!” Lance skied to halt as he looked back across the courtyard.


The stark sound of swords being drawn hissed on either side of Lance, and his guards both slid into a fighters stance.


But Lance knew that voice. He’d always know that voice. Across galaxies and eons—that voice ran through Lance’s veins.


Shiro — was ready. His black armor gleamed in the light as his eyes settled on Lance. At his hand was the black claymore, massive and the black metal absorbing any light.


Looking at him, Lance turned, side-stepping just enough that he could see Shiro more clearly. Both guards faced Shiro fully.


Around him, stood a regiment of black-clad guards. All of them were dressed like Shiro — for battle. All of them had their helmets drawn down, leaving eerie suits of armor to watch as Shiro advanced.


“Don’t!” Lance pulled his own Bayward, flashing it into the broadsword. His guards advanced a step ahead of Lance.


Shiro stopped just a few steps from Lance, holding his hands up. “I won’t hurt you.”


Lance’s eyes shot over Shiro, now so close. He was— so tall. And at his neck the newly formed bond mark was still under a white bandage. His hands were broad as he held them up and away so Lance could clearly see them. It was — the same man, and yet so different in the new light.


The courtyard was filled with light. The clouds over head shifted and— Shiro was bathed in golden light. Christened with a halo of pure sunlight in golden rays. His armor looked magnificent and his hair so soft as it tossed with the breeze. The sight of the ethereal display slowly lowered Lance’s sword.


“Lance,” Shiro spoke soft as he lowered his hands and stepped closer, stepping in level with Lances guards. Ever so carefully he offered out a hand. “Take my hand,” He said still so soft to Lance. His face was so—he looked not a bit different, his eyes still soft as they looked at Lance.


He looked like a king. And Lance’s eyes widened at the thought.


From the moment Lance had first met him, had gazed at him as he had walked up the steps to his own doom, Lance had thought Shiro looked like a king.


Lance’s hands fell away to hang at his sides.


He felt—like—how could this have happened? He was so close to him. And yet it had all still happened?


“How could you?” He gasped.


Shiro slid a step closer with careful precise movements. “Take my hand,” He repeated as he held his hand out to Lance again.


Lance’s hand lifted and ever so hesitantly crossed the space.


He still watched Shiro though.


“Did you kill him?” Lance asked. He needed to know.


Shiro’s face went unreadable as he drifted ever closer and his hand reached out for Lance’s. His eyes narrowed though, his gaze darkening as he looked down at Lance.


“I won’t hurt you.”


That was all the answer Lance needed as he jerked, stealing away—


Only Shiro grasped him, his hands clambering to grasp at Lance’s wrist.


“I can’t,” Lance gasped as he shook his head. “You know I can’t.”


Shiro’s gaze narrowed as he tightened his hold on Lance’s arm. His long fingers poised to splay across Lance’s wrist no doubt to yank Lance to him, willing or not.


“Get back!” The guard to Lance’s left struck forward.


And Shiro struck his arm, jerking Lance forward. Lance shrunk back though and as his sleeve ripped he jerked fully away.


The guards both lunged and Shiro snapped the closest into a hold as the other was knocked back with the black claymore.


“Lance,” Shiro breathed through a tight jaw.


“No!” Lance jerked his hand away. He shook his head as he staggered a step backwards.


He heard it first. The guard gasped as less than a mere few feet away Lance had a front row seat as Shiro slammed the Black Claymore through the man’s spine—and the obsidian massive blade struck out through his front. The sound of blood dropping to the ground was all Lance could hear for a moment.


Releasing the man, the altean’s body slumped, and fell to the courtyard stones.


Lance knew his eyes were wide as he watched his lover—he’d just watched... Shiro really had just…


Covered in blood now, the black armor gleamed even more in the sunlight, as Shiro extend his hand, bloodsoaked and dripping. “I promised you mercy,” His murmured so soft Lance doubted it was loud enough for anyone else to hear.


There was a cry before the second guard lunged. Shiro was forced to pivot and the sword struck out again, slashing through the air.


Gasping, Lance saw another rain of blood as the fully armored guards behind Shiro all moved forward this time. There was no hope of Lance’s guard and the deep blue of his royal uniform was rapidly stained red as he groaned and slumped to the ground as well.


As Shiro turned—


Lance slammed into a run again, seizing what little of the distraction he could. Shiro’s arm struck out to grab him, But Lance fumbled and pulled away, his breath shuddering out—he could feel his clothing sliding through Shiro’s fingertips. His heart pound through his chest, his body felt like he couldn’t move fast enough—and in a blink of an eye that seemed to last hours Lance was free of Shiro’s grasp. And though stealing a last glance over his shoulder, Lance pitched himself across the courtyard, running as fast as he could manage.


“Retrieve him!” It was a roaring Alpha call that struck through the courtyard, trembling through Lance’s bones.


Lance heard the movement of guards from behind himself but he didn’t stop running, sliding in through the halls of the Palace again as turned one corner after another.


“Don’t let her get to him—“ Shiro’s voice faded as Lance pounded his feet farther away.


A Black Guard reached for him at the stairs down to the hangers but Lance bound away from him, nearly dumping himself down the stairs but he still managed them two by two and was running full force down the hall, yells and shouts behind him echoed off the slick marble walls, leaving Lance unsure how close they were behind him. At the massive doors to Blue’s chambers, a royal guard still stood.


Eyes wide, the man looked on as Lance’s own gaze narrowed as he drew out his Bayard in the flat broadsword again. Eyes narrow, he knew he was splattered with blood, and his breath heaved out of his chest.


There were footsteps sounding behind them and the Guard gripped his pike as he slammed the doors open and gritted out, “Go.”


Lance slipped past him just as black armored guards appeared at the end of the hallway. They were covered head to toe in thick plates and flight suits, but as Lance looked back—they moved almost animalistic.


It unnerved him.


The doors slammed shut behind him, and Lance pressed his hand in to lock it. Somethings may have changed but he knew this couldn’t have. His finger print was the only thing that would open those doors.


His Bayard flashed out to the broadsword again as he cut back around corner and slashed at the guard — it was red armor and Lance danced away from the stunned man easily.


He was huffing by the time he reached the feet of his lovely Blue. But Lance smiled as he looked up at the lion. She activated immediately and Lance strode forward.