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Starlight: Part 2 – Chapter 21


The bar area had started to fill with women and men garbed their finest attire.

 

I nodded at many even though I had no idea who they were – smiled, said thank you to the compliments people gave me.

 

Sir Robert and Isabel eventually showed up with Lucille at their side. I kept on thinking about the secret of her husband still being alive, and felt like a dog not being able to tell her about it.

 

Blake squeezed my hand, as if he could sense the burden of that secret weighing on me.

 

“Son,” Sir Robert said. “Elena.” He bowed his head slightly. I caught the smile on Isabel’s face.

 

“Nice to see you again,” Isabel said, touching my hands gently, then planting two kisses on my cheeks.

 

“Elena.” Lucille smiled as she hugged me softly. “You look stunning,” she whispered in my ear.

 

“You too,” I whispered back, and she let me go.

 

She raised her one eyebrow at Blake. “Nice seeing you in a tux,” she said, and Blake smiled.

 

“You look beautiful, like always, Mrs. Johnson.”

 

She frowned. “So formal.”

 

Everyone laughed.

 

“Are you ready for this speech?” Sir Robert asked, and I nodded in return.

 

“We miss you at the manor,” Isabel said.

 

“Sorry, I’ve been meaning to come around, but it’s been so hectic lately.”

 

“Blake told me.” She stroked my back.

 

A group of men dressed in tuxedos drew near. They didn’t look familiar, but they screamed richness beyond richness.

 

One was in his fifties and had golden blond hair, the other one hiding behind him was in his twenties, and another one in his mid-thirties.

 

The one with the blond hair offered his hand to Sir Robert.

 

They shook.

 

“Elena, I would like you to meet Hans Streighner, a noble dragon, and one of your father’s good friends.”

 

I turned to the man, and he bowed.

 

“Princess, at last.”

 

“This is Hans’s son, Heico.” The twenty-odd-year-old with black hair took my hand in his and kissed it.

 

I could see Blake’s eye twitching slightly as he stared at this greeting.

 

“You are wooing the wrong princess, Heico,” Arianna said, coming out of nowhere. “Good evening, Elena,” she greeted me, looking spectacular as always. “Besides, this one has a watch dog you don’t want to mess with.”

 

Heico and the other men laughed.

 

“Blake,” Arianna greeted him with a super smile and two kisses on each check.

 

“Princess.” Blake had a grin on his mouth.

 

“I mean no disrespect, your Highness. My father taught me manners and how to greet royalty this side.”

 

“This side?” I squinted.

 

“Heico was born and raised on the other side,” Arianna said.

 

“You are all from the other side?” I looked at Hans, and he nodded once.

 

“This is my younger brother, Reginald. We left a very long time ago, princess, and I’m so sorry that we only returned now, but we are at your service.”

 

“Thank you so much, I really appreciate that.”

 

“Good evening, ladies and gentleman,” the speaker of the function came out of two huge doors. Inside were tables, many that cost a fortune to dine at tonight.

 

“If you would all take your seats so that we can start.”

 

“Better go find out where they put us,” Heico said to Arianna and held his arm for her.

 

“Later.” She curtsied and walked away with Heico.

 

I looked at Blake with raised eyebrows and he smiled.

 

We went over to one of the front tables where they seated all of us with King Helmut and Queen Marguerite, who made sure that everything was ready for my first function.

 

When she reached our table, she greeted each of us with a kiss on the cheek before she went to take her own seat.

 

The speaker started welcoming everyone and explained what this function was about. I hated asking for money, but it wasn’t for me.

 

“I would love to know how Arianna knows Heico.”

 

“Caleb has housed them the past few weeks. He knows Hans very well,” Blake whispered.

 

“She fell for him?”

 

“She does share his fire, Elena.”

 

“Heico is a Sun-Blast?”

 

He nodded.

 

“How did he?”

 

“He hatched that side. From what she’s told me it’s his first time in Paegeia, so he doesn’t know any better.”

 

“Wow,” I said.

 

“Hans is a Fin-Tail like Master Longwei, and like my father said, one of your father’s greatest friends. He served him in the war, and is as smart as they come when it comes to strategizing war tactics.”

 

Sir Robert grunted.

 

“Apart from my father that is.”

 

Isabel cleared her throat at Blake.

 

“Sorry,” he mouthed, and we turned our attention back to the night’s events.

 

My pulse started sped up slightly and my palms were getting sweaty as the time for my speech came closer.

 

When the speaker called my name, I felt as if I’d spent the past twenty minutes inside a sauna.

 

Blake stood up with me and walked with me to the podium.

 

“I’ll be fine,” I whispered before I took the podium and walked to the mic.

 

You can do this, don’t mention your father’s status, and concentrate on tonight.

 

“Good evening everyone, and thank you so much for joining us tonight on this festive evening.” I swallowed hard and cleared my throat, which made everyone laugh softly.

 

I took a deep breath. Just be yourself, Elena.

 

“I usually don’t do this, address a huge gathering of important people, unless you are the Council…”

 

Everyone laughed again.

 

“So I’m going to speak from the heart. You all are Paegeia’s wealthiest benefactors, some of you, and I’m so grateful that you came all the way from the other side for this event. As you all know, Etan isn’t what it used to be anymore. It’s unrecognizable.”

 

A screen of pictures of what the first group had collected was projected behind me. I’d seen this before at David’s lodge.

 

Many gasped as the slide show continued.

 

“Everything’s changed. The people on the other side are ruled with an iron fist. Kids have to fend for themselves, darkness rules. Everything my father and his men fought for so long ago needs to be freed. That will be my responsibility, not yours, but we do need your help with the hundred we freed from that side. Children need to catch up on their education, and housing needs to be built. I financed most of this, but I can’t do it alone. We need your help in order for them to heal. So, please be generous, show your kindness and help us to help them. Thank you.”

 

Everyone applauded. Whether they felt the need to or whether it came from their hearts, I would never know.

 

The speaker came back and King Helmut spoke next.

 

It was about war, things I didn’t really want to think about, but it was necessary. We needed more troops, and we were not going to force anyone to fight. It had to come from their hearts.

 

After the speeches, dinner was served.

 

It was a five-course meal.

 

I spent the rest of the evening meeting more people. Some of them I’d met before on the night of Brian’s revealing.

 

“Beautiful speech, princess,” a round man with a curly mustache and cognac in his hand said.

 

“Thank you so much.” I smiled at him.

 

The night crept by slowly, but one thing that was great was that Blake was always close by.

 

Then the dance floor opened, and Blake rescued me from a boring male conversation that was all about the war they’d fought with my father years and years ago.

 

“Care to dance, princess?” He had a sly grin.

 

“You didn’t learn from the last time I danced with you?” I asked, remembering that night at the ball.

 

He grinned as he held my waist and pulled my other arm into his chest.

 

“You can stand on my feet for as long as you want.”

 

I laughed as we slow danced.

 

My eye caught on Arianna again. “She’s really changed, hasn’t she?”

 

“Yes, I think she’s grown up.”

 

“I will always see her as a spoiled little brat.”

 

“She’s not like that. You haven’t grown up with her. To be honest, she does own a good heart. She is not very happy with her father and how he’s treated you lately.”

 

“She said that, or are you making that up so I will like her more?”

 

He smiled. “It’s the truth. Pappi’s note didn’t reach me in time. It was Arianna that told me about that night.”

 

“Wait, what?”

 

“Is it so hard to imagine that? She went with him that night, but when she saw the Ancients, well, she slipped out the back and phoned me.”

 

“She did?”

 

“I promise you. Halfway to Tith, I flew into one of your Pappi’s guards and he confirmed it. She’s changed, and she really feels crappy about that time she was supposed to teach you how to use magic.”

 

“I guess later is better than never, right?”

 

“Oh it is.”

 

Arianna’s laughter made both of us look and we saw Heico dip her.

 

“I bet King Caleb is not very happy about that.”

 

“He’ll come around.”

 

It didn’t surprise me that he wasn’t here tonight. Still, I would’ve loved to meet the Caleb my father once knew and treasured.

 

We danced to one more song then Blake took my hand and led me to one of the back doors.

 

“Where are we going?” I worried about what he was planning. “Your father…”

 

“My father is having the time of his life.” He showed me a group of men having a hefty conversation and laughter burst out.

 

“I want to show you something.”

 

He opened another door and ran down the staircase to the lower level.

 

We were surrounded by exhibits. The dragons were on our left and he took me to the opposite side toward the Viden’s Book of Shadows.

 

“You want to show me my foretelling?”

 

“No, I’m taking you to see your mom.”

 

My heart fluttered as he said that. The first time I’d seen her, I had been too shocked to actually look at her, and now, now I would know she was the woman who had given birth to me, and who had wanted me more than anything in this entire world.

 

We reached the candles and Blake took off his shoes. I bent my leg backward and took off my shoes one at a time as gracefully as I could, leaning against the wall.

 

When both were off, Blake lit two of the candles then we entered their chambers.

 

I sucked in breath as I saw them sitting on their thrones but it wasn’t just the two of them anymore.

 

Tears welled up my eyes as I looked at the third chair with a statue sitting next to Queen Catherine. She had blond hair and a beautiful crown on her head.

 

A chuckle escaped me as I wiped away my tears as delicately as possible. “Is that supposed to be me?”

 

Blake laughed too. “Supposed to be, yes.” He wrapped his one arm around me and pulled me in for a sideways hug as we stared at it. They must have done this while I was in Etan the first time. “I wish that this was the truth.”

 

“Elena, it still can be.”

 

“You know it can never be. She’s dead.” I stared at my mother’s statue.

 

“I know.”

 

I took a deep breath and went over to their statues and sat on the stairs right between my mother and father’s chairs.

 

“I really thought that I would mess up tonight.”

 

“I know you did. I could hear your heartbeat fluttering like a trapped bird in a cage.”

 

I looked at him and he walked over then hunched in front of me. “But I had faith that you wouldn’t mess anything up. You showed them who you are, and not what they want you to be. That was one of your mother’s traits.” He scrunched up his nose once, making me laugh.

 

He touched my face softly and just stared at me for a few seconds.

 

“Close your eyes.” His voice was soft and I obeyed. I didn’t even ask what it was he wanted to do.

 

After a minute or so, images filled my mind. The point of view was as if I was lying on the floor. Everything around me was gigantic.

 

There was a red dragon’s tail close to me, and at first I thought it was my own but when it moved and lifted up its head sleepily, I knew the tail didn’t belong to me.

 

The door opened and voices entered the room first.

 

It was Sir Robert followed by King Helmut and my father. He looked so handsome in a long-sleeved shirt, rolled up underneath his elbow with a pair of cargo pants on.

 

My father looked down at us, and I froze as I saw the look on my father’s face. It was sad, yet kind and friendly with a dash of warning.

 

The image disappeared, and the next image was in a garden. I was running around, playing with a Sun-Blast again. I growled and yelped when it plunged on top of me and pinned me to the floor. Then I would get the upper hand and run away as fast as I could.

 

I could feel a strong sense of annoyance inside of me then a ghost of a figure appeared on a chair close to the lake.

 

I stopped as I realized it was my mother. She looked sick, so different from the interview I’d once seen of her through the Sonic. The light in her eyes was gone then she finally looked at me.

 

I wanted to turn around and run away, but a small smile tugged at the corner of her lips. “Come,” she said in Latin and I walked up to her.

 

She touched my face and it felt so good. The look in her eyes was soft then tears welled up as she stared at me. Then the light disappeared again.

 

“Go,” she said softly and I ran away.

 

Blake’s hand left my temple and I found myself back sitting in between my mother and father’s thrones.

 

“How did you do that?”

 

“A tenth Crown-Tail, remember? I just had to find how much power I need to put behind each ability.” He smiled.

 

“She was really that sad?” I asked as I remembered the look on my mother’s face. She was pale, even looked sick.

 

He nodded. “Everyone thought it was about Tanya leaving her, but knowing the truth now, it’s because of you. I know for a fact that if she knew that Goran was going to be the one who was going to betray them, she would’ve skinned him alive.”

 

A smile tugged at the corners of my lips.

 

“I’m so sorry that you will never meet your mom. She was a queen of so many hearts.”

 

“I gathered that much,” I said.

 

I gasped as I realized what it was he could do.

 

“What is it?”

 

“You can show me now what the dent is.”

 

He started to laugh. “Sorry to burst your bubble, princess, but it doesn’t work that way. The dent is like a binding contract. I can’t show you memories of what really happened with the dent. I tried.”

 

“On who?”

 

“George.”

 

I laughed. “Seriously, then how on earth are you going to show me what the dent is after our bond is fixed?”

 

“I can think about it, relive it, that is about it. The minute I tried to use it through one of my abilities, it comes out blank, or so George tells me.”

 

“Nothing?” I asked.

 

“Nothing.”

 

“That sucks.”

 

Blake laughed. “You need to be patient.”

 

“I hate that word, patient.”

 

Blake got up and reached for my hand. “There is something else I wanted to show you before my father comes and hunts us down.”

 

I laughed. “You think that he is ever going to trust you alone with me?”

 

“Not easily, but it’s a work in progress.”

 

I laughed again.

 

I touched his hand, and he pulled me up softly.

 

When I reached the door I looked back at my mother and father’s figures sitting on the throne.

 

Till later.

 

We quickly put our shoes back on and walked down the hall we’d come in.

 

The hallways were darker than normal. We passed so many figures and portraits that were probably some of my ancestors.

 

We walked past Brian’s glass box. I really missed him. The way he always spoke in the third person. He was the first exhibit announcing the new era. Our time.

 

Blake led the way and we turned a corner into another room.

 

I gasped at the hulking statue of a dragon, his dragon form welcoming us, and looked down toward his leg. It was me.

 

“Told you they did a crappy job.”

 

I smiled as I touched the wing of the statue.

 

“Is this how they really see us?”

 

“I guess it’s how they want to see us.”

 

I studied both figures again, and so many things rushed through my mind. Things I didn’t want to think of as they belonged in the past.

 

My family or what my life could’ve been like, what it should’ve been like. Blake…this could’ve been something real, it could’ve been us if it wasn’t for Goran.

 

“He took so much away from me.” It hardly came out as my eyes welled up with tears.

 

Blake wrapped his arms around me. “Shhh, don’t think about it. It’s in the past, and there is nothing any of us can do about it.”

 

I don’t know why, but his words upset me.

 

“It’s so easy for you.” I raised my voice. “I lost everything because of him, and for some reason I feel that I’m the only one who is really upset about this. Can you even imagine what our lives would’ve been like?”

 

He took a deep breath.

 

“You can’t, can you? Well I can. None of this would’ve happened if they’d just killed him.”

 

“How? Nobody knew it was him.”

 

“They must have had some inkling.” I wiped away an angry tear. “Something that told them that he was up to no good. I mean if they were looking for someone that was going to betray them, they would’ve looked. Didn’t they want me?”

 

“Elena, stop!” Blake roared. “It’s in the past. Your mother was in a whole lot of misery during that time. She tried her best just to cope with her sadness. Your father tried everything to find who could betray them. He never told my dad about you, as even my father was a suspect. You can imagine how hard it was for both of them. They loved you. They just didn’t see the signs as much as we wanted them to see them.”

 

He hugged me again as I just cried. “Your mother and father wanted nothing more in this world than they wanted you.” He sighed. “And yes, I can imagine what it would’ve been like if you were always here, but I don’t want to as nobody wins a war with anger.”

 

I looked up at him.

 

He kissed me softly on the tip of my nose. “I wish one of those elevators could take us back to the past, I would take one with you even if they make me feel broken. But elevators like that don’t exist, not even in Paegeia. So you need to stop worrying about what ifs. They don’t exist.”

 

I nodded and wiped away my tears.

 

“We should concentrate on the task ahead, and find a way to stay alive.”

 

I nodded again as he pulled me into his chest.

 

“I know how to surrender everything.”

 

I looked up and into his eyes, which still carried some black.

 

“Concentrate and want your fire.”

 

“Now?”

 

He put his finger over my lips. “Trust me. Do it.”

 

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.

 

“Don’t concentrate on my pain, or what it would do, just concentrate on the fire.”

 

I cleared my mind. Thought back to the time when I was with him on that mountain, when he’d trained me to be Cara. Why hadn’t this hurt him back then? But I knew it was because we’d shared everything equally. That was it. We’d done this before, but only differently.

 

His words from that time spoke softly in my head. I imagined the fire dancing on my palm, toward my fingertips. It was hot at first and then it cooled down.

 

“Open your eyes,” Blake said, and I did.

 

Our hands were in one another’s and it was engulfed in the pink flame. Both our hands.

 

I couldn’t stop staring at it.

 

A bright grin spread over his face, reaching his eyes. The smile I loved.

 

“How did you know?”

 

The fire disappeared.

 

“Pressure doesn’t help. I pressured you too much. Emotion is the key. I realized that when I practice with my gifts, in order to show you glimpses of your mother and father, and realized that a certain emotion that needs to come from me is the key.”

 

“What emotion?” I spoke softly.

 

He just stared at me with soft eyes, which made my insides crumble. “Love.” He smiled. “My love for you. It wants to protect you, see you smile.” He smiled as if he was hiding something. “And then there is the fact that we have already done this before.”

 

“We have? When?”

 

“The night when you told Duclin that you would do whatever was in your power to stop him from putting the others in quarantine.” He smiled. “The minute I realized that, was the minute I knew. We can do this already. No doubt, nothing. But the first was what unlocked all the others.”

 

I laughed and then I kissed him.

 

We’d done it already. Just like Becky and George. I wouldn’t hurt him anymore.

 

The kiss broke, and he smiled at me. “We should really get going,” he said as he took my hand in his, leading us to the stairs and back to the function.

 

Everyone was about to depart, and we miraculously found Master Longwei without him having noticed that we had been gone.

 

The ride back to the Academy was fast. I was feeling all sorts of emotions, as I couldn’t believe how easy it was to wield my fire while he was in his human form.

 

We’d done it!

 

But it also made me think again about what ifs. If I’d grown up here, things would’ve been so different. So different.

 

When we got out, Master Longwei greeted us.

 

“It was a beautiful function, well done.”

 

“Thank you, Master Longwei.”

 

He nodded and walked toward his office.

 

“You want to try it again?” Blake asked.

 

I nodded with a smile sprawled over my face and closed my eyes. This time it was easier, and Blake only let out a chuckle.

 

I opened my eyes and my fire was dancing on my palm.

 

Soft snowflakes appeared in Blake’s palm and he then brought it over the fire in my hand and I watched as it miraculously started freezing the pink kiss in the most beautiful, abstract ice and fire figurine.

 

We both laughed as it melted and vaporized into thin air, leaving both our hands soaking wet and cold.

 

“Still need to work on that.” He chuckled.

 

“You’ll get there,” I said, and he kissed me goodnight.

 

“Sweet dreams, princess.” He spoke quietly. “I hate saying goodbye to you.”

 

“Yeah, I know the feeling. See you tomorrow.”

 

He nodded, and we parted ways.

 

Becky and Sammy were already getting undressed as I reached our room.

 

Raymond wasn’t outside our door, and I knew George would come tonight again.

 

I smiled at both girls as I walked in and over to my closet. I took out my earrings and kicked off my shoes.

 

“So, where were you tonight?” Becky asked. “I noticed there were a few minutes without the two of you.”

 

I smiled. “He wanted to show me that wonderful statue of us together.”

 

I didn’t mention the other one.

 

Becky smiled. “They did a crappy job.”

 

I laughed as Sammy went to the bathroom.

 

“So Raymond is gone?”

 

“You noticed that?”

 

“Yes, will George be joining us soon?”

 

“He’s coming as soon as that one is out.” She pointed to where Sammy was in the bathroom.

 

Getting to bed was easy. All of us were tired, but for some reason I couldn’t fall asleep.

 

I heard our window open and George climbing in. He was so quiet.

 

I looked at the watch on my clock and saw the outline of Louie. Then it suddenly hit me. I hadn’t even mentioned him to Blake yet.


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